Commitments of the Week: Normand, Middleton, Jones, Elliott
Don’t look now but high school prospects seem to be go-to targets again for college coaches.
Ya love to see it.
It is commitment season in the grassroots basketball space. Players are making college decisions at a rapid pace, jumping ahead of the busy fall visit season. Only 19 of our top 50 players ranked are currently uncommitted and 47 of our top 100 are not committed.
Let’s take a look at some of the notable decisions from the past week.
Gehrig Normand to Michigan State
Less than a week after Michigan State landed a big commitment from 5-star Xavier Booker, the Spartans reeled in another stud from the NY2LA platform. This time the Big Ten school secured a pledge from Texan shooting guard Gehrig Normand. He is one of the best at his position nationally and one of the best players we’ve seen on the independent stage for the last two seasons.
Normand is a terrific multi-positional guard with shooting, scoring, passing bounce and versatility in his bag. We currently have Normand slated at No. 59 in the class of 2023 nationally. He had a recruitment that went nationwide.
I’ve thought he was the most complete teammate that I’ve seen on the circuit for the last couple of years, too. Guys love playing with him and Normand makes others better. Tom Izzo and staff will love coaching him and their locker room got better because of the addition.
Ugonna Kingsley Onyenso to Kentucky
The big man from the NBA Global Academy made a pledge to the Big Blue Nation over the past week. What does the 7-footer The native of Nigeria?
I wrote this in December after seeing Onyenso at the Tark Classic in Las Vegas:
For starters, I have no idea what grade he actually is. I’ve seen him listed as a 2022, 2023 and 2024 high school prospect. I couldn’t get a good answer from the NBA Academy staff either. If he’s a 2022 available, he’s a great late addition if you can take some time with him. If he’s a 2023 or 2024, we are talking about a five-star, top 30 level prospect for either class. One of the best high-upside guys there is at the five position. He’s a versatile defender with great length and ability to use it all on the defensive end of the floor.
So, here we are as a 2022* prospect. He’s one of the biggest players in the class and he’s still one of the most interesting players that I saw over the last calendar year. Big men like Onyenso are growing more and more into dinosaur terrority. Is a paint-centric five-man still a player that brings value to a modern rotation? Well, sure. His impact may never be fully felt in Lexington and more at the pro level. Nevertheless, landing a player with his size and ceiling in August to enroll immediately is a recruiting gift. Not bad for John Calipari and his Wildcats.
Scotty Middleton to Ohio State
The 2023 class is shaping up quite nicely for the Buckeyes and with Middleton on board, the Big Ten program has an anchor player to work around.
I think Middleton has McDonald’s All-American level talent and the versatility to become one of the best players in the Big Ten. The 6-foot-6 wing from Miami is one of the toughest players to guard in the class nationally. He’s been on teams that win - Brad Beal EYBL and Sunrise Christian. He’s a threat on the defensive end of the floor because of his interchangeability.
And here’s the kicker - we still haven’t even seen the very best of his game yet. Middleton is stacking up good years of production and seems to be entering the period of his young hoops career that is primed for a major uptick from where he is.
Middleton is currently rated inside our top 30 player rankings for the class of 2023.
RJ Jones to Kansas State (pictured)
When Kansas State landed Barry Brown in the 2015 class, the pledge didn’t register on too many radars. It should have. Brown was an outstanding player in his tenure in Manhattan and he finished his career inside the top 5 of the school’s all-time leading scoerers.
With Jones, new Kansas State head coach Jerome Tang has a player that fits the bill that he wants to employ as the Wildcats new program director. Jones is an elite shot-maker and one of the best shooters in the class of 2023 nationally. Jones is an absolute net-burner. He is rated quite high on our 2023 player rankings (currently ranked inside the top 40). We stand by that and given the school choice he’s made, it makes even more sense. Jones has All-Conference potential in the Little Apple.
When Tang was at Baylor, he helped recruit, coach and develop some of the best three-point shooters in school history - LaceDarius Dunn, Brady Heslip, Tweety Carter, Aaron Bruce, Curtis Jerrells, Jared Butler, Manu Lecomte and Henry Dugat. Jones could be just as impactful as all of those players at Kansas State.
Trey Green to Xavier
Admittedly, I’m not one for smaller guards. That’s my bias. So, when a guy like Green, a sub-six-footer, comes around and does what he does so well, it is hard to look past it. Green wins, man. And he’s founded on competition.
Xavier fans may see some similarities with Green that they saw in Drew Lavender nearly a decade and a half ago. Green, a North Carolina native, is the pilot of a talented Link Academy team to a national championship and a major sparkplug to the MOKAN team on the Nike EYBL team.
He wins, man. He absolutely wins. Like him a lot for the Musketeers.
Spencer Elliott to Tulane
Behind the scenes, the early betting lines were strong for this to happen. Years ago, really. Elliott made it official for his pledge to the Green Wave last week. But when he was a youngster he was a regular at Georgia State camps when Ron Hunter was the head man at the program.
Assistant coach Claude Pardue stayed the course and cultivated that relationship for the last couple of years and it paid off. Hunter and Pardue haven’t let go of their Atlanta ties and will always be involved with the guys in the Peach State.
Elliott is a bouncy forward with a considerable amount of upside. His best days could come as an upperclassman in college. He’s coming to college well-founded due to his time with St. Pius X and the tutelage from coach Aaron Parr.