College basketball’s early signing period is usually a time in which the country’s best, highest-paid coaches sweat it out as 17- and 18-year-olds make decisions that could affect their teams for years to come.
And that will still happen this week, as the early signing period begins Nov. 11 and ends Nov. 18.
But it won’t be as much as usual.
Many of the top remaining prospects in the 2021 class have not announced plans to make their decisions during the early signing period. That doesn’t mean some won’t make decisions this week. But, with COVID-19 postponing official visits through the end of 2020, many stars are taking their time with commitments.
Still, there’s certainly some intriguing races to monitor this week. Here are six down-to-wire recruiting battles that will (or could) be resolved during the early signing period:
Sussex Hamilton's Patrick Baldwin Jr. is the nation's top uncommitted player heading into the early signing period. (Photo: Scott Ash/Now News Group)
Patrick Baldwin Jr., SF, Hamilton (Sussex, Wisconsin)
The 247Sports Composite Rankings' No. 1 prospect in 2021, the 6-foot-9 Baldwin has offers from just about everywhere you can imagine, but chatter says his recruitment will come down to Duke and …
Yep. Baldwin’s father is Milwaukee head coach Patrick Baldwin, and it’s thought the younger Baldwin isn’t just considering his dad to be nice. It’s a real possibility the five-star, future-lottery-pick plays his one year of college basketball in the Horizon League. Someone with his talent will be a high NBA draft pick no matter where he plays in college. Heck, he’d probably be a high draft pick right now.
Of course, it’s also hard to pass up playing for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, with the chance of winning a national title always a real possibility.
It isn’t exactly clear when Baldwin plans to announce his decision, but he isn’t expected to wait much longer.
TyTy Washington, one of the nation's top point guard recruits, is expected to make his decision on Sunday. (Photo: Eli Imadali, Eli Imadali/The Republic)
TyTy Washington, PG, Compass Prep (Chandler, Arizona)
Washington, a 6-3, four-star point guard who the 247Sports Composite ranks No. 67 in 2021, holds offers from Arizona State, Creighton, Illinois, San Diego State, Ole Miss, LSU and Auburn, among others, but this race is thought to be down to Illinois and Creighton.
Washington and his family have taken two unofficial visits on their own to Illinois and Creighton. He plans to announce Nov. 15.
When he isn’t out touring campuses, Washington has spent hours on Zoom calls with the coaching staffs in heavy pursuit.
“He’s on the Zoom calls literally every day, him and his family,” Compass Prep head coach Peter Kaffey told USA TODAY Sports. “Every time I talk to him, he’s literally always on a Zoom call.”
Bryce McGowens, SG, Legacy Charter (Greenville, South Carolina)
The 247Sports Composite’s No. 25 overall prospect, the five-star, 6-6 McGowens decommitted from Florida State in early October and has been one of the country’s most sought-after recruits since.
He has narrowed his choices down to Nebraska and Georgia.
The Huskers may have the edge because McGowens’ older brother, Trey McGowens, is on the roster. But Georgia has the advantage of proximity, and Bryce visited Athens several times throughout his recruitment.
McGowens hasn’t stated publicly when he will make his decision, but it’s thought that announcement could come during the early signing period. He would be a monumental get for Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg.
Trey Alexander, SG, Heritage Hall (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
Alexander, a 6-4, four-star shooting guard ranked No. 61 in the 2021 class by the 247Sports Composite, is down to a final three of Kansas, Auburn and Arkansas, and he will announce his decision Thursday.
Although he has reportedly only visited Oklahoma and Arkansas, Auburn is the industry favorite to land Alexander right now. But that’s certainly not from a lack of effort on Arkansas’ part; Alexander even told 247Sports in October that Eric Musselman’s Razorbacks staff was recruiting him the hardest of any school. We’ll see if they can pull off the upset.
Trevor Keels, SG, Paul VI Catholic (Fairfax, Virginia)
The 6-5 Keels is the 247Sports Composite’s No. 16 prospect in 2021. A five-star talent, Keels has been down to a final three of Duke, Villanova and Virginia since Sept. 9, so it’s thought a decision can’t be too far in the future.
According to the industry buzz, there is no clear favorite here, although it does seem to be down to Duke and Villanova.
One thing going for Duke? Keels’ high school teammate at Paul VI Catholic, Jeremy Roach, is an incoming freshman on Krzyzewski’s roster.
Roosevelt Wheeler, C, John Marshall (Richmond, Virginia)
According to the 247Sports Composite, the four-star Wheeler is the highest-rated (No. 60) prospect with known plans to sign early. The 6-10 center released a top five of North Carolina State, LSU, VCU, Louisville and Hampton on Halloween.
Most industry buzz has Wheeler headed toward Louisville, which has recently taken over North Carolina State as the favorite. But Wheeler does attend high school a few miles from VCU’s campus, and if he wants to follow in Makur Maker’s footsteps and go the HBCU route, Hampton is just an hour away.
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