The 10 States That Produce the Best College Basketball Talent
Dear college coaches, I'm here to help you with your travel.
Ever wonder which states produce the best college basketball players? Some are obvious. The largest states (Texas, California and Florida) are bound to be on the list, but where else?
To find out, I went through ESPN.com's Top 100 lists from 2010 through 2014 and found the 10 states which produce the most Top 100 players. It would not be a huge leap to assume that this five-year window is similar to other five-year windows, and 100 players in each class is a solid sample size.
Before we get to the list, here are a few states also worth visiting because of the quality of the players each state has produced.
Honorable mention: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia and Missouri.
Josh Pastner has quickly developed a reputation as one of the best recruiters in college basketball. It definitely helps Pastner that he can focus first and foremost on his city.
From the 2010 through 2013, Pastner signed four players from Memphis (Joe Jackson, Tarik Black, Adonis Thomas and Nick Johnson), and Austin Nichols from nearby Eads is the top-rated recruit in his highly rated 2013 class.
A few good ones have gotten away from Pastner, with Jarnell Stokes going to Tennessee, Andre Hollins to Minnesota and point guard Chris Jones to Louisville after two years of JUCO ball.
The quantity and quality of players coming out of Maryland is impressive.
Most of the best players in the state have gotten away from the Maryland program in the last few years, something Mark Turgeon is starting to change. The Terps already have commitments from two Top 50 players in the 2014 class.
If you're going to be successful in the area, you need to have a presence in Baltimore, but some nice players have come out of surrounding areas in recent years, including Markel Starks (Georgetown), Quinn Cook (Duke), Justin Anderson (Virginia), Jerian Grant (Notre Dame) and Jerami Grant (Syracuse).
Baltimore has produced some big names as well, including Josh Selby (formerly of Kansas), Will Barton (formerly of Memphis), Roscoe Smith (Connecticut), C.J. Fair (Syracuse) and Nick Faust (Maryland).
8. New York
This upcoming season could be a big year for the Bronx. The big city sent two McDonald's All-Americans to the SEC: Dakari Johnson to Kentucky and Kasey Hill to Florida.
The state is still important for east coast teams but has not produced many stars in the last few years. The best players to come out of New York since 2010 are former Tennessee forward Tobias Harris and former Kentucky guard Doron Lamb.
The area was once known for producing flashy guards, but it has been a good place to go get a big man recently. St. John's Chris Obekpa, originally from Africa, is the best shot-blocker in the country. Virginia's Mike Tobey, who played for the U19 U.S. team this summer, is a breakout candidate this season, and Syracuse's DaJuan Coleman has been a solid contributor in his first two seasons.
The 2010 class was a banner year for Florida. Current pros Brandon Knight, Fab Melo and Tim Hardaway Jr. were in the class along with Florida's Patric Young, who will likely get drafted in 2014.
The state has been a good place to go get a scoring point guard. In 2010, it was Knight, and the following year Austin Rivers came out of Florida. In the 2014 class, future North Carolina point guard Joel Berry is the top player in the state.
Georgia fans have to start to wonder why coach Mark Fox hasn't been able to get the program turned around when they look around at the talent in the state.
The state has produced 25 players ranked in ESPN's Top 100 from 2010-2014. Out of those 25 players, Fox did land arguably the best in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who left for the NBA after last season.
A big miss for both Georgia and Georgia Tech was the 2012 class, which produced immediate impact players Shaq Goodwin (Memphis) and Jordan Adams (UCLA). Kansas nabbed Brannen Greene, the top player in the 2013 class, and two of the three Top 100 recruits in the 2014 class have already verbally committed to programs outside of the state.
4 (tie). Indiana
Last season, you could have put together an all-star team with freshmen from Indiana against the best of the rest from that class, and the Indiana team might have won.
Michigan State's Gary Harris was the Big Ten Player of the Year. Michigan's Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary were two of the best players on the national runner-up. Other Indiana-born freshmen who made an impact included D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (Georgetown), Kellen Dunham (Butler), A.J. Hammons (Purdue) and Ronnie Johnson (Purdue).
In recent years, Indiana has also produced some of the most talented siblings in college basketball. The Teagues, Zeller brothers and Plumlees were all raised in Indiana.
Cody Zeller has to be the favorite of the locals. He helped restore Indiana's program, and his success should help Tom Crean keep more of the state's best players from heading elsewhere in the Big Ten.
4 (tie). Illinois
In the last four years, no city in America can match Chicago for the quality of prospects the city is producing. ESPN's top two prospects in the 2014 class, Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander, are both from Chicago. Incoming Duke freshman Jabari Parker played at the same high school as Derrick Rose.
In 2011, Chicago sent what could have been a solid starting five to the college game: Anthony Davis (formerly of Kentucky), Quincy Miller (formerly of Baylor), Wayne Blackshear (Louisville), Sam Thompson (Ohio State) and Tracy Abrams (Illinois). Connecticut point guard Ryan Boatright, who was also part of the 2011 class, is from nearby Aurora.
For any school in the Midwest, it's a must to have a presence in Chicago.
3. North Carolina
Ever wonder why the Triangle (Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State) have such great basketball traditions? It definitely helps that the state produces loads of talent.
North Carolina and North Carolina State have taken advantage in recent years. Mark Gottfried kept C.J. Leslie, T.J. Warren, Tyler Lewis and Rodney Purvis all in-state. (Purvis has since transferred to UConn). Gottfried also has a verbal commitment from Caleb Martin of the 2014 class.
North Carolina's wings last season, P.J. Hairston and Reggie Bullock, were both homegrown talents. The next two freshmen classes at UNC will also have a home-state flavor. Incoming freshmen big men Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks are both from North Carolina, and the top 2014 player in the state, Theo Pinson, has already verbally committed to Roy Williams.
California is always going to produce a heavy volume of players because of its size, but it has been a few years since the state produced a big star.
Since the 2010 class, the most productive college player to come out of California has been Allen Crabbe. That could change this coming season because of Arizona freshman Aaron Gordon, who was the leading scorer for the U.S. U19 team this past summer. The 2014 class also has a potential star in wing Stanley Johnson.
These types of things usually go in cycles, and California had a good run before 2010 with Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Kawhi Leonard, Derrick Williams, Jrue Holiday, Jordan Hamilton, Paul George, Klay Thompson, James Harden and Damian Lillard.
Whether it's college football or college basketball, no state is sending more players to the college level than Texas. From 2010 through 2014, Texas has had 47 players rated in ESPN's Top 100. The 2012 and 2013 classes both had three Texas-born players in the Top 10, and the 2014 class also currently has three Texans in the Top 10.
Once upon a time, Rick Barnes was thriving at Texas because of all that local talent. As CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish pointed out yesterday, Barnes is missing out badly in recent years.
Texas has signed only one Texas-born player ranked in ESPN's Top 40 (Cameron Ridley) in the 2010 through 2013 classes. There are currently five players in the 2014 class ranked in the Top 20. Two of those guys have already verbally committed—Emmanuel Mudiay to SMU and Justin Jackson to North Carolina—and out of the other three, only big man Myles Turner has Texas on his list.
The 2012 class had several immediate impact freshmen—Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Isaiah Austin (Baylor), Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke) and Danuel House (Houston)—and Texas got the one can't-miss guy who was a slow starter, Ridley.
And finally, the best three prospects out of Texas in 2013 were Julius Randle and brothers Andrew and Aaron Harrison. Randle considered the Longhorns, who desperately needed some star power, but all three ended up at Kentucky.