Evans Seven: Top players who could be on verge of committing
September is right around the corner, and hopefully that means we're getting closer to the beginning of the college season and the Early Signing Period. But there is still some work to be done for a number of programs across the nation when it comes to their respective 2021 classes. Here are seven players who could be nearing their commitments and which programs have the greatest chance of receiving their pledges.
2022 Rankings: Top 75
Could the finals days of the Harrison Ingram recruitment be nearing? The five-star has said very little about who he might be leaning toward and when a commitment might actually be made, but there is more than a decent chance that he decides his college fate sometime next month.
Focused on a final six, Purdue and Stanford have always been thought of as the two to beat in the race for the top 10 prospect. That remains true going into potentially the final weeks of Ingram’s recruitment, but if there is one program that can trump both of those prestigious institutions it is Michigan. North Carolina has remained involved, as have Harvard and Howard. But as we inch closer to a decision, this one appears to be more of a three-team battle.
Just a week ago, Kentucky handed out an offer to Bryce Hopkins. The consensus then was that he would not wait around too long before ultimately taking John Calipari up on the offer. Seven days have now passed and Hopkins has shown little willingness to end his recruitment, though that shouldn’t be taken as a sign that Kentucky isn’t the team to beat for the top 35 forward. There are questions about his fit in Lexington with the potential returns of Dontaie Allen and Cam'Ron Fletcher after the season, but with the need for multi-positional wings, UK is still the group ahead of all others.
Kaluma was born in Boston, moved to Texas as an adolescent and then made the transition to Arizona to complete his high school career. Those living arrangements have brought a variety of national powers into his recruitment. Sitting with a final eight that consists of Arizona State, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Syracuse, Texas A&M, USC and UNLV, Kaluma has begun to shut things down pertaining to his communication with college coaches, which might mean a commitment is near.
He has not shown his hand, but the feeling is that Arizona State, Texas A&M and UNLV are the three to beat. Any of the three could use his talents immediately next fall but the Running Rebels may have taken the lead after landing his good friend, Zaon Collins, over the weekend. Collins, a four-star point guard, is TJ Otzelberger’s greatest recruiting win to date.
The hiring of Texas assistant coach Jai Lucas has not been made official just yet by the folks at Kentucky, but Lucas' hiring seems to be a lock. That hiring could be what the Wildcats need in order to make the leap in the recruitment of Daimion Collins.
For months, Oklahoma and Texas were the clubhouse favorites for the Atlanta, Tex., native. Staying in his region and being around comfortable confines was a major selling point, something that UK cannot offer, even with the hiring of Lucas.
However, the current UT assistant has developed a tremendous relationship with Collins and his family. Oklahoma is still the team to beat and have continued to make the top 20 forward a must-get throughout the quarantine. Kentucky offered on Wednesday, but even with the potential hiring of Lucas and the blueblood nature of the program, OU still may have the upper hand.
Slated to commit on Sept. 1, Brandon Weston hasn’t spoken a whole lot regarding his ongoing recruitment, but we do know that he will end up at Illinois, Michigan, Pitt, Seton Hall, Wake Forest or Western Illinois. Seton Hall has received most of the talk in recent days as the program he will choose next Tuesday. That would give Kevin Willard an enviable backcourt for years to come after already landing two other Rivals150 perimeter prospects in the 2021 class.
Could Illinois, which has done some of its best work in recent years with products from Morgan Park High (the former school for Weston before he decided to transfer out west for his senior year) have what it takes to trump the Big East squad? Or will the Pirates win out? It is only a matter of days before the versatile, tough and potent scorer comes off the board.
Mike James, who is planning to announce his college decision on Sept. 9, is regarded as one of the toughest and most versatile forwards in his class. James, who has led a high-major, national recruitment, is expected to commit in the next two weeks.
He is focused on a final eight that consists of Alabama, Arkansas, Cincinnati, Louisville, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, USF and Virginia Tech. Texas A&M was thought to be the favorite heading into the stretch run for the four-star forward, but that has changed in recent weeks. Now, it is Alabama and Virginia Tech that have gained most of the talk. Still, a clear-cut favorite has yet to emerge, which likely will be the case until he makes his decision next month.
Ben Gregg, who plans to commit Sept. 9, has not been willing to show his hand a whole lot regarding his ongoing recruitment. He will not cut his list down publicly before deciding, and he still has not made up his mind on his eventual landing spot.
Many believe that this is a battle between Arizona and Oregon, while Oregon State has worked to stay in the race. Virginia has too, but odds are he remains on the West Coast for college. Originally born in Spokane, Wash., could Gregg’s recruitment have taken a major turn this week when Gonzaga decided to offer? That is still to be determined. Unless the Zags' tardy offer really rocked the boat, it is Arizona or Oregon that should land one of the best shooters in the 2021 class.