The early signing period has now passed, and due to a few surprise early decisions less players than expected are available to be signed. Still there are numerous talented prospects left on the board, and a few teams really have a chance to step up and improve as we get closer to the spring signing period.
This is the school with the most work to do, and also the best chance to make waves. The Jayhawks are firm contenders for five-star centers Jarrett Allen and Marques Bolden, have been mentioned strongly with five-star wing Josh Jackson, recently got into the mix with four-star guard Andrew Jones, and are considered top two with four-star center Udoka Azubuike.
While the Jayhawks might not be the overwhelming leader for any of those prospects, they do have a good chance to reel a few of them in, plus who knows if they decide to make a late run at Thon Maker or Rawle Alkins.
Bill Self has a proven track record and knows the ins and outs of complex recruitments, which many spring signees are. Still the Jayhawks absolutely have to re-load with this class, and there is a lot of work to be done before April gets here.
A strong finish and Kansas could be a pre-season top five team next year, however if they stumble and miss out on kids the roster will not be what people in Lawrence expect.
The Red Storm got off to a good start in their class with four-star Shamorie Ponds, but there is still a lot of work to do for Chris Mullin to get the roster back where he wants it. While most make a big deal of recruiting the City, Mullin is also going some non-tradtional routes, and that could pay big dividends late.
Easily the top remaining target is Alkins. The five-star New York native is now in North Carolina, but St. John’s is considered in his top two with NC State. The Red Storm have put in a lot of work here, but with Alkins anything is possible. St. John’s has a need on the wing next year, so while it won’t be easy, Alkins could be a huge lift for the class.
Also there are two other wings on the radar in junior college standout Bashir Ahmed, another New York native, has numerous high-major options, and the Red Storm are really focused on him hoping to add his scoring.
Then there is German Richard Freudenberg. He is considered one of the top young players in Europe, and St. John’s is the commanding leader for his services. It is possible that Freudenberg could be a four-star caliber player after viewing tape this year.
The Wildcats had a slow start to the 2016 recruiting class by their standards only landing Finnish standout Lauri Markkanen, but the opportunity is there for Arizona to make a huge move.
In some circles the Wildcats are considered the leader for Jackson, and then they also are very much in the mix with Jones.
Landing Jackson would give Arizona multiple five-star commitments, which very few schools can claim, and if they can get Jackson and Jones, now you are talking a potential top five class and definitely a top 10 class.
Add in that you never know if a Kobi Simmons could re-emerge or even potentially at late sleeper on the West Coast, and Arizona could go from a slightly disappointing class to an elite one in a hurry.
The Sun Devils already have a solid start with two four-star commitments, but the potential is there for much more, and it is realistic to think that it is happening.
Five-star power forward Thon Maker is making his first official visit to Arizona State, and some considered them to be the leader. Maker is one of the elite talents in this class, and would bolster things in a big way.
Also recently Arizona State has gotten involved with Australian William McDowell-White. McDowell White is a top 50 caliber player who has big time high-major interest from all over.
If Arizona State can land one of the two prospects than they will make a huge move in the recruiting rankings and become one of the most talented rosters in the Pac 12.
Also you have to look to Shaka Smart. He has a solid start with four-star prospects James Banks and Jacob Young, but so much more is out there for him. If Smart can finish strong, there is top 10 potential in this class.
The first, and most obvious, prospect to watch is Jarrett Allen. Allen is from Austin and basically goes to high school right next to the UT campus. Allen will be able to make trips to Texas whenever he wants, and that kind of home field advantage allows the coaching staff easy access to Allen.
Also up the road in Irving is Andrew Jones. Texas is considered a major threat for Jones, and the No. 30 overall prospect also should be able to get down to Austin fairly easily if he desires during the year.
After missing out on some of the state’s big fish in the early signing period, if Smart and his staff can reel in Jones and Allen, or even one of the two, their recruiting class would make a jump from solid to great.