Predicting where college basketball’s must-get 5-star recruits will play

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The overall strength of the class of 2018 took a big hit when Marvin Bagley III made the decision to reclassify at Duke. Bagley had been considered the No. 1 player in the class since this group of high school basketball players started getting evaluated.

But as the class of 2018 lost one potential superstar to reclassification, it gained another. R.J. Barrett, a 6’7 guard out of Canada, moved up a grade level after an incredibly productive summer leading his home country to gold at the FIBA U19 World Cup. He’s already announced a list of five finalists in his recruitment.

The class of 2018 might not be as good as 2016 (with Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, ect.) or 2017 (led by Michael Porter Jr. and now Bagley), but there are still some intriguing players. With summer basketball season over, we’re about to see a run of commitments.

Here’s our best guess at where the elite five-star prospects in this college basketball recruiting class end up:

R.J. Barrett, G, Ontario, Canada

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The calling card of Barrett’s prep career has been his ability to dominate older competition from a young age. In that sense, his MVP performance at the FIBA U19 World Cup wasn’t a coming out party as much as a reaffirmation that this is truly a special prospect.

Barrett was two years younger than the oldest players in the field, and he was still by far the tournament’s biggest star. He put together a signature performance in beating John Calipari’s U.S. squad in the semifinals: 38 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists on 12-of-24 shooting from the field and 12-of-15 shooting from the foul line.

Calipari’s U.S. team featured players with a year of college basketball under their belt (like Purdue’s Carsen Edwards and Oregon’s Payton Pritchard), incoming five-star recruits (like Kentucky’s P.J. Washington and Hamidou Diallo) and some of the top talent in the class of 2018 (like Cam Reddish) and no one on the roster could check Barrett.

If there’s a hole in Barrett’s game, it’s shooting. He hit just five of 21 attempts from three (23 percent) in the FIBA tournament and shot 31.2 percent from deep on Nike’s EYBL circuit. He also led the Nike league in scoring at 28 points per game, ahead of even Bagley.

At this point, there’s no questioning Barrett’s remarkable production or his physicality at 6’7 and 195 pounds with a 6’10 wingspan. It’s possible he turns into the Canadian superstar everyone believed Andrew Wiggins would be. That makes him the No. 1 recruit in the sport and front-runner to be the first pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

He’s already announced his final five of Kentucky, Duke, Michigan, Oregon, and Arizona. You would think a player who only entered the class of 2018 this month would take his time with a decision, but perhaps this recent list means he’s ready to make a choice. Every school in the country would be thrilled to have him.

Prediction: Duke

Duke is getting one the top-three recruits in the country every year at this point. After Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor, Brandon Ingram, and Jayson Tatum, we know that. Barrett has kept his recruit close to the vest for now, so Duke feels like a good pick if we’re just taking a wild guess.

Zion Williamson, F, South Carolina

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If it wasn’t for the Ball family phenomenon currently engrossing youngest son LaMelo Ball, you could make the argument Zion Williamson is the most famous high school basketball player since LeBron James. He’s boys with Drake, boasts nearly a million Instagram followers, and he’s going to a bring a ton of attention to whoever wins his recruitment.

There’s debate over exactly how good of an NBA prospect Williamson is. He’s a reluctant and unrefined jump shooter and he won’t be able to physically overpower adults like he does high school kids. But in college, Williamson should be incredibly productive.

The thing that stands out about Williamson is the raw power he can generate from his 230-plus-pound frame. He already looks like an NFL defensive end. Combine that grown man strength with an ultra aggressive mindset on both ends of the court, and you have the makings of a game-changing small ball four (or even center) at the college level. He’s going to be a mismatch nightmare in the front court.

Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Kansas are the four schools most often associated with his recruitment. Williamson said he hopes to make a decision before the season starts.

Prediction: Kentucky

The Adidas connection favors Kansas, Duke, or UNC would be close to home, but I’m still going with Kentucky here. Calipari is the only man who can handle Williamson’s hype.

Bol Bol, C, California via Kansas

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I caught Bol’s breakout weekend this spring in Indianapolis. It was a sight to behold: a 7’3 kid raining three pointers, swatting shots, and finishing most everything around the rim with a dunk.

Bol is going to give one lucky college team a center with unparalleled length (7’8 wingspan) and impressive three-point shooting ability. His release is low and slow, but his shot is true. In 15 EYBL games this spring, he hit 22-of-45 (48.9 percent) attempts from three. Getting elite rim protection and shooting out of a center is hugely beneficial at any level. Almost two years out, I’ll predict he’s a top-five pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Bol hasn’t released a list, but Arizona, USC, Kentucky, UCLA are thought to be the front-runners.

Prediction: Arizona

I was going to go Kentucky until I saw this tweet:

That’s the old Twitter account of Arizona pledge Shareef O’Neal — yes, Shaq’s kid. If Playboi Carti says so ….

Cameron Reddish, G, Norristown, Pa.

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Reddish might have the best long-term upside of anyone in this class after Barrett. He’s a 6’7 shooting guard with a 7’1 wingspan who can stroke threes. He made 13 of his 24 attempts from three (54.2 percent) at the FIBA U19 World Cup as one of the youngest players on the U.S. team.

That length and shooting ability gives Reddish a high floor as a pro prospect and makes him a huge weapon as a college player. He’ll need to get better with his handle and more creative as a mid-range scorer, but in an era that emphasizes the importance of wings, he’s the most intriguing one in this class.

Everyone thinks they know where he’s going to school.

Reddish is making his decision on Sept. 1:

Prediction: Duke

Reddish has been pegged to Duke for almost a year at this point. If he goes anywhere else, it’s going to be a major surprise.

Romeo Langford, SG, New Albany, IN

Langford is a smooth 6’5 shooting guard who has put up precocious scoring numbers as a high school player in Indiana. Unfortunately, he’s battled back spasms this summer that limited him in grassroots season and kept him out of the World Cup.

Langford feels like he’s flying under the radar a bit this summer, but this is still one of the most coveted prospects in the senior class. He’s been offered by everyone, but his recruitment has added importance for Indiana. This is Archie Miller’s first real test on the trail: a top-five recruit from his own backyard who profiles as a primary scorer from the moment he starts his college career. With Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, and many more after him, it won’t be easy.

Prediction: Louisville

The Cards have been in tight with Langford since the start of his rise as a recruit. Louisville has been on a nice run of producing NBA talent lately, and Langford has the potential to be the program’s signature recruit of the last few years.

Naz Reid, C, Asbury Park, NJ

Reid looks like a grown man. He’s a 6’9 center with a 7’3 wingspan who should be able to rebound and score inside from day one as a college player. He also flashed a capable jump shot while playing with fellow five-star recruit Jahvon Quinerly on the Under Armour circuit this summer.

Quinerly, one of the best point guards in this class, is already committed to Arizona. Could Reid follow? He’s down to LSU and the Wildcats, with a decision expected soon:

Prediction: LSU

LSU has quietly been making moves on the recruiting trail since hiring Will Wade. They grabbed point guard Tremont Waters as a late 2017 recruit and already have a commitment from one of the best guards in 2018, Ja’Vonte Smart. If Reid joins in, the SEC is about to get really interesting beneath Kentucky.

Simisola Shittu, C, Ontario

Shittu is an athletic Canadian big man who sets himself apart with “his ability to handle and pass the ball at his size,” per ESPN. He announced a list of 10 schools earlier this month:

Prediction: Kentucky

John Calipari always loads up on bigs. You can bet at least a couple of the five-star front court players in this class end up in Lexington.

Immanuel Quickley, PG, Bel Air, MD

An athletic 6’4 lead guard out of Maryland, Quickley looks like one of the better NBA prospects in this class if his jumper continues to progress. He’s been in the news recently for hinting that he and Zion Williamson could be a packaged deal.

Prediction: Kentucky

Kentucky brought in two five-star guards this year who aren’t expected to be one-and-dones in Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Quickley is big and fast enough to still carve out a big role if he ends up in Lexington.

Darius Garland, PG, Brentwood, TN

A five-star floor general from Tennessee, Garland’s recruitment looks like a battle between home school Vanderbilt and Duke. We know how this usually ends.

Prediction: Duke

Duke is going to need a point guard if Trevon Duval is a one-and-done as expected. Garland feels like the most natural fit.

Moses Brown, C, Queens, New York

Moses Brown is a top-10 recruit because he has the length (7’4 wingspan) and agility teams want out of a center who can hedge a pick-and-roll and protect the rim. He’ll need to get stronger and improve his ball skills, but his physicality gives him high upside and makes him a priority recruit in this class.

Prediction: Maryland

Brown played on the Under Armour circuit and Maryland is a UA school that’s been on him hard for a while. Don’t be surprised if Kentucky sneaks in at the last moment, though.

Jordan Brown, C, Roseville, CA

At 6’11 and under 200 pounds, Brown is a center with good length and mobility who needs to add strength and is still rough around the edges offensively. He’s ranked as the No. 8 prospect in the class by ESPN.

Prediction: Cal

The Bears have 100 percent of the crystal ball at 247 Sports. That’s good enough for me.