Must-Get Recruit for Each Top 25 College Basketball Team
College basketball recruiting is in full swing.
In-home visits are being scheduled and carried out by coaches and their staff. The recruiters are telling prospects and their families how important the prospects are and how they could fit into the CBB programs.
Official (and unofficial) trips are being taken every weekend this fall to allow for recruits to see the campus, meet the current team and generally check out what campus life would be like.
Many programs are filling up their Class of 2013, but a large percentage of the top players in the country have yet to announce their decisions.
The following is a quick look at the must-get recruits for each of the Top 25 teams in CBB.
In some cases, more than one school has a certain player at the top of their highest priority list.
25. Virginia Commonwealth Rams
Shaka Smart and his staff have already secured commitments from three solid recruits from the Class of 2013.
With crossing over from the Colonial Athletic Association to the Atlantic 10, it won't hurt for the Rams to pick up any big man they can this year.
Lennard Freeman would be an excellent addition to the VCU roster. The 3-star PF from D.C. is a defensive and rebounding specialist who has a great motor.
At 6'8" and 215 pounds, Freeman will be able to add muscle to his lean frame and become a force in the paint for years to come.
24. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame will have two big holes to fill in their roster as they prepare for their eventual entry into the ACC. They will need to replace fifth-year senior/captain Scott Martin and low-post stud Jack Cooley.
But ND has recruited well in the past few years in terms of frontcourt talent.
The No. 18 player in ESPN's 2013 Top 100 is an excellent floor general who uses his speed and strength to beat his opponents.
According to notredame.247sports.com, Jackson is "intrigued by Wednesday's news that ND will join the ACC."
Throughthephog.com, a University of Kansas recruiting website, indicates that Notre Dame leads in Jackson's recruitment.
23. Murray State Racers
Isaiah Canaan will be gone after this season, and the Racers need to find someone quick.
Canaan, who led Murray State in both scoring (19.2 PPG) and assists (3.7 APG) as a junior, will leave a canyon-sized hole upon his departure.
It might be dreaming to think that could pull in 4-star PG Tim Quarterman.
Quarterman has received offers from schools in just about every major conference east of the Mississippi.
The 6'5", do-everything backcourt player from Savannah, Ga. could step right in and score and distribute from day one.
22. Michigan State Spartans
Tom Izzo is one of the best head coaches and recruiters in college basketball.
No one should doubt his ability to pull in top-level talent, because he has done it throughout his 17 years leading Michigan State's program.
However, I was surprised to hear what Brian Snow, Scout.com's basketball recruiting analyst, told a Detroit News reporter recently when asked, "Where are the Spartans in the race for the nation's No. 1 player, Chicago Simeon small forward Jabari Parker?"
Right now if you put a gun to my head and said, 'Where is Parker going to school?' I'm telling you Michigan State. Now I wouldn't guarantee that I would be living the next day (laughter), but that is certainly the bet right now. Tom Izzo has done a great job (recruiting Parker), they've got an in-home visit coming up, (Michigan State) is close to home, they produce pros—it's really everything the Parkers are looking for. I think right now they're the team to beat coming into a key stretch in the recruitment.
This would be an absolutely huge get for Michigan State!
Sports Illustrated's Jeff Benedict called Parker, "The best high school player since LeBron James."
Can you imagine what the Spartans lineup would be like with Parker and Gary Harris playing side by side?
21. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Gonzaga's Mark Few is a master at finding the right mix of players from all over the globe to create a mid-major program that scares the bejeebers out of most of their high-major opponents.
When rising seniors Elias Harris and Mike Hart depart after this season, Few will need to find some frontcourt reinforcements to plug in.
JUCO forward Chris Griffin might be that stopper.
The Slipper Still Fits, a Gonzaga basketball blog, says this about the 6'7", 220-pound starting forward from Wabash Valley College in Illinois who is on campus this weekend:
Griffin is an athletic wing prospect that can score in a variety of ways. With most JUCO prospects, Griffin simply needed some more time to mature as a player before playing meaningful D1 minutes. He has a great frame for a wing, and as most of us know, the SF position is a spot that this program has had a hard time filling over the past few seasons.
20. UNLV Rebels
While the Rebels have a ton of frontcourt talent today, head coach David Rice isn't expecting all of them to stick around Sin City for very long.
It is possible that any combination of Mike Moser, Khem Birch and Anthony Bennett could all leave early for the NBA draft after this season.
To prepare for that possibility, Rice needs to continue to collect bigs who can come in and play right away.
He has already received a commitment from 6'9", combo forward Christian Wood, who is prepping locally at Findlay.
To play alongside Wood, Rice needs to get Queens native, 5-star PF Jermaine Lawrence.
Lawrence is long (6'9"), thin (195 lbs) and "gets his head on the rim with ease." (ESPN Recruiting Nation)
A Sea of Blue, a Kentucky Wildcats recruiting website, reported that Lawrence tweeted recently his top seven schools, in what appears to be alphabetical order: Cincinnati, Kansas, Kentucky, St. John's, Syracuse, UCLA and UNLV.
Maybe Bennett can help pull in Lawrence since he declined some of these same schools' offers in his recruitment just months ago.
19. San Diego State Aztecs
Steve Fisher has done an excellent job over the last few years of consistently restocking the Aztecs program with top-level talent.
Four-star Dakarai Allen, a SG with "pterodactyl-type length," is the first player to verbally commit for the Class of 2013.
Adding a versatile PG could be the next piece to the puzzle, and Alessandro Alberto might be the target at which Fisher should be shooting.
Alberto uses his length (6'4") and great feel for the game to score and make tons happen for everyone else on his squad.
18. Cincinnati Bearcats
Cincinnati plays a grisly brand of basketball that requires physical players who are not afraid to put a body on someone any place on the court.
That's why Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin needs to make up some recruiting ground and land 4-star center Dominic Woodson.
The 6'9", 265-pound post is surprisingly mobile for his size and has a knack for getting any rebound relatively close to him.
Woodson would follow in a long line of Cincy inside players who can clear out the block and operate against just about anybody.
17. Wisconsin Badgers
The good news is that Bo Ryan and the Badgers will have a strong senior group this year to face the tough competition of the 2012-13 Big Ten basketball season.
The bad news is that those seniors (Ryan Evans, Jared Berggren and Mike Bruesewitz) will graduate and Wisconsin will need to reload...now!
Hayes is a 6'7", 225-pound combo forward from Toledo, Ohio with range out to the three-point arc.
He is one of the best 2013 forwards in the Midwest. He has played football until this season, so he is used to both dishing out and taking contact.
Hayes has already made his official visit to campus, and he told Gopherhole.com, a Minnesota Gophers basketball website, that he planned on making his decision before his senior season started.
16. Florida Gators
Just about every school in the nation would like a shot at the top couple of high school players in the nation.
Florida is one of those schools that has a legitimate shot at landing one or more of them.
As of this week, the Gators have the No. 1 2013 recruiting class (ESPN Insider), having already locked up the No. 2 PG (Kasey Hill) and No. 3 PF (Chris Walker).
Adding to that, Billy Donovan has acquired transfers Dorian Finney-Smith (ACC All-Freshman team from Virginia Tech at 6'8", 205 lbs) and Damontre Harris (South Carolina at 6'10", 225 lbs).
What about pulling in Julius Randle, the best PF in the country to finish things off?
CBSSports.com's Jeff Borzello reports that Randle's only other planned campus visit besides Kentucky (this weekend) is Florida in early October.
Obviously, Donovan is going to have plenty of talent to put on the court, but getting the 6'9" PF from Dallas to sign would position the Gators for another shot (or shots) at a national title.
15. Kansas Jayhawks
Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE
Here's where this piece could be very frustrating because more than one program is in "must-get" mode for some of the same players.
Kansas really needs a player who can create from the SF position. So, why not go after the best?
Jabari Parker would fit in great at KU.
Will the Jayhawks need perimeter scoring? He can do it.
Will KU need someone who can penetrate and dish? He's got 'em covered there, too.
How about a defensive stopper or a good wing rebounder? Yes and, again, yes.
Bill Self has already made his in-home visit with Parker and his family.
If Jabari becomes a Jayhawk, look for Self to make his third (and fourth, and fifth, and...?) trip to the Final Four since coming to Lawrence in 2003.
14. Memphis Tigers
Josh Pastner was thrown into the deep end on the day that he was named John Calipari's successor at Memphis.
He not only had some awfully big shoes to fill, but he also had to make up for the loss of most of the recruiting class of 2009 when Calipari departed.
In his first three years, Pastner, 34, has proven to be one of the best young coaches in the country, posting a 75-29 record, making it to the postseason in all three.
Recruiting has played a big part in the Tigers success and will continue to do so.
Pastner has already pulled in a super-solid three-player 2013 recruiting class.
To add to the three guards that will be coming in, Pastner needs to sign in-state stud Austin Nichols.
The 6'8" PF is a coach's dream from a fundamentals standpoint.
Nichols has exceptional footwork and post moves. He's the kind of player who might not make ESPN's SportsCenter very much, but will consistently get things done down low.
13. Creighton Bluejays
Creighton will again be one of the best mid-major teams in the country.
Heck, they're going to be one of the best CBB teams period.
With first-team All-American Doug McDermott returning for his junior season, the Bluejays will not only battle for the Missouri Valley Conference title, but they are going to be a solid Top 25 team from start to finish in 2012-13.
McDermott's dad and head coach, Greg McDermott, has already pulled in two solid frontcourt players in the Class of 2013.
Now he needs to find a replacement for Grant Gibbs.
It would be huge if Creighton could pull in Detroit-area guard E.C. Matthews. At 6'4", he has excellent size regardless of which backcourt position he plays.
Matthews plays in constant attack mode and would be a huge get for the Bluejays.
12. Missouri Tigers
Frank Haith's Missouri Tigers are ready to get on the court in '12-13 for many reasons.
First, they want to put last year's opening-round NCAA tournament embarrassment behind them as a program.
Second, Haith has pulled in an amazing group of transfers who want to get a fresh start.
The Tigers will be as talented and deep as just about any team in the country.
We will all see shortly if this squad can come together and get things done on the court.
Haith has secured commitments from two solid backcourt players.
Now he needs to find a couple of frontcourt studs to replace seniors Laurence Bowers and Alex Oriakhi, who will both be leaving after this season.
Johnathan Williams may be that player.
The 6'8" PF took his first official visit to Columbia already.
Williams' exceptional skill set would potentially allow him to slide outside and play a point forward role.
Pulling in Williams would be absolutely huge.
11. North Carolina Tar Heels
It's been said that North Carolina is one of a few programs in the country that doesn't recruit...it selects.
While the Tar Heels may have some leverage that other teams don't have, they definitely have to go head-to-head on an annual basis with some of the other elite programs for the elite-level players.
This year is no different.
They are one of the top programs that is in the Jabari Parker sweepstakes.
Roy Williams and his staff will be right in the mix for the multi-talented SF who has drawn comparisons to LeBron James.
Parker would be a perfect fit for Williams' up-tempo Carolina fast break, which would provide endless opportunities to score and create.
Parker's list of schools he is considering is still huge. Don't count UNC out of the hunt until the very end!
10. Arizona Wildcats
Sean Miller doesn't get nearly the credit he deserves for what he has done at Arizona.
He started by accepting the job in April 2009, with no recruits coming to campus.
From day one, he began to see who he could pull in, and he miraculously pulled in a recruiting class that included Derrick Williams.
Since then, Miller has not stopped going after and getting some of the top players in the nation.
This year's freshman class may be the best in school history.
But Miller and his staff are not resting.
They continue to pound the pavement to keep that talent-pipeline flowing.
Five-star SF Rondae Jefferson has already announced his commitment to come to Tucson.
Miller is still looking to add an elite-level SG to this class.
James Young would more than fill that bill.
The 6'6" lefty is a scorer extraordinaire. He can beat you off the dribble or he can drill the three.
His size in the backcourt makes him terrifying.
James Stotts of fansided150.com reports that Arizona, along with Kentucky, Michigan State and Kansas, are Young's finalists.
Many would say that the Wildcats are long shots because of who they are going up against.
Don't underestimate Miller and his staff!
9. Syracuse Orangemen
Jim Boeheim does as good as anybody at grabbing East Coast talent.
Syracuse not only gets elite-level players, it gets lots of them.
Boeheim usually brings in big, physical players who can attack the rim from all angles.
Wayne Selden, one of the top SFs in the Class of 2013, is exactly that kind of player.
At 6'5", 220 pounds, Selden may be one of the most powerful wings in the high school hoops nation.
He is fearless in the lane. Because he goes right at anyone and everyone, Selden consistently gets to the line.
Rantsports.com reports that the Orange are on Selden's short list along with Ohio State, Florida, UCLA, Missouri and Kansas.
8. Duke Blue Devils
Most schools would consider signing two 4-star recruits in the Class of 2013 a huge success.
Duke is not "most schools."
Coach K and his staff are in attack mode on the recruiting trail, going after the best of the best.
They are (surprise, surprise) in the running for the top players at their positions.
The Blue Devils are still in the Jabari hunt, but they may need a down-low guy more than an elite wing.
That's why Julius Randle is their "must-get."
At 6'9", 225 pounds, Randle is the top PF among this year's recruits.
He is comfortable on the block or facing up. He can put the ball on the deck and go to the glass.
Randle's arrival would take Duke from being a very good team to an automatic Final Four contender.
7. North Carolina State Wolfpack
NC State may be ready to win their first ACC title in 2013 since the Jimmy V era.
Mark Gottfried has come in and elevated the program in his first year.
The Wolfpack made it to the Sweet 16 in this past year's NCAA tournament, and they are not looking back.
They have the kind of talent and depth that allows them to match up with anyone in the country.
One of the places they need to address in this year's recruiting class is the low post.
With Richard Howell playing his last year in Raleigh, and C.J. Leslie being a legit lottery pick in next year's draft, Gottfried needs to get a few bigs.
In-state stud center Kennedy Meeks would hit the mark.
At 6'9", 275 pounds, no one moves Meeks off the block.
He has all the tools to dominate at the college level.
6. Michigan Wolverines
John Beilein is steadily rebuilding Michigan basketball.
The Wolverines have gone from being a Big Ten afterthought upon his arrival to tying for the conference title a year ago.
After bringing in an excellent Class of 2012, Beilein is doing it again this year with three 4-star recruits already committed.
But there's no stopping yet.
Michigan should still go hard for combo forward Reggie Cameron.
The New Jersey native has already made an official visit this fall to Ann Arbor.
Because of his ability to knock down shots from all over the perimeter, Cameron would be a perfect fit.
5. Kentucky Wildcats
John Calipari has turned recruiting elite-level players into an art.
Very few coaches in any era have been able to pull as much talent to their schools as he has.
Calipari gets big-time players, puts them on the court right away and wins a ton of games.
Hard to beat that if you are a high-level high school prospect.
Of all the players Coach Cal has his sights on this year, no one is bigger and better than Julius Randle.
The 6'9" big from Dallas is custom-made for Calipari's wide-open, attack-the-basket approach.
He would also be a prospect-magnet for the Class of 2013.
Randle was on hand recently when the Big Blue Nation celebrated all things U.K. basketball with a reunion of past championship players.
Do you think that was just an accident? Me neither.
4. Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State is one of the top college basketball programs at what has traditionally been a football school.
Thad Matta has put up a 221-65 record in his eight years in Columbus.
The Buckeyes have made two trips to the Final Four and two more to the Sweet 16 on his watch.
This is not a matter of luck. It's all about the talent that Matta brings to the OSU campus. He already has the beginnings of another excellent recruiting class in 2013 that features a pair of 4-star wings: SG Kameron Williams and SF Marc Loving.
To finish it off, the Buckeyes need to find the next great space-eater for the middle of their lineup.
BeeJay Anya could adequately fill that role.
Going into his senior year, Anya has a similar build to Jared Sullinger (6'9", 275 lbs).
Josh Paunil of National Recruiting Spotlight reports that Anya "made headlines for having one of the biggest wingspans in recorded history (7’9")."
ESPN's scouting report on the center from legendary DeMatha Catholic High School says:
There are big boys and then there are aircraft carriers. Anya is going to be an aircraft carrier. He's turned himself into a player. He's reshaping his body and his game is coming on. Able to dunk the basketball and looks lighter on his feet.
Anya has already taken official campus visits to NC State and Pittsburgh, and he has scheduled trips to Louisville (Sept 28), Ohio State (Oct. 6) and Indiana (Oct. 21).
When the Buckeyes have had a featured low-post player of size (Greg Oden, Jared Sullinger) from which to build, they have made it to the Final Four
Getting a player like Anya would potentially provide Matta with another such monster in the middle.
3. Louisville Cardinals
Over the years, Rick Pitino has had more than his share of long and strong frontcourt players on his teams.
Even though the current Cardinals roster has no shortage of length or strength, adding another big-time prospect down low couldn't hurt.
Louisville already has a stellar group coming in the Class of 2013 that features three 4-star recruits and the top JUCO player in the nation, PG Chris Jones.
Depending if the Cardinals have any early departures, Pitino may be finished recruiting this year.
But if they could add one final recruit, it should be Jarrell Martin, a 6'7", 210-pound combo forward from Baton Rouge.
Martin has no problem clearing the glass on either end of the court and has a nice catch-and-shoot game.
With his elite-level athleticism, Martin would fit right into the Louisville roster.
2. UCLA Bruins
Recruiting for UCLA could be a very interesting project right now.
The only senior on this year's team is Larry Drew II, but the Bruins could easily experience a mass early exodus to the NBA draft.
If that's the case, the Ben Howland and his staff will need to restock their roster.
They've already signed a pair of 4-star guards (Zach LaVine and Allerik Freeman).
In case Pitino's Class of 2013 is maxed out, the Bruins should lock up Jarrell Martin.
He would provide the Bruins with a versatile forward with hops and a huge upside.
1. Indiana Hoosiers
Tom Crean has worked long and hard to get IU basketball back into the upper-tier of college hoops.
He has done it through recruiting the right people for his system and working hard to turn those prospects into players.
Last year, the Hoosiers advanced to the Sweet 16 before losing to the eventual NCAA champs, Kentucky.
Crean only has two seniors on this year's team, Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls. If Indiana makes a deep run in March Madness, they could potentially lose a few other players early if they enter the 2013 NBA draft.
IU already has a solid 2013 recruiting class that features Stanford Robinson and Luke Fischer.
If Crean could squeeze in one more recruit, Kennedy Meeks would add a different dimension to next year's team.
At 6'9", 275 pounds, Meeks would provide the Hoosiers with some additional beefiness down low.
Meeks' production on offense is not just a product of his size. He has great footwork and a full arsenal of post moves.