After a week of disappoint fueled by the basketball team’s opening night loss to Princeton and the football team’s letdown in Iowa City yesterday, fans got some good news Saturday night as Ace Bailey officially signed his national letter of intent with Rutgers University following his high school game with McEachern (Powder Springs, GA). You can watch the video below (and yes, Dylan is in the crowd). Ace comes off as humble, thanking mom and pops, somewhat at a loss for words, and looks exactly like the type of young man head coach Pikiell and his staff want to help grow in 2024 as he positions himself as a potential NBA round-one draft pick.
It’s been a nervous ten months after Ace verbally committed. For a fanbase that is used to letdown after letdown, watching Gavin Griffiths explode Friday night in his JMA debut, followed by this past week’s signings of 3-star wing Bryan Dortch and 4-star big man Lathan Sommerville, adding Bailey already elevates this program to the top half of the Big Ten entering 2024, when new members UCLA, USC, UW, and Oregon join the conference.
Bailey supplants Gavin Griffiths as the highest-ranked player ever signed by Rutgers in the Steve Pikiell era. Bailey is a top-5 recruit, no matter what service you rely on for your rankings. Ace plays above the rim and will be a matchup nightmare for most opponents who won’t be able to double down on Rutgers’s big men.
Airious “Ace” Bailey is originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Before his sophomore season, he moved to McEachern High School in Powder Springs.
• McEachern HC Tremayne Anrchrum: “Ace is one of the most talented players that I’ve ever seen. He has a special combination of size, skill and passion. He can do anything on the floor. Finally, he LOVES playing basketball. This kid has the ability to be like a Paul George mixed with Jayson Tatum. He has the feel of a Paul George. The ability to get to the spot he wants and be comfortable to make the right play. But he also has the offensive precision and duality of a Tatum. Ace can guard all 5 positions, but he can also destroy your confidence when he’s on the offensive end.”
• TKR Basketball Recruiting Analyst Zach Smart: ”As a big with a wing’s skill set, Bailey has all the intangibles which translate to today’s high major game. He’s more athletic than most at his size, with fluid baseline to baseline mobility and a vertically explosive game. He also adds length and rim protection to the frontline as well. He’s able to block and influence shots in the paint and also switch on wings/guards, capable of guarding the 2-5 at the high school level.”
Rivals National Basketball Analyst Jason Jordan: ”By now, we know that Bailey is Rutgers’ highest-ranked commit of all time, but over the last four months he’s been consistently showcasing why most experts feel his best basketball is ahead of him. At 6-foot-9, Bailey is arguably the most versatile and fluid prospect in the class and seems to be increasingly growing his killer instinct.”
The moment when Ace Bailey signed with Rutgers Basketball pic.twitter.com/V4RcUGvKFD— ScarletNation.com (@RUscarletnation) November 12, 2023
Below is the 2024 recruiting class following Ace’s commitment with Dylan Harper up next.
Bryce Dortch | Chestnut Hill, MA
The 6’8” 3-star wing has been labeled the program’s next Caleb McConnell for his ability on the defensive end. Dortch is ranked the 32nd-best forward in the nation. On3.com ranks Dortch as the 52nd-best forward and the sixth-best player out of Massachusetts. In every ranking, he’s one of the best players from the Commonwealth State. Being such a force out of the New England area is essential to Dortch as he looks to take the next step into the Big Ten.
“Bryce Dortch is a unique player from a terrific basketball program,” head coach Steve Pikiell said. “He was well-coached in a terrific AAU program. He’s versatile and reminds me of Caleb McConnell in some ways defensively. He can guard multiple positions. He’s a terrific ball-handler for his height. He’s competitive, comes from a great family, and is a great student. He has all the things you look for in a young student-athlete. We’re excited to add Bryce to our family.”
Dylan Grant | Warren, MI (from Mississauga, Canada)
Grant is a 6-foot-7, 205-pound forward from Mississauga, Canada. Grant moved to Warren, Michigan to compete at the high school level. Grant quickly became one of the best players in the state of Michigan at Michigan Collegiate High School and is currently ranked as the No. 1 player in all of Michigan in the class according to On3.com.
“We’re really excited about Dylan Grant officially becoming a Scarlet Knight,” head coach Steve Pikiell said. “First and foremost, we are getting a wonderful young man from a great family. He’s an athlete, a rebounder, an inside-outside scorer, and the ultimate defender of all five positions. Rutgers fans are going to love him and most of all they are going to love his energy.”
Lathan Sommerville | Peoria, IL
Correction: Sommerville is expected to officially sign this week, on the 15th.
Sommerville is a 4-star currently ranked the No. 92 recruit nationally on the Rivals150. He also made ESPN’s Top 100 list last week, debuting at No. 90. In the 247 Sports composite rankings, the big man is listed at No. 94 overall and the No. 16 center in the 2024 class. You can read Greg’s writeup on Lathan here.