Jayden Quaintance, 5-star center, commits to Arizona State after Kentucky decommitment

Arizona State and coach Bobby Hurley just pulled off a major recruiting upset, landing arguably the most valuable prospect in high school basketball when five-star center Jayden Quaintance, a former Kentucky signee, committed to the Sun Devils on Monday. A consensus top-10 overall recruit in the 2024 class, Quaintance is only 16 years old, meaning he won’t be eligible for the NBA Draft until 2026. That gives ASU a realistic shot at keeping him for two seasons — although that is far from guaranteed in the era of NIL inducements, rampant transfers and other pro options.

Still, this is a coup for Hurley and company. Quaintance reopened his recruitment when John Calipari left Kentucky for Arkansas early this month, and it was initially assumed he’d follow the Hall of Fame coach to Fayetteville. Quaintance’s father, Haminn, wrote on social media at the time that the family was “riding with the big dog until the wheels fall off,” regarding Calipari. While three other five-star Kentucky signees did follow Calipari to Arkansas, Quaintance quickly made it known he was open to other options.

New Kentucky coach Mark Pope threw his hat in the ring initially, but that courtship was brief and never got traction. Then rival Louisville and its new coach, Pat Kelsey, went all-in on trying to steal Quaintance. Memphis and Penny Hardaway did, too. It looked for a time as if the Cardinals might win that sweepstakes, especially when Quaintance canceled a visit to Memphis.

But that’s when Hurley and Arizona State emerged out of nowhere as a serious contender, which suggests the Sun Devils have a highly competitive NIL apparatus in place.

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Suitors without one need not apply in this recruitment. And now ASU has its highest-rated signee since Josh Christopher in 2020; both he and Quaintance ranked eighth in their class, per 247Sports, tying for the highest-rated pledges to the program in the Internet-rankings era. Hurley also has two other top-100 signees in this ’24 class — forwards Amier Ali and Sammie Yeanay — giving him the sixth-ranked recruiting haul in the country, per 247Sports.

This influx of talent comes at a critical moment in Hurley’s tenure. He bought himself time with a 23-win season in 2023, but he preceded that with a 25-31 record the two previous seasons and followed it with a 14-18 record last season. In nine years at Arizona State, Hurley has made three NCAA Tournament appearances with zero wins in March Madness. He desperately needed to make a big splash this offseason, and Quaintance certainly qualifies.

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(Photo: Maria Lysaker / USA Today)

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