Top five signing period storylines and questions

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Of the dozen or so top-100 prospects, depending on which scouting service one prefers to read, only a handful have the legitimate chance to impact college basketball as freshmen. Those names are already known by observers who have taken in the McDonald’s All-American game, the Nike Hoop Summit, or the many high school basketball games televised on ESPN and its family of networks this year. Still, many questions are left unanswered as the signing period is upon us.

1. Will the 1(a) and 1(b) ranked players in the 2012 class, Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad join Big Blue Nation?
There doesn’t seem to be any significance in the fact that both players are set to announce on Wednesday evening on ESPNU, in conjunction with the Jordan Brand Classic. Anyone stating they know where they two dynamos are headed is lying, as there are still a number of ways their recruitments could go. As it stands, Kentucky is on both lists, with Georgetown and Syracuse hunting Noel, and UCLA and Duke standing by for Muhammad.

2. Does Texas lock up Cameron Ridley, their McDonald’s All-American commit?
Texas has a six-man recruiting class, with four prospects who signed in the early period, but two unsigned pledges in center Cameron Ridley (pictured above) and guard DeMarcus Holland. Ridley is a huge post presence who was committed to the Longhorns before the early signing period, but failed to sign. Rumors have abounded as to why that was, but if for whatever reason Ridley doesn’t sign with Texas, it’s a huge loss.

3. Will Duke’s recruiting class remain at one player?
Granted, the Blue Devils locked up a great shooting guard in Rasheed Sulaimon of Texas in the early signing period, but there’s no doubt they’d like to add another player. They’ve pushed hard for Georgia center Tony Parker, Las Vegas wing Shabazz Muhammad and at one time were considered the favorite for Friends Central (Pa.) forward Amile Jefferson. As of now, it seems like a possibility that Duke could strike out on all three players and have just one newcomer.

4. Which post player declares first, Robert Upshaw or Anthony Bennett?
It doesn’t seem as if either top-50 center Robert Upshaw, who was formerly headed to Kansas State, or Canadian power forward Anthony Bennett, a top-10 prospect, have any hurry in their recruitments. While Florida, Kentucky and UNLV are getting solid buzz for Bennett, he did officially visit Oregon over the weekend. There hasn’t been much information regarding Upshaw since he severed ties with Kansas State, and announced he wouldn’t be following coach Frank Martin to South Carolina.

5. Who will be next year’s transfers?
Coaches understandably like to fill their 13 scholarship slots for next year’s rosters. With that said, the regular signing period, particularly toward May, results in many reaches and second and third options signing over their heads at the all levels of D-1 basketball. Predictably, these players drop like flies every spring, transferring to mid-major, low-major or junior college schools after minimal first year playing time. While it’s easy to wish success on high school prospects that sign, the realist notices obvious reaches and poor fits, many of which will result in announced transfers next spring.

Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.