College Basketball Recruiting: 10 Schools That Lost the Most Ground This Year
The dust has pretty well settled from the 2012 recruiting season, and some teams have come out of it a great deal less pleased than others. For every juggernaut that kept on rolling (Kentucky) or powerhouse program that bounced back from an off year (UCLA), there were rivals who fell far behind the pace with mediocre or even downright awful incoming classes.
One team whose freshman crop is well below its usual standard is mighty Ohio State. Despite March’s Final Four run, Thad Matta only managed to secure a single 3-star recruit for his team, hardly the way to stay competitive with the high-powered freshman classes at Michigan or Indiana.
Read on for more on the Buckeyes and nine other teams who will be kicking themselves later on for their recruiting woes this season.
When it comes to Missouri’s 2012 recruiting haul, quantity is hardly a problem. The Tigers replace a slew of departing seniors with five incoming freshmen…none of whom are ranked higher than 3 stars.
Obviously, players outperforming their post-high school ranking is far from unheard of, but for a team losing so much of its star power, not adding any impact freshmen is a tough road to travel.
Even with Alex Oriakhi and other prominent transfers arriving to help coach Frank Haith patch his lineup, Missouri doesn’t appear to be off to a good start at keeping up with new conference foes such as Florida and (of course) the 500-lb gorilla that is Kentucky recruiting.
9. New Mexico
2011-12 was among the most competitive seasons the Mountain West has ever seen, with New Mexico, UNLV and San Diego State all making Top 25 appearances and trading off the lead in the standings.
Of that triumvirate, the Aztecs and Rebels have landed high-powered freshmen, and Steve Alford's Lobos…haven’t.
Despite a 28-7 record and MWC titles in the regular season and the conference tourney, New Mexico didn’t add a single recruit rated higher than 2 stars by ESPNU.
In contrast, San Diego State snapped up SF Winston Shepard (Rivals.com’s 21st-ranked recruit nationally) and UNLV grabbed SG Katin Reinhardt (38th in the country according to the same site), both 4-star talents who will make life miserable for New Mexico in the seasons to come.
8. Seton Hall
After several years of being a non-factor—the Pirates last went dancing in 2006—Seton Hall had so much to build on from the 2011-12 campaign.
Despite losing star seniors Herb Pope and Jordan Theodore, though, the Hall had little scholarship space and wound up with even less to show for it.
Juco PF Raymon Austin is all well and good, but Kevin Willard didn’t add any freshmen after a year that saw his team beat UConn, Pitt and Georgetown in finishing 21-13.
With the Big East’s usual beastly level of competition, plus dangerous recruiting classes at the likes of Providence and St. John's, it looks like the Pirates may have a while longer to wait before returning to the NCAA tournament.
Temple’s 2012 recruiting class will be taking hits coming and going, entering a very tough Atlantic 10 as freshmen before being tossed into the deep end that is the Big East.
Either way, a class “headlined” by 3-star guard Daniel Dingle is going to have a tough time measuring up.
The Big East, for all that a lot of its talent about to depart for the ACC, has one of the biggest surprise classes in the country in Providence plus other highly-regarded hauls at schools including Notre Dame and Villanova.
Even before Fran Dunphy's newest Owls have to bang with those powerhouses, they’ll be facing an upgraded A-10 that includes two dangerous new teams (Butler and Virginia Commonwealth) plus a superlative freshman class coming in at perennial contender Xavier (with Semaj Christon as the ringleader).
6. Virginia Tech
A year ago, Virginia Tech was riding high after Seth Greenberg and his staff landed star PF Dorian Finney-Smith to anchor the 2011 recruiting class. Now, Greenberg, Finney-Smith and optimism have all left Blacksburg.
To be fair to the Huskies, 2012 was an exceptionally tough year to recruit in the Pac-12. UCLA and Arizona reeled in two of the nation’s three best classes, setting an impossibly high standard for the rest of the league to live up to.
Still, the conference’s defending regular-season champs ought to have done better than this, especially since they’ll need replacements for two draft-bound underclass stars.
A crop of zero freshmen (hardly offset by the addition of unremarkable juco guard Mark McLaughlin) is not the way for Lorenzo Romar to help cushion the loss of Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten Jr.
4. Ohio State
Amedeo Della Valle, a 3-star point guard, would be a perfectly reasonable piece for Ohio State to add to its recruiting class, considering his high-level high school experience (Nevada’s Findlay Prep) and the Buckeyes’ own lack of an opening for a higher-profile PG (thanks to Aaron Craft).
However, as the Buckeyes’ entire recruiting class, Della Valle leaves quite a bit to be desired.
In spite of the opportunity created by Jared Sullinger’s departure, Thad Matta didn’t manage to convince any low-post prospects to head to Columbus.
While Michigan, Indiana and Michigan State all bring in nationally ranked classes, the Buckeyes—who could easily lose both Craft and Deshaun Thomas a year from now—fall well behind by standing still.
It’s asking a lot of second-year coach Cuonzo Martin to hit another recruiting home run a year after bringing in Freshman All-American Jarnell Stokes as part of a gargantuan seven-man class.
Of course, it’s also asking a lot of Martin to compete with Kentucky’s John Calipari, who actually appears to hit such home runs year after year after year.
With few scholarships to play with, Martin managed only a pair of 2-star freshmen in Armani Moore and Derek Reese.
Losing the only member of your recruiting class is going to hurt under any circumstances, but losing him to a conference rival—as Cincinnati did when top target Chris Obekpa signed with St. John’s at the eleventh hour—is another level of awful.
Obekpa’s defection leaves the Bearcats with only juco forward Titus Rubles to show for the offseason.
In addition to the top recruiting classes that are worrying every Big East coach—Ricardo Ledo-led Providence foremost among them—Mick Cronin has an added stressor thanks to the performance of longtime rival Louisville.
The problem with Illinois’ 2012 recruiting class isn’t so much that it isn’t very good as that it doesn’t exist.
The Illini aren’t bringing in a single scholarship player this offseason after their lone prospect, Michael Orris, decommitted to follow outgoing coach Bruce Weber to Kansas State.
There wasn’t much room on John Groce's roster anyway after Weber had brought in six new freshmen a year ago, but a recruiting class of zero is never a desirable situation.
It’s even less so for a team losing its best player (NBA-bound Meyers Leonard) and playing in a conference where both Final Four contenders and top-notch recruiting classes abound for next season.