NCAA Basketball: Illinois, Memphis and Saint Louis fight for 4-star Jordan Nesbitt

Four-star wing prospect Jordan Nesbitt is down to a final group of three. Will Illinois, Memphis, or Saint Louis win this recruiting battle?

Over a month ago, top-100 wing Jordan Nesbitt had a list of 11 teams that were in the running. They included the likes of Alabama, Maryland, and Seton Hall, as well as other power conference programs. However, eight of them are out of the picture, with just three left. Those are the Illinois Fighting Illini, Memphis Tigers, and hometown favorite Saint Louis Billikens.

This group is by no means a major surprise. Illinois has been making big effort to land Nesbitt and probably intensified efforts after top-60 small forward Brandon Weston went to Seton Hall in the past few weeks. After Alan Griffin transferred this offseason, the Illini has been without a true wing on the roster. Big guards Jacob Grandison and Austin Hutcherson are capable but aren’t natural small forwards, whereas Nesbitt is.

As for Memphis, they’ve been a darkhorse threat to land Nesbitt all along. The recruit has been very receptive to head coach Penny Hardaway and what the program has to offer, including a quality offense he could potentially thrive in. The issue in this situation is Josh Minott, a small forward commit in the 2021 class that has blossomed into a top-30 overall prospect. Nesbitt would have to fight with him for playing time, along with veterans Leston Quinones and DJ Jeffries.

But right now, neither of those programs are the favorite. According to the crystal balls of 247sports, Saint Louis has the current edge. The hometown team has been on Nesbitt from the start, and head coach Travis Ford has done a great job recruiting in the area and keeping local talent.

The Billikens are coming off a 23-win season and return the vast majority of its roster for another run. That includes seniors Jordan Goodwin, Hasahn French, and Javontae Perkins. Once they graduate, Nesbitt could come in and be a big factor as a freshman and still be surrounded by good talent. Double-digit scoring guard Gibson Jimerson, as well as former Oregon big man Francis Okoro.

Next: Biggest NBA Draft needs for western conference teams

While Illinois and Memphis are the bigger programs, staying and playing local has been big this offseason for some of the top targets. That could very well include Jordan Nesbitt, who says that he’ll be making his decision on October 1. A mid-major could get a big commitment that day unless the big schools can make one last push.