NCAA Basketball Recruiting: Ranking the Top 2014 Classes So Far
College basketball recruiting, Class of 2014-style, is getting ready for its first major moment: the Early Signing period.
From Nov. 13 to Nov. 20, high school seniors can sign their National Letters of Intent, which will formalize the recruiting classes in D-I programs across the country.
Here is a list that ranks the 2014 recruiting classes, as the 2013-14 season is ready to launch.
Here we go!
Virginia Commonwealth's Shaka Smart is bringing in a talented 2014 recruiting class that is a custom fit for wreaking havoc on the Atlantic 10 and the rest of D-I hoops.
Super-athletic small forward Terry Larrier is an explosive leaper who has no trouble getting to the rim. Because he is an effective passer, he can also fill the role of point forward.
Where Larrier really shines is on the other end of the court. He can defend multiple positions and completely shut down passing lanes.
Power forward Mike Gilmore is long, athletic and has a great motor. He is a shot-blocking and rebound specialist.
Lightning-fast point guard Jonathan Williams loves to push the tempo on the break and apply defensive pressure everywhere.
Louisville's Rick Pitino needed to restock his future front line, and that's what he is doing with this 2014 recruiting class.
Razor-thin small forward Shaqquan Aaron is a super slasher who has no trouble getting to the rim or creating for his teammates.
Long and strong center Chinanu Onuaku is a rim protector who Pitino will eventually build his defense around.
If you are looking for a bouncy power forward with a great motor, Jaylen Johnson is your man.
8. San Diego State
San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher reeled in a high quality 2014 class that rivals any he has brought in since he arrived in 1999.
The sky is the limit for skillful small forward Malik Pope.
His ESPN scouting report (subscription required) says:
The willowy 3-man runs like a deer, handles the ball like a guard, and possesses catapult-like explosiveness.
Silky shooting guard Trey Kell is an exceptional scorer who can put up big numbers without putting up a ton of shots.
Athletic power forward Zylan Cheatham does not mind rolling up his sleeves and doing the dirty work.
7. Seton Hall
Seton Hall basketball has struggled for several years, not making the NCAA tournament since the 2005-06 season.
But, help is on the way.
The Pirates are one year away from receiving one of the best recruiting classes in the country.
Head coach Kevin Willard scored big by reeling in 5-star shooting guard Isaiah Whitehead.
Whitehead is a prolific scorer who can fill it up from all over the court.
Power forward Angel Delgado may be one of the best rebounders in the country. Really.
Combo guard Khadeen Carrington is a serious scoring threat who could create a dynamic backcourt duo with Whitehead.
Lean and mean Ismael Sanogo could become an elite-level perimeter defender.
Florida head coach Billy Donovan always seems to bring in a full supply of dynamic backcourt players.
The 2014 recruiting class is no exception, as the Gators are filling all three perimeter positions.
Athletic shooting guard Brandone Francis effectively uses his size to excel both on and off the ball.
Devin Robinson is an excellent playmaker who uses his size (6'8") to create mismatches on the wing.
Super-quick point guard Chris Chiozza will look to push the ball every chance he gets.
This trio is definitely one to keep your eyes on.
Georgetown head coach John Thompson III is an excellent recruiter in terms of targeting players who will do well in his Princeton-style offense.
Talented power forward Isaac Copeland has a sweet face-up shooting touch and a high basketball IQ.
Rangy small forward L.J. Peak plays hard on every possession on both ends of the court.
Combo forward Paul White will bring excellent wing skills to his role in the Hoyas' frontcourt.
Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon is bringing in top-level talent year after year.
He is amassing a first-rate 2014 recruiting class and doing an excellent job of locking up local recruits.
Trimble is a good shooter but has so many ways that he can beat his opponents.
Wiley has an excellent shooting touch with NBA range on his jumper.
Center Travon Reed, a 4-star recruit, is surprisingly mobile and bouncy for a 7-footer. A legitimate rim protector.
Jared Nickens will bring wing playmaking and overall hoops IQ.
Kentucky's John Calipari is just getting started.
We will not know the full results of this year's haul until the spring. But the three players that have already committed to come to Lexington form an excellent core for what could be another mind-blowing class.
Karl Towns Jr. is a rare specimen, combining a center's size with a wing's shooting touch and a guard's handle.
I will not be surprised if Coach Cal plays him, even though he is 7'1", as a stretch 4.
Shooting guard Devin Booker, a 5-star recruit, is deadly from way downtown.
Skyrocketing point guard Tyler Ulis is more than capable of setting up all of the scorers and running the show.
I fully expect that this will not be where Kentucky ends up when the recruiting dust settles.
2. Ohio State
Even if Ohio State does not add any more players to this group, the Buckeyes' Class of 2014 is outstanding.
D'Angelo Russell is the top shooting guard in the country. He knocks down jumpers from everywhere this side of half court. But, do not be surprised if Russell eventually slides over and runs the point for head coach Thad Matta.
Keita Bates-Diop is an uber-talented slasher who is lethal in the open court.
Jae'Sean Tate will bring grit and toughness to the OSU perimeter.
Power forward David Bell may start off his college career as a defensive role player but may finish as a star.
1. North Carolina
Roy Williams has been, and still is, one of the best recruiters in college basketball.
Though he has only inked three players in the Class of 2014, Williams has a trio of special players heading to Chapel Hill next year.
Justin Jackson is the top small forward in the nation. His shooting touch is downy.
His ESPN scouting report (subscription required) says:
Jackson shoots over smaller defenders like they are invisible.
Joel Berry is a dynamic, scoring point guard who makes great decisions with the ball.
Theo Pinson is a slick operator from mid-range on in to the basket.
It will be hard to keep any of these three players off the court, even in their first years on campus.