April 12, 2010
College basketball's spring signing period begins Wednesday and extends through May 19. Here's a look at the five programs with the most to lose or gain from the next few weeks:
A quintet of likely NBA-bound underclassmen leaves Kentucky with a roster riddled with holes, but fortunately for the Wildcats, they have the ideal coach to rebuild the team on the fly. Not only does John Calipari have small forward Stacy Poole signed and Turkish big man Enes Kanter committed, he also has a good chance to land several of the top unsigned prospects still available.
Point guard Brandon Knight, Rivals.com's top-ranked prospect in the class of 2010, is expected to choose Kentucky on Wednesday when he announces which college he will attend. Though his signing could make it tougher for Kentucky to land fellow guards Josh Selby or Doron Lamb, the Wildcats also will likely land either C.J. Leslie or Terrence Jones, the two top forwards left unsigned.
Although the Morris twins and a handful of athletic backcourt players give Kansas a strong foundation for next season, the Jayhawks certainly would benefit from an influx of talent to replace the departed Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry. Bill Self has only one player signed for next season, but the Jayhawks are in the mix for all of the top guards left on the board.
If Knight selects Kentucky as expected, that would probably make Kansas the favorite to land fellow point guard Selby, Rivals.com's No. 4 rated player. The Jayhawks and Wildcats are also co-favorites to get Lamb, according to what Oak Hill Academy coach Steve Smith told Rivals.com last week.
Already reeling from missing the NCAA tournament last season and the uncertainty of Jim Calhoun's longterm future, the Huskies are in great need of a strong recruiting class to rejuvenate the program. They already have a top 20 class with the four commits Calhoun has already secured, but they're still involved with many of the top prospects left on the board.
Although Knight, Selby and Lamb each still list Connecticut among the final schools they're considering, the most likely possibility among the available guards is probably Cory Joseph, another McDonald's All-American also considering Texas, Minnesota, UNLV and Villanova. The Huskies also still have a shot at Leslie, who will visit Connecticut later this month but is also strongly considering Kentucky and hometown NC State.
A disappointing 14-18 season and the transfer of three underclassmen has UCLA in the market for a talent upgrade this spring. The Bruins have already signed wing Tyler Lamb, center Josh Smith and junior college point guard Lazeric Jones, but they remain in the market for more help, especially at point guard.
McDonald's All-American Ray McCallum is the top target, but he may opt to play for his father at Detroit, as may wing Trey Zeigler at Central Michigan now that his dad Ernie has signed a four-year extension. UCLA is also still involved with Terrence Jones, but if he goes elsewhere, the Bruins may have to look a little farther down on the food chain for some hidden gems.
Almost every significant player from Washington's Sweet 16 team returns with one very notable exception: senior forward Quincy Pondexter, the Huskies' leading scorer last season. Early signee Desmond Simmons will undoubtedly draw comparisons to Pondexter because he has a similar build and is also from Northern California, but the Huskies are in search of more immediate help.
Coach Lorenzo Romar has done everything he can to land Terrence Jones, the McDonald's All-American forward from the Portland area also considering Kentucky, Oklahoma and UCLA. A high school teammate of Jones, highly touted shooting guard Terrence Ross also remains a possibility for the Huskies.