He is still a Kentucky signee, but instead of D.J. Wagner, who held the top spot for several years, Justin Edwards is now the best player in the 2023 class. The move did nothing to impact the Wildcats’ status as the best recruiting class in the country, as John Calipari’s group now features three of the top four prospects in the country, as well as No. 11 Robert Dillingham and No. 21 Reed Sheppard. If anything, Kentucky’s grip on No. 1 was strengthened since the last update following November’s early signing period.
But there have been plenty of changes in the past two months, including new teams in the top five and top 10 and storylines to monitor moving forward.
Memphis has a top-five class
For the third time in five cycles, Penny Hardaway has Memphis headed toward a top-five recruiting class. This group doesn’t have quite the star power of 2019, when the Tigers landed No. 1 prospect James Wiseman, or 2021, when they pulled in Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren — but there’s plenty of depth. Mikey Williams leads a seven-man group that has five four-star prospects and four ESPN 100 recruits. Javonte Taylor was once a five-star recruit and still possesses ample potential, while Ashton Hardaway is a newly minted top-100 prospect and Ty-Laur Johnson will have the chance to run the show in Memphis. The Tigers were also involved for Bronny James, although it’s unclear if they’re truly in the mix for his commitment. Hardaway currently has a senior-heavy team, so this group could form the core of his team for the next couple of years.
Which players are left to move the needle?
Not many. Like, at all. Only four ESPN 100 prospects remain uncommitted, and the lone one inside the top 50 is Bronny James. James has been linked to a wide range of schools, including Ohio State, Oregon and USC, but he hasn’t done too much to advance in his recruitment outside of a visit to the Buckeyes’ campus for a football game in the fall. Kris Parker took visits to UCF and Alabama in the fall and has other schools in the mix, while Jaylen Curry has had a strong senior season and is hearing from new schools. Curry has visited Ole Miss. Then there’s Tru Washington, who took a trip to New Mexico and has several West Coast and Southwest schools involved.
Of course, there will be decommitments due to coaching changes, reclassifications from the 2024 class — and a couple of ESPN 100 prospects also opted against signing letters of intent in November — so the dust hasn’t quite settled on the 2023 class just yet.
There have already been two major coaching changes at the high-major level, with Texas firing Chris Beard and Notre Dame’s Mike Brey announcing he was stepping down at the end of the season. From a class rankings perspective, Texas’ change is more noteworthy. The Longhorns have No. 5 recruit Ron Holland and No. 39 A.J. Johnson — what will they ultimately decide? Keeping interim coach Rodney Terry would likely ensure Johnson sticking around, but there is plenty left to figure out in Austin. While Notre Dame doesn’t find itself among the top 25 recruiting classes, the Fighting Irish nonetheless have a group that includes three four-star prospects headlined by ESPN 100 wing Brady Dunlap. With Brey heading out the door in March, you can expect other programs to begin sniffing around.
Two of the biggest risers from our November update were Oklahoma State and UCLA. The Cowboys took a jump all the way to No. 10 after a commitment from top-50 recruit Eric Dailey as well as a small bump to Brandon Garrison‘s ranking. Meanwhile, UCLA saw Sebastian Mack go from outside the ESPN 100 all the way to No. 48, which moved the Bruins to No. 14. Baylor and Alabama are the two new teams in the rankings. Baylor signee Miro Little, a Finland native, went from out of the rankings to No. 33, giving Scott Drew a high-level future backcourt of Little and five-star Ja’Kobe Walter. The Crimson Tide also had a dramatic individual rise, with Sam Walters going from outside the top 100 to No. 53 — enough to push Nate Oats’ club into the class rankings.