Spring signing period primer: Top 10 commitments to watch for
The top recruit in 2012, Shabazz Muhammad is down to Kentucky, Duke and UCLA
Nerlens Noel, an elite shot-blocker, is considering Kentucky, 'Cuse, Georgetown
Heralded recruits Devonta Pollard and Tony Parker have no clear favorites to date
College basketball's spring signing period kicks off on Wednesday. Here are 10 prospects whose decisions could alter next year's NCAA landscape.
Rivals.com rank: No. 1
There's not much left to write about the physical southpaw wing. Muhammad has proven time and time again that he's the most dominant scorer in the 2012 class (he averaged 29.4 points as a senior) and that he possesses a skill set that should translate seamlessly to the next level. He plans to announce his decision between UCLA, Duke and Kentucky, with the slight (very slight) edge going to coach Ben Howland's Bruins.
Rivals.com rank: No. 3
Six months ago, Noel wasn't even a member of the class of 2012. Following his reclassification, however, the five-star prospect is one of its most wanted men for his elite shot-blocking and rebounding talents. Noel is very thin and is still developing an offensive game, but he's an unmistakable game-changer on the other end of the court. He's down to Kentucky, Syracuse and Georgetown, and, for now, the defending national champions look like the team to beat.
Rivals.com rank: No. 7
The athletic, 230-pound prospect is the farthest from making a decision of any of the remaining top players on the board. Bennett has yet to take any official visits, and likely won't announce his choice until late April or early May. The bruising combo forward could make an instant impact, though, and is weighing offers to Florida, UNLV, Washington, Oregon and Kentucky. Though the Gators hold the current advantage, both the Wildcats and Runnin' Rebels -- the hometown option for the Findlay Prep (Nev.) star -- are making strong charges.
Rivals.com rank: No. 9
The most soft-spoken of any of the uncommitted prospects, Pollard simply lets his game do the talking. He's an athletic forward who thrives driving on the baseline, and does a terrific job rebounding in the paint and creating in transition. He plans to visit Georgetown over the weekend and is also considering Alabama, Texas and Missouri. None are the clear-cut favorite to date and he likely won't make a decision until sometime next week.
Rivals.com rank: No. 33
A four-time state champion at Miller Grove (Ga.) High and a McDonald's All-American, Parker has lived up to his considerable hype. The big-bodied center has soft hands, good touch and dominant rebounding ability, all of which should help him see playing time from day one. He was expected to have a decision in the coming days, but now reportedly could drag his recruitment process out longer. His top five, with no clear leader, are UCLA, Kansas, Duke, Memphis and Georgia.
Rivals.com rank: No. 36
A lanky 197-pounder, Jefferson doesn't wow scouts with tremendous skill or athleticism. Instead, he blows them away with his competitive instinct, relentless motor, great communication and incredible scoring ability. He's a winner and a great teammate -- and a recruit who averaged 17.9 points and five rebounds as a senior. After playing his recruitment mostly close to the vest, Jefferson is down to Kentucky, N.C. State, Duke, Villanova, Temple and Ohio State. Though the Blue Devils seem to have the most behind-the-scenes momentum, he's given no indication of when he'll make his ultimate decision.
Rivals.com rank: No. 104
A Washington, D.C., native who bounced around during his high school career, Wood has significant upside as a major conference shooting guard. He's long, athletic and can shoot with range, blessed with a knack for creating his own scoring opportunities. After originally committing to St. John's, he now plans to take at least three more official visits before announcing his decision. Wood is wide open at the moment -- he may not commit until May -- and is considering a laundry list of schools: Arizona, UConn, Texas, Memphis, USF, Baylor and St. John's.
Rivals.com rank: No. 105
One of the nation's premier shot-blockers, Obekpa is raw but unmistakably gifted. He's defensively dominant with his 6-foot-8, 215-pound frame, and more capable offensively than many give him credit for, though his footwork is still unpolished. He's made visits to DePaul, Georgia Tech, Providence, St. John's, UConn and Cincinnati (a trip to Oregon could be in the works), and seems to be leaning towards the three Big East schools in that group.
Rivals.com rank: No. 143
A truly unique talent, January is proficient both at the wing and in the post. He's an electric scorer who made great strides as a senior -- he led Woodland Hills Taft (Calif.) High to the CIF City Division I championship -- and has attracted immense interest since decommitting from UTEP in January. He's now considering UNLV, New Mexico, New Mexico State and San Diego State and should pay dividends immediately if he doesn't decide to head to prep school.
Rivals.com rank: Four-star JUCO
He may not be a high school star, but Sanchez's status as one of the top JUCO players in the nation shouldn't be overlooked. He's a smooth and athletic combo forward with outstanding ball skills and excels when scoring and rebounding in transition. After making a mark at Monroe (N.Y.) College, he's been targeted by several Big East schools. St. John's and Providence appear to be the Bronx native's frontrunners.
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