Zion Williamson talks about his game and his college recruitment
Eight basketball recruits in the Top 25 of the 247Sports composite rankings for the class of 2018 remain uncommitted, a list led, of course, by Zion Williamson, the only available high school senior with a scholarship offer from Kentucky.
Williamson will reveal his college decision next weekend — an announcement that is not expected to go UK’s way — and the others on the list will be making their commitments in the coming weeks and months.
As of now, the Wildcats have three signees for next season: point guard Immanuel Quickley, shooting guard Tyler Herro and wing Keldon Johnson.
Here’s a look at the latest in the recruitment of each uncommitted Top 25 player in the 247 composite rankings:
Ranking: No. 2 overall
Crystal Ball says: Clemson
The 6-foot-6 forward from Spartanburg, S.C., will announce his decision Jan. 20, and Clemson has emerged as the clear favorite. National recruiting analyst Andrew Slater started the first wave of predictions in favor of the Tigers back in November, then several other top recruiting analysts logged Crystal Ball picks for Clemson after Williamson set his announcement date last week.
Kentucky has long been seen as Clemson’s top competition for the dynamic star — and, at times, the Cats have been considered the favorites — but the momentum in favor of the Tigers has been overwhelming in recent weeks. Evan Daniels and Jerry Meyer are among the analysts now predicting that Williamson will stay home for college. The last 13 Crystal Ball picks have been for Clemson.
Ranking: No. 5 overall
Crystal Ball says: Vanderbilt
Technically, the 247Sports Crystal Ball shows a tie between Vandy and Indiana, but eight of the last nine predictions have been in favor of the Commodores, who have already signed five-star recruits Darius Garland and Simi Shittu for next season.
Langford — a 6-5 shooting guard from New Albany, Ind. — is also considering Kansas, and it’s tough to rule out any of his three finalists at this point. Slater and Meyer are among those predicting it will be Vandy.
Ranking: No. 9 overall
Crystal Ball says: Florida, but …
The Gators actually lead on Simons’ Crystal Ball page, but there’s been substantial buzz behind the scenes in favor of Tennessee in recent weeks (and Simons was in the building for the Vols’ victory over Kentucky on Saturday night). He was committed to Louisville before the college basketball scandal broke this fall, but he backed off that pledge after Rick Pitino was fired, and the Cards no longer appear to be in the picture.
Another possible suitor: the NBA.
Simons, a post-graduate player for IMG Academy (Fla.), is eligible to enter this year’s NBA Draft, and he was listed as the No. 19 overall prospect for the 2018 draft in ESPN’s latest update last month.
Ranking: No. 17 overall
Crystal Ball says: Foggy
Brown — a 6-10 forward from California — has narrowed his list to Cal, Gonzaga, Louisiana-Lafayette (where his father played), Nevada, Oregon, St. John’s and UCLA, but there hasn’t been much solid info on his recruitment. Slater and Meyer both logged pro-UCLA predictions in the fall (two of only six picks on his Crystal Ball page). UCLA and St. John’s have already received official visits.
Rivals.com national analyst Eric Bossi wrote last month that programs like UK, Duke and North Carolina would be wise to give Brown another look, but there’s been no evidence in recent weeks that he’s back on Kentucky’s radar. John Calipari had nice things to say about Brown during his USA Basketball training camp in June, but the Cats have never seriously recruited him.
Ranking: No. 19 overall
Crystal Ball says: Maryland
Other than Williamson, he’s the only player on this list that has been publicly linked to Kentucky in recent months. Brown — a 7-footer from Bronx, N.Y. — was visited by Calipari just before the early signing period in November, then the UK coach watched him play in a game a few weeks later. Still, Calipari has not extended a scholarship offer, which might be contingent on whether there’s a need for another UK big man following this season’s stay-or-go NBA decisions. If that’s the case, will Brown be willing to wait on the Wildcats for that long?
Florida State, Maryland and UCLA all hosted Brown for official visits during the fall, and the Terps hold a large advantage on his Crystal Ball page (though Slater logged a pick for FSU last month).
Ranking: No. 21 overall
Crystal Ball says: Too early to tell
Montgomery — a 6-10 forward from Marietta, Ga. — hit the reset button on his recruitment by decommitting from Auburn after the Tigers were mentioned in the federal investigation into college basketball last fall. Since then, he’s off to a tremendous start to his senior season — rising to the No. 6 spot in the 247Sports rankings — but not much is known about his recruitment. No new Crystal Ball predictions have been logged since his decommitment from Auburn, and Montgomery declared himself “completely open” in a recent interview with 247Sports.
A commitment seems to be a long way off, and teams searching for a big man late in the cycle are likely to be fighting for Montgomery’s pledge.
Ranking: No. 23 overall
Crystal Ball says: Villanova
Another player whose plans changed as a result of the college basketball scandal, Quinerly decommitted from Arizona in the fall and has been identified in several reports as one of the unnamed players mentioned in the federal documents related to the case.
Every Crystal Ball prediction for the New Jersey point guard since that decommitment has been in favor of Villanova.
Ranking: No. 24 overall
Crystal Ball says: Louisiana State
Williams — a 6-8 power forward from Florida — told Rivals.com over the weekend that his three finalists are Florida, LSU and Oregon, and the Tigers have picked up 13 consecutive predictions since October, including picks from Slater, Meyer and fellow national analysts Josh Gershon and Brian Snow.