No prospect in Arizona's 2022 Class of prospects blew up more this club season than Sunnyslope High School's 6-foot-8 senior forward Elijah Saunders. After a very slow recruiting process for himself, Saunders absolutely blew up during the summer's NCAA Evaluation Period. After leading his Sunnyslope High School program to a 6A State Title last season, Saunders performed at a very high level in several events, and received loads of different Division-I scholarship offers for himself in the process. While Saunders went into the spring evaluation period with one offer for himself, he came out of the month of July holding on to close to (30) different Division-I offers - a dramatic improvement in his college recruitment.
While it is very well publicized just how much the COVID pandemic and the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Evaluation period both were crippling to almost every prospects college recruitment, the story of Elijah Saunders is an excellent example. While I wrote about his potential and promise for the collegiate level for almost two years, Saunders received one offer from South Dakota, and held that one offer for much of his college recruitment. As a result, Saunders was regarded by our staff as the most under recruited prospect in the state - regardless of class. But all that changed once the NCAA Evaluation Period took place in June with the Section 7 Event. Saunders would take full advantage of his opportunities and has blown up as a result.
Saunders currently has a super list of college offers, which includes the Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, University of Miami, St. Johns, DePaul, Tulsa, South Carolina, UNLV, San Diego State, UC-Davis, Lehigh, UTEP, Loyola Marymount, Saint Louis, Cal Poly, San Diego, Northern Arizona, Fresno State, UC-Riverside, Boston University, New Mexico, Montana, San Jose State, Rice and South Dakota.
He recently narrowed his list of schools down to (5) schools, which now includes Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Miami, San Diego State and South Carolina.
Saunders has taken an official recruiting visit to San Diego State, and this weekend visited Notre Dame and really enjoyed his visit. Who wouldn't. This is the very best time in Saunders' life and he is well deserving of the opportunities that he has received, especially since he waited so long to get here. Saunders looks to be nearing a college decision soon and will select a college program and sign with them this fall. He has an excellent list of schools for himself, and the Saunders' family has been very clear in their pursuit to decide on a college basketball program with a strong balance of athletics and academics. In my opinion, Notre Dame may be tough to beat for Saunders' services.
Saunders is a big post player with a college-ready body, good athleticism and a soft touch from the perimeter - traits not often found in post players. He is also an excellent student and has very good work ethic and a nice demeanor. He runs the floor hard and finishes strong at the rim. He also competes hard on the defensive end of the floor and is a coach's dream on the floor. He is very coachable and has upside still to improve over time.
Saunders played this summer with the Compton Magic (CA), alongside his Sunnyslope teammate Oakland Fort, and both benefited a great deal from the exposure and constant visibility gained from playing for a high-profile club program.
I will continue to follow the college recruitment of Saunders closely, and look to bring you more updates as they continue to develop.