Ranking the Contenders: Michael James
The sixth highest-ranked small forward left on the board in the class of 2021, Michael James won’t be on the board that much longer.
A versatile and hard playing wing, James ranks No. 70 overall nationally in the Rivals150. A product of Orlando (Fla.) Oak Ridge, he is down to a final eight of Alabama, Arkansas, Cincinnati, Louisville, Oklahoma State, USF, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech. He’s also set a commitment date for Sept. 9.
With a decision nearing, we rank the contenders.
1. TEXAS A&M
Buzz Williams and the Aggies have been prioritizing James since last fall. His tough guy style and versatility as a playmaking wing are a good fit for what Williams wants out of his wings. There won’t be any wing like James left on next year’s roster either, so playing time is a sell. The Floridian took an unofficial visit to College Station back in the fall and from most accounts it was a success.
2. VIRGINIA TECH
The Hokies really turned up the heat on James during the spring and have turned this into a serious race with A&M. Assistant coach Chester Frazier has been successful in the state of Florida, most notably at Kansas State where he landed Barry Brown and helped mold him into a Big 12 star. Tech has some impressive wings set to come back, but not a hard-nosed three man like James.
If familiarity plays a part in this, maybe the Bulls have a chance to pull off James given that they’ve been recruiting him the longest. He can’t take official visits to any of his other finalists and he’s quite familiar with the lone school from his home state on his list of finalists. Much like A&M and Tech, Brian Gregory’s program has room and need for a versatile wing like James.
4. OKLAHOMA STATE
Mike Boynton and his staff have proven they are capable of building strong relationships with players and the Cowboys' 2020 class led by Cade Cunningham has gotten the attention of recruits like James. The question, though, is how much room they’ll have available on the perimeter and wing even after Cunningham heads to the NBA. Without being able to host him for a visit, this could be tough.
The Bearcats don’t have any natural small forwards on their roster in the mold of James, so the fit is there. Also, playing in the AAC, picking Cincinnati would afford James the chance to play multiple games in his home state throughout his career. Again, the question is whether or not they can beat out the rest without a chance to host him for a visit.