Recruiting Notebook: Bruce Pearl bringing in No. 1 2017 Class so far
- The Tigers' No. 1 class could continue to grow as the first signing period closes. Plus, Rick Pitino is on a recruiting hot streak for Louisville.
Keep up with all the latest in college basketball recruiting news, rankings, and highlights at Scout.com.
Auburn ranks No. 1 in 2017 Class Rankings
In Bruce Pearl’s first three recruiting classes, he landed four top-100 prospects and set the groundwork for future success, not only on the court, but also from a recruiting perspective.
Now, the recruiting success is coming at a rapid pace. With 10 weeks until the initial November signing period, Pearl has pledges from three recruits ranked among the top 45 players in the country.
The crown jewel of his class is 6' 10" big man Austin Wiley, who currently ranks No. 10 in the country. A strong, physical center, Wiley, whose mother and father both played at Auburn, is a talented rebounder, rim protector and post presence.
But Wiley is far from the only piece to Auburn’s 2017 puzzle.
To go with the five-star big man, Davion Mitchell, Scout’s No. 35 ranked prospect, and Chuma Okeke, the No. 45 overall recruit, are also on board early. Mitchell brings speed, toughness and electric play-making to the point guard spot, while Okeke is a versatile forward who impacts the game playing inside and out as well as on the backboard.
Louisville, Pitino make post-July moves
Louisville went through a rough patch last year with NCAA allegations and an eventual self-imposed ban from postseason play, but the off-season has been kind to Rick Pitino and the Cardinals, as they’ve reeled in a pair of top-100 prospects since the July evaluation period ended.
The action started on Aug. 4 when No. 30 overall prospect Malik Williams committed to Louisville over the likes of Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue and a host of other high-major schools.
Williams, who was one of the top performers of the summer, brings skill and finesse to the power forward position. His offensive attack is versatile and effective. He’s capable of stepping out on the floor and burying jump shots, and he has tremendous touch around the goal.
While adding a talented power forward was at the top of Louisville’s wish list, the Cardinals also had to add a point guard in 2017, especially after missing on their top prospects at the position in 2016. They set their sights on Darius Perry and Makai Ashton-Langford.
On Tuesday, Perry, Scout’s No. 80 overall prospect, opted for Louisville, picking the school over Georgia. Perry fits the mold of a Louisville guard, as he’s an aggressive, tough and scoring-minded lead guard who has a lot of potential as a defender.
With the addition of Perry this week, Louisville moved up to No. 5 in the 2017 recruiting class rankings. The Cardinals have at least two more scholarships available and have honed in on Brandon Randolph, Alex O'Connell, and Lance Thomas.
Has recruiting process slowed down?
Texts and comments from college coaches, AAU coaches and others in the recruiting industry about the lack of movement with the 2017 class have been rolling in since the July evaluation periods ended.
It feels like the process has slowed down. Players appear to be taking their time narrowing their lists and setting up official visits.
“100%,” a high major assistant said when asked if the process was going slower this year.
The truth is, at least when compared to the commitment timetables of the 2016 and 2015 classes, things are on track.
In fact, commitments are actually slightly ahead of schedule. Thus far, 37 top-100 recruits have verbally committed. In 2016, 33 top-100 players had made commitments through August. In 2015, 35 top-100 prospects were off the board in the same timeframe.
So if the data from the past two years holds true, things are about to pick up quickly. In 2016, there were 49 top-100 commitments in September (21), October (8) and November (20). Compare that to 2015, where there were 37 commitments during the same span.
But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been or won’t be holdouts. If a prospect is going to wait it out until the second signing period, which starts in April, there’s a higher probability that it’s going to be a top 15 prospect. In 2015, 10 of the top 15 prospects didn’t make their decisions until March.
“If you’re an elite player, there’s no real reason to rush,” one high-major coach told Scout. “They hold the cards.”
With that said, the top prospects in the 2016 class did move a little quicker, as just four of the top 16 players waited until March of their senior seasons to make their college choices.
It’ll be interesting to see how the 2017 class compares. Thus far, 12 of the top-50 prospects in the class have made verbally commitments, although just three—Michael Porter, Austin Wiley, and Mitchell Robinson of the top 15 have offered up a pledge.