College Basketball Teams Acing the 2014 Recruiting Trail
By college basketball recruiting standards national signing day is still incredibly far away, but there are some teams that have gotten a head start on the competition.
Getting an early commitment or two from a superstar recruit can get the momentum ball rolling on what becomes an impressive class. Player-to-player recruiting certainly happens, so the following schools are in good position for the time being.
If you are wondering where your team is, this is not a comprehensive list of all teams acing the recruiting trail. In fact, the top three ranked classes on 247sports.com are included along with two programs exceeding expectations. Individual recruit star rankings are courtesy of Scout.com.
The No. 1 ranked class for 2014 thus far (per 247sports) belongs to Roy Williams and his North Carolina Tar Heels. Not only does Williams have three pledges already, but they are all potential superstars in the making.
Joel Berry is a 5-star point guard who attacks the lane as effectively as any ball-handler in this class. He can score inside the paint or dish out to open teammates as the defense collapses and will be the floor general for this group.
Justin Jackson, a 5-star small forward, will likely be a beneficiary of Berry’s penetration and kick outs. He is an impressive shooter from behind the three-point line and midrange and will score plenty of points in Williams’ system.
Jackson will be joined in this class at the small forward spot by 4-star prospect Theo Pinson, but Pinson is a bit smaller and may slide to shooting guard at times.
After a couple of lackluster recruiting classes by Ohio State standards (largely due to scholarship confines), Thad Matta is resembling the coach who landed the likes of Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., Evan Turner, Jared Sullinger and others for the 2014 class.
The Buckeyes are currently ranked as the No. 2 group on 247sports.com thanks to the four commitments they already have in tow.
D’Angelo Russell and Keita Bates-Diop are both 5-star prospects that could form the next dynamic duo in Columbus. Russell is a shooting guard with impressive ball-handling and shooting skills, but his passing ability may lead to plenty of time at the point. Bates-Diop is a versatile stretch forward who will look to follow in the footsteps of Deshaun Thomas.
Jae’Sean Tate is a 4-star forward who plays bigger than his listed height (6’5” on Scout) would indicate. Look for him to back down smaller defenders at times.
Dave Bell, who is a 3-star center and is considered more of a long-term investment, rounds out the class for now. Matta would love to add one more piece to this puzzle and is pursuing a number of the country’s best remaining big men.
The future looks bright for Maryland in the Big Ten if it continues to recruit like it has thus far in the 2014 cycle.
The Terrapins are ranked No. 3 in 247sports’ class rankings and already have an impressive four commits, all of who are given 4-star status.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Maryland’s class is the fact it includes a center, small forward, shooting guard and point guard. With so much versatility in this group, it is clear this will be the nucleus for a basketball program looking to return to glory as it enters a new conference.
Trayvon Reed is the center, and the first thing that jumps out is his height (listed at 7’2” on Scout). Romelo Trimble and Dion Wiley, the point guard and shooting guard in the 2014 class respectively, should rack up plenty of assists by merely dumping the ball down low to Reed and watching him work.
Jared Nickens is the small forward that rounds out this class for the time being.
Despite its success last year, Miami is not known as a basketball powerhouse. In fact, there will likely be a steep drop off in the 2013-14 campaign following the ACC title from a season ago.
That being said, a sustained level of success is possible if the Hurricanes continue to recruit at a high level. They are currently ranked as the No. 10 class by 247sports thanks to the three verbal pledges already in place.
JaQuan Newton highlights this group as a 4-star shooting guard from Pennsylvania. He has the chance to become a premier scorer and may be Miami’s next superstar now that Shane Larkin is no longer on campus.
Joining Newton are fellow shooting guards James Palmer and Adonys Henriquez, both of whom are considered 3-star prospects. It would probably serve the Hurricanes well if they landed a big man or two in this class to go along with all these guards, but it is an impressive start to the 2014 class nonetheless.
While Nick Saban and the Alabama football team continue to win national titles at a dominating pace, the basketball team is quietly amassing some momentum of its own.
The Crimson Tide are looking to make the NCAA tournament this year with an underrated squad, and the 2014 recruiting class is already shaping up to be one of the country’s best. 247sports currently has Alabama in its No. 9 position for class rankings.
Point guard Justin Coleman and shooting guard Devin Mitchell, both of whom are considered 4-star players, headline a group that also includes 3-star small forward Riley Norris. If the Tide can land a big man to round out this group, they will shoot up the rankings and be dangerous challengers in the SEC down the line.
Norris and Coleman are both Alabama natives, while Mitchell is from Georgia. If the basketball program begins to lock down the south in the same way the football program has, Alabama could find itself in plenty of NCAA tournaments in the near future.
Follow and interact with college basketball writer Scott Polacek on Twitter @ScottPolacek.
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