Ivy League men’s basketball 2018 recruiting update

Harvard

Noah Kirkwood, a three-star recruit from the Ottawa area, committed on Tuesday to Harvard for the fall of 2018.  The 6′ 7″ shooting guard recently graduated from nearby Ashbury College High School, and will spend a year at Northfield Mount Hermon School (Mass.) prep school before heading to Cambridge.  247Sports noted that Kirkwood had offers at Wichita State, Virginia, Texas, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Tulane, GW, and St. Bonaventure.  Verbal Commits listed additional offers at Villanova, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and USC.

Kirkwood is a long-time friend of Harvard junior and fellow Elite Performance Academy training partner, Corey Johnson, according to the Ottawa Sun.  As a member of Canada’s U-19 Team that won the FIBA U-19 World Cup this past summer, Kirkwood was teammates with Danilo Djuricic, a first-year Crimson forward.

Kale Catchings, a 6′ 5″ small forward, committed to Harvard on September 18.  He was a three year starter at Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis, and has transferred to nearby Wentzville Liberty High School for his senior season. 247Sports lists him as a 2 star recruit, the No. 10 player in Missouri and the No. 81 small forward in the nation.  He was noted to have received offers from Brown, Lehigh, UTEP, Indiana State, Cleveland State and Evansville.  Last season, he averaged 16.6 points and 6.1 rebounds a game, while shooting 51 percent from the floor and 77 percent from the free throw line.

Catchings and Kirkwood become the second and third 2018 commits for Tommy Amaker’s squad, joining four-star point guard Spencer Freedman.

Yale

Isaiah Kelly, a three-star recruit from Pace Academy in Atlanta, signed with Yale on Monday.  The 6′ 6″ small forward chose the Elis over Harvard, Princeton, Penn, Brown, Wisconsin, Rutgers, Iowa State, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Xavier, Cincinnati, Memphis, UAB, Bucknell, Florida Gulf Coast, Hofstra, and Alcorn State.  At Pace, he was teammates with Wendell Carter, Jr., the No. 5 2017 overall prospect and a first-year forward at Duke.

In November 2016, the Big Shots recruiting site listed Kelly as the No. 6 player in Georgia and a national Top 100.  Its evaluation noted that he is a “Smooth athletic forward with good touch around the basket, nice hands and athletic in transition, nice jumper and finisher”.  This past April, the On The Banks Rutgers’ blog quoted Rivals recruiting analyst Corey Evans describing Kelly as “capable of  taking his man off the bounce with a fine first step, hitting in rhythm jumpers from beyond the three-point arc, and rebounding the ball from out of his area on the offensive glass.”

In addition to Kelly, Yale picked up a second September recruit from the South, when Jake Lanford of Charleston committed earlier this month.  Lanford is a 6′ 9″ center from Porter-Gaud High School, who averaged 11.7 points and 11.1 rebounds last year.  Included in a February 2017 article at Phenom Hoop Report is the following assessment from group’s National Analyst Jeff Bendel: “Offensively, (Lanford) is great from the free throw line in, extremely smart and efficient with each opportunity given from that area. Displays the ability to draw his jump shot out to the elbows, however, he’s a natural post up brute. On the low block, he’s strong, has shown the ability to finish well with either hand over either shoulder. … Defensively, he controls the paint and is a consistent defensive anchor for his team; blocks shots with regularity and guards the perimeter well for a big man.”

With the addition of Lanford and Kelly to earlier recruits Eze Dike-Nwagbara and Michael Feinberg, Yale now has a four-member group heading to New Haven in the fall of 2018.

Columbia

Ike Nweke, a 6′ 6″ power forward, became the first member of Columbia’s 2018 class on September 14. The three-star recruit from Bethesda, Md., attends Georgetown Preparatory School.  Last season, he averaged 11.0 points and 5.5 rebounds a game.

Nweke chose the Lions over Brown, Boston University, Loyola (MD), Lafayette, Army, Navy, Colgate, New Hampshire, NJIT and Sacred Heart.  According to a September 2016 report at Prep Hoops, “Nweke is a mobile, athletic power forward who plays above the rim on both ends of the floor. He’s a very good finisher in traffic, and has a soft touch around the basket with either hand.”

Less than a week later, Jim Engles secured his second player for 2018, when Maka Ellis of Las Vegas committed to Columbia.  Ellis, a 6′ 5″ shooting guard from Sierra Vista High School, is listed as a three-star recruit from Scout and ESPN.  He had other offers from Bucknell and Lehigh from the Patriot League, as well as Santa Clara, New Mexico State, Utah State, Nevada, Rice, and UC Santa Barbara.

This past season, Ellis was an first-team All-State for Nevada and co-MVP of the Southwest League, averaging 25.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.1 steals a game.  From a May 2017 post at Scout’s Inside the Rebel site, “Ellis is a BTR kinda guy (Below The Rim), but don’t let that fool you; he’s a lights out scorer. Another Vegas kid that has come on strong lately, Ellis makes his living 15 feet and out. His shooting is dead-eye, but he can also create for himself.”

Brown

Mike Martin got his third recruit for 2018 when Jaylan Gainey committed to Brown on September 18. Gainey is a 6’ 10” two star power forward from Ben L. Smith High School in Greensboro, N.C. According to Verbal Commits, he chose the Bears over Lafayette, Howard, Army Canisius, NC A&T, Appalachian State, Hampton, Denver, Maryland Eastern Shore, Western Carolina, and NC Central.

At Phenom Hoop Report, Rick Lewis recently noted that Gainey can consistently hit 10-15 foot jumpers and has solid defensive abilities: “Jaylan is a long, quick and athletic face up four … so crafty and has terrific footwork in the post and has impeccable timing on his shot blocking ability. The next step in his development is to add more muscle to his frame and watch out. What you see now is not the finished product, but when you do, watch out for this promising young prospect.”

Gainey will join combo guard Thomas Shaughnessy and shooting guard David Mitchell, who decided to attend Brown earlier this summer.

While Princeton and Dartmouth did not get any recent 2018 recruits, both have had success this summer.  The defending champion Tigers have already received commitments from four star Top 100 point guard Jaelin Llewellyn, guard Ethan Wright and small forward Drew Friberg.  The Big Green have successfully recruited three-star guards Wes Slajchert and Taurus Samuels.  At this time, Cornell and Penn do not have any 2018 commits.

3 thoughts on “Ivy League men’s basketball 2018 recruiting update

  1. The League continues to move the bar higher. Interesting that most teams have filled out their classes for next year long before the current season begins. Can the second bid be far away?

  2. For what it is worth, Scout has Noah Kirkwood graded out as a 4* prospect, and Ike Nweke is graded out as a 2* prospect by ESPN (Rivals and Scout do not have a ranking for him; Verbal Commits shows Ike Nweke as a 3* because they are referencing an old ESPN ranking, which has subsequently been changed)

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