Big Ten Basketball: Ranking the 2013 Recruiting Classes
As both the AP and Coaches Division I men's basketball polls came out on Monday, the Big Ten found itself with six of the nation's top 22 teams. In fact, the conference boasts three of the top four teams: Indiana (1), Ohio State (3) and Michigan (4). If Ohio State can knock off Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Indiana can beat North Carolina, and Michigan outlast North Carolina State, the B1G could have the nation's top three teams next Monday.
Michigan State is a mainstay in those same polls, while both Minnesota and Illinois entered the ranks with solid showings in their respective holiday tournaments. Wisconsin, however, dropped out of the top 25. With the conference's recent success, it should be no surprise that top recruiting classes are coming continue to find their way in the Big Ten.
In fact, five of the nation's top 27 recruiting classes come from Big Ten schools, according to Rivals.com's rankings. While additions can still be made before the start of next season, here I will give you a quick rundown of the players signed for next year within the Big Ten.
12. Iowa Hawkeyes
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Peter Jok, SG (3-star)
Jok is a 6'6" senior from Des Moines, the same town where Hawkeye rival Iowa State is located. It felt wrong putting Iowa 12th out of 12 in regards to next year's recruiting classes, considering Fran McCaffery brought in two 4-star and three 3-star players this past year.
The fact that Jok will likely be the only Hawkeye freshman a year from now really only speaks to the fact of how young Iowa currently is. Jared Uthoff will be eligible a year from now as well, after transferring from Wisconsin. The future of Iowa basketball is certainly bright.
11. Nebraska Cornhuskers
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Nick Fuller SG, Nathan Hawkins SG (3-star), Tai Webster PG
Tim Miles inherited an incredibly tough situation when Doc Sadler was fired at the end of last season. The Cornhuskers only returned one starter from a year ago from a team that only won four Big Ten games in its inaugural season. Sadly, four wins would be a surprise for this year's Husker squad.
Miles has locked up the three players listed above, as well as two spring signees that currently suit up for Nebraska. While it may take some time, Miles will have the Cornhuskers in better shape than Sadler ever did. Nebraska offers state-of-the-art basketball facilities and should also be able to recruit easier now that they're in the Big Ten.
10. Minnesota Golden Gophers
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Alvin Ellis SF, Alex Foster PF (3-star)
Tubby Smith is currently on the hot seat more than any Big Ten coach, after back-to-back seasons of missing out on the NCAA Tournament. This year's Golden Gopher squad again has NCAA tournament talent, but needs to avoid the injuries and suspensions that have plagued them recently.
Smith brings in a pair of forwards, both from Chicago, for his 2013 recruiting class. Ellis comes from De La Salle, while Foster attends Seton Academy, both members of the Chicago Catholic League where many current Big Ten players played their prep ball (namely the Illinois sophomore class). Smith will lose his athletic frontcourt of Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams at season's end, giving these two a chance to get minutes from the get-go.
9. Penn State Nittany Lions
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Geno Thorpe PG, Graham Woodward PG, Payton Banks SF, Julian Moore PF (3-star)
Tim Frazier, one of the league's premier players, was scheduled to graduate from Penn State in the spring of 2013. That was until an Achilles injury ended his season, giving him the ability to return to Happy Valley next season.
Patrick Chambers will have an additional two point guards at his disposal next year though, thinking that Frazier would not be back. Chambers also brings in two forwards that should hopefully deepen the thin Nittany Lion frontcourt. Like Miles, Chambers will need time to get this program back up and running, but I have faith he'll get it done.
8. Northwestern Wildcats
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Jared Sina PG, Nate Taphorn SG (3-star)
The above picture sums up Bill Carmody's time at Northwestern. The very underrated coach has gotten the Wildcats closer to the NCAA tournament than any other coach in the program's history, yet NU continues to find itself falling short. While this may be the Wildcats' season to get over the hump, there's optimism for the future as Carmody continues to recruit well.
Because of Northwestern's rigorous academic standards, Carmody has a tough time finding players that fit his Princeton offense as well as qualify academically. That didn't stop him from grabbing a pair of guards for next year, including Jared Sina, the 119th player in the nation, according to Rivals. Carmody also landed five players in 2012, all of whom stand between 6'6" and 7'2".
7. Michigan State Spartans
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It felt weird putting a team that currently has not a single player committed to the Spartan program for next season in the seventh slot. With Derrick Nix as the only senior on the Michigan State roster, Tom Izzo is valiantly attempting to bring in the highly touted forward from Simeon, Jabari Parker.
Parker's final list of schools is down to MSU, Duke, BYU, Stanford and Florida. Parker is the second-rated player in the class of 2013 and is thought to be a one-and-done player, of which Izzo rarely recruits.
If Michigan State is unable to land Parker, Izzo should have no problem grabbing a solid player in lieu. However, if Izzo can bring Parker in, he will be joined by an experienced team next year almost surely making the Spartans an immediate Final Four pick.
6. Wisconsin Badgers
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Bronson Koenig PG (4-star), Vitto Brown PF, Riley Dearring SF, Nigel Hayes PF (3-star), Jordan Hill SG
While Bo Ryan never brings in top-of-the-line recruiting classes, his teams always find a way to get it done by finishing in the top four of the Big Ten and making a Sweet 16 appearance. However, in 2012 Ryan brought in Sam Dekker, a 5-star player who currently comes off the Badger bench.
Ryan will add five new faces to next year's squad, headed by four star point guard Koenig. Wisconsin then adds bulk with three 3-star forwards, who could find time immediately with the losses of Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans at season's end.
5. Ohio State Buckeyes
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Kameron Williams SG, Marc Loving PF (4-star)
Thad Matta and the Buckeyes currently have the 27th overall recruiting class, according to rivals.com, in the form of Williams and Loving, two 4-star recruits from Maryland and Ohio, respectively. Ohio State's lone senior is Evan Ravenel, although there is an outside chance Deshaun Thomas heads to the NBA.
While Williams and Loving may not be instant fits in Matta's thin rotation, there should be little concern of the ability's of these two players, or any player that Matta recruits for that matter. It seems as though Matta is going less and less towards the one-and-done players, in hopes of getting his first NCAA tournament title.
4. Purdue Boilermakers
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Kendall Stephens SG, Bryson Scott PG (4-star), Basil Smotherman SF (3-star)
While Purdue is out to a slow start this season, Matt Painter has nonetheless been able to bring in next year's 26th best overall class.This comes a year after Painter brought in 3-or 4-star recruits, adding some bulk to the lacking Purdue frontcourt.
While neither Stephens or Scott are frontcourt players, both could be called upon early in their Boilermaker careers. The 6'5" Stephens is the son of former Boiler, Everette Stephens. Having seen Kendall play before, I can attest that he has a smooth jumper but also the length to create mismatches.
3. Michigan Wolverines
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Derrick Walton PG, Zakarie Irvin SG, Mark Donnal PF (4-star)
John Beilein's 2013 recruiting class is currently ranked at 11th best overall in the nation, with a trio of 4-star recruits. In 2012, Beilein brought in two 4-star and one 5-star player, that being current Michigan starting forward Glenn Robinson III.
While Beilein has won everywhere that he has coached, he has never been able to bring in the type of talent that he's currently signing at Michigan. It appears as though Michigan is becoming a more well-rounded team, and less of a three-point reliant team as Beilein also had at West Virginia.
If Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. stay in school following this season, Michigan will be hungry to win the 2014 national championship.
2. Illinois Fighting Illini
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Austin Colbert C, Malcolm Hill SG, Kendrick Nunn SG (4-star), Maverick Morgan C, Jaylon Tate PG (3-star)
Bruce Weber was fired as Illinois head coach following last season's downward spiral, ending at the Big Ten tournament in a loss to Iowa. Since then, new head coach John Groce has been on the prowl, bringing in talent to Champaign. Currently, the Fighting Illini have the 10th best overall class for next year.
The Illini are also out to a surprisingly hot start this year, having won the Maui Invitational. Groce brings in five freshmen next season, two of which are high school teammates with Jabari Parker at Simeon in Nunn and Tate. Colbert and Morgan will bring size, currently a weak point for the Illini, while Hill has been compared to Kevin Durant. Drake transfer and Champaign native Rayvonte Rice will also be eligible to play next season.
Look for Illinois to be back in the national spotlight sooner than originally anticipated.
1. Indiana Hoosiers
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Noah Vonleh PF (5-star), Troy Williams SF, Stanford Robinson SG (4-star), Devis Davis SF, Collin Hartmann SF, Luke Fischer C (3-star)
It should be no surprise that the nation's top team was able to bring in the third-best overall class for 2013. Vonleh stands as the only 5-star recruit for Big Ten teams next season, potentially making him the early favorite to win the conference's Freshman of the Year award.
The Hoosiers currently have only four seniors on this year's roster, which is my only gripe about Crean's recruiting style. While there is a good chance Cody Zeller leaves for the NBA following this season, this would still leave the Hoosiers with one too many scholarship players, a problem IU faced this past offseason but was resolved when Ron Patterson left school and Matt Roth was told his time at Indiana was up.
Five of the six recruits are listed as forwards, which will fit well with Yogi Ferrell, Victor Oladipo, Remy Abell and Will Sheehey, who will be returning guards. Indiana should be at or near the top of the national rankings if they can continue to bring in top-notch recruiting classes, just as this one is.