College Basketball Recruiting: Final Rankings for Top 15 Classes in 2012

Josh SchochAnalyst IIIMay 22, 2012

College Basketball Recruiting: Final Rankings for Top 15 Classes in 2012

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    The regular signing period has ended for college basketball recruits, which means it's time for my final class rankings for the Class of 2012.

    Amile Jefferson and Anthony Bennett are the two big recruits who decided since my last update, waiting until the last few days of the regular signing period to pick a school. The two chose Duke and UNLV respectively, and both schools have finally entered the rankings.

    While recruiting is not completely over, there are very few impact players left available, which means this will be the final time I rank the classes for the top 15 schools in the country.

15. Syracuse Orange

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    Recruits: 2

    ESPNU Top 100 Recruits: 2

    Best Recruit: C DaJuan Coleman

    Previous Ranking: 13

     

    Syracuse will lose quite a bit of talent to the NBA during the 2012 NBA draft, including seven-footer Fab Melo, along with sophomore Dion Waiters and seniors Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph.

    Jim Boeheim knows the way to combat these losses is on the recruiting trail, and he made sure to address his team's major issues.

    Center DaJuan Coleman is the big center who I ranked No. 14 in the Class of 2012. He will be taking Fab Melo's spot as the anchor of Boeheim's 2-3 defense, and his 275-pound frame will allow him to carve out space on the low post.

    Boeheim is also bringing in SF Jerami Grant, who is an excellent athlete that will be able to help the Orange run in transition. Grant also appeared on my list of the Top 50 incoming freshmen at No. 33, and he is another elite recruit for Syracuse.

    This class is actually tied for the smallest on this list, but because both recruits are elite players it scrapes the No. 15 spot.

14. Kansas Jayhawks

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    Recruits: 5

    ESPNU Top 100 Recruits: 2

    Best Recruit: PF Perry Ellis

    Previous Ranking: 13

     

    Bill Self's class takes a very different approach to recruiting than that of Jim Boeheim. Self brings a total of five recruits to Kansas to replace a depleted team that reached the national championship game last year.

    This class only has two elite recruits in PF Perry Ellis and SF Andrew White. Ellis was part of my player rankings at No. 37, while White ranks No. 41.

    Kansas also gets PF Landen Lucas, SG Anrio Adams and PF Zach Peters, although they are far from elite.

    Self has used this strategy to his advantage before, turning players like Thomas Robinson (No. 40 in the Class of 2009), Tyshawn Taylor (No. 86 in the Class of 2008) and the Morris twins (both unranked in the Class of 2008, according to ESPN) into stars.

    However, we can't bank on him doing that with this year's class, and based off of pure rankings of players, compared to their peers, this class ranks No. 14.

13. Duke Blue Devils

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    Recruits: 2

    ESPNU Top 100 Recruits: 2

    Best Recruit: SG Rasheed Sulaimon

    Previous Ranking: Unranked

     

    Amile Jefferson's recent commitment to Duke brings the Blue Devils onto this list for the first time. Joining SG Rasheed Sulaimon, this class only has two recruits but has one of the best tandems in the nation.

    Sulaimon is a prolific scorer who ranks No.16 on my list of the Top 50 recruits in the Class of 2012. He Is an aggressive player who can drive through the lane extremely well or knock down threes. He will be vital in replacing the offensive game of Austin Rivers, who left Duke for the NBA.

    Jefferson is a long, lanky combo forward who ranks No. 25 in my rankings. He is another great slasher, and he brings an athletic look to Duke's frontcourt that wasn't there before (unless you count Mason Plumlee, who is not as athletic as Jefferson).

    These two are sure to be elite players at the next level, and they will both be NBA players one day. Both of these guys can go for 20 points on any given night, and the combination of these two will elevate Duke's offense to a new level by decreasing the dependency on the three.

12. Michigan Wolverines

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    Recruits: 5

    ESPNU Top 100 Recruits: 3

    Best Recruit: C Mitch McGary

    Previous Ranking: 11

     

    Michigan's 2012 class is headlined by center Mitch McGary, who is famous for breaking a backboard during warmups at Elite 24 over the summer (see video). However, there are four other recruits who combine to make this class one of the best in the nation.

    Glenn Robinson Jr. is one of the other recruits, and he made it onto my rankings at No. 30, along with McGary, who was No. 23. He is a skilled small forward who has the potential to be a great player at the next level—although not quite as good as his father.

    The class also has SF Nik Staukas (No. 76 according to ESPNU), SG Caris LeVert and PG Spike Albrecht.

    With depth and a pair of elite players, the class heading to Ann Arbor will help bring Michigan to national championship contenders.

11. UNLV Runnin' Rebels

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    Recruits: 4

    ESPNU Top 100 Recruits: 2

    Best Recruit: PF Anthony Bennett

    Previous Ranking: Unranked

     

    The Runnin' Rebels of UNLV make their first appearance on this list, thanks to the recent commitment of power forward Anthony Bennett.

    Bennett is a big, powerful player who ranks No. 6 in my rankings. He is versatile too, and he has tremendous range for his size, being able to shoot from past the three-point-line. He will be the star of the team next season, and will be vital in UNLV's reemergence onto the national stage.

    This class also has three other players, including SG Katin Reinhardt. Reinhardt barely missed out on my rankings, although ESPN has him ranked No. 47 in the country.

    After Reinhardt, the class drops off, but PF Demetris Morant and PG DaQuan Cook could play important roles for UNLV next season, and should be good contributors down the road.

    It's also worth noting that UNLV will get transfer C Khem Birch, who ranked No. 14 in the Class of 2011 before transferring from Pittsburgh to the Rebels. If this list included transfers UNLV would be ranked even higher.

10. Indiana Hoosiers

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    Recruits: 5

    ESPNU Top 100 Recruits: 3

    Best Recruit: PG Yogi Ferrell

    Previous Ranking: 9

     

    Tom Crean starting recruiting players in the Class of 2012 extremely early, landing his first recruit on August 9, 2010, and landing his fifth recruit on March 24, 2011. Indiana hasn't had a commitment in nearly 14 months, but Crean's fast start has them in the Top 10 in my ranking.

    PG Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell headlines this class,and I ranked him No. 28 last week. The team also has two other Top 100 recruits, including SF Jeremy Hollowell (who I ranked No. 50) and PF Hanner Mosquera-Perea (No. 71 according to ESPN).

    The Hoosiers are bringing back all five starters from last season. Throw in these five guys and you have yourself a guaranteed preseason No. 1.

9. North Carolina State Wolfpack

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    Recruits: 3

    ESPNU Top 100 Recruits: 3

    Best Recruit: SG Rodney Purvis

    Previous Ranking: 8

     

    Coach Mark Gottfried enjoyed a lot of success on the court during his first year as head coach of North Carolina State, leading a Wolfpack team that was seeded No. 11 in the Midwest Region to the Sweet 16, and coming within two minutes of making it to the Elite Eight.

    However, Gottfried actually had more success on the recruiting trail, bringing in no less than three Top 50 recruits during his first year as head coach.

    Gottfried landed SG Rodney Purvis (who I ranked No. 20), SF T.J. Warren (No. 31) and PG Tyler Lewis (No. 48). Purvis,Warren and Lewis were all McDonald's All-Americans, and are considered among the best in the country at their respective positions.

    These three guys are all as close to guaranteed stars as you can be. With the top four scorers from last year's team returning, three new studs coming in and an incredible coach in Gottfried, NC State is poised to take over the ACC next season, finally surpassing Duke and North Carolina.

8. Providence Friars

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    Recruits: 4

    ESPNU Top 100 Recruits: 2

    Best Recruit: PG Kris Dunn

    Previous Ranking: 10

     

    Providence coach Ed Cooley is trying to put the Friars back on the college basketball map, thanks to a pair of homegrown recruits.

    PG Kris Dunn and SG Ricardo Ledo will comprise the best all-freshman backcourt this season, as they are both elite guards.

    I ranked Dunn No. 18 and Ledo No. 22 in the Class of 2012. Dunn was my highest-ranked point guard, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better shooting guard and complement to Dunn than Ledo is.

    These two young guards are highly athletic and play high-energy styles. They will be pushing the tempo next season for Providence, and will be incredible running mates.

    Providence also brings in SG Josh Fortune and PG Ian Baker, but the reason this class has climbed in my ranking is the tremendous combination of Dunn and Ledo.

7. Michigan State Spartans

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    Recruits: 4

    ESPNU Top 100 Recruits: 4

    Best Recruit: SG Gary Harris

    Previous Ranking: 7

     

    Tom Izzo Is bringing yet another stellar recruiting class in for Michigan State, adding to the wealth of talent he has brought to East Lansing.

    SG Gary Harris is the star of the class, and I ranked him as high as No. 11, making him the top shooting guard in the class. He is a skilled player who loves to drive through the lane and has good range. He is the type of player you want taking the last shot of the game because he has ice in his veins as well.

    After Harris the class drops off. PF Kenny Kaminski, PF Matt Costello and SF Denzel Valentine all missed out on my Top 50 rankings, but they were ranked in the ESPN Top 100, grabbing the No. 85, No. 86 and No. 97 spots respectively.

    With four good recruits, this is one of the best classes in the nation, making up for the talent the Spartans have lost.

6. Texas Longhorns

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    Recruits: 6

    ESPNU Top 100 Recruits: 4

    Best Recruit: C Cameron Ridley

    Previous Ranking: 4

     

    Rick Barnes was busy on the recruiting trail, landing an incredible six recruits. However, not all six will be impact-players, which is why this class is not higher on my list.

    C Cameron Ridley is a big boy who can easily carve out space on the low post. I ranked Ridley No. 9 in the Class of 2012, and he is one of the best centers in the class.

    The Longhorns will also be joined by three other recruits in the Top 100. C Prince Ibeh, PG Javan Felix and PF Connor Lammert rank No. 59, No. 72 and No. 93 respectively.

    After the Top 100 recruits this class is joined by SF Ioannis Papapetrou and SG DeMarcus Holland, but odds are that neither will amount to be anything more than role players during their time with the Longhorns.

    This class is essentially a four-man class, but because the four recruits are all great players, Texas finds itself ranked No. 6 on my list.

5. North Carolina Tar Heels

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    Recruits: 4

    ESPNU Top 100 Recruits: 4

    Best Recruit: PG Marcus Paige

    Previous Ranking: 6

     

    How do you make up for losing four of five starters on a team that was called one of the best in history during the preseason poll? On the recruiting trail.

    Roy Williams knew that he would probably lose four starters, and potentially all five to the NBA after the 2011-12 season. The team that he worked so hard to make the consensus No. 1 in the preseason poll was due to suffer major losses, so Williams went about forming one of the best recruiting classes in the nation.

    PG Marcus Paige heads the class, and he ranked No. 27 on my list of the Top 50 recruits, while PF Brice Johnson ranked No. 35. C Joel James and SF J.P. Tokoto round out the class, ranking No. 60 and No. 70 respectively, according to ESPN.

    These four will play vital roles for the Tar Heels next season, and are among the nation's best in the Class of 2012.

4. Baylor Bears

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    Recruits: 5

    ESPNU Top 100 Recruits: 3

    Top Recruit: C Isaiah Austin

    Previous Ranking: 5

     

    Baylor's frontcourt was among the best in the nation last season, but Scott Drew knew that it would soon be depleted.

    With senior Quincy Acy graduating, and Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller both declaring for the 2012 NBA draft (per Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears), Baylor does not have a single returning starter on the frontline.

    Drew went out and landed two of the best big men in the country, receiving commitments from C Isaiah Austin (Who I ranked No. 4 in the Class of 2012 ) and PF Ricardo Gathers (No. 26). Austin is a skilled seven-footer who is effective in transition, while Gathers is one of the strongest forwards in the class.

    Baylor also brings in PG L.J. Rose, who ranks No. 63 in the country according to ESPN, not to mention C Chad Rykhoek and PF Taureen Waller-Prince, who are unranked.

    This class is sure to replenish Baylor's frontcourt, joining F Deuce Bello. And with Rose joining Pierre Jackson, A.J. Walton and Brady Heslip in the backcourt, Baylor has the potential to be a Top 10 team once again this season.

3. Kentucky Wildcats

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    Recruits: 4

    ESPNU Top 100 Recruits: 4

    Best Recruit: C Nerlens Noel

    Previous Ranking: 3

     

    This is the lowest one of John Calipari's recruiting classes has been ranked since he arrived in Lexington. In fact, this is the first time he doesn't have the No. 1 overall class in the nation.

    Some Kentucky fans will surely shudder at the thought of being ranked only No. 3 in the country when it comes to recruiting, but this is still an elite class.

    Nerlens Noel is the No. 1 overall prospect according to ESPN, and he is the leader of this recruiting class. However, SG Archie Goodwin and SF Alex Poythress both rank in the top 15 of the Class of 2012 as well, and C Willie Cauley is a big-bodied center who ranks No. 40 in ESPN's ranking.

    Noel reminds Kentucky fans of Anthony Davis from last season, while Poythress is one of the best athletes in the country and Goodwin one of the most lethal scoring threats. Cauley might not see an incredible amount of playing time this season, but he has the potential to be a star at the next level over the next three or four years.

    This class is one that most coaches would die for, but for the best recruiter in history it is subpar. Coach Cal could only reach No. 3 in this year's ranking...I think I just felt a chill run down my spine.

2. Arizona Wildcats

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    Recruits: 5

    ESPNU Top 100 Recruits: 4

    Best Recruit: C Kaleb Tarczewski

    Previous Ranking: 2

     

    Sean Miller is bringing in a boatload of talent for the 2012-13 season, including four of the best recruits in the country.

    The top three players in his class are C Kaleb Tarczewski, PF Brandon Ashley and PF Grant Jerrett, who I ranked No. 5, No. 10 and No. 12 respectively. These three will form a formidable frontcourt, as all three have been ranked in the Top 10 at some time this year.

    The key for Arizona being ahead of Kentucky on my ranking is PG Gabe York. A 6'1" point guard who is the most underrated player in the country, rankings mean less than nothing with this kid. He has the ability to shoot from about 35 feet out, and the freakish athletic ability to be one of the best dunkers in the Class of 2012 despite his size.

    The video on this slide is a highlight reel of York's junior season, and once you see it you will know exactly what I am talking about.

    This class has four instant-impact players who have the potential to be stars next year, and it will be exciting to see all four on one team this season.

1. UCLA Bruins

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    Recruits: 4

    ESPNU Top 100 Recruits: 4

    Best Recruit: SF Shabazz Muhammad

    Previous Ranking: 1

     

    Remaining atop the class rankings this month, Ben Howland's UCLA Bruins brings in the best tandem in the nation next year. Not just the best pair of freshmen, but the best pair of players in the country for the 2012-13 season.

    Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad are a fearsome combination.

    Anderson is a 6'9" point guard who is both an incredible scoring threat and gifted point guard. Muhammad is a freak of an athlete who could have played in the NBA this season if the one-and-done rule wasn't in place, and he will be one of the nation's top scorers.

    This class does not stop at those two, however, as Howland is also bringing in PF Tony Parker, who I ranked No. 24 in the nation. Parker is a big-bodied forward who can carve out space on the low post and can finish with an array of moves with his back to the basket.

    SF Jordan Adams is also headed to Westwood, ranked No. 40 in the nation. He is another great athlete who can work with Muhammad or fill in for him when he is on the bench.

    UCLA has one of the best classes we've seen in recent years, and the Bruins have the top class in the nation as the class rankings end.

    Thanks to those who have followed along every month, and be sure to look out for my class rankings for the Class of 2013.