Jeff Borzello, ESPN Staff WriterNov 20, 2023, 08:00 AM ET
The early signing period came and went without too much drama — zero commitment flips or decommitments, zero five-star prospects opting not to sign a letter of intent — but it did feature eight ESPN 100 prospects making their college decisions.
As a result, there has been some movement in the recruiting class rankings. No. 1 stayed the same, but a familiar school is now right behind it. And it’s a blueblood party near the top of the rankings, with very few surprises in the top 10.
Coming out of the signing period, we’ve expanded the class rankings from a top 10 to a top 25. How much will change between now and the spring? Let’s take a look at the things to watch.
Over the past 10 years — and for Kentucky, the past 15 years — there have been two programs recruiting at a significantly higher level than every other program in the country: Duke and Kentucky. Since the class of 2014, Duke has had five No. 1 recruiting classes and has finished lower than No. 2 just once — the Blue Devils were No. 4 in 2021. Since John Calipari arrived at Kentucky in 2009, the Wildcats have had seven No. 1 classes and five No. 2 classes, finishing lower than No. 2 just three times. In fact, if Duke and Kentucky remain at No. 1 and No. 2, it will be the eighth time since 2014 that the Blue Devils and Wildcats have been No. 1 and No. 2 in either order.
It’s unlikely anyone is catching Duke at No. 1, especially with the Blue Devils still in pursuit of V.J. Edgecombe. And with Kentucky the likely favorite for Billy Richmond, the Wildcats are pretty entrenched at No. 2 as well.
In the past 12 months, Rodney Terry has turned his interim head coach position into a Big 12 tournament title, an Elite Eight appearance, a long-term contract and a top-three recruiting class. Texas wasn’t in the initial class rankings before the signing period, but the Longhorns are now firmly in the top three after adding top-five recruit Tre Johnson. Johnson joins a group that already included ESPN 100 prospects Cameron Scott and Nic Codie. In the 2023 class, Texas had commitments from No. 2 prospect Ron Holland and top-50 guard A.J. Johnson before both opted to go the professional route. It’s fitting the Longhorns bounced back with a top-tier recruiting class one year later.
Classes to watch
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are the team to watch moving forward, as they’re considered the favorite for the top uncommitted prospect in the country, Dylan Harper.
Arizona: The Wildcats are just outside the top five as things stand, but adding top-25 point guard Zoom Diallo would push them into the elite tier.
Indiana:Derik Queen didn’t end up signing during the early period, but the Hoosiers were one of two favorites entering the week (alongside Maryland). Can Mike Woodson ultimately pair him with fellow five-star Liam McNeeley?
Duke has a sizable lead in the race for the No. 1 class in the country, with three five-star commits, four top-25 commits and five inside the top 50. It starts with Flagg, the best player in high school basketball and the heavy favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2025 NBA draft. On his own, Flagg would be enough to give Duke a shot at the top class. But when he committed, coach Jon Scheyer already had commitments from Isaiah Evans (No. 8), Kon Knueppel (No. 22) and Darren Harris (No. 45). And then Duke added another five-star in the form of Pat Ngongba (No. 19), one of the few top-tier bigs in the class. The Blue Devils are still in the hunt for elite wing V.J. Edgecombe (No. 5).
Kentucky went from outside the top 10 before the signing period all the way up to No. 2 following the additions of Quaintance and Travis Perry (No. 84). Quaintance has one of the highest ceilings in the class. He reclassified up from 2025 and brings skill, versatility and potential at the forward position. Perry is an in-state prospect whose commitment to the Wildcats came as something of a surprise. Those two are joined by five-star guard Boogie Fland (No. 18), an explosive combo guard with plenty of speed who loves to get to the rim off the bounce, and Somto Cyril (No. 55). Kentucky is still in the mix — and arguably the favorite — for Billy Richmond (No. 34).
The Longhorns had perhaps the biggest win of the early signing period by beating out Baylor for elite guard and top-five recruit Tre Johnson. The two in-state schools had gone back-and-forth for most of the last few months battling for Johnson, but Rodney Terry was able to pull it out in the end. Johnson is a big-time scorer and one of the most gifted offensive players in the class. He adds to a Texas class that already has two other ESPN 100 prospects in the class: top-25 wing Cameron Scott (No. 24) and forward Nic Codie (No. 67). With the Longhorns moving to the SEC next season, Terry should certainly have the playmakers to keep up with the league.
This class could have given Duke a run for its money at No. 1 had Elliot Cadeau stuck in 2024, but the elite passing point guard reclassified up a year, so Carolina will have to settle for the top five for now. The Tar Heels are still bringing in two five-star wings in Powell and Ian Jackson (No. 17), as well as four-star power forward James Brown (No. 68). Powell is a terrific athlete who contributes at both ends of the floor, while Jackson is a former top-five prospect who has dropped spots in the rankings due to inconsistency. But when he’s at his best, he can score points in a hurry.
Kansas has three ESPN 100 prospects already in the fold, led by Bidunga, the best big man in the country. Bidunga is a big-time recruit who can finish around the rim, rebound at both ends and make an impact as a shot-blocker on the interior. It’s his motor that will separate him at the next level. Along with Bidunga, Bill Self is bringing in point guard Labaron Philon (No. 35) and Rakease Passmore (No. 52). Philon is a former Auburn commit, while the Jayhawks made up a ton of ground toward the end of Passmore’s recruitment to land his pledge.
Tommy Lloyd did his work early in the 2024 cycle, picking up the two anchors in his recruiting class before the summer began. Guard Jamari Phillips (No. 26) picked the Wildcats last December. Phillips can play either guard spot, continues to improve his offensive game and is capable of getting to the rim or shooting from the perimeter. Bryant popped into the fold this spring. He has been on the radar for a couple of years and really started to put things together over the past few months with length, shooting ability and feel as his strengths. Emmanuel Stephen (No. 95) rounded out the trio in early October.
Ed Cooley’s first full recruiting class in the nation’s capital is in great shape. The Hoyas have four four-star prospects, including three ranked inside the ESPN 100. Drew McKenna (No. 71) initially planned to reclassify into 2023 after committing to Georgetown, but he’s not going to suit up until the 2024-25 season, thus remaining in the ESPN 100 until further notice. Along with McKenna, there’s 6-foot-9 center Sorber (No. 60) and 6-6 wing Kayvaun Mulready (No. 75), both ESPN 100 prospects. Four-star Washington, D.C., product Caleb Williams rounds out the quartet.
Rutgers could end up with one of the elite classes in college basketball, as mentioned above. But even if the Scarlet Knights don’t land Harper, Steve Pikiell already has an immediate difference-maker in Bailey (No. 3). A 6-8 wing from Georgia, Bailey has incredible physical tools and can make an impact on the offensive end with his ability to get to the rim, shoot from the perimeter and distribute. The Scarlet Knights also have ESPN 100 center Lathan Sommerville (No. 87), four-star power forward Dylan Grant and three-star forward Bryce Dortch.
Tom Izzo and Michigan State are poised for back-to-back top-10 recruiting classes. The Spartans finished at No. 4 in the 2023 cycle, led by big man Xavier Booker. At this point, they don’t have a five-star prospect in the group, but there are three ESPN 100 talents in the Spartans’ class. Top-40 guards Richardson and Kur Teng (No. 39) lead the way. Richardson, the son of former NBA veteran Jason, is an adept playmaker, creating his own shot and taking care of the ball. Teng is a perfect Izzo player, demonstrating toughness and scoring ability. The third member of the class is Ohio native Jesse McCullough (No. 98), a 6-9 center.
Matt Painter is bringing in a six-man class that received a boost into the top 10 when ESPN 100 guard Gicarri Harris picked the Boilermakers over Georgia Tech on the final day of the signing period. Harris can play either guard position and can really shoot it from the perimeter. Fellow ESPN 100 prospect Catchings is the headliner of the group, with his potential, physical ability and ability to score at the rim or from the perimeter. Raleigh Burgess, C.J. Cox, Jack Benter and 7-footer Daniel Jacobsen — what would a Purdue class be without a 7-footer? — round out the group.
Missouri was involved in some high-level recruiting battles this cycle, winning some and losing some — and still coming out of the signing period with a very strong five-man class. Boateng is the top name in the group. Dennis Gates was able to get him out of the state of Arkansas, and Boateng will be a perfect fit for Gates’ system at both ends of the floor. The same goes for Florida native Marcus Allen (No. 64), a tough, versatile, two-way player who plays with energy. Four-star center Peyton Marshall, a former Auburn commit, provides plenty of size on the interior, while 7-2 Trent Burns has a noteworthy ceiling. Point guard T.O. Barrett will provide depth as well.
A year after landing the No. 1 prospect in the 2023 class, Andy Enfield is tracking for his third consecutive top-15 recruiting class. The Trojans aren’t going to sign the best player in the country again, but they already have three ESPN 100 prospects ready to go. The highest ranked of the bunch is Perry, who committed in October. He’s a steady and unselfish point guard who showed promise as a scorer over the summer. Joining Perry are four-star shooting guard Liam Campbell (No. 76) and four-star forward Brody Kozlowski (No. 97), both of whom should help immediately as perimeter shooters.
After getting to the NCAA tournament and cooling off his seat — somewhat — Bobby Hurley hit the recruiting trail and reeled in a top-15 class. There are two ESPN 100 prospects at the top: Ali and Sammie Yeanay (No. 91). Ali brings 6-8 size and high-level offensive ability from the perimeter. Yeanay committed just before the signing period and plays with physicality and energy. Four-star Jaden Smith should help defensively, while three-star guard Bo Aldridge and junior college transfer Jeremiah Nyarko — a Sierra Canyon (California) product — are also headed to Tempe.
The momentum from Miami’s Final Four run has carried over to the recruiting trail with the Hurricanes landing Bethea — the program’s highest-ranked recruit in nearly 40 years. Bethea is coming off a breakout summer in which he cemented himself as one of the best backcourt players in the country. He can score at all three levels and will be able to get points immediately in Coral Gables. Next to him in Miami’s future backcourt is Austin Swartz (No. 51), another high-level scorer who can shoot it from 3. Three-star Isaiah Johnson-Arigu is the third member of the group.
Nate Oats has done an incredible job building up Alabama over the past few years through a combination of high school prospects and the transfer portal, and while there’s likely no Brandon Miller in this group, it’s a solid two-man group with a pair of top-50 prospects. Sherrell is a highly intriguing 6-10 center because of his mobility and skill for his position. He can score inside or out and is a versatile defender, which is key for Alabama’s system. Naasir Cunningham (No. 47) was once ranked as high as No. 1 in his class and still possesses a very high ceiling. Oats and the Crimson Tide still remain in the mix for Derrion Reid (No. 9).
18. Creighton Bluejays: Creighton is likely to lose several key players after this season, so this class should help Greg McDermott rebuild the roster. Jackson McAndrew (No. 41) and Larry Johnson (No. 96) are the headliners, and three-star guard Ty Davis is also headed to Omaha.
22. UConn Huskies: A year after landing a top-five class, Dan Hurley is bringing in another pair of ESPN 100 prospects in Ahmad Nowell (No. 33) and Isaiah Abraham (No. 81). Nowell should make an immediate impact with the likely departures of Tristen Newton, Cam Spencer and Stephon Castle.
23. Arkansas Razorbacks: Eric Musselman has made his mark in the transfer portal but continues to recruit high-level high school players. The latest duo headed to Fayetteville are Jalen Shelley (No. 43) and Isaiah Elohim (No. 53).