Last week, we went through some of Kansas’ top targets for the class of 2016. Today, we focus on the class of 2017, which may be more than a year from graduating, but that doesn’t mean Bill Self and Kansas aren’t zeroed in on their targets. This class promises to be one of the most talented groups to enter college basketball in recent memory, and the Jayhawks are at the top of the list for a number of these elite players:
The #1 high school prospect in the nation was in attendance with fellow recruit Josh Jackson to see Kansas defeat Texas last Saturday. Ayton’s high school team played Sunrise Christian Academy that night, and the top prospect in the nation did not disappoint. He finished with a whopping 52 points, 33 rebounds, and 10 blocked shots in front of Bill Self, Kurtis Townsend, and Perry Ellis.
Ayton is a terrifying prospect. After the game, he was interviewed about his visit to Kansas. He said that at one point, he “could not even hear himself think.” He said that the love he felt from everyone at Kansas was really eye opening, and he talked about how much he liked the program. One name came up when Ayton talked about why he liked Kansas so much: Joel Embiid. Ayton talked about what Kansas did with Embiid, who was a prospect much like Ayton out of high school. The way Kansas ran the floor with Embiid, as well as his overall progression, was eye opening for Ayton. He said that he is really focused on three schools at the moment, being Kansas, Kentucky & Duke.
I think Kansas is in a great postion to land Ayton. He is a prospect that Kansas definitely needs. The Joel Embiid comparisons may have been unfair for Cheick Diallo, but if anyone compares Ayton to Embiid, nobody would bat an eye. DeAndre Ayton is a very special talent. You don’t see many seven footers with the upside that he possesses. Coach Self has made Ayton a top priority, and rightfully so.
Michael Porter Jr. & Trae Young:
This dynamic duo is also high on the radar for HCBS and the Kansas Jayhawks. Michael Porter Jr. in a sense is a local kid. Porter hails from Columbia, Missouri, and is currently the #3 ranked prospect in the ESPN Super 60. Porter is a freaky athlete. At 6’9″, Porter can simply do it all. He can drive to the basket and rise over his defenders, or he can step back and make a three with his solid jump shot.
Porter’s AAU teammate just so happens to be top PG Trae Young out of Norman, Oklahoma. Young is currently the #20 ranked prospect in the ESPN Super 60. He is a true PG with unbelievable passing ability. He is a good scoring PG prospect as well, but where Young is really special is passing the ball. The two have talked about being a package deal together and if that pans out, there are two schools that I think they would go to. Those two schools would be Kansas or Duke. Now, don’t panic everyone. If you think “package deal” and “Duke”, you might be reminded of Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor. However, I think Kansas actually has the upper hand in this case. KU seems to be much higher for Porter than Duke is, while Kansas and Duke are virtually tied at the top of the list for Trae Young.
I personally lean towards Kansas when making a prediction for both of these two. They have both said that they would like to make a decision before their senior season starts toward the end of 2016. Porter was in attendance this year for Late Night with Young, but he also visited Kansas again for the TCU game. There, he was quoted saying that Allen Fieldhouse was the “best venue in college basketball.” Young also made his second trip of this year to AFH to watch Kansas play Kentucky on January 30th.
The true local blue chip prospect that Self needs to lock up is Mitchell Ballock. Ballock may be the #43 ranked prospect in the ESPN Super 60, but don’t let that ranking fool you. Ballock in an unbelievable talent with tremendous upside. The 6’4″ guard from Eudora (about 15 minutes from Allen Fieldhouse) is a true scorer. Whether if it is slashing to the rim or crossing over defenders and pulling up for three, Ballock can score in anyway. In my opinion, he has one of the best jump shots in the entire recruiting class, with range that extends out to the NBA level. Ballock has a number of schools coming at him like Indiana, Iowa State, Creighton, Kansas State, and others, but there is one school that I think Ballock is destined to end up at. I do not see Ballock moving very far from his home base. Ballock will end up wearing the crimson & blue in college. I think this is the ideal prospect for Self, and I think he brings a tremendous shooting stroke and a swagger that this Kansas team will need in 2017.
Click here to return to part one, which focuses on Kansas’ 2016 recruiting targets.