Big-Time College Basketball Programs Falling Behind on 2014 Recruiting Trail
There is an important caveat to take into consideration when reading any college basketball recruiting article at this time of year—there is still an incredible amount of time until national signing day.
That being said, there are some premier college basketball programs that have fallen behind in the early going on the 2014 recruiting trail.
Of course, this is all bound to change drastically by national signing day, especially since many of these programs are in on a handful of highly rated recruits and will likely shoot up the rankings if and when they land them, but you know the saying about counting chickens before eggs hatch.
Take this list as a snapshot of the current recruiting climate if national signing day was today. Recruiting rankings are courtesy of 247sports.com.
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Duke is almost assuredly going to be near the top of the recruiting rankings by signing day if Coach K is able to land the coveted package deal of Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, but for now the Blue Devils have fallen behind on the 2014 recruiting trail.
While rival North Carolina currently has the No. 1 class in the nation, Duke isn’t even in the top 50. Only one high-school prospect has committed to Durham, and he is shooting guard Grayson Allen from Florida.
Allen is an explosive guard with athleticism and speed to contribute right away. He has a solid jump shot that will likely improve at the collegiate level and certainly isn’t the reason Duke has fallen somewhat behind on the trail.
It’s just the fact that he is the only one committed thus far. The Blue Devils have some catching up to do if they hope to contend with the Tar Heels in the 2014 class rankings.
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The biggest story regarding Indiana recruiting thus far in the 2014 cycle is still Trey Lyles decommitting from Tom Crean’s program.
Lyles seemed like a sure thing for a while—the hometown kid that would continue to build on the Hoosier resurgence we have seen recently thanks to the likes of Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo. Alas, Crean has to turn elsewhere for his 2014 class, and thus far Indiana is not considered one of the top-50 groups.
Robert Johnson is the only pledge Crean has received. Johnson is an impressive three-point shooter and will score plenty of points during his time in Bloomington. He is a solid start for this class, but the Hoosiers are going to need more than Johnson to make up for the loss of Lyles.
Fortunately for Crean, there is still plenty of time to recover.
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Much like Duke and Indiana, UCLA is a historically excellent program that currently sits outside the top 50 in the class of 2014 recruiting rankings.
Things look much bleaker for the Bruins than they did merely days ago, though, thanks to the decommittment of Indiana native Trevon Bluiett. Considering that top UCLA target Michael Humphrey recently narrowed his list to just Pac-12 rivals Arizona and Stanford, it hasn’t been a good start to October for new coach Steve Alford.
That means the cupboard is completely bare right now in the class of 2014 for the Bruins. Of course, there is plenty of time for that to change, but a program that has the pedigree of UCLA’s has to be somewhat concerned with the recent recruiting attrition.
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Part of the brilliance that is Tom Izzo is the fact that he often wins Big Ten titles and goes to the Final Four without landing top-notch recruiting classes.
He finds the players that fit perfectly in his program and molds them into winners, often resulting in banners in East Lansing and future NBA careers for the players. That being said, Michigan State has fallen behind in the 2014 recruiting rankings for the time being.
The Spartans’ 2014 group includes only Lourawls Nairn right now, who is a talented but undersized point guard. He is a good prospect but not the type of game changer that really defines an impressive recruiting class.
Furthermore, with every new update it seems like Michigan State falls even more behind on the race for Jahlil Okafor. Izzo will likely make the most out of his 2014 class because he almost always does, but the Spartans have fallen behind in the early going.
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Memphis is about to start life in a brand new league and would love to land a highly rated 2014 recruiting class to take control of the American Athletic Conference once Louisville departs for the ACC.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, they haven’t done so thus far.
Only Dominic Magee makes up Memphis’ 2014 class, and he isn’t the 5-star stud that fans always clamor for. That being said, Magee may be an under-the-radar game-changer considering the fact that he garnered interest from the likes of Kentucky and Oklahoma State, as well.
Magee is a distributor from the point guard position, but as of now he has no running mates to distribute to in his class. If that doesn’t change before national signing day Cincinnati and Connecticut may be the ones seizing control of the AAC in the future.
Follow and interact with college basketball writer Scott Polacek on Twitter @ScottPolacek.