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ESPN Updates 2017 Basketball Recruiting Ranks, Nine UC Targets Make Top 100

An ambitious list of targets for Mick Cronin's staff is highlighted by a number of top-tier recruits according to the latest rankings from ESPN.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bearcats basketball program has yet to receive a commitment for the 2017 class but, should it land one or two of its targets, the group could end up being top notch. In its updated ranking of the 2017 class of college basketball recruits, ESPN ranked nine UC targets in the top 100. That does not include Nickeil Alexnader-Walker, who already committed to Virginia Tech.

Of that group of nine, two are five-star recruits with point guards Trevon Duval (No. 5), Collin Sexton (No. 26) and Matt Coleman (No. 27) all fielding offers from the Bearcats. However, such a high caliber of recruit has usually ignored UC and all three have their pick of elite college basketball programs. According to 247Sports, the last time UC landed a five-star recruit was for the class of 2009 when Lance Stephenson signed up.

The four-star tier is more of UC's speed and to that end, the program currently has offers out to seven four-star recruits as ranked by ESPN, with six of those in ESPN's updated top 100. Alexander-Walker is in the group, but taking aim at five top additional top 100 prospects, especially ones that appear more realistic based on past recruiting classes, is nothing to scoff at. This group features center Ikechukwu Obiagu (No. 37) along with power forwards Malik Williams (No. 42), Hameir Wright (No. 63), Derek Culver (No. 79) and Deng Gak (No. 80). There's also point guard Blake Harris, who is rated a four-star prospect but is not in the top 100. He is ranked the No. 33 point guard in the 2017 class.

The current UC roster features three four-star recruits in Gary Clark, Jacob Evans and 2016 class member Jarron Cumberland.

Even if the Bearcats fall short with all of these prospects, there is still reason to believe Cronin and company can turn a three-star player into a superstar. In the past decade Justin Jackson, Sean Kilpatrick, Troy Caupain and Octavius Ellis all came in with three-stars and left as All-Conference performers.