College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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King's Fork's Jayden Epps makes his way to the basket during their game at Oscar Smith in Chesapeake, Va., on Friday, January 31, 2020.\r

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Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood’s team:

Episode 158: Continuing to move forward

The Class of 2022 team recruiting rankings will change — many times — during the course of the next year. Particularly when you consider neither Duke nor Kentucky are in the top 10 where both teams have lived. Kentucky has one commit so far. Duke has zero, with Jon Scheyer primed to take control of the program.

But with Illinois in the top five, let's take a look at which teams are leading the way in the early going for the '22 class (again, based on 247Sports Composite rankings):

1. North Carolina

The Tar Heels have three total commitments and one each of the three-, four- and five-star variety. The wild thing is Illinois recruited all three from Gary West Side (Ind.) forward Jalen Washington to Menomonee Falls (Wis.) guard Seth Trimble to Oak Mountain (Ala.) center Will Shaver.

2. Ohio State

Chris Holtman and Co. also have three commitments in the class, including a pair of four-star guards. The other commit is also a guard — three-star in-state prospect Bowen Hardman out of Cincinnati. The Buckeyes branched out to Georgia and New York, respectively, for four-star guards Bruce Thornton and Roddy Gayle Jr., who are both top 50 prospects. 

3. Arkansas

If it's not a transfer, odds are Arkansas coach Eric Musselman is adding an in-state recruit. Two of three commitments in the '22 class are Arkansas natives, with four-star guard Derrian Ford the latest this week. The Razorbacks' 2020 class featured four in-state prospects, including soon-to-be lottery pick Moses Moody.

4. Illinois

With commitments from Sencire Harris and Jayden Epps, the Illini have multiple four-star recruits for the fourth time in the Brad Underwood era. They also managed that in 2018 (Ayo Dosunmu and Tevian Jones), 2020 (Adam Miller and Andre Curbelo) and 2021 (Luke Goode, RJ Melendez and Brandin Podziemski). 

5. UCLA

Chris Mack has it rolling in Westwood. The Bruins' two-man class currently boasts five-star guard Amari Bailey and four-star guard Dylan Andrews. Bailey's path to UCLA will ultimately be circuitous given his commitment and decommitment at DePaul and a previous commitment and decommitment with the Bruins.

6. Kansas

So, yeah. Bill Self is still a capable recruiter. The Jayhawks currently have a pair of four-star prospects in Sunrise Christian Academy (Kan.) wing Gradey Dick — a one-time Illini target — and Garland (Texas) big man Zuby Ejiofor.

7. Syracuse

The Orange would have had the top 2022 class had five-star guard Dior Johnson not decommitted and then ultimately committed to Oregon instead. Syracuse wasn't left hanging, though, with four-star wings Kamari Lands and Justin Taylor on board for 2022-23.

8. LSU

The land of strong you-know-what offers is still reeling in top talent. The Tigers have already landed four-star guard Justice Williams out of powerhouse Montverde Academy (Fla.) and a four-star wing in Devin Ree out of Terry (Miss.), too. 

9. UConn

UConn coach Dan Hurley landed a high priority big man in 7-foot-1 center Donovan Clingan out of nearby Bristol Central (Conn.) and pairs another four-star recruit in Roselle Catholic (N.J.) guard Corey Floyd Jr. with him so far.

10. Xavier

DeMatha Catholic (Md.) four-star guard Tyrell Ward is the higher ranked of Xavier's two commitments so far, but Buffalo Grove guard Kam Craft — a 2021 News-Gazette All-State First Team selection — is playing well enough this summer to warrant a boost from his four-star, No. 82 overall status.

Scott Richey covers college basketball for The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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