Rashanti Harris has committed to Georgia State, and that might not mean much to you. But it's worth noting in this space because Harris is rated by Rivals.com as the 26th-best prospect in the Class of 2009 and Georgia State isn't the type of school that typically lures recruits of that caliber.
It's a wild development, honestly.
Arkansas, Memphis and Mississippi State were all heavily involved with Harris, whose academic woes are well-documented and the reason the Mississippi native is now at The Patterson School. But late Thursday night he passed on those programs to commit to Rod Barnes and in the process continued a trend of high-level prospects choosing outside the power programs.
Consider that four of Rivals.com's top 13 centers in the Class of 2009 are now committed to non-BCS programs. This wouldn't be too strange, mind you, if they were committed to Xavier, Gonzaga, Memphis or Nevada. But the four prospects (Harris, Zeke Marshall, Aaric Murray and Greg Smith) have pledged their allegiances to Georgia State, Akron, La Salle and Fresno State, meaning four top 90 national prospects have committed outside the normal power structure (and it should be noted that Rivals.com's No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2009, DeMarcus Cousins, has committed to UAB, i.e., another non-BCS/non-power program).
For those in search of explanation, here's one: Beyond the special relationships that can bond between staffs and prospects (and played a huge role in the commitments of Harris and Cousins), it's fair to partly credit the 2008 NBA Draft for the trend. Multiple industry sources have said kids watched three of the first 26 picks come from Rider (Jason Thompson), Western Kentucky (Courtney Lee) and IUPUI (George Hill) and realized for good that it's possible to be a first-round pick from virtually anywhere. In other words, Harris knows the NBA is an option even from Georgia State, and perhaps that helped make his unconventional decision a little easier.