College Basketball Catch-Up: Let’s talk recruiting

After the conclusion of a wild season, it’s time to talk about where the top high school prospects are headed.

Photo of Bronny James in Sierra Canyon uniform.

“College Basketball Catch-Up” is a column by Terence Holton discussing the latest men’s college basketball headlines.

Though this season is over, the next season is only six months away. With the recent conclusion of the high school basketball season, some major programs regain a bit of their honor, while only one top 100 prospect stays uncommitted.

Blue Bloods stay dominant

Kentucky and Duke monopolized the recruiting cycle as they always do and landed some of the best prospects in the nation.

Just as people started calling Kentucky’s John Calipari washed, he pulled off an all-time great recruiting class bringing in four McDonald’s All Americans and four five-star recruits. Realistically coach Cal should be bringing in five McDonald’s All Americans, but Rob Dillingham was deemed ineligible.

The Wildcats should be really excited for this class, as three of the players in this class are ranked inside the top five and Rob Dillingham is ranked ninth. There is going to be a whole lot of talent on this team; it will really be a matter if the team can gel together because Kentucky will be dangerous if they can play together.

John Scheyer’s first year as head coach of Duke should be met with applause by Blue Devil fans as, for the first time in 42 years, Duke’s head coach was not named Mike Krzyzewski. However, after an up-and-down midseason, Scheyer managed to pull his team together and win the ACC tournament. Though the Blue Devils were taken out in the Round of 32 by Tennessee, this recruiting class will send them right back to the top.

Duke landed five five-star recruits in the 2023 cycle, all of whom are ranked in the top 20. This recruiting class is loaded with talent in all areas. In the McDonald’s All American game showcases, Blue Devil signees forward Sean Stewart won the dunk contest and guard Jared McCain won the 3-point contest. The Blue Devils will be loaded next year top to bottom on the roster and will be a scary opponent.

Where will Bronny go?

Bronny James has been one of the most followed recruits in the past decade, as videos of his AAU games first appeared on YouTube when James was around 12. Since then, he has played on some of the most followed basketball teams of all time, from his middle school team, the North Coast Blue Chips, to his high school team and one of the most prestigious California high school basketball programs of all time, Sierra Canyon.

James’ game is described as the definition of a great all-around player. His ability to move off the ball is fantastic and he is a great spot-up shooter. In the McDonald’s All American game, James hit five threes. Coupled with great athleticism and size for a point guard, he is a stellar recruit.

So let’s talk about what this entails for the school who ends up getting James.

James will affect his team not just on the court, but off the court as well. I went to watch James play at the Les Schwab Invitational this past December up in Portland. I went three hours early, partially to watch my former high school take on Duncanville, but also because that is how early you need to go to get decent seats at a game he is playing in. He attracts media attention like no other prospect we have seen, possibly since his dad. Whichever school he chooses automatically becomes a hot commodity to the sports world.

James’ top three schools are reported to be USC, Oregon and Ohio State, so let’s talk about the right fit.

Obviously as a USC student, I want James to come here, but I will tell you why he should come to USC.

First off, let’s talk about playing time. In my opinion, his recruitment is a two-man race between Oregon and USC. Oregon already has two veteran guards in redshirt senior Jermaine Couisnard and junior Keeshawn Barthelemy, who will be getting major minutes. On top of that, there’s Oregon’s golden recruit, Jackson Shelstad, a man who bested James one-on-one in the Les Schwab Invitational. Overall, James would have to scrap out minutes from those three, plus other guards whom Oregon has rostered.

However at USC, Bronny would be a perfect shooting guard addition to this team. It was announced on Saturday that senior guard Boogie Ellis would be returning for his fifth season, which may hinder James’ commitment. However, James would be competing for playing time against less experienced guards and will most likely be the first guard off the bench, coming in for Ellis or No. 1 overall recruit, Isaiah Collier.

James’ pesky off-ball ability would be a perfect addition to a USC team that at times struggled with 3-pointers.

Another reason James should come to USC is the seamless transition for him and his family. The James family lives in Los Angeles and LeBron plays only about two miles down the road from Galen Center. USC is just the right fit.

James was recently Crystal-Balled to USC by 247 Sports analyst Trevor Andershock, however that was before Ellis announced he was returning. I still believe USC is the front runner with a commitment looming in the near future.

“College Basketball Catch-Up” runs every Monday.