As the college basketball season rapidly approaches, students of the game will start looking at the impact players on each team. With perennial powers Kentucky and North Carolina losing players to the NBA and simply replacing them with "better" and "shinier" freshmen, these teams, along with others will have to rely on their recruiting success to catapult them to supremacy.
The class of 2012 was one of the better classes in recent years, and it will absolutely show. Recruiting, not building through the program or watching players evolve and hone their abilities, is the way to go now.
Recruiting "one-and-done" players seems to be the biggest trend in college basketball today, and while some coaches refuse to recruit such players, others relish in the thought of winning National Championship after National Championship with no remorse.
The class of 2012 will shape the landscape of the upcoming season, and these impact freshmen have a chance to do major damage along the way. After all, one player alone upgraded one team's power ranking exponentially.
With no further ado, here are some of the top recruiting successes going into the 2012 season.
Mark Gottfried, the head coach of the NC State Wolfpack, enjoyed plenty of success last season. He led the Wolfpack to an NCAA Tournament berth and even more so, brought them to the Sweet 16.
What does he do for an encore?
Puts together his best ever recruiting class to lead them even further.
NC State didn't lose too much after last season's strong run, and after picking up two of the top-30 players in the country, led by SG Rodney Purvis (above), they look to build a powerhouse.
Purvis won co-MVP at the Jordan Brand Classic last year and has been compared to players like...I dare not say...okay, maybe.
Along with Purvis come sweet-shooting T.J. Warren and pure point guard Tyler Lewis. All three were McDonald's All-American's and will all play huge roles for the Pack this season.
The Tar Heels of North Carolina lose four of their five starters. How do they go about fixing the issue? The only way they know how. Simply mention their name to recruits.
Marcus Paige is the biggest name UNC obtained through recruiting. He'll bring his heady style of play and amazing court vision to Chapel Hill this season. Paige isn't known for shooting the lights out but is known, however, for dishing it out at an unbelievable pace to the players that do.
But when you stop to think about it, North Carolina has never really had a tough time finding the end of the net. Players like J.P. Tokoto and Brice Johnson will be the freshmen in charge of that role.
J.P. Tokoto is an athletic talent North Carolina hasn't seen in quite some time, while Johnson will use his size and athleticism to hit the occasional mid-range jumper and grab rebounds.
The Tar Heels also picked up Joel James, who will use his tremendous strength and rebounding prowess to overpower opposing players.
All in all, this is one of North Carolina's strongest classes in some time.
Simply said, Baylor lost a lot.
With the likes of Quincy Acy, Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller gone to the NBA, head coach Scott Drew needed a big recruiting class to help alleviate some of the pain and production.
Well, Drew succeeded.
He managed to gather up one of the strongest classes in 2012. And as time progresses, this class has a chance to dethrone the leading one which we will encounter shortly.
Scott Drew got three of the top-100 recruits to play for the Bears. The class was headed by the above player, Isaiah Austin, a 7-foot big man with immeasurable talent on the defensive end. Austin will undoubtedly start for Baylor this season and make his presence felt.
His skill set is similar to that of the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA draft, Anthony Davis. Although he is raw, Austin will occasionally step out for a short, mid-range jumper.
But mark my words—Austin will be one and done. Some say his ceiling exceeds that of the aforementioned Davis. Yeah, scary.
Baylor also brings in PG L.J. Rose and PF Ricardo Gathers. Rose is a pass-first point guard who also possesses a lethal three-point shot. He will most likely come off the bench early on, but see an increase in playing time as his defensive ability starts to shine.
Gathers is a manbeast. He already possesses an NBA-ready body as a freshman. His rebounding skills and knack for hitting the wing jumper will be his calling card.
Baylor will crack the top five this season and will simply blow some teams out due to its depth in the frontcourt. Watch out.
Ben Howland hasn't seen a class like this at any point during his tenure as head coach at UCLA.
Remember these names.
Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson.
Oh, then remember these ones too: Tony Parker and Jordan Adams.
It wouldn't be surprising whatsoever if these four players find themselves starting for Howland when the season begins. They are that good.
Muhammad is the best player in the 2012 class. He's a lefty with a silky-smooth shot reminiscent of James Harden. He will be a top-10 scorer this season.
Anderson is a 6'9" hybrid player. He has the ability to play the point as well as assume the role of small forward for his club. His court vision, passing and short jumper will drive opposing players crazy. Anderson, unlike Muhammad, will most likely stay in school past one year to master his craft.
Parker is a big man with scary size. Let's put it this way—if I saw Parker stumblin' and bumblin' towards me, I would simply give him the layup. He uses his strong frame to create space down low and uses a variety of post moves to get by his defenders.
Finally, Jordan Adams is a great athlete and strong scorer at the shooting guard/slash position. He uses quick feet and his solid body to carve into the paint. He can score in all sorts of ways, but with Muhammad sure to take up most of the spotlight, Adams will most likely make this team his own the following year.
Some say that this is one of John Calipari's weakest recruiting classes.
If that's the case, then he is a recruiting God.
Yes, he didn't land the "top" recruit in the nation, something that he does seemingly every year. But the second-best recruit certainly doesn't hurt.
Nerlens Noel is the Wildcats' top player going into the season.
He is not in Lexington to replace Anthony Davis, so Kentucky fans, lose your delusions of grandeur.
What will he provide?
He will be a key cog and anchor to a Kentucky team that always preaches the importance of defense. He is an elite-level shot-blocker with Dwight Howard-esque athletic ability. His offensive skills leave something to be desired, but that is to be expected since he started playing basketball just a few short years ago. As he puts together some semblance of an offensive game, he will incorporate it to his repertoire and be scary good.
Another key player is Archie Goodwin. Goodwin is a 6'4" guard with an all-around strong game. His tendency to always be in attack mode shows his drive to be better than everyone else. He does not back down from anyone. As his shot starts to find itself, Goodwin will slide into two-spot and make Wildcat fans forget about the departure of Doron Lamb.
Alex Poythress is a small forward/shooting guard hybrid. His explosion will keep fans in Lexington on their feet throughout the game. He is a terrific finisher and has no problem taking hits going to the paint. Out of the names mentioned before, Poythress will be the one most likely to make an impact offensively.
Team One & Done will most definitely have two, maybe three early departures after the season, so it is important to try to remember these names before their affiliation with the University of Kentucky ends.