Plenty of talent still on the board
Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett, Jarnell Stokes and more
By Adam Zagoria, Special to Fivestarbasketball.com
The early signing period has come and gone and there are still plenty of Big Names left on the board.
Five of the top 25 players in the 2012 ESPNU 100 -- and 13 of the 100 -- remain unsigned, meaning numerous teams can still add top-notch talent come the April signing period.
"It is rare to have all these guys out there of [that] caliber of player that has not signed early," one Division 1 assistant told FiveStarBasketball.com. "Most kids make a decision so much earlier and to have the caliber of player is kind of rare. But it's good. We're going to try to jump in on a couple of those kids."
Here is a look at six programs that could significantly help themselves in the spring period.
DUKE -- The Blue Devils have signed only Houston shooting guard Rasheed Sulaimon, but remain in play for 6-6 Las Vegas shooting guard Shabazz Muhammad, the No. 1 prospect in the class, and 6-foot-9 power forward Tony Parker of Georgia. Muhammad, a potential program-changer, will take an official to Duke March 3 for the North Carolina game.
KENTUCKY -- John Calipari currently has the No. 2 ranked recruiting class in the nation with 6-5 Arkansas shooting guard Archie Goodwin (ESPN No. 13), 6-7 Tennessee forward Alex Poythress (No. 17) and 6-10 Kansas center Willie Cauley(No. 32). Yet Kentucky's class could grow still more impressive by adding some combination of Muhammad, 6-8 Findlay Prep power forward Anthony Bennett (No. 7), 6-8 Memphis power forward Jarnell Stokes (No. 18) and 6-7 Philadelphia forward Amile Jefferson (No. 24). Those players will all now get to wait and see what happens with the NBA collective bargaining agreement and how that, in turn, might impact the one-and-done prospects of Kentucky freshmen Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague.
ST. JOHN'S -- Steve Lavin's club has experienced a rash of decommitments in recent weeks, including 6-8 Brewster (N.H.) Academy forward JaKarr Sampson, 6-7 Louisiana forward Ricardo Gathers and 6-10 California center Norvel Pelle. Sampson and Pelle were both originally in the Class of 2011, but are now expected to prep until the fall of 2012. St. John's could still get Sampson and/or Gathers back in the spring, since both are still considering the Johnnies. Lavin's crew is also in the hunt for 6-9 shot-blocker Chris Obekpa (No. 91) of Long Island.
UCONN -- Depending on what happens with the NBA, the defending national champs could lose freshman big man Andre Drummond and sophomore wing Jeremy Lamb to the pros. At this point, the Huskies have signed only New York shooting guard Omar Calhoun (No. 27), but remain in the hunt for Bennett, Jefferson and Obekpa. With the expected departure of Drummond, and possibly junior forward Alex Oriakhi, the Huskies need to add bigs.
UCLA -- ESPN has the Bruins' recruiting class at No. 9 now thanks to the additions of St. Anthony point guard Kyle Anderson (No. 5), the best passer in the Class of 2012, and Oak Hill small forward Jordan Adams (No. 50). That class could grow even more impressive by adding Muhammad and/or Parker, who lists the Bruins along with Duke, Ohio State and Memphis.
MEMPHIS -- Josh Pastner got one important piece of business out of the way this week when 6-8 power forward Shaq Goodwin (No. 19) signed after saying he would wait until the spring. Goodwin joins Oak Hill small forward Damien Wilson (No. 63) in Memphis' class. Yet Pastner, one of the top recruiters in the land, is still in the hunt for both Parker and Stokes, a Memphis kid who could end up staying home.
1. Shabazz Muhammad
7. Anthony Bennett
18. Jarnell Stokes
20. Devonta Pollard
24. Amile Jefferson
30. Ricardo Gathers
31. Tony Parker
38. Torian Graham
51. Andrew White
67. Savon Goodman
68. Winston Shepard
91. Chris Obekpa
96. Wannah Bail
*All rankings above are courtesy of ESPNU