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Early signing breakdown: AAC

Memphis may be the only program in The American with a top-20 recruiting class, the Tigers’ class ranks No. 10 Nationally, but several programs in the AAC are quite happy with their results in the early signing period.

None of the 11 AAC schools landed a five-star prospect early but Memphis, Houston and UCF added at least one four-star prospect with Memphis leading the way with four.

In fact, all of Memphis’ signees have four-stars next to their name.

RELATED: Reviewing Early Signing Period in Big Ten | ACC | SEC

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2022 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team


Florida forward Josh Minott got things rolling for Penny Hardaway when he committed in August. A wing with length, athleticism and skill, Minott is the highest ranked prospect to sign with an AAC program so far this cycle.

John Camden, Jordan Nesbitt and Sam Ayomide Onu are the other Memphis signees. Camden brings shot making talent to Memphis, Nesbitt is an athletic, physical wing who doesn’t need to score a lot of points to have a big impact on the game plus he brings toughness and leadership. Ayomide Onu is an energy bringer who scores mainly around the basket at this point and is an effective interior defender.

Ja’Vier Francis, now with Montverde Academy, signed with the Houston Cougars in the early signing period
Ja’Vier Francis, now with Montverde Academy, signed with the Houston Cougars in the early signing period (Courtesy: Ja'Vier Francis)

Landing top in-state prospects is a priority for any program and Houston continues to do that under Kelvin Sampson. At the end of the signing period Houston’s 2021 class is second in the AAC and No. 48 nationally.

Four-star big Ja’Vier Francis is a bouncy rim runner who runs the floor hard for transition finishes and is just scratching the surface of what he can become. One of the top shot blockers in the 2021 class, Francis is spending his senior year at Montverde Academy before returning to H-Town to play for Sampson. Another Lone Star State product, Ramon Walker, is a prototypical Houston Cougar – high motor, athletic and skilled. Walker gives Sampson another scoring threat off the catch as well as a guy how can create his own shot off the bounce. Robbie Armbrester is an undersized combo forward with good length who excels at rebounding, particularly on the offensive glass, and plays with the kind of tenacity that you seldom see these days.

Temple Owls, Aaron McKie, FedExForum
Temple Owls head coach Aaron Mckie looks on during a game against Memphis at FedExForum. (Photo: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports)

Temple’s three-man class is head coach Aaron McKie's second consecutive top-5 AAC class (No. 3) and is No. 55 nationally.

Zach Hicks and Hysier Miller are not in the Rivals150 but each player brings something Temple needs. Hicks is a wiry 6-foot-7 forward with shot making ability in the mid-range and on the perimeter. Miller is a multi-dimensional guard who defends with that Philly toughness, has good ball skills and can score. Miller seems to always make the correct read when coming off a ball screen but he needs to improve his jump shot.

A TIE FOR FOURTH

Tulsa received a NLI from a three-star prospect on the last day of the early period that boosted its class ranking into a tie with SMU at No. 4 in the league.

Sterling Chapman, who had verbally committed to Wichita State, flipped to Tulsa following this week’s resignation of Shocker head coach Gregg Marshall. Chapman joins unranked three-star guard Gavyn Elkamil and Independence C.C. transfer forward Tim Dalger in Frank Haith’s 2021 class.

The Mustangs picked up signatures from a pair of three star perimeter prospects in Zhuric Phelps and Jalen Smith. In Phelps not only does Jankovich land one of the top in-state (Duncanville, TX) prospects but he also gets his point guard of the future. Smith brings a high IQ and great length to SMU. Fans will have to get used to seeing his shot release but Smith makes them, can create off the bounce and has some dog in him on defense.

SOME WORK TO DO – UCF

UCF got a great start to its 2021 class when four-star point guard Darius Johnson, out of The Episcopal School (Alexandria, Va.), signed to play for head coach Johnny Dawkins. He should be given the keys to the Knight’s offense when he enrolls in June. Johnson was the only early period signee for UCF and we expect Dawkins to focus on adding a small forward, a face up, athletic, mobile power forward or center and a big combo guard.

East Carolina signee Alexis Reyes
East Carolina signee Alexis Reyes (Photo: Nick Koza)

SLEEPER CLASS – EAST CAROLINA

ECU head coach Joe Dooley picked up signatures from Alexis Reyes, Russell Felton, Jr. and Tay Mosher and tied USF for the seventh spot in the class rankings.

Reyes is a long, skilled wing best known for his shot making ability. He acquitted himself nicely in the ultra-competitive New England Preparatory School Athletic Conference and will finish his prep career at Putnam Science Academy which is known for its player development. Felton will bring ‘outside dog’ toughness to the Pirates and Mosher is a rangy shooter and a good long term play by the ECU staff.

USF only had two spots to fill this cycle and three-star in-state point guard Trey Moss grabbed one of them and put pen to paper on the first day of the early signing period. Now USF is looking for an athletic wing who can make perimeter shots with its remaining available scholarship.

LOTS OF WORK TO DO

Cincinnati, Tulane and Wichita State did not sign anyone in the early period.