The biggest uncommitted name in 247Sports’s composite ranking of the top 50 recruits in the 2019 class? Well, it’s LaMelo Ball. Alas, the latest LaMelo news points to him playing overseas next year, keeping the Ball family circus away from college basketball. But there’s still elite talent on the board, in the form of four undecided top 20 recruits. R.J. Hampton (No. 5), Jaden McDaniels (No. 8), Precious Achiuwa (No. 14) and Trendon Watford (No. 17) have yet to announce where they’ll play next year, and those decisions will have a significant impact on the 2019–20 college basketball landscape.
We run down where the recruitment of each of those four stands:
The Favorite: Kansas. Like many top programs, the Jayhawks are waiting on key NBA draft-related decisions. Regardless of whether Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson elect to remain in the draft past the May 29 deadline, Kansas's backcourt would benefit from the addition of Hampton. After recently reclassifying, the 6’5” point guard is the fifth-ranked prospect in the class of 2019 and his ability to get buckets in bunches could even make him a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA draft. If he joins Udoka Azubuike and Marcus Garrett, the Big 12 could be looking at the beginning of a new streak.
Also in the running: Memphis, Kentucky, Texas Tech. As long as Penny Hardaway has scholarships available, he’ll be a threat to sign any top prospect to Memphis. The Tigers may not bring the star power of last year’s Duke team to town, but they’ve stolen the show this recruiting cycle and it wouldn’t be surprising for them to steal Hampton, too.
Twitter bio: “your question will soon be answered”
The Favorite: Kentucky. John Calipari made his name in Lexington hauling in one-and-done recruits from John Wall to Karl-Anthony Towns. Recently, however, he’s been out-gunned by Mike Krzyzewski in Durham, as Kentucky’s recruiting class has ranked second to Duke’s in each of the past three years. With the 2019 class, however, Calipari is back on top, and that’s without McDaniels, who might announce his decision Wednesday. The 6’10” McDonald’s All-American has drawn comparisons to former lottery pick Jonathan Isaac. If he joins guard Tyrese Maxey and wings Kahlil Whitney and Keion Brooks, this will surely be Calipari’s best class since 2015 and put the Wildcats in position to reclaim the SEC.
Also in the running: Washington, San Diego State, Texas. Kentucky is an unexpected headliner, but these three schools all rate as surprise inclusions. McDaniels is the top prospect from the state of Washington, and his older brother Jalen went to San Diego State. If he lands with Texas, Shaka Smart could have a supersized front court with McDaniels and fellow top-50 prospect Kai Jones.
Ambitious player comparison from hypebeasts: Kevin Durant
[Editor's Note: Achiuwa committed to Memphis two days after publish]
The Favorite: Memphis. Memphis is back. Entering his second season with the Tigers, Penny Hardaway has already proven himself as a master recruiter. He’s signed three top-50 recruits, including the class of 2019’s top prospect James Wiseman. Achiuwa, a 6’9” combo forward, can score in a variety of ways. His highlight reel is on par with the best in the country, but his consistency has been questioned. After the commitment of Boogie Ellis earlier this week, Hardaway is simply running out of roster spots for all these elite recruits, but Achiuwa would fit right in with the early favorites in the AAC in 2019–20.
Also in the running: Kansas, UConn, North Carolina, Georgia. After their dramatic 2014 title, the Huskies have dropped off the national radar while missing the NCAA tournament in four of the past five years. But that failure hasn’t been entirely for a lack of talent, as the class of 2016 included two top-50 recruits as well. Still, landing Achiuwa, the 17th-ranked prospect in this year’s class, is better than not landing him. It would be a huge signing for second-year coach Dan Hurley
Intriguing recent tweet:
[Editor's Note: Watford committed to LSU on Monday, May 20]
Favorite: LSU. With Will Wade reinstated, all signs point to Watford joining the Tigers when he announces his decision on May 20. The 6’9” Watford can get buckets with anyone, attacking on drives while also hitting the offensive glass at an elite level. With Tremont Waters hiring an agent, Naz Reid also declaring for the draft and Javonte Smart’s status uncertain, Watford would likely play a major role in the Tigers’ offense should he make his way to Baton Rouge in the fall.
Also in the running: Memphis, Alabama, Indiana. 247Sports gives LSU a 94% chance of signing Watford now that Wade is back, but counting out Penny Hardaway could be ill-advised.
Instagram posts of him in a sweatshirt that reads “CALL MY AGENT” despite being in high school: One