The results are in, and Duke, North Carolina, Miami and Pittsburgh have so far assembled the best 2017 recruiting classes in the ACC.
The Blue Devils finished the fall signing period (Nov. 9-16) very strong, corralling late commitments from two of the nation’s best dozen high school seniors — 6-10 center Wendell Carter and 6-5 shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. Carter is a skilled, 265-pound inside behemoth who turned down finalists Georgia Tech, Georgia and Harvard, while Trent, whose father played in the NBA for 10 years, is a scoring machine with a deadly perimeter stroke.
Duke already had a commitment from another outstanding shooter — 6-6 swingman Alex O’Connell. It’s worth noting that Coach K’s elite program remains in the picture for 6-2 point guard Trae Young, 6-11 center Mohamed Bamba and 6-8 combo forward Kevin Knox. All of those players are among the nation’s premier uncommitted seniors.
Heading UNC’s four November signees is 6-4 combo guard Jalek Felton, a likely 2017 McDonald’s All-American and the nephew of former Tar Heel star Raymond Felton. Jalek Felton put on the best performance we’ve observed in at least the past 10 years when he erupted for 55 points (including 11 three-pointers) and eight assists in a December 2015 game in the Beach Ball Classic.
Joining Felton as recent Tar Heel signees are 6-4 shooting guard Andrew Platek, 6-10 in-state center Brandon Huffman and 6-11 center Sterling Manley. Platek is a fundamentally sound sharp-shooter with loads of intangibles, Huffman is a still-growing inside athlete who merged on the national scene this past June, while better-than-advertised Manley would no doubt be ranked higher nationally had he not broken a leg that kept him sidelined from February until this fall. Roy Williams’ powerful program is also among the finalists for the aforementioned Knox, who is considering Florida State and Kentucky, besides UNC and Duke.
The best of Miami’s four November signees are versatile 6-5 shooting guard Lonnie Walker, another probable McDonald’s All-American, and 5-8 point guard Chris Lykes — an extremely quick floor leader and legitimate national top-40 prospect despite his minuscule size. Also bound for the Hurricanes are 6-11 center Deng Gak, potentially an outstanding rejector, and “sleeper” Sam Waardenburg, a 6-9 power forward from New Zealand.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, snared one of the very best current junior college prospects in 6-5 small forward Jared Wilson-Frame, who averaged 15.4 points per game last season for defending national JUCO champion Northwest Florida State. He will arrive next fall with two more years of college eligibility. Pittsburgh’s other three November signees are 6-10 big man Terrell Brown, 6-2 point guard Aaron Thompson and 6-1 point guard Marcus Carr. We especially like the promise of Brown, whom we watched in mid-July at the Nike Peach Jam.
Below, we’ve updated our rank ordering of all the fall signees of ACC schools. Besides the players mentioned above, the best are 6-6 small forward D.J. Harvey (national top 30 and headed to Notre Dame), 6-5 shooting guard Chaundee Brown (top 40 and Wake Forest-bound), 6-11 center Malik Williams (top 40 and a Louisville signee), 6-1 point guard Wabissa Bede (top 50 and going to Virginia Tech) and 6-5 shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (top 50 and another future Hokie).
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