But not this year, not at point guard. While several blue-chip floor generals committed early and removed themselves from the marketplace, heading into the summer many talented prospects remained on the board. But over the past several weeks, most of the uncommitted point guards have made pledges and left precious few still open to pursuit.
When Tyler Ulis announces his decision this evening, that will leave only three of our top 25 point guards without a college choice. Yes, national elite Tyus Jones has yet to make his pick, but most of the country's talent is settled and the winners and losers have become evident.
But the winners aren't necessarily the schools you'd expect. Sure, Louisville and North Carolina each hold a commitment from a top five point guard, but the No. 1 player at the position — Emmanuel Mudiay — will head to SMU. And No. 5, Josh Perkins, will play for Gonzaga.
BYU and Buffalo also won out for top-25 point guards, so that leaves quite a few major-conference programs on the outside peering in. This fall's recruiting battles thus have taken on even greater importance, as Kentucky (which appears in good shape for Ulis), UCLA, Michigan State, Duke (which appears in good shape for Jones) are just some of the blueblood programs still on the hunt.
So what's the connection, and does one even exist?
No one can say for certain, but the timing does point to indirect pressure as a factor, if nothing else. When Mudiay committed to Larry Brown's Mustangs, that opened a spot for Ulis (or potentially others) at Kentucky, which many expected at one time to land Mudiay.
Meanwhile, Michigan State didn't appear likely to get the Jones/Jahlil Okafor package deal and had honed in on Ulis (and still hope to pull off an upset). Iowa, on the other hand, had made Ulis a prime target from the beginning and watched as Mudiay's choice rippled throughout the nation.
The situation on the West Coast also unfolded sequentially. Within the Pac-12 footprint, Parker Jackson-Cartwright (Arizona), Ahmaad Rorie (California) and T.J. Haws (BYU) made early commitments. Tra Holder (Arizona State) and Dominique Collier (Colorado) followed suit this past May.
With available talent already draining, the situation intensified during the summer. The western floor generals all received panting attention from Pac-12 (and national) coaches, and all three appeared linked to each other in one fashion or another.
Gonzaga ultimately prevailed for Perkins — who's attending Huntington (W.Va.) Prep this season — in late August. Robert Cartwright then made his choice for Stanford official early this month, and just this week Jordan McLaughlin awarded the nod to USC.
Half of the Pac-12 now holds a top-25 point guard commitment. That leads the way nationally, as Ulis will give the second-place SEC its fifth if he indeed pledges to the Wildcats this evening.
I'll close now with one caveat. Albeit not ranked because he's in Australia and likely to enter the NBA draft next spring, combo guard Dante Exum is uncommitted from a college perspective and does list Indiana, North Carolina, Kentucky, Oregon and Michigan. His situation is unlikely to resolve until the spring, however, and most analysts expect him to bypass college altogether.