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Insider

Can Vanderbilt land a top-five recruiting class and other unanswered signing period questions

Vanderbilt among the nation’s elite? Not just in academics, but basketball?

It might be a long way from competing with the bluebloods of the sport on the court, but the Commodores are very close to what could be a top-three recruiting class.

Head coach Bryce Drew made waves last week by beating out Indiana in the final days and outlasting Kansas, Kentucky, Duke and UCLA to keep five-star point guard Darius Garland home. Garland (No. 11 in the ESPN 100) attends Brentwood Academy (Tennessee), but Drew wasn’t going to let him leave Nashville without a fight. It paid off in the end, giving Drew an elite point guard for the next few years.

The biggest potential impact of Garland’s signature isn’t just getting a top-15 prospect, though. It’s the domino effect of what landing Garland means. Vanderbilt is heavily involved with two top-10 prospects, No. 1 shooting guard Romeo Langford (No. 5) and elite forward Simi Shittu (No. 6). Without Garland’s commitment, it remains unclear if the Commodores could have landed either one. With him in the fold, though, Drew has Vandy right in the mix.

Shittu is the more likely to commit at this point. In fact, Vanderbilt is the only known school to still be involved. He canceled a visit to North Carolina two weekends ago and has yet to truly open up his recruitment. There was some talk he could commit to the Commodores late in the signing period, but it hasn’t happened -- yet.

Vanderbilt made the final three for Langford, joining Kansas and Indiana and beating out North Carolina and UCLA for a spot on the list. Langford took official visits to all three schools, but wanted to take more time before making a final decision. He’s close with Garland, and the point guard committing to Vanderbilt keeps the Commodores in the mix.

There’s no guarantee that either Shittu or Langford follows Garland, but the chances are high -- particularly for Shittu. If both do, that’s good enough for, at worst, a top-three recruiting class.

Vanderbilt. With a top-three recruiting class.

Get used to it: It might be a common saying in the spring.

Here are other questions that still need answering after the early signing period:

Where will Zion sign?

The top unsigned player left on the board is Zion Williamson, the super-athletic forward who is way more than just a YouTube sensation. There was some speculation that he could end his recruitment in the last week, but despite taking several visits, Williamson elected to wait until the spring. For most of the fall, it looked like Kentucky was the favorite. The longer the recruitment went on, though, other schools made up ground. Ask one coach involved in the recruitment, and he’ll say Kentucky and Clemson are the favorites. Ask another, and he’ll say Kansas and North Carolina are the front-runners. Duke is also still heavily involved, and South Carolina’s Frank Martin was spotted at a recent game. Clemson’s attempt to keep him home will be a major storyline over the next several months.