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Sports Basketball recruiting: Breaking down the ACC's early signing period classes

22:46  11 november  2020
22:46  11 november  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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It's been six months since college basketball ended abruptly amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's safe to say, though, that recruiting never stopped.

Wednesday kicked off the NCAA's early signing day period, and as usual, the ACC is pulling in some of the country's top talent.

Here's USA TODAY Sports' breakdown of the early signing period efforts in the Atlantic Coast Conference:

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Florida State had the 42nd-ranked class in the last recruiting cycle.

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In this year's, the Seminoles are now closing in on one of the best 2021 classes in the nation and the top-ranked class in the ACC.

Leonard Hamilton wearing a suit and tie: Florida State Seminoles head coach Leonard Hamilton laughs as his players finish out the game and claim their victory. The Florida State Seminoles beat the Boston College Eagles 80-62, Saturday, March 7, 2020. The Seminoles clinched the ACC regular season title. © Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat Florida State Seminoles head coach Leonard Hamilton laughs as his players finish out the game and claim their victory. The Florida State Seminoles beat the Boston College Eagles 80-62, Saturday, March 7, 2020. The Seminoles clinched the ACC regular season title.

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Even with the decommitment of Bryce McGowens last month, Florida State looks to sign two five-stars, a four-star and a three-star recruit during the early signing period. All four of the commits pledged during a two-week span in July and August.

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From teammates to rivals

For the second consecutive year, one of the nation's top recruits will come from Archbishop Stepinac out of White Plains, N.Y. Last year it was RJ Davis, a four-star shooting guard and the state's 2020 Gatorade High School Player of the Year, who signed with UNC.

This year it's AJ Griffin, the son of former NBA player Adrian Griffin who committed to Duke in November of 2019. Griffin is the third-ranked small forward in his class and at 6-foot-7 can defend three positions at the collegiate level.

Tony Bennett wearing a suit and tie: Mar 30, 2019; Louisville, KY, United States; Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett reacts during the net cutting ceremony after the championship game of the south regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at KFC Yum Center. © Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports Mar 30, 2019; Louisville, KY, United States; Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett reacts during the net cutting ceremony after the championship game of the south regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at KFC Yum Center.

Where's Virginia?

Virginia, the reigning NCAA champions after the 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled due to COVID-19, are picked to finish first in the ACC this season.

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The same cannot be said about its 2021 recruiting class.

Taine Murray, a four-star commit from New Zealand, is the only sure pick to sign this week. Virginia has three other high-profile targets in Trevor Keels, Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Efton Reid, but all three are trending away from the Cavaliers.

Plenty left on the table

The early signing period is not known for its dramatics, but notable names remain on the recruiting board. The nation’s No. 1 recruit, 6-9 Patrick Baldwin Jr., has yet to sign but looks to be trending toward Duke. Trevor Keels is another top prospect considering the Blue Devils and Virginia while the verdict remains out for Efton Reid (FSU target), Hunter Sallis (UNC target), Charles Bediako (Duke target) and Roosevelt Wheeler (N.C. State target).

Ranking the classes

There will likely be some movement in the rankings with ACC schools still trying to sign top prospects who have yet to commit.

As of Wednesday, though, here's where things stand.

1. Florida State: The Seminoles have a strong class including two five-star recruits and a top junior college prospect in 7-3 center Naheem McLeod. FSU’s 2021 class was the best in the nation for months and currently is second only to Michigan, according to 247Sports.com. Duke may surpass FSU, though, if they can snag another five-star prospect such as Baldwin.

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2. Duke: The Blue Devils are the only class in the country with two top-10 prospects with Paolo Banchero (No. 3) and AJ Griffin (No. 6). The Blue Devils are still in heavy pursuit of the nation's top-ranked prospect, small forward Robert Baldwin Jr., five-star shooting guard Trevor Keels and 6-foot-11 center Charles Bediako.

3. Louisville: Bryce Hopkins' flip to Kentucky hurt the Cardinals' class, but the addition of Roosevelt Wheeler, the 15th-ranked center in his class, would be a boon for the program. Louisville already has three four-star commits, including JUCO transfer Elbert Ellis, who signed Wednesday morning. Expect small forward Michael James and Bobbi Pettiford to sign this week as well.

4. Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets add size and speed to the backcourt with four-star prospects Dallan Coleman and Miles Kelly. They also added one three-star in Jalon Moore, making it Georgia Tech's best class since 2012.

5. North Carolina: The Tar Heels are in the hunt for several top prospects including Hunter Sallis, Trey Kaufman and Skyy Clark, a five-star 2022 guard who could reclassify. Roy Williams has commitments from two four-star recruits in Dontrez Styles and D'Marco Dunn.

6. Miami: Four-star recruits Bensley Joseph and Jakai Robinson add depth to Miami's backcourt. The focus during early signing day will now be strengthening the frontcourt.

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7. N.C. State: Power forward Ernest Ross from Alachua, Florida, along with in-state guards Terquavion Smith and Breon Pass look to give the Wolfpack its strongest class in years. The Wolfpack is still in hot pursuit of two other big men it hopes to add to the class — 6-11 Jonas Aidoo from Liberty Heights Athletic Institute in Charlotte and 6-10 Roosevelt Wheeler from John Marshall High in Richmond, Virginia.

8. Wake Forest: Wake Forest will re-stock its backcourt by adding Carter Whitt, Robert McCray and Cameron Hildreth, all among the top 30 prospects at their positions by 247Sports. Steve Forbes' class is the highest-rated for the Demon Deacons since 2015.

9. Clemson: The Tigers' class added shooting guard Lucas Taylor last month for its third three-star prospect to commit before early signing period. Taylor, combo guard Joshua Beadle and power forward Ian Schieffelin are expected to sign this week.

10. Syracuse: Four-star forward Benny Williams is Syracuse's only firm commitment entering the early signing period. Look for Jim Boeheim to make some moves over the next week.

11. Virginia: The Cavaliers are seen as the ACC favorite in 2020, but their 2021 recruiting class leaves something to be desired. Virginia has one firm commit in four-star guard Taine Murray. The Cavaliers, however, are in the running for a few five-star recruits, including big man Efton Reid and guard Trevor Keels. They'll move up the ACC recruiting rankings quickly with a few key pickups.

12. Notre Dame: J.R. Konieczny, a 6-6 three-star small forward out of South Bend, Ind., has been a Notre Dame commit since August of 2019.

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13. Virginia Tech: Three-star point guard Sean Pedulla is the Hokies' lone commit entering the early signing day period. They also have a chance to scoop up three-star guard Jaquan Carlos and three-star small forward Nate Santos.

14. Boston College: Gianni Thompson remains Boston College's only verbal commit since July. He's the 33rd-ranked power forward in his class.

15. Pitt: The Panthers have yet to sign anyone during the early signing period.

Top 5 expected signings

These are the top early period signings to expect out of the ACC.

1. Paolo Panchero (247Sports: No. 3 nationally): Banchero, a 6-foot-8 center from O'Dea High School in Seattle, complements his size with an elite skill set. College choice: Duke

2. AJ Griffin (247Sports: No. 6 nationally): Griffin stands out with his combination of advanced shooting ability and athleticism at 6-7. He has the ability to defend three positions at the collegiate level. College choice: Duke

3. Matthew Cleveland (247Sports: No. 21 nationally): Cleveland, a 6-6, 190-pound small forward out of Atlanta, Ga., is the top-ranked player out of Florida State's impressive 2021 class and one of the highest-ranked recruits to ever come to Tallahassee. He should make an immediate impact for the Seminoles. College choice: Florida State

4. Jalen Warley (247Sports: No. 24 nationally): Warley, a five-star recruit, is a sizeable potential point guard, standing 6-4 and 175 pounds. He'll need to put on some weight, but is a talented passer and three-point shooter. College choice: Florida State

5. Dallan Coleman (247Sports: No. 48 nationally): Coleman, a four-star 6-6 shooting guard, announced his commitment late last month and helped give the Yellow Jackets a rare top-50 national talent. College choice: Georgia Tech

David Thompson is an award-winning reporter for the USA Today Network covering N.C. State and Duke athletics. He can be reached at dthompson1@gannett.com, at 828-231-1747, or on Twitter at @daveth89.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: Basketball recruiting: Breaking down the ACC's early signing period classes

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