Three days after reopening his recruitment, 4-star power forward Shareef O’Neal has reportedly picked a new school. According to Josh Gershon of 247Sports, the son of Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal has verbally committed to UCLA. The 6-foot-9 O’Neal attends Crossroads School in Santa Monica, California.
O’Neal’s pledge gives the Bruins six commits in the 2018 class, and Steve Alford will be welcoming a highly talented group to Westwood in the summer. Five-star center Moses Brown leads the way for what is at this point in time one of the top recruiting classes in college basketball.
UCLA’s gain is Arizona’s loss, with O’Neal reopening his recruitment in the aftermath of a report alleging wrongdoing on the part of Arizona head coach Sean Miller in the recruiting of current freshman DeAndre Ayton.
The validity of that report has since been disputed, but Miller did not coach the team in Saturday’s loss at Oregon and he was not present at the team’s practice on Monday, either.
Monday was a big day for the Vanderbilt basketball program, as head coach Bryce Drew received a verbal commitment from one of the best point guards in the Class of 2018. Darrius Garland, a 5-star prospect who attends Brentwood Academy in Brentwood, Tennessee, announced Monday afternoon that he will remain in state to play his college basketball.
In receiving the verbal pledge from Garland, Vanderbilt beat out UCLA, Indiana and Kentucky. Garland is Vanderbilt’s second commitment in the 2018 class, joining 6-foot-5 wing Aaron Nesmith. It goes without saying that Garland’s commitment is a huge development for Vanderbilt, which won 19 games and reached the NCAA tournament in Bryce Drew’s first season as head coach.
With Riley LaChance and Matthew Fisher-Davis both being seniors, there was a clear need to bolster the numbers on the perimeter in the 2018 recruiting class. By reeling in Garland, a talented floor general who can both score and distribute the basketball, the Commodores have a player they can build around moving forward.
In addition to playing at Brentwood Academy, where he earned Division II first team all-state honors as a junior, Garland played for the Bradley Beal Elite program on the Nike EYBL circuit. Garland averaged 16.8 points and 4.8 assists per game in EYBL play this spring/summer.
The last time Vanderbilt landed a recruit as highly regarded as Garland was back in 2008 when John Jenkins, the 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year in Tennessee, committed to the school. Jenkins would go on to earn first team All-SEC honors as a junior and help lead the Commodores to an SEC tournament title.
Last September, Wisconsin landed a pledge from a highly regarded 2018 prospect as shooting guard Tyler Herro announced that he would remain in state and play for Greg Gard. Tuesday evening Herro, considered to be a Top 50 prospect by many of the major recruiting services, announced that he has decided to reopen his recruitment.
“After a lot of conversations with my family and prayer I have decided to reopen my recruitment and explore all of my options,” Herro said in a statement released via Twitter. “The past year since I committed I have grown not only as a basketball player, but as a person. My drive to become the best on all levels has been the fuel that drove this decision.”
With Herro’s change of heart, Wisconsin is now without a verbal commitment in the Class of 2018. The 6-foot-4 Milwaukee native picked Wisconsin over Arizona, Florida, Indiana, DePaul and Marquette, and given his talent Herro’s recruitment should not take long to pick up following his decision to open things back up.
The Badgers added three scholarship freshmen to the program this summer, with two being perimeter players in Brad Davison and Kobe King. Wisconsin currently does not have a senior in its perimeter rotation, which helps from a numbers standpoint when it comes to 2018. But to lose a recruit of Herro’s caliber, and an in-state prospect at that, is a major hit for the Wisconsin program to absorb.
UCLA received its second verbal commitment in the Class of 2018 on Tuesday, as 6-foot-6 shooting guard Jules Bernard announced that he will be a Bruin. Bernard, considered to be a four-star prospect, joins another perimeter prospect in four-star guard David Singleton III in Steve Alford’s 2018 class to date.
Bernard, who averaged 25 points and 12 rebounds per game at the Winward School in Los Angeles, was also a standout for the Compton Magic grassroots program on the adidas Uprising circuit.
“This has been a humbling and amazing journey over the last few years,” Bernard said in the release. “I’ve been fortunate to have met some special people who have taught me, mentored me, molded me, and guided me. I would like to thank all the college coaches and schools that believed in me, recruited me, and those who put time and effort into getting to know me and my family. I am excited and honored to continue my education and growth as a basketball player in my hometown at UCLA.”
Bernard’s size and versatility makes him a good addition to the UCLA program, which does not lack for young talent on the perimeter. This year’s team has four freshmen among its perimeter players, including point guard Jaylen Hands, shooting guard LiAngelo Ball and wings Kris Wilkes and Chris Smith.
UCLA also has three returnees on the perimeter from last season’s Sweet 16 team, junior Aaron Holiday and redshirt sophomores Prince Al and Alex Oleshinski. Ali, who averaged 3.9 points in just under 12 minutes per game as a freshman, sat out last season after undergoing offseason knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.
With Vince Edwards and Isaac Haas entering their senior seasons, adding front court options in the 2018 class was something that Purdue needed to do. Purdue added its second front court commitment in the 2018 class Tuesday evening, as four-star center Emmanuel Dowuona reportedly made his pledge. News of Dowuona’s commitment was first reported by the Lafayette Journal & Courier.
Dowuona, a 6-foot-11 big man who attends Westwood Christian School in Miami, joins fellow four-star prospect Trevion Williams in Purdue’s 2018 class to date.
Dowuona’s commitment comes just days before he was reportedly to visit Tennessee. Among the other programs to have offered Duwuona were Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami and UConn.
Dowuona played for the Team Breakdown program on the Under Armour Association circuit during the summer, averaging 7.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 59.3 percent from the field. While still a bit raw offensively, the native of Ghana provides value as a defender and rebounder. Dowuona is joining a program that during Painter’s tenure as head coach has done a good job of developing big men.
Dowuona and the aforementioned Williams will look to compete for playing time in 2018-19 alongside current redshirt junior Jacquil Taylor and 7-foot-3 redshirt freshman center Matt Haarms.
Ohio State is on the board with regards to the 2018 recruiting class, as Chris Holtmann’s program received a much-needed verbal commitment from four-star forward Jaedon LeDee. The 6-foot-9 Houston native announced his decision via his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon.
In receiving a verbal commitment from LeDee, Ohio State beat out California, Houston, Iowa State, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA. The Buckeyes hosted LeDee for his official visit the weekend of September 9, which coincided with the football team’s matchup with Oklahoma. Originally scheduled to visit Cal this past weekend, LeDee instead visited Texas A&M.
With LeDee’s commitment to Ohio State, visits to LSU (September 30) and UCLA (October 6) are likely off the board.
Currently attending the Kincaid School, LeDee played for the Texas PRO grassroots program on the adidas Uprising circuit this summer. The four-star prospect will likely be a combo forward for Ohio State, playing either the three or the four depending on the matchup.
With Jae’Sean Tate beginning his senior season and Keita Bates-Diop being a redshirt junior, Ohio State had a need to address in the front court. In landing a verbal pledge from Jaedon LeDee, the Buckeyes have done just that.
Among the front court players who will have eligibility remaining beyond the 2017-18 season are Bates-Diop, current sophomores Micah Potter and Andre Wesson, and freshmen Kaleb Wesson and Kyle Young.