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Recruiting Update: ‘Croots Narrow Their Lists

The picture still isn’t clear three months before signing day, but it’s narrowing into focus.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-Florida vs Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt still doesn’t have a commit in the 2018 recruiting class. But before you freak out about that, it’s just under three months until signing day -- and unlike football, there just aren’t a ton of recruits who are committed, well, anywhere right now. Of the top 20 recruits in the Class of 2018, just four have announced a commitment so far.

That’s just a different reality from football, where half of the top 20 is already off the board. So there’s really no reason to be concerned just yet.

That said, recruits are starting to narrow their lists, and hey, here’s something new. We knew Darius Garland was giving Vanderbilt a long look, and the Brentwood Academy product has Vanderbilt in his top six along with Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, and UCLA. But then Simi Shittu listed Vanderbilt in his top ten and, well, Shittu is ranked #8 overall in the Class of 2018 per 247 Sports. That’s... different. Players of Shittu’s caliber don’t normally consider Vanderbilt unless they’re local kids, and he’s not.

Of course, ten’s kind of a big number. As Bud Elliott of SB Nation has mentioned (and of course, he’s on the football side, but it applies to basketball too), few recruits are considering that many schools. Six is a good number — recruits get five official visits, after all, and it’s a short enough list that you can really buy that the guy is considering all of them. So Garland naming Vandy to his top six is a considerably bigger deal than Shittu listing Vandy in his top ten.

While we’re on the subject of top six lists, a few more recruits have included Vanderbilt in those: Justin Ahrens of Versailles, OH, listed Vanderbilt along with Dayton, Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue, and Xavier (one of these things is not like the others...) Miller Kopp, the younger brother of Vanderbilt OL Braden Kopp, has Vandy in his top six along with Butler, Georgetown, Michigan, Northwestern, and Texas A&M. California product Riley Battin included Vandy with Clemson, Colorado, Davidson, Ohio State, and Utah. And on Sunday, Memphis East product Alex Lomax included Vandy in a top six along with Florida, Memphis, Missouri, Ole Miss, and Wichita State.

There are a few more guys that Vanderbilt is looking at, which you can see on the target list courtesy of 247 Sports, and you can get a sense for where things are going here with the recruits narrowing their lists. Garland is roughly target number one, two, and three; Lomax is the only other point guard that Vanderbilt is seriously recruiting. That’s partly a function of the fact that Vanderbilt will have Larry Austin Jr. for one more year after 2018 and Saben Lee for three more — and Maxwell Evans and Payton Willis are capable of filling in at the point if necessary. Of course, Garland is a better player than any of them, and even Lomax isn’t exactly a guy that Vanderbilt would just want to pass on.

The logjam that currently exists on the wings will clear up a bit after 2017-18 with Riley LaChance, Matthew Fisher-Davis, and Jeff Roberson all graduating, so Vanderbilt could stand to add at least one wing, and maybe two with the last remaining scholarship. Kopp would fit that bill, as would Ahrens. Inside, there are currently a bunch of bodies with Clevon Brown, Djery Baptiste, Ejike Obinna, and Yanni Wetzell, but Simi Shittu is an obvious take regardless of the roster situation. Battin would be another body up front if Vanderbilt feels the need to take another big man.

That said, don’t be surprised if the coaching staff decides to hold a scholarship until the spring to see if they can snag another transfer, as they’ve done in the last two recruiting cycles. It’s still a developing situation, and we probably won’t know where things will go until Garland announces his decision.