Every week, BTPowerhouse’s Big Ten Morning Power Bar will detail what’s going on across the league on the recruiting trail.
It was an exciting week once again for Big Ten recruiting, as several players released trimmed down lists that included teams within the conference. Though the commitment wave of July seems to have subsided, it’s only a matter of time before another batch of prospects elects to sign. When that happens, the Big Ten should be well represented.
Let’s take a look at this week’s recruiting headlines.
-Top Minnesota Target Tre Jones to Announce Commitment Sunday.
The Minnesota Golden Gopher program has not been shy about its affinity for the home state Howard Pulley Panthers AAU team. Richard Pitino and Co. first landed the Panthers’ four-star big man Daniel Oturu, and three-star teammates Jarvis Thomas and Gabe Kalscheur followed close behind. With the three Minnesota area players on board, the Golden Gophers are going back to the Howard Pulley well once more. Only this time, their sights are a bit higher.
Tre Jones announced he will make his commitment this Sunday, setting the recruiting world ablaze. Minnesota has long dreamed of the five-star point guard running the offense in The Barn, offering him back in June of 2015. On the precipice of his signing, the Golden Gophers remain in contention.
I am blessed to be in this position. I appreciate all the schools that have recruited me. I will be making my college decision on Sunday.— Tre Jones (@trejones03) August 10, 2017
Standing in their way are a succinct group of blue bloods in Duke, UCLA, Oregon, USC, and Ohio State. The six programs are at the end, a mere two days until the culmination of years of vying and jockeying on the recruiting front lines. To the victor goes the top-ranked player in Minnesota, the top-ranked point guard in the 2018 class, and a unanimous Top-10 player overall.
Jones didn’t need to have a stellar summer to improve his cachet, but that didn’t stop it from happening. Already among the blue-chip elite, Jones came out of the Nike EYBL with even more accolades to pile onto an overflowing heap. His 23 point, five rebound, and 4.7 assist per game performance at the Peach Jam were good for Second-Team honors. He followed that up by notching Prep Hoops 17u All-American honors, joining super prospects Marvin Bagley, Zion Williamson, and Bol Bol.
"Commitment Watch" is on for 5-star Tre Jones. Crystal Ball likes chances for Duke. https://t.co/ncU1QzVIA7— Jerry Meyer (@jerrymeyer247) August 10, 2017
While it may seem Minnesota has the inside track with their trio of Jones’ teammates, recruiting pundits think otherwise. According to the 247 Sports crystal ball predictions, the Blue Devils own the pack. Considering Tre is the younger brother of Tyus Jones, former Duke standout and current Minnesota Timberwolves guard, that consensus is far from surprising.
Will the allure of Krzyzewski and the Cameron Crazies be too strong? The Golden Gophers certainly hope not. Good outcome or bad, though, Minnesota will finally be able to let out its collective breath on Sunday.
-Three Big Ten Teams Make Justin Ahrens’ Final Six.
On Monday, 2018 three-star forward Justin Ahrens released his final six schools, and the Big Ten influence was undeniable. Michigan, Ohio State, and Purdue rounded out the finalists, joining Dayton, Xavier, and Vanderbilt. Ahrens is currently the No. 7 ranked prospect in Ohio, No. 40 for small forwards, and No. 164 overall, per 247 Sports.
Ahrens had initially committed to the Buckeyes, however, he requested his release just one day after Thad Matta’s departure. While it seemed like the door to Columbus had permanently closed, Chris Holtmann and his staff have reprioritized the Ohio prospect and offered him last month. Considering his previous signing and relationship to the university, they may have a leg up.
Purdue jumped in just a week after Ohio State, offering Ahrens a scholarship on July 24th. The Boilermakers Big Ten success and fondness for shooters played a key role in grabbing the attention of Ahrens, per Scout.
For Michigan, they were the last school on Ahrens’ list to offer a scholarship. Coach John Beilein has kept close contact since his initial de-commitment, according to Scout, and elected to wait for Ahrens’ visit to offer. The current 247 Sports crystal ball unanimously predicts a Wolverine commitment from the 6-foot-5 forward.
-Marcus Zegarowski Announces Final Four, Minnesota and Ohio State Among Those Remaining.
On Tuesday, Marcus Zegarowski announced his final four schools in consideration and among them were the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Ohio State Buckeyes. The two Big Ten squads join Creighton and Washington as the last programs standing in contention for the 6-foot-1 guard’s services.
A 2018 three-star prospect out of Hamilton, VA, Zegarowski has generated quite a bit of Big Ten interest throughout the recruiting process. The Gophers, in particular, have made the guard a top priority.
The brother of NBA point guard Michael Carter-Williams, Zegarowski is a hard-nosed offensive conductor. He has a knack for attacking the rim and impressed with a strong outside shot throughout the AAU circuit this summer. In a conversation with Rivals, Zegarowski spoke highly of the Big Ten and sees himself as a strong fit for Richard Pitino and Chris Holtmann’s programs.
Check back next week for more Big Ten recruiting headlines.