April 12 signing days are rarely cause for excitement among fans of Stanford men's basketball. Typically the incoming freshmen class has been officially done several months ago, but this Tuesday is a rare, and critical, exception.
Signed letters of intent will arrive from Isaac White, a native of Adelaide, Australia, and Daejon Davis, one of the elite guards in the 2017 class.
White's commitment was announced Feb. 2 and offered reassurance that there would be a point guard in a class dominated by two versatile wings: Kezie Okpala and German Oscar Da Silva. But characterizing White as just a nice player may do a disservice to a guard lauded for his considerable shooting ability. (And he certainly believes he's more capable than people assume.)
But it was the verbal commitment of Davis pushed the Cardinal to No. 11 in the latest ranking by Rivals.com.
Davis, one of the premier guards in the country out of Garfield High in Seattle, twice committed to Washington, and in between his first verbal pledge and eventual signing with the Huskies he was a top target of the Cardinal.
The firing of Lorenzo Romar caused an exodus of the once elite Huskies recruiting class. Soon after Davis was released from his LOI there was a report he was leaning toward Stanford. The apparently too-good-to-be-true news for Stanford fans proved to be the best type of exciting non-fiction.
— Daejon Davis (@DaejonDavis) April 1, 2017
Davis' announcement, on April 1 of all days, raised eyebrows across the country, and almost certainly caused smiles among the Stanford coaches who have managed to put together one of the program's best rated classes in the "Rivals era" (2002-present).
Rivals national analyst Eric Bossi offered his take on the significant boost Davis provided to an already solid Cardinal class that features two top-rated recruits who have already signed:
"Four-star small forward Kezie Okpala is one of the fastest rising prospects in the senior class and a candidate for a move to five-star status in the final rankings. Also, German power forward Oscar Da Silva is another skilled big man with size and scoring ability."
With two guards and two wings who are capable of playing time at the three or four, and head coach Jerod Haase will welcome a class that can address a number of Stanford's needs.
Just how good this group of Cardinal freshmen will be is tough to say for a number of reasons, with the most obvious being the international element. Getting a realistic sense of how White and Da Silva will perform in college is almost impossible until they're on the court.
The current expectation from scouts who have evaluated both is White can be a steady role player who is a three-point specialist. That is not an insignificant addition to the considering the dearth of consistent three-point shooters on last season's roster. If White is capable of establishing a reputation as a shooter and be a steady point guard he will be a welcome complement to Davis' advanced ability to attack the basket.
The potential ceiling for Da Silva has been speculated as being considerably higher:
Stanford commit Oscar da Silva with 39 points and 17 rebounds in the German U19 NBBL today. Has all the tools of a 1st round draft pick.
— NBADraftProspects (@draftprosnba) March 26, 2017
Stanford's coaches and others knowledgeable about the young German's game believe he would be rated in the top-50 if he played in the U.S.
If that were the case this class would match the 2014 group with three top-100 players. That's noteworthy for another reason, the 2014 class of Reid Travis, Michael Humphrey, Robert Cartwright and Dorian Pickens (a top-150 recruit) are still at Stanford.
Health has been a major factor slowing down the development of Cartwright and Travis.
When healthy the burly center has shown he's capable of producing at a level that could make him a conference player of the year candidate next season. He finished last season averaging 17.4 points and 8.9 rebounds. At one point in the second half of the season he was averaging a double-double.
Cartwright's injury was thought at one point by some people around the program to be career ending. Considering his time away from the game and learning from a new staff, it shouldn't have been surprising that he split time with Christian Sanders. Haase clearly trusted the hard-working, experienced Sanders who he knew before arriving at Stanford.
On paper there is an intriguing scenario of adding redshirted Kodye Pugh, a freshmen class of great potential, with the returning players to form a team that breaks Stanford's NCAA tournament drought. At the very least the addition of White and Davis to a class of Okpala and Oscar Da Silva provides an opportunity for entertaining speculation.
It's a reason to feel positive about Stanford men's basketball in April, and that has been in short supply in recent years.