From Xavier Henry and John Wall in the 2009 class, to Josh Selby and Brandon Knight in the 2010 class, drama has been at the forefront of the late signing period the past couple of years.
For the 2011 class, the intriguing storylines were more than just late signing period antics.
It starts at the top with the nation’s top prospect – Anthony Davis. In May of 2009 he was an unknown 6-foot-3 wing prospect. By May 2010, Davis had grown to 6-foot-9 yet only a handful of college programs had seen him.
Davis’ effort in June at NBA Camp was heard around the country and he began collecting offers from some of the nation’s top programs prior to them laying eyes on him.
By the end of July he was the hottest prospect in the nation and ended the summer ranked as the best player in the country.
Kentucky, Syracuse, and Ohio State came out of the summer as his top schools. By the end of the August he was on the board for Kentucky, but that wasn’t the end of the drama.
The commitment drew quite a bit of heat from the Chicago Sun-Times, who cited sources saying Davis’ family was asking the schools for money. Davis’ family threatened a law suit, but to this day not much has come of the story.
While Quincy Miller’s emergence as a prospect wasn’t as inspiring as Davis’, the 6-foot-9 versatile prospect had just as unique of a recruitment.
Early on he was thought to be a Kentucky lean because of his friendship with John Wall. But the waters were muddied and UK and Miller parted ways.
By the end of June, Louisville and Baylor emerged as the leaders. In September, Scout.com’s No. 2 rated player, visited Louisville and many expected him to announce for the Cardinals shortly after his visit.
That didn’t happen.
Baylor turned up the heat; showing up at Miller’s house at midnight of the first day college coaches could be out. Scott Drew and assistant Jerome Tang won over Miller and his close friend, and top 50 prospect, Deuce Bello. They committed to the Bears shortly after their official visit.
Credit Baylor for working their connections. Miller and Bello both played for D-One Sports and played for former Baylor and D-One coach Dwon Clifton, the brother of program director Brian Clifton.
Austin Rivers, Scout.com’s No. 3 prospect, had a number of twists and turns in his recruitment as well.
An early commit to Florida, Rivers was set to play for Billy Donovan and the Gators for quite some time. He helped reel in Brad Beal next to him and the two were expected to be a dynamic backcourt in the SEC.
Slowly Rivers began to back off of his commitment. Even prior to his de-commitment, most saw it coming and he was basically a soft verbal for nearly a year.
Finally the sensational scorer opened up his recruitment to a select few schools – North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, and Duke – and went through the recruiting process again.
However Rivers, a standout at Winter Park (Fla.) High, was thought to be a heavy Duke lean for quite some time, and the Blue Devils were able to fend off a late run by the Tar Heels scoring a commitment from the five-star prospect in October.
While James McAdoo’s decision was never in question, he nearly made a play to go to North Carolina early.
A member and leader of the U17 USA Basketball, McAdoo has always been recognized as a top 10 talent, since he arrived on the scene at Boo Williams during the spring of his freshman season.
So it’s no surprise that Roy Williams and his staff wanted to get him to campus as soon as possible. McAdoo weighed his options and seriously considered heading to campus with the 2010 class, much like Andre Dawkins did with Duke.
In the end, McAdoo opted to finish out his high school career at Norfolk (Va.) Christian in the 2011 class.
Rumors swirled following his junior season that Michael Gilchrist could head to Kentucky early as well, but that talk never materialized.
What made Gilchrist’s commitment so unique was that he was thought to be a Kentucky lean for quite some time. In fact, Gilchrist was more thought of as a John Calipari lean than anything.
Due to Gilchrist’s connections and close relationship with William Welsey, Calipari had the early jump on the five-star prospect. However that doesn’t mean Kentucky didn’t have to work for him. Villanova also made a strong run at the electric wing.
For the most part many think Calipari could have been coaching at Memphis, Michigan, or even Montana and Gilchrist would have likely ended up with him.
Kentucky’s point guard in 2011 – Marquis Teague – was arguably part of the biggest recruiting battle of the 2011 class.
Teague, the top lead guard prospect in the 2011 class, was a Louisville lean for much of his high school career. In fact, the 6-foot-1 athletic guard nearly committed to the Cardinals during two separate visits to their campus as an underclassman.
See Louisville had a number of advantages over the Cats in this one. Teague’s father and uncle played for Rick Pitino at Boston and one of Teague’s close confidants was on the Louisville staff in an administrative role.
But that didn’t stop Calipari from sticking his head into the mix. The Cats began pitching John Wall’s success and aggressively recruiting Teague. And slowly his tune began to change.
In the week leading up to the announcement, sources confirmed that Teague changed his mind multiple times, going back and forth on which school to pick.
The morning of his press conference word began to leak out that Teague was headed to Kentucky, a revelation that would have been shot down as crazy talk just two months prior.
Brad Beal’s big storyline turned out to be that he stayed with the Gators.
For months rumors swirled about Beal, a standout at St. Louis (Mo.) Chaminade College Prep. When he initially committed to the Gators, he cited playing with Rivers, among other reasons and with Rivers now off the board, some expected another de-commitment.
The school of thought was Beal would open it back up and consider nearby Kansas and other programs closer to home. As it turns out, the Gators held on to their prized recruit and Scout.com’s No. 7 player is expected to sign on signing day.
While Beal’s deal was much to do about nothing, Adonis Thomas’ unique plot was the fact that he was a long time Memphis lean, but still managed to drag out the process.
Thomas, a highly regarded athletic wing prospect, took visits to Florida, UCLA, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Memphis. But ultimately it was Josh Pastner and Memphis that won him over.
Perhaps the biggest selling point was a video played during their midnight madness festivities that had Penny Hardaway, a former Memphis standout, talking about the joy of staying home and playing for his hometown school.
Myck Kabongo didn’t have much of a chance of staying home and playing for a hometown school, as he is a native of Canada. But his recruitment certainly took on a life of it’s own.
An early commit to Texas, Kabongo, the No. 2 lead guard and No. 9 overall prospect in 2011, went the entire spring and summer with word circulating that he was contemplating opening up his recruitment.
Texas made it through the summer unscathed and with signing day just two weeks away, they still held a commitment and were the school expected to sign the Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep standout.
Then with 12 days to Signing Day, Kabongo de-committed from Rick Barnes and his staff.
He cited four schools – Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Syracuse – that he would look at as well as Texas. The early reports were he would follow Austin Rivers to Duke, as the two are close friends and wanted to play together.
But top 20 recruit Quinn Cook ended that speculation, committing to Duke just a couple of days after Kabongo opened up his recruitment.
After all that Kabongo decided to give Texas another verbal commitment, ending the speculation for once and all.
Finally Rakeem Christmas, Scout.com’s No. 10 prospect, had an interesting list of schools from the get go. Florida International, Oklahoma, Georgetown, Florida, Texas, and Rutgers were all in the mix.
He visited a number of them prior to Syracuse even making his list. On top of that, before Syracuse made their way to Christmas’ official list he took an under-the-radar trip to see their campus and what they had to offer.
Turns out AAU teammate and close friend Trevor Cooney had been recruiting the 6-foot-9 shot blocking monster for quite some time. And the relationship led to a visit and the visit led to a commitment.
From Davis at No. 1 to Christmas at No. 10, the mystery and intrigue with this class has been prevalent.
And while the past two years the drama came late, the 2011 class brought the noise all year long.
Scout: Teague's recruiting tale