How did we get here? Tracking the dramatic 2017 recruiting cycle
Without knowing many specifics, you can usually project how a recruiting cycle is going to go. Kentucky and Duke are going to split up most of the top 10, with Arizona, Kansas and the other college basketball powers racking up the rest of the five-star prospects.
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To some extent, that is how it went in 2017 -- but recruiting in this senior class has been anything but standard. The class' best player is committed to Missouri. There's a top-10 player headed to Alabama and another to Western Kentucky. Alabama has a top-five class. Missouri has a top-10 class. Washington had the No. 1 class and the No. 1 recruit for a stretch, and now has just one ESPN 100 player. There are still 10 uncommitted ESPN 100 prospects.
How did this all happen? How did we get here?
May 6, 2016: The drama can be traced back to last spring, when then-Washington coach Lorenzo Romar hired Michael Porter Sr. as an assistant coach. Porter is Michael Porter Jr.'s father. His son was a consensus top-five prospect who is likely to follow his father wherever he goes. Missouri and Texas A&M also pursued Porter Sr. to bring him on staff, but Romar and Porter Sr. are longtime friends -- and Romar is Porter Jr.'s godfather.
June 29, 2016: Five-star center Mitchell Robinson announces he's committing to Western Kentucky. Robinson committed to Texas A&M when Hilltoppers coach Rick Stansbury was an assistant there, but Robinson decided to follow Stansbury to Bowling Green, Kentucky.
July 15, 2016: Just more than two months after his father accepted a job at Washington, Michael Porter Jr. commits to the Huskies.
"My dad told me it was the best place for me to get to the next level," Porter told ESPN's Jeff Goodman. "I trust my dad and I trust Coach Romar."
Sept. 6, 2016: No. 1 senior DeAndre Ayton announces on SportsCenter that he's committing to Arizona, choosing the Wildcats over Kentucky and Kansas. Considering his status as the top player in the country, Ayton had a relatively quiet recruitment -- but coach Sean Miller and Arizona made a strong push to secure his commitment.
Oct. 12, 2016: The first set of ESPN's recruiting class rankings is unveiled -- and the usual suspects are nowhere to be found. Duke, Kentucky and Kansas have a combined two commitments. Led by Porter (then the No. 2 prospect), Washington has the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. Auburn, Arizona, Illinois and UCLA round out the top-five, with Western Kentucky slotting in at No. 6.
Nov. 2, 2016: Rick Pitino wraps up Louisville's class early, landing at No. 3 in the class rankings with three ESPN 100 prospects plus four-star forward Lance Thomas. It's a definitive sign that recruits aren't concerned about the ongoing NCAA investigation.
Nov. 10, 2016: This was the biggest day of the recruiting calendar, with six top-40 prospects announcing their commitments. Alabama made a huge splash, landing five-star guards Collin Sexton and John Petty. Coach Avery Johnson and the Crimson Tide beat out blue bloods for both prospects and suddenly has a top-five recruiting class nationally. Kentucky entered the early signing period with zero commitments -- and landed five-star frontcourt prospects Nick Richards and P.J. Washington to launch the Wildcats into the top 10 of the class rankings. Duke also began to make its move by reeling in Gary Trent Jr., a five-star guard and one of the best scorers in the class.
Nov. 13, 2016: Five-star forward Kris Wilkes commits to UCLA -- meaning that then-Indiana coach Tom Crean and the Hoosiers didn't land any of the four top-50 prospects from within the state. It also gives coach Steve Alford and the Bruins the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.
Nov. 16, 2016: Miami makes a statement, with the Hurricanes getting their highest-ranked commitment since ESPN's recruiting database started in 2007. Five-star wing Lonnie Walker picked Jim Larranaga's program over the likes of Arizona, Villanova and Kentucky. It was considered a battle between Arizona vs. Villanova for most of the fall, but Miami stayed in the mix and then popped up late to grab him. The Hurricanes have a top-10 recruiting class.
Nov. 22, 2016: Kentucky rises to the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, with the dust settling from the early signing period. Five-star point guard Quade Green committed to the Wildcats toward the end of the period, joining Richards, Washington and four-star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Nov. 23, 2016: Wendell Carter, the top uncommitted player in 2017, ends his recruitment by committing to Duke. It was the expected result, as the Blue Devils made him their top frontcourt target early in the cycle and maintained pole position throughout the fall.
Nov. 30, 2016: The class rankings begin to take a familiar look. Kentucky sits at No. 1, followed by UCLA, Duke and Arizona.
Dec. 23, 2016: The race for the No. 1 class is just about over. Five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt commits to Kentucky, giving coach John Calipari four five-star prospects and another four-star guard. Calipari has had five No. 1 recruiting classes since taking over in Lexington in 2009, and he's well on his way to a sixth.
"Coach Cal is a Hall of Fame coach," Vanderbilt said on ESPNU. "I feel like he does the best with developing his players, on and off the court."
Jan. 16: Mired in a 7-10 start, coach Shaka Smart finds a way to land top-five point guard Matt Coleman -- which gives him his point guard of the future, and also keeps Texas in the hunt for elite big man Mohamed Bamba. At the same time, the Longhorns rise into the top 10 of the recruiting class rankings.
Jan. 24: There's a new No. 1 player in the 2017 class. Porter passes Ayton for the top spot, as Porter continued to dominate during the high school season. His rise boosted Washington to the No. 3 recruiting class in the country.
Feb. 16: Five-star point guard Trae Young picks Oklahoma over Kansas. Young, a native of Norman, Oklahoma, had Duke and Kentucky involved in the summer and fall, but Oklahoma and Kansas were the clear top two heading down the stretch. Kansas needed a point guard in 2017, but Young chose to stay home and presumably be the Sooners' focal point. The Jayhawks are left looking elsewhere for an impact point guard.
March 5: Missouri fires coach Kim Anderson after just three seasons in charge.
March 15: The day before the NCAA tournament's first round is normally spent filling out brackets, with little to no focus on recruiting. However, the dominoes on this day permanently changed the landscape of the 2017 class. First, California coach Cuonzo Martin left to replace Anderson at Missouri. Martin had been yearning to get back to the Midwest (he's from Illinois). Shortly after, Washington parted ways with Romar. A top-five recruiting class is in the balance in Seattle -- including Porter, who lived in Missouri before making the move to the Pacific Northwest.
March 17: Jontay Porter, an ESPN 60 junior (No. 26) and the younger brother of Michael Porter Jr., announces he is decommitting from Washington. Porter had committed before his sophomore season, but the coaching changes led to him reopen his recruitment. Michael Porter Sr. is being pursued by Cuonzo Martin and Missouri, in large part because of the Porter family's ties to the school.
"We're just trying to evaluate all our options right now," Jontay Porter told ESPN at the time.
March 19: Washington hires Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins to replace Romar.
March 23: Michael Porter Jr. is granted his release from his letter of intent by Washington.
March 24: Michael Porter Jr. commits to Missouri, one day after his father accepted an offer to join Martin's staff as an assistant coach.
"It's home," Porter Jr. told ESPN. "I feel like next year we can do something very special there."
March 29: Washington is completely out of the class rankings. Missouri goes from unranked to No. 21.
April 5: ESPN 100 center Jeremiah Tilmon requests a release from his letter of intent to Illinois. Tilmon committed to the Fighting Illini under former coach John Groce, but asked out once Brad Underwood took over. Martin is from the same city as Tilmon, and rumors immediately spread that Missouri is Tilmon's early favorite.
April 7: Several teams fall completely out of the class rankings, with VCU losing both of its ESPN 100 commits after a coaching change and Connecticut seeing Makai Ashton-Langford decommit. Ashton-Langford would eventually end up at Providence.
April 9: Harris follows Michael Porter Jr. and Michael Porter Sr. to Missouri. Harris committed on his official visit to the school, where he was joined by Porter Jr. and uncommitted five-star forward Kevin Knox. Missouri, which had one four-star commit when Anderson was let go, officially has the No. 10 recruiting class in the country.
April 20: The dominoes are slowing down, but there are still 10 ESPN 100 prospects uncommitted, including five-star prospects Bamba, Knox, Trevon Duval, Brian Bowen, Brandon McCoy and M.J. Walker. Recent decommits Tilmon (Illinois), Tremont Waters (Georgetown) and Thomas Allen (NC State) are also in that group.
How will the dust settle in the class of 2017? The drama isn't quite done yet.