Five-star forward Airious “Ace” Bailey committed to the Rutgers men’s basketball team yesterday. Bailey’s commitment makes him the second player of the 2024 recruiting class to announce their decision to join the No. 23 Scarlet Knights (13-5, 5-2).
Bailey was in attendance at Jersey Mike’s Arena on Livingston campus Sunday afternoon and witnessed Rutgers come away with a 68-64 overtime victory against Ohio State. Moments after the final buzzer sounded, Bailey made his way to the locker room to deliver the message to head coach Steve Pikiell and the rest of the team.
“He’s coming!” Pikiell shouted in an Instagram story video. Chaos and celebration followed immediately after as players and coaches in the locker room recognized the magnitude of Bailey’s commitment.
Bailey is a junior at McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Georgia, where he currently plays alongside fellow Rutgers commit and three-star guard Jamichael Davis.
Bailey is a highly touted recruit as he holds a five-star rating from every major recruiting platform. In addition to his high ratings, he comes in ranked sixth across the entire nation in the 247Sports Composite rankings, fifth on Rivals and ninth on ESPN. This makes Bailey the highest-ranked commit in modern program history, topping class of 2023 signee Gavin Griffiths, who ranks 34th in his class.
The Knights were up against some pretty elite company in recruiting Bailey to the Banks as prior to committing, Bailey had reportedly received 15 scholarship offers. Just recently, he trimmed down his list to his top 12 schools which included Rutgers and other highly touted schools such as Kansas, Texas, Tennessee, Auburn, Arkansas and Kentucky.
Bailey stands at 6-foot-10 and weighs in at 185 pounds. He is a lanky forward who stretches the floor and can do just about everything offensively. Bailey’s versatility is a huge factor in what makes him such a talented player.
Despite the fact that he plays forward and has the size of a down-low player, Bailey often acts as a ball handler and creates different forms of offense for his team. He is a three-level scorer who can beat defenders to the rim or pull up for a jump shot effortlessly.
His work on the offensive end of the court shows glimpses of a play style similar to that of NBA star Jayson Tatum. They each move fluidly with the ball, get to their spots and have a high, smooth release on their jumper allowing them to get their shots off from anywhere.
“I’ll add a lot. I’ll contribute in different ways. Offensive and defensive rebounds. I can get to the basket. I’ll contribute on the court, but also off the court,” Bailey said. “I can do what you need, whether going to class or being in the right position on the court.”
The highly anticipated 2024 recruiting class is off to an even hotter start than expected for the Knights with Bailey’s commitment.
Pairing Bailey with the recent commitment of four-star Dellquan Warren has Rutgers’ 2024 class ranked No. 3 across all of college basketball. Surely these rankings will continue to fluctuate, but the Knights could very well shoot up even higher as five-star Dylan Harper is yet to commit anywhere and remains a massive recruiting target for Pikiell and his staff.
"It's home, it feels like home," Bailey said. "I got family there, it just feels like home."
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