RJ Barrett led Team Canada to the FIBA World Cup in Egypt in July. FIBA
RJ Barrett led Team Canada to the FIBA World Cup in Egypt in July. FIBA

NC State

Here’s who Duke, NCSU, UNC basketball could land during the early signing period

By Jonathan M. Alexander

jalexander@newsobserver.com

November 07, 2017 10:37 AM

UPDATED November 07, 2017 07:23 PM

The early signing period for college basketball – the first time recruits can sign a National Letter of Intent – starts Wednesday and ends Nov. 15. Duke, N.C. State and North Carolina all have strong recruiting classes already.

UNC has the No. 1 class, N.C. State has the No. 13 class, and Duke has the No. 18 class, according to 247sports.

Here are the Class of 2018 recruits Duke, N.C. State, and UNC fans should watch for during the early signing period:

R.J. Barrett

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Montverde Academy's RJ Barrett, right, a 6-6, 180-pound, five-star small forward and the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, is set to make is college announcement on Nov. 10.
Gregory Payan AP

Barrett, a 6-6, 180-pound, five-star small forward, who plays for Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla., is the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2018. He is down to three schools – Duke, Kentucky and Oregon – and is set to announce his decision on Nov. 10.

He reclassified from the Class of 2019 to 2018 earlier this summer. In July, he averaged 21.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists a game for Canada at the FIBU U19 World Cup.

Barrett put up a huge performance in the semifinals of the tournament and helped Canada upset the John Calipari-led Team USA 99-87. Barrett scored 38 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out five assists. It was the most points ever against Team USA in the FIBA U19 Men’s Basketball World Championships.

Duke has made a strong push for Barrett in recent weeks. According to 247Sports, Jeff Capel visited Barrett in Florida earlier this month. Barrett took his official visit to Duke in September.

Zion Williamson

Williamson, who’s often compared to NBA star LeBron James for his athleticism, is probably the most recognizable recruit in the country. His dunks often go viral on social media.

The 6-5, 272 pound, five-star small forward from Spartanburg Day in Spartanburg, S.C., is the No. 2 overall recruit in the Class of 2018. Williamson is interested in Duke, UNC, Kentucky, Kansas, South Carolina and Clemson.

He visited Duke, UNC and Kentucky in October and Kansas in September. He has one more official visit he can use.

He has not set an official timetable for his college decision, but he has previously said he hopes to make his announcement before the end of 2017.

“It’s always funny when I read different things from sports writers that think they have me all figured out and know who I’m gonna choose. I don’t even know that yet! Haha!” Williamson wrote in his most recent blog for USA Today Sports.

“I’m just gonna continue to enjoy the process and keep them guessing until it’s time to decide,” he wrote.

Keldon Johnson

Keldon Johnson, a 6-6, 216-pound shooting guard from Oak Hill Academy, is the No. 14 overall recruit in the country.
Mike Fender

Johnson, a 6-6, 216-pound shooting guard, is the No. 14 overall recruit in the country. He is also the second-ranked shooting guard. The five-star recruit would be a huge pickup for coach Kevin Keatts and his staff.

Johnson, who plays for Oak Hill Academy (Va.), can seemingly do it all, and plays the game with attitude. Johnson said in an interview Friday that he is deciding between Kentucky, Maryland, N.C. State and Texas. He said he hopes to announce his decision during the early signing period.

N.C. State’s recruiting pitch is that he can come in and “be the man right away,” Johnson said at the Hoops & Dreams Showcase in Fayetteville this past weekend.

“That I can make things happen, and I can lead them to great things,” he continued. Johnson said the thing he likes most about Keatts is his honesty.

Whichever school Johnson chooses, he’ll be the focal point of that team’s recruiting class. But according to 247sports’, 54 percent of experts believe he will choose Kentucky.

When asked if he could see himself at N.C. State, Johnson smiled before answering the question.

“Uhh, I mean, yeah, I could,” Johnson said. “I could envision myself there. But we’ll just have to see.”

Jairus Hamilton

Jarius Hamilton, left, is a 6-8, 209-pound small forward for Cannon School in Concord. He is a four-star recruit and is ranked No. 66 in the country.
Alik McIntosh newsobserver.com

Hamilton, a 6-8, 209-pound small forward, plays for Cannon School in Concord. He is a four-star recruit and is ranked No. 66 in the country. Hamilton has offers from Duke, N.C. State and UNC.

He played well at the John Wall Invitational in Raleigh last December, scoring 25 points in one game and scoring 26 points and grabbing 8 rebounds in another. He also had the dunk of the tournament.

Former N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried and his staff were really impressed with him.

Simisola Shittu

Simisola Shittu, middle, is a five-star power forward for Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, Vt. He’s the No. 7 overall recruit in the country, and ranked No. 1 at his position.
JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews.com

Shittu, a 6-8, 210-pound, five-star power forward, is the No. 7 overall recruit in the country and ranked No. 1 at his position, according to 247sports’ composite rankings. He plays for Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, Vt. He is down to two schools – UNC and Vanderbilt.

Shittu previously had Arizona on his list, but dropped the school from consideration after the university was linked to an FBI investigation into corruption and fraud in college basketball. 247sports has him going to Vanderbilt, with 67 percent of the vote. He visited the school on Oct. 6 and the coaching staff visited him on Oct. 26.

Shittu has an official visit set for UNC this weekend.

Romeo Langford

Romeo Langford is a 6-5, 191-pound, five-star shooting guard for New Albany Senior in New Albany, Ind. He is the No. 5 overall recruit in the country and ranked No. 1 at his position.
Lexington Herald-Leader

Langford, a 6-5, 191-pound, five-star shooting guard for New Albany Senior in New Albany, Ind., is the No. 5 overall recruit in the country. He is ranked No. 1 at his position. Indiana, Kansas, UNC, UCLA and Vanderbilt are among his top choices. He is expected to narrow his list to three schools soon. Langford visited UNC on Oct. 13.

Jonathan M. Alexander: 919-829-4822, @jonmalexander