Defining a school as “mid-major” isn’t as clear cut as it used to be. After all, programs like Butler, Gonzaga, Wichita State and VCU have made mincemeat out of some of the game’s best in recent NCAA tournaments.
Throw in all the conference realignment that has taken place and it gets even harder to decide what the cutline is for “mid-major.”
For argument’s sake this article will consider the Big Ten, Big East, American Athletic Conference, ACC, Pac-12, SEC and Big 12 power leagues and the rest as mid-majors (sorry Gonzaga).
With that in mind, read on to see the best 2014 recruiting classes among mid-major schools thus far. Recruit information courtesy of Scout.com.
The path to future Atlantic-10 championships is much clearer this year for VCU after the departures of Butler, Temple and Xavier, and if Shaka Smart continues to recruit at a high level the titles should follow.
Smart has already reeled in three recruits for the class of 2014, and there is plenty of time remaining to add to that. Terry Larrier, a 4-star small forward from Pennsylvania, is the headliner of this group.
Larrier is very athletic, versatile enough to play multiple positions and has an impressive perimeter jumper. His speed and explosiveness will fit in perfectly with Smart’s system that thrives off of full-court pressure and transition baskets.
Power forward Justin Tillman and point guard Jonathan Williams, both 3-star prospects, are the other two prospects taking their talents to VCU as of now.
Thanks to recent and past success, Gonzaga isn’t really considered a mid-major program anymore, but the reality is the Zags have still never made it to a single Final Four. Mark Few hopes some of his 2014 recruits will help change that.
Thus far Few has two recruits heading to Spokane, but that could increase come National Signing Day. Josh Perkins, who is a 4-star point guard traversing the country from his home in West Virginia, is currently the star prospect in Gonzaga’s class.
Perkins is a terrific passer who has the court vision and basketball-IQ necessary to run a team at the collegiate level. He also possesses a formidable three-point shot and is an underrated scorer. He will team nicely with Silas Melson, the 3-star shooting guard coming to Spokane with him.
If BYU is ever going to crack the Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s club atop of the West Coast Conference standings, recruiting will be critical.
The Cougars have already received commitments from four prospects in the class of 2014 and we are still about two months away from the start of the actual season. While some may fear this is a case of quantity over quality, there is certainly some future talent heading BYU’s way.
T.J. Haws is a 4-star point guard and the headliner of this class. He will be tasked with running the team when he arrives and should have an immediate impact as a freshman. Small forwards Jake Toolson and Dalton Nixon are both 3-star prospects, while power forward Ryan Andrus is seen as a long-term player who could develop into a contributor eventually.
Larry Brown is building something at SMU, and it won’t be long before the Mustangs are competing with Cincinnati, Memphis and Connecticut for American Athletic Conference titles if this recruiting keeps up.
Emmanuel Mudiay is the No. 1 point guard prospect in the country for the 2014 class (some recruiting services are favorable to Tyus Jones), and he isn’t heading to Duke, Kentucky, Kansas or North Carolina. He is heading to SMU, and he probably won’t be the last elite prospect to do so in 2014.
As of now, the athletic and explosive Mudiay is the only member of this class, but the Mustangs are players in the races for a number of other highly rated prospects they never would have had a chance at before Brown.
Whoever is running alongside Mudiay will have the fortune of playing with a point guard that sees the floor, finishes at the rim and from the perimeter and has the upside to develop into one of the best players in the country.
Just like SMU, UNLV is more quality over quantity right now, but the pure numbers of recruits should increase by national signing day.
The Runnin’ Rebels received a commitment from 5-star small forward Dwayne Morgan, who frankly should teach a certain shooting guard in Miami how to spell his first name. In addition to the phonetically correct name, Morgan has an impressive game and should fit in with UNLV’s up-tempo style of play.
Morgan is an athletic forward that is versatile enough to play a variety of positions. He is outstanding in the open floor and will thrill crowds with his aerial display of dunks in transition. He is a solid defender and is gradually improving on his jumper.
Look for Morgan to be joined by more prospects eventually, but he is a great place to start for the Rebels in 2014.
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