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8/18 Big Ten Morning Power Bar: No. 1 Overall R.J. Barrett Lists Michigan in Final Five

The Wolverines remain in play for Barrett, while Eric Ayala stays in 2018 and lists three Big Ten schools in his final nine.

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Every week, BTPowerhouse’s Big Ten Morning Power Bar will detail what’s going on across the league on the recruiting trail.

With the march toward regular season play comes the approach of college basketball’s early signing period. While some may commit prior, the recruiting work being put in now comes with the hope of dividends in November.

Let’s take a look at this week’s recruiting headlines.

-R.J. Barrett Lists Michigan in Final Five.

Outside of the on-court ramifications for Duke, the ACC, and beyond, Marvin Bagley’s announcement on Monday sent waves through the recruiting landscape. The LeBron James style ESPN decision put the spotlight on the California prospect, and the prep star turned Blue Devil relished the moment. Durham, NC did as well, learning that not only would they get to cheer on the 6-foot-10 forward, but they would get to do it this season.

Amidst the spectacle, though, another development was brewing. A fashionable debate, the No. 1 prospect discussion for the class of 2018 became a little easier with the 2017 reclassification of Bagley. Two clear cut candidates remain - one superhuman in Zion Williamson and an extraterrestrial in R.J. Barrett. Williamson gets the nod for flare, showcasing above the rim play more reminiscent of Dominique Wilkins than a high schooler. In all around game, however, Barrett reigns supreme, currently sitting atop the rankings.

On Wednesday, Barrett announced his top 5 schools. On the heels of losing the Mohamed Bamba sweepstakes, the Michigan Wolverines find themselves finalists. Joining them is Duke, who once again will be in play for a No. 1 prospect, as well as perpetual top recruit lurkers in Kentucky and Arizona. Rounding out the list and representing the Northwest’s interests is Oregon.

Barrett is no stranger to reclassification himself. Initially a member of the 2019 class, the forward jumped into 2018 and picked up right where he left off, once again securing national top billing.

“Obviously, I was ranked No. 1 in the 2019 class and now that I’m moving up to 2018 my goal won’t change,” Barrett said on his USA Today blog. […] “I still want to be the best player in the class and the only way to make that happen is through hard work.”

For John Beilein and the Wolverines, their inclusion in Barrett’s list is another victory in a growing trend. Eric Bossi of Rivals recently crowned Michigan as the best all-around recruiting team, regardless of region. A strong 2016 class was followed by a strong 2017 class, and 2018 will be no different. Already ranked 7th overall, a commitment from Barrett would likely propel Michigan to the top spot.

It should be interesting to watch Barrett’s recruitment unfold. Considered a top 5 NBA Draft talent already, he will bring a strong national buzz to whichever school he chooses.

-Eric Ayala Stays in 2018 class, Three Big Ten Teams Make Cut.

4-Star 2018 guard Eric Ayala has decided to stay in the 2018 class after months of speculation surrounding a potential reclassification. Bundled in with his announcement was a trimmed list of potential landing spots. Among the nine finalists were Indiana, Maryland, and Ohio State. They join Oregon, Arizona, Syracuse, LSU, Miami, and Georgetown. Currently no visits are set, and Ayala stressed to Rivals that he plans to take his time and make an unrushed, educated decision.

While previous 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions listed Syracuse as a favorite, the consensus seems to be a complete reset following Ayala’s decision to stay in the 2018 class. That bodes well for Indiana, Maryland, and Ohio State, as a reclassification might have left them on the outside looking in.

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Check back next week for more Big Ten recruiting headlines.