Rick Stansbury continues to win in recruiting.
His latest victory? Four-star shooting guard Josh Anderson, who verbally committed to Western Kentucky on Tuesday evening, adding another talented piece to the Hilltoppers’ 2017 recruiting class.
247Sports ranks the 6-4″, 174-pound guard from Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Madison Prep Academy), as the No. 52 high school prospect in the nation, and the 13th-best shooting guard.
Anderson joins five-star center Mitchell Robinson, former Syracuse commit Moustapha Diagne and Buffalo transfer Lamonte Bearden as players who committed to WKU this offseason since Stansbury took over as head coach.
Together, the group forms what many regard as the best set of newcomers for a mid-major program headed into the 2017-’18 season. Scout ranks the Hilltoppers’ 2017 class as fifth-best in the nation.
However, Stansbury isn’t finished.
Western Kentucky now has the No. 5 class in 2017. Mitchell Robinson & Josh Anderson on board. Don’t think they are done either.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) September 21, 2016
The Hilltoppers are in the mix for several top-tier prospects–notably Rayshaun Hammonds, Devontae Shuler and Jay Jay Chandler–and have plenty of time to continue to bolster their highly-rated class.
Hammonds is a 6-7 combo forward from Norcross, Georgia (Norcross). 247Sports lists him as the No. 50 prospect in the Class of 2017. In late August, he put WKU in the list of his final nine schools, along with Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Miami (Fla.), Texas and Memphis.
Hammonds would be the biggest get for WKU out of the potential recruits, completing a well-rounded class and giving the Hilltoppers two guards, two forwards and a center. However, he has not announced an official visit.
Meanwhile, Shuler is another four-star shooting guard considering WKU. The 6-3, 180-pound guard currently plays for Oak Hill Academy, and lists WKU in his final 10 schools along with North Carolina, Louisville, Oklahoma State, Southern California, South Carolina, Texas, Mississippi, Miami (Fla.) and Kentucky.
Shuler announced in August that he planned to take official visits to WKU, South Carolina, Southern California, Louisville and Oklahoma State, although the likelihood of the Hilltoppers landing a commitment from him may diminish following Anderson’s commitment.
The other guard in the trio, Jay Jay Chandler, listed WKU in his final five schools earlier this month, along with Georgia, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Southern California. The four-star guard appears to be heavily considering WKU, with 247Sport’s Crystal Ball predicting a 78-percent chance of him picking the Hilltoppers.
From 247Sports Director of Basketball Recruiting Jerry Meyer following Anderson’s commitment:
“The Western Kentucky class is now ranked No. 11 in the 247Sports Composite Recruiting Rankings. It is poised to jump to No. 3 with a commitment from four-star guard Jay Jay Chandler. Western Kentucky currently holds a significant lead in his Crystal Ball.”
Whether or not Hammonds, Shuler or Chandler ultimately choose WKU doesn’t change the fact that what Stansbury has accomplished so far in his short tenure at WKU has been nothing short of amazing. The fact that the Hilltoppers are not only going toe-to-toe with blue-blood programs such as Kentucky and North Carolina on the recruiting trail, but actually getting some of the recruits, is unprecedented in the mid-major ranks.
It will be interesting to see whether or not Stansbury can carry his successes from recruiting over to the court and get results. Stansbury was always known as a great recruiter at Mississippi State who won a lot of games, but struggled to live up to the hype in March.
He’ll face weaker competition in Conference USA than he did in the SEC, but the expectation of winning conference titles and advancing in the NCAA Tournament will still be there.
It remains to be seen if Stansbury will live up to expectations at WKU, but one thing is for certain–he’s making waves in recruiting and bringing national attention to the Hilltopper program.