Creighton filled a position of need by securing a commitment from a four-star prospect late Sunday night, landing a player who could end up as the highest-rated recruit in Greg McDermott’s tenure.
Center Ryan Kalkbrenner announced on Twitter that he intends to play for the Jays next year. He’s the first known member of CU’s 2020 recruiting class, and he’ll presumably sign a letter of intent in November.
It’s a major recruiting win for Creighton, which initially extended a scholarship offer to Kalkbrenner in May before hosting him on an official visit one month later. The 6-foot-11 center was also seriously considering Stanford and Purdue — and Kansas offered him two weeks ago.
But the Jays’ pitch resonated with Kalkbrenner, whose agility and mobility seem to fit well within Creighton’s high-octane offense. CU looks for big men who can run, set screens and play above the rim. That’s Kalkbrenner.
But he’s most renowned for his defense.
Kalkbrenner has been lauded by recruiting experts over the past few months as one of the best shot blockers in the class. His AAU coach with Mac Irvin Fire, Mike Irvin, told D1circuit.com in July that Kalkbrenner’s the “best defender I’ve ever coached.”
Kalkbrenner averaged 4.3 blocks per game on the Nike EYBL circuit this summer, earning the organization’s defensive player of the year award. The only player in the past three seasons who’s blocked shots in the EYBL at that rate was former Oregon center Bol Bol.
Kalkbrenner also scored 7.6 points per game, making 57.5% of his field goals (and 80% of his free throws) and grabbing 8.4 rebounds per contest during 17 games with Mac Irvin Fire. He’s set to play his senior season of high school ball with Trinity Catholic in St. Louis.
Then it’s on to Creighton, where he’ll certainly have a good chance to compete for playing time as a freshman.
The Jays will lose senior center Kelvin Jones after this season. Sophomore forwards Jacob Epperson and Christian Bishop will be back — but the lack of depth prompted CU to make the pursuit of a big the summer’s biggest priority on the recruiting trail.
And Kalkbrenner quickly emerged as Creighton’s top target. For good reason.
He’s rated as the No. 75 overall prospect on the 247Sports composite. Rivals ranks him No. 69 overall. He’s No. 98 on ESPN.
The recruiting rankings will surely change before the end of the 2020 cycle. But as it stands today, Kalkbrenner is the highest-ranked recruit CU’s nabbed since McDermott took over in 2010, according to the 247Sports composite archives.
Epperson was No. 77 on the final 247 composite list in 2017. Justin Patton was 85th in 2015, and Ronnie Harrell was 84th in 2014.
Creighton still has two open scholarships on the 2020-21 roster.