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National Signing Day: Five Most Important Signings

With new coaches at top colleges, certain commitments were imperative from a perception standpoints.

As the NCAA’s Early Signing Period commences today, we take a look at the five most important signings for every reason from perception to personnel.

1. Dereck Lively (Duke): Of course, the top player in the class signing anywhere would be a big deal, but it’s especially important for the Blue Devils who should lose two but are more likely to lose three of their trees in the paint. Paolo Banchero is widely regarded as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, Theo John is a grad transfer and Mark Williams seems primed for a breakout season. Lively gives Duke an instant impact center who impacts the game on both ends of the floor in multiple ways. Also, landing Lively was important for Duke perception-wise, sending the message that though Mike Krzyzewski will be gone, Jon Scheyer is going to uphold the “Duke” standard.

2. Nick Smith Jr. (Arkansas): Eric Musselman continued to prove that he’s a major player in the recruiting game by landing Smith, who was arguably the most dominant guard of the summer. Yes, Smith was right in his backyard, but prying him away from Bruce Pearl, John Calipari and Nate Oats was anything but a cakewalk. Still, landing Smith was about more than appearances and perception, the 6’4” shooting guard has the kind of scoring ability that will upgrade the Hogs backcourt from day one, with the ability to shoot with limitless range odd the catch, change speeds and score in the mid-range and finish through contact.

Jalen Washington is one of the most versatile forwards in the 2022 class.

Jalen Washington is one of the most versatile forwards in the 2022 class.

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3. Jalen Washington (North Carolina): Washington was new Tar Heels coach Hubert Davis’ first top tier commit and sent an important subconscious message to other recruits that the Tar Heels remain strong even after Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams’ retirement. At 6’9”, Washington is versatile enough to score at all three levels, has the length to effectively guard the basket and is a gifted rebounder. Davis will be able to use Washington with multiple lineups in multiple ways.

4. Arterio Morris (Texas): Morris was Chris Beard’s first commit from the 2022 class just after taking the job in Austin. Morris was widely regarded as the top player in the Dallas area and from a perception standpoint it was imperative that Beard was able to keep him in-state. That said, Morris’ combination of athleticism, shiftiness, quickness and scoring ability will make him an instant impact player in Beard’s backcourt.

5. Vincent Iwuchukwu (USC): After Andy Enfield’s success with Evan Mobley, a one-and-done center who was picked No. 3 overall in this year’s NBA Draft, landing another potential one-and-done talent like Iwuchukwu bodes well for Enfield’s sales pitches going forward. At 7’0”, Iwuchukwu gushes potential with great agility, hands and finishing ability in the paint.