The right college basketball recruit can shape a program for decades to come. He can win titles and bring glory to a team.
For that reason, coaches, fans and the media often create hype and excitement for certain up-and-coming recruits.
Some players thrive under this pressure, but others crumble before it.
The following is a list of the ten most hyped-up recruits in the last five years.
Chicago native Jabari Parker is arguably the best high school prospect in the United States.
Sports Illustrated featured Parker on the cover earlier this May and called him “the best high school player since LeBron James”.
This high praise does not come unearned.
At 6'8" and 220 pounds, Parker is already a remarkable athlete.
Add his impressive skill set that includes a jump shot that can be stretched beyond the three-point line, his incredible ability as a slasher and a natural understanding of the game, and Parker is far and away one of the most exciting prospects in recent years.
Parker is a devout Mormon, and there is some intrigue as to whether or not he will complete a one-year Mormon mission. This would likely preclude him from either committing this year, or from entering the NBA draft after his freshman season.
Look for Parker to decide between Florida, Duke University, Stanford University, Brigham Young University and Michigan State University in the coming months.
College basketball fans were excited to recently hear that top-rated 2014 recruit, Andrew Wiggins, was reclassifying himself as a member of the 2013 recruiting class.
Jabari Parker is not the only player in this class to be compared to LeBron James. ESPN recruiting analyst Paul Biancardi said that Wiggins “may be the best player since LeBron James”.
At 6'7", Wiggins has a frame that is similar to that of Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant. Wiggins, like Durant, can play on the perimeter or in the post.
Wiggins is a superior athlete and a supreme competitor.
Wiggins had noticeably impressive performances at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League and the LeBron James Skills Academy this year.
The most intriguing bit of observation from the LeBron Skills Academy came from Sports Illustrated, “He only appears to be scratching the surface of his long-term potential”.
Wiggins appears to have narrowed his college choices down to powerhouse University of Kentucky and his father’s alma mater, Florida State University. Other teams appear to be entering the race though. Look for the University of North Carolina, West Virginia University, Kansas and Duke University to make their move for this talented recruit in the coming months.
University of California, Los Angeles fans rejoiced when electrifying athlete and scorer Shabazz Muhammad revealed that he would be committing to the UCLA Bruins.
Muhammad is a future NBA star.
He boasts a fully developed frame that is already prepared for the overly physical NBA game.
Muhammad, however, will have at least one season in the college ranks to work on his game.
The Las Vegas native already has a phenomenal skill set. He can stretch the defense with an improved jump shot, get to the basket with ease, finish around the hoop well, and he has proven his ability as a stellar defender.
At the end of the day, UCLA fans will be very excited to see their top recruit in action as Muhammad will surely have multiple SportsCenter Top 10 dunks.
Bruins fans will ask whether or not Muhammad will lead them back to prominence in the PAC-12.
Nerlens Noel is ESPN’s top rated recruit in the class of 2012.
This is certainly for good reason.
Noel is the most developed center prospect in his class, and his mix of both offensive and defensive skills make him a likely one-and-done recruit.
Noel is mostly known for his prowess as a shot-blocker. He averaged almost four blocks a game as a senior at The Tilton School in Massachusetts.
His defensive prowess often overshadows his abilities as a scorer. Noel is an explosive athlete. He uses his impressive vertical leaping ability to shoot and dunk over defenders.
In his senior season, he averaged 12.6 points per game.
Noel has already established himself at the University of Kentucky.
While he may have been shown up by a teammate at Big Blue Madness, Noel still featured prominently, and Kentucky fans are certainly excited to see him lead the Wildcats this season.
Anthony Davis was easily the best player in college basketball. His dominating game play made him look like a man playing against boys.
That was exactly what college scouts saw from him as a high school recruit at the Perspectives Charter School in Chicago.
Davis averaged an incredible 32 points, 22 rebounds and seven blocks a game as a senior.
Those numbers are simply unheard of.
The former McDonald’s All American had not always been considered the top recruit in the nation, though.
It was not until Davis grew seven inches in one year that he became an elite prospect. It is because of his experience as a guard that Davis can defend all five positions, dribble the ball better than most larger men, and shoot the jumper out to the three-point line.
Kentucky Wildcats fans were understandably excited to have a player as highly touted and talented as Davis come into their system.
They were not disappointed. Davis won multiple accolades and brought an NCAA Championship to a Kentucky program that had been knocking on the door for quite some time.
Bradley Beal’s draft stock sky-rocketed after he declared for the 2012 NBA Draft.
NBA scouts saw the exact same thing that college scouts had seen in the 6'4" guard out of St. Louis: an incredible ability to shoot the basketball.
Even in high school Beal drew comparisons to NBA legend Ray Allen.
In his senior year of high school Beal scored 32.5 points per game.
More than anything, scouts noticed his incredibly consistent stroke from beyond the arc.
University of Florida fans that were already accustomed to the run-and-gun, three-point shooting style of a Gator squad that featured Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker, were stoked to bring in a shooter and player like Beal.
Beal lived up to Florida’s expectations of him. His great play as a Gator earned him a spot on both the SEC All-Freshman Team and the All-SEC Team.
Beal’s experience as a Gator prepared him to join John Wall of the Washington Wizards in what should be one of the most entertaining back-courts in the NBA.
Harrison Barnes fielded offers from top programs such as Kansas, Duke University, UCLA and University of North Carolina.
At the time, Barnes was ESPN’s top rated recruit in the nation. He wowed scouts with his abilities as a shooter, passer, rebounder and defender.
Barnes eventually committed to play for Roy Williams at UNC Chapel Hill.
Fans were excited for a Barnes-led group that included other top prospects Kendall Marshall and Reggie Bullock.
Barnes is one of the few hyped prospects that did not live up to the hype.
That may have something to do with the extremely high bar set by fans and analysts alike.
Barnes was all but named Player of the Year before he even set foot on UNC’s campus.
After two seasons at UNC, Barnes declared for the NBA draft. While many expected him to be the number one pick after his freshman year, Barnes went seventh to the Golden State Warriors.
Harrison Barnes may not have fully lived up to the hype that came from his recruiting process, but there are very few betting against him having a solid career in the NBA.
Kyrie Irving was to Duke University what Harrison Barnes was to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
Irving was called the “best point guard prospect heading to Duke since Jason Williams” by one ESPN analyst.
Irving was the top-rated point guard and third highest ranked player overall in the class of 2010.
The Cameron Crazies were excited to see Irving’s complete skill set. The Australian Assassin fit the Duke mold in that he could shoot the three-pointer with the best of them. He also broke the mold with a drive to the basket better than most of Duke’s recent point guards.
Irving’s injury woes makes it hard to evaluate his performance as a collegiate player against the immense expectations levied against him.
If his great play during his Rookie of the Year campaign in the NBA speaks to his overall ability, he would have certainly lived up to the hype at Duke.
Avery Bradley is the most hyped University of Texas Longhorn recruit in recent memory.
Bradley was ESPN’s top rated player, and was highly touted for his ability as a lock-down defender.
One ESPN analyst had this to say about Bradley’s focus on the defensive end of the court:
In a day and age where offense is the focus for many of the elite players, it is refreshing to see a player take pride in dominating the defensive side of the ball. He uses his superior length, quickness and intelligence to harass the opponent into submission.
The Washington native was not seen as a slouch on the offensive end, though. Scouts noted that he had phenomenal finishing skills around the hoop.
ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan summed up Bradley’s freshman season pretty well. He said:
The expectations were, um, high. Bradley didn't completely flop, scoring consistently throughout his freshman season and flashing plenty of individual brilliance, but he didn't have the same impact as [DeMarcus] Cousins or [Xavier] Henry or [John] Wall, averaging 11.6 points per game and reading out more like a role player than a star in the final tempo-free analysis.
Bradley disappointed Texas fans by entering the 2010 NBA Draft. He may not have overwhelmed scouts, but he still managed to get drafted in the first round by the Boston Celtics.
John Wall was a heavily sought after prospect out of Raleigh, North Carolina.
Considered the top-rated point guard and fifth-rated prospect overall by ESPN, Wall was especially known for his incredible speed and athleticism.
John Calipari, who is now known as one of the best recruiters in the nation, brought John Wall into his first recruiting class at the University of Kentucky.
Kentucky fans looked forward to having an explosive talent like John Wall join their team. The hype for John Wall was only multiplied based on the rest of the recruiting class around him.
Wall seemed to be a larger-than-life figure as a Wildcat. He scored, he dunked and he distributed the ball.
Even something as simple as turning his fist back-and-forth became a dance sensation.
While the Wildcats came up short during his freshman season, Wall lived up to the massive hype surrounding his recruitment.