All-Decade: Memorable recruiting battles
What were some of the most memorable recruiting battles of the last decade and what made them memorable? National Analyst Eric Bossi ranks the 10 recruitments that stood out to him most between 2010-19.
RIVALS ALL-DECADE BASKETBALL: What to expect in the 2020s | Best recruiters | Most exciting prospects | Dynamic duos | All-2010s team | The 10 biggest rankings misses | Coaches who will emerge in next decade | Best recruiters in 2020s | Ranking our No. 1 players from each year | Biggest headlines in recruiting 10 years ago
RIVALS ALL-DECADE FOOTBALL: Most captivating recruitments | The All-Decade Team | Top QBs | Top RBs | Top WRs/TEs | Top OL | Top DT | Top DE | Top LBs | Top DBs | Biggest flips | Programs trending up, down | Biggest busts | Ranking the No. 1s | Crazy recruiting storylines in 2010 | Ten coaches that will impact next 10 years | Comparing team rankings | Five programs set to emerge as recruiting powers in 2020s | What to expect over the next decade
1. ZION WILLIAMSON
The recruitment: Looking back, nobody ever had a very good read on Zion Williamson's recruitment. Clemson was desperate to keep him home and his stepfather played there. North Carolina and Kentucky were thought to be high on his list at one point. And Duke was considered a bit of an underdog in a major recruitment. On decision day, everybody expected Williamson to select Clemson but he surprised us by picking Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils.
The result: Injury has kept Williamson from making his debut in the NBA after being taken No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2019 Draft. However, his lone college season was one of the most productive and memorable ever for a freshman and he was the National Player of the Year.
2. TERRENCE JONES
The recruitment: Talk about drama. The recruitment of Terrence Jones was something else. The five-star from Portland waited until the spring of his senior year to make a decision and Kansas, Kentucky and Washington all thought they were getting him. Jones was very emotional as he announced he would join high school teammate Terrence Ross at Washington. Almost immediately after committing, Jones got cold feet and was in contact with John Calipari. A few weeks later, Jones completed the change of heart by flipping to the Wildcats.
The result: It couldn't have worked out better for Kentucky. Jones was the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2011 and came back for a second year to be a key piece to the 2012 National Champion squad. He went No. 18 overall in the 2012 NBA Draft and is still playing overseas after six years in the NBA.
3. HARRISON BARNES
The recruitment: There was no shortage of interest in the recruitment of Harrison Barnes. Kansas and Oklahoma were in the running early but when it came time for him to decide it was going to be either Duke, North Carolina or hometown Iowa State. Really, though, the general thought was that he would select the Blue Devils. During a press conference at his high school, Barnes skyped the winning coach and everybody in the crowd was surprised to see Roy Williams on the receiving end of the call.
The result: Barnes was the ACC Freshman of the Year in 2011 and surprised everybody by coming back for a second year of college. After earning second team All-American honors in 2012, Barnes was selected No. 7 in the NBA Draft by Golden State. Now in his eighth year in the league, Barnes plays for the Sacramento Kings.
4. ANDREW WIGGINS
The recruitment: Another who took his time in getting to a decision, there were maybe more rumors about what Wiggins might do than anybody else. Many thought he would follow in the footsteps of his parents, who both went to Florida State. Kentucky was deep into the mix and very late in the process, some North Carolina talk started to heat up. In fact, nobody was giving Kansas much of a chance at all and it was a total surprise when he selected the Jayhawks.
The result: Wiggins had a good year in Lawrence, earning All-Big 12 honors and being named as a second team All-American. He was taken No. 1 in the 2014 draft by Cleveland and then dealt to Minnesota where he won Rookie of the Year. Now in his sixth year for the Timberwolves, Wiggins is averaging career-highs in points, rebounds and assists.
5. CALEB SWANIGAN
The recruitment: The world may never know exactly what went down with Caleb Swanigan's recruitment, but it was something else. After dragging things out through his senior season, Swanigan surprised everybody when he chose Michigan State over California and Purdue. However, he never signed and in early May of his senior year he opened things up and soon picked Purdue.
The result: As a sophomore, Swanigan was the Big Ten's Player of the Year and was a first-team All-American. He was taken in the first round by Portland in 2017 and is currently playing for the Sacramento Kings.
6. JOSH JACKSON
The recruitment: Josh Jackson's recruitment played out throughout the course of his senior season as he mulled over Arizona, Kansas and Michigan State. At one point or another each program felt very strongly that they would land Jackson because he had given a pretty strong indication that he was coming there. It wasn't until he finally announced that he was picking Kansas that anything was certain.
The result: Jackson had a strong year for the Jayhawks despite some missteps off the floor and was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year. He was taken No. 4 overall by Phoenix in the 2017 NBA Draft and made second-team All-Rookie. Off-the-court issues have dogged him for the last year and he's currently in the G League trying to play his way back onto an NBA roster after getting dealt to Memphis during the offseason.
7. DEANDRE AYTON
The recruitment: Through his junior season and most of the summer before his senior year, DeAndre Ayton appeared to be a lock for Kansas. To the point that nobody else was even really recruiting him. Arizona started to get involved and was able to get him onto campus for a quiet visit. In early September of his senior year, Ayton unexpectedly set up a press conference and committed to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.
The result: Ayton was a total beast for the Wildcats, winning Pac-12 Player of the Year honors and being named a first-team All-American. He went No. 1 overall to Phoenix in the 2018 NBA Draft and was a first-team All-Rookie selection after averaging a double double.
8. KEVIN KNOX
The recruitment: The recruitment of Kevin Knox was an interesting one to cover. Most of the information came from his father, a former football player at Florida State, and it seemed to be very positive for each school. In addition to ties to FSU, Knox had family in North Carolina giving the Heels and Duke a strong shot. Missouri was also deeply in the mix, but he was expected to end up on Tobacco Road. However, when he finally announced in May of 2017, Knox surprised the vast majority of the college hoops world by electing to go with Kentucky.
The result: Knox wound up being the SEC's Freshman of the Year and was taken No. 9 overall by the New York Knicks in the 2018 NBA Draft. He's now in his second season.
9. Mohamed Bamba
The recruitment: A big-time national recruit, Mohamed Bamba was thought to be favoring Duke during his junior year but they appeared to slip after landing five-star Wendell Carter. Michigan was in there but nobody ever expected him to land in Ann Arbor, leaving Texas and Kentucky to fight for him. Given the one-and-done success at Kentucky, the Wildcats were a favorite for much of the recruitment but Shaka Smart kept working it and ultimately won out for Bamba during mid-May of his senior year.
The result: Bamba was an All-Defense player and made the Big 12 All-Freshman team during his lone season in Austin. He went No. 6 to Orlando in the 2018 draft and is off to a slow start during his second season.
10. SHABAZZ MUHAMMED
The recruitment: It's been awhile now, but the interest in what Shabazz Muhammad would do was about as strong as any recruitment we've covered at Rivals. He took visits, he said nice things, and many outside of the West Coast thought he would land at either Kentucky or Duke. However, on the first day of 2012's early signing period Muhammad surprised most observers when he elected to play for UCLA.
The result: Muhammad's recruitment was heavily scrutinized by the NCAA but it dropped the case and fired its lead investigator whose significant other had been talking publicly about the investigation into Muhammad. He was Pac-12 co-Freshman of the Year and was taken No. 14 by Utah in the 2013 NBA Draft. Muhammad played five seasons in the NBA and is currently playing in China.