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July 9, 2012
Getting to Yes
When Do Elite Recruits Commit?

by Drew Cannon

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We're about to enter the heat of recruiting season, when the biggest news is always commitment news. So when will that big news arrive?

Here's a chart of the number of committed Top 100 prospects at each date. That guy on the far, far left is Ryan Boatright, in his commitment to USC (which preceded his commitment to West Virginia, which preceded his commitment to UConn) on June 19 following his completion of the eighth grade. The far right is the last of September following a player's senior high school season. The four grey lines are the classes of 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011; the black line is 2012; the red line is 2013, the blue line is 2014, and the yellow line is 2015. (Feel free to imagine a two-weeks long line at zero for 2016 if you so desire.)

Different classes move at entirely different paces as underclassmen, denoted by the green lines above. Take June 1 following a player's sophomore season. The 2008-14 classes had two, four, 14, ten, one, five, and five committed players, respectively. In the class of 2012, for example, Rapheal Davis had been committed to Purdue for more than a year, but no one in the class joined him until Sam Dekker pledged to Wisconsin on June 15. Meanwhile the class of 2010 had already gained pledges from more than a few stars by that time: Baylor (Perry Jones), Dayton (Juwan Staten), Illinois (Crandall Head and Jereme Richmond), Kentucky (Dominique Ferguson), NC State (C.J. Leslie), North Carolina (Reggie Bullock and Kendall Marshall), Ohio State (Trae Golden and Jared Sullinger), Syracuse (Dion Waiters), Texas (Tristan Thompson), West Virginia (Noah Cottrill), and Wisconsin (Vander Blue) were already on the board, though Ferguson, Golden, and Blue ended up elsewhere.

The biggest differences show up on January 1 of the junior season (the second green line). The 2008 class saw 11 prospects committed by then, and the 2009 class saw 14, but the notably decisive 2010 class already had a whopping 42 of its Top 100 off the board.

Still, even with these wide differences, the commitment number starts to hit certain benchmarks once a given class becomes the nation's recruiting focus. On June 1 (the first black line) following the junior season, the six classes in the sample ranged between 28 (2008) and 39 (2010, having lost three members in five months). Around a third of the class has always been committed by then. By September 1, it's always been around half -- a low of 48 in 2011 and a high of 55 in 2009 were pledged by that point. Three-quarters of the class would be committed by October 18: The 2008-12 classes had 74, 75, 74, 74, and 74 prospects signed and delivered by the 18th. And everything's wrapped up by June 4: The five completed groups had 96, 97, 97, 97, and 97 commits on that date, before eligibility concerns have become a serious issue.

Based on this history, we should be see about 12 guys pop over the next 60 days. As for who those players will be, that's a question for another person or another day.

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Drew Cannon is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Drew by clicking here or click here to see Drew's other articles.

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