{{ timeAgo('2020-05-20 05:59:31 -0500') }} basketball Edit

Wednesday's Leftovers: UK's first 2021 commit; Syracuse targets; 2023 stars

Jaden Hardy
Jaden Hardy (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

The class of 2021 is now at the forefront of the recruiting world as many have now completed their rosters for next season. With greater attention geared towards it, an onslaught of questions has been asked regarding where 2021 prospects may end up. In the latest edition of Wednesday’s Leftovers, we address Kentucky and Syracuse’s first 2021 commitment, another potential package deal and much more.

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2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position

2022 Rankings: Top 75

Man, that is a tough one. Not a single member of the 2021 class jumps off the page as a heavy Kentucky lean that would be ready to commit any time soon. A lot of that has to do with a dearth of elite prospects in the 2021 class, that UK took a giant 2020 class and will likely not see as many one-and-dones leave the program next spring, and that their attention still remains somewhat on the senior class.

Just six from the 2021 class hold UK offers: Kennedy Chandler, Jaden Hardy, Patrick Baldwin, Jon Kuminga, Paolo Banchero and Moussa Cisse. All recently cut their school lists outside of Kuminga. He, along with Cisse, could jump into the 2020 class, though UK remains in catch-up mode for both.

Chandler and Banchero are set on taking their allotted official visits in the fall so I would be surprised if one decides before then. Baldwin has not decided whether he will sign in the spring or in the fall.

That brings things to Hardy. There has been talk that the Wildcats may have slipped some, but until I have credible proof that he is not Lexington-bound, I will stick with the blue blood. When his commitment is made remains in question where he just established a final school list that is set at a dozen programs.

It may be several more weeks before UK celebrates its first commitment.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH KENTUCKY FANS AT CATSILLUSTRATED.COM

Syracuse is in a very good spot for Benny Williams. Earlier this month, the four-star junior cut his list to a final four that included the Orange, along with Georgetown, Maryland, and Miami. Syracuse has been a heavily discussed landing spot for Williams but so has Miami which has created a strong pipeline between Williams’ DMV locale and the ACC program. However, Syracuse, for now, would be my pick for Williams.

Who might join him depends some on whether the Orange would land Frank Anselem this offseason or not. A decision is expected in the coming weeks, but if he does not choose Syracuse, Jim Boeheim would definitely want to secure a frontline presence for next year. They have made Mac Etienne a priority and have not backed off this spring. There was talk that he might reclassify but chances are he remains in the 2021 class.

Etienne’s travel teammate, Franck Kepnang, is a top target, as is emerging big man Samson Johnson. Other Rivals150 juniors that hold a Syracuse offer also include Quincy Allen, John Camden, and Arthur Kaluma.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH SYRACUSE FANS AT CUSECONFIDENTIAL.COM

Max Christie
Max Christie (Courtesy of USA Basketball)

Another potential ‘package deal’ in the 2021 class that is Patrick Baldwin and Max Christie. Here is what Christie told Rivals.com earlier this spring regarding the two playing together in college:

“I have known Pat since we were in sixth grade and obviously, we have had some talks here and there, but it hasn’t been anything necessarily huge. I think that it is kind of accidental actually that we have both the same type of schools on our list but yeah, Pat is someone that I am close with and talk to every now and again.”

You bring up Duke and Northwestern as destinations which is fairly accurate because I cannot see those two together elsewhere. Of the two, I would say that Duke has the best chance primarily because they are the blue blood in this instance and are accustomed to enrolling five-star talent like Baldwin and Christie practically every year compared to Northwestern.

Now, I will say, this is a unique circumstance. Northwestern coach Chris Collins has been gearing up for this chance for a few years. Both of Baldwin's parents played at Northwestern and Christie's mother played at Northwestern. The two are very good friends, as Christie stated, which has been developed over the years dating back to middle school which Collins is definitely selling, along with the strong academics the schools can offer and its close proximity to each.

I see the two going their separate ways, whether that is Duke, Kentucky or Milwaukee for Baldwin, and Duke, Michigan State, or Virginia for Christie. There is, though, a small chance the two stick it out and form one of the better guard-forward combos in the sport come the fall of 2021.

There was some discussion earlier this spring that Trevor Keels was close to committing. That was not the truth. While he has already taken official visits to Ohio State and Virginia, Keels is hoping that once in-person recruiting can begin again, that he can see a number of the schools recruiting him.

In the meantime, virtual visits and Zoom calls is all that can be done. He has never produced an exact school list but Duke, Georgetown, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, UConn and Villanova, along with OSU and UVA, are the primary programs involved.

Keels has a number of ties to a number of the programs recruiting him but no one has prioritized him for a longer duration than Villanova and Virginia and feels these are the programs to beat. Look for Keels to take a handful of visits this summer and fall before coming to a final decision later in the year.

While we are in the middle of releasing the final Rivals150 and position rankings for 2020 and will also roll out the updated 2021 and 2022 Rivals150 later this month, we are still some time away from the releasing the inaugural 2023 Rivals150 rankings, which likely won’t be done until the fall.

Usually, this spring and summer is the time that we attain a greater grasp of the top rising sophomores. That won’t be the case this year, of course, thanks to the pandemic that has shut down the travel season. Fortunately, we were able to evaluate a few of the elite during the high school season.

** Mikey Williams is the complete package at the scoring guard position. He has great size, possesses a college ready frame, remarkable athleticism, and is an underrated playmaker that can create for others and himself.

** Dajuan Wagner Jr. just turned 15 years old, has the bloodlines in which he is the son of former NBA guard Dajuan Wagner and the grandson of Louisville great Milt Wagner, and has already shown that he can flourish under the spotlight thanks to a full showing at the famed Hoophall Classic in January.

** The next man up out of Florida, Matt Bewley has a great collection of size, length, athleticism and versatility in the frontcourt. His twin brother, Ryan Bewley, is a promising prospect, too.

** Omaha Biliew is a daunting prospect at the forward spot that comes of age at the ideal time. A tailor-made small ball power forward, Biliew can already complete a multitude of tasks in the frontcourt. He will be one of the more coveted recruits in the 2023 class.