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November 8, 2011

Memphis could have huge week ahead

MORE SIGNING PERIOD: What to watch | Rivals150

With 12 of the top 50 prospects in the country uncommitted going into the early signing period, there will be some serious drama between Wednesday and the close of the period on Nov. 16.

Perhaps no school has as much to gain or to lose during this signing period than Memphis. The Tigers received some great news Tuesday when Shaquille Goodwin, the No. 26 prospect in the Rivals150, announced his intention to sign with Memphis. But there is still plenty of unfinished business for coach Josh Pastner and Co.

On Thursday, five-star prospect Alex Poythress will sign his National Letter of Intent. Memphis is a finalist, along with Florida, Kentucky and Vanderbilt for the talented forward from Clarksville, Tenn.

Also expected to decide on a school during the early signing period is another five-star forward, Jarnell Stokes. A product of Memphis, Stokes has been a top recruiting target for Memphis for years. There has been strong competition from Arkansas and Tennessee, but most have considered Stokes as a Memphis lean.

Things got dicier last week, however, when Kentucky turned up the heat on Stokes, and he decided to officially visit Kentucky. No one would expect John Calipari to engage in a recruiting battle in his former territory if he didn't think he had a very good chance of coming out on top.

Then there is Tony Parker, one of the better low post prospects in the country. Parker is expected to decide on a school soon after the early signing period, but Memphis is on Parker's final school list along with Duke, Georgetown, Ohio State and UCLA.

With two top 100 prospects already in its class, Memphis could end up with anywhere from a decent recruiting class to a stellar recruiting class, depending on how things fall with these three prospects.


Fresh blood at top

Unlike Memphis, many schools have already secured their recruiting classes or the bulk of their recruiting class. When looking at the top five classes going into the signing period, what jumps out is who isn't in the top five. There isn't a Duke, Kentucky or North Carolina.

Instead, sitting at the top is Arizona followed by Indiana, N.C. State, Michigan and Providence. All five of these schools have either first-year coaches or coaches who are still in the process of turning their programs around. Certainly their recruiting success with the 2012 class will only help their quest for future success.


Great Expectations

Along with Stokes and Poythress, there are several other significant prospects expected to choose a school during the early signing period.

Five-star prospect Gary Harris is expected to announce for Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan State or Purdue.

The No. 28 prospect, Robert Carter, will announce his college destination on Thursday. Georgia Tech is considered the clubhouse leader among a host of schools.

And Amile Jefferson, the No. 36 prospect in the Rivals150, is expected to decide on a school after his Stanford visit this weekend. North Carolina State, however, is the school with the most momentum in Jefferson's recruitment.


Not so fast

The committed prospects are expected to sign and there are some big announcements that will take place, but some of the top prospects in the country are in no hurry to choose a school. The top prospect in the Rivals150, Shabazz Muhammad, will not sign a letter of intent during the early period. The same goes for Anthony Bennett (No. 7), Devonta Pollard (No. 9), Tony Parker (No. 33) and Winston Shepard (No. 40).



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