College Basketball Recruiting: Updated Rankings of the 2014 Classes
The biggest day of college basketball’s recruiting year arrived on Friday, with Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander among four superstar high schoolers announcing their college decisions. When multiple top-10 prospects all choose within 20 minutes of each other, it's time to reassess the rankings for the top incoming freshman class in the country.
Duke was the big winner of the flurry of announcements, landing the package deal of Okafor and point guard Tyus Jones. After entering Friday with only one committed recruit, the Blue Devils now make a charge for the No. 1 freshman class for next season.
Who else is in the running for that top spot? Where did Alexander and explosive SF Stanley Johnson land? Read on for a survey of the 25 best recruiting classes in the nation, as of Friday’s momentous decisions.
Key Recruits: PF JaKeenan Gant, SG Namon Wright
Why They're Here: Gant, a quick and skillful leaper, will be a major weapon on the boards as well as a dangerous finisher. Wright is a pure shooter with the length (6’5”) to present matchup problems.
Who They're Still Targeting: Marlon Jones has been overshadowed by certain other Chicago-area centers, but he’s a mobile 6’9” with a respectable jump shot.
Key Recruits: PG Emmanuel Mudiay
Why They're Here: A year after landing his program’s first-ever McDonald’s All-American (Keith Frazier), Larry Brown scores an even bigger coup with Mudiay. A big, physical scoring point, the Texan is a consensus top-five prospect in the class.
Who They're Still Targeting: Continuing the quality-over-quantity theme, Brown is mostly focusing on two highly rated Australians: Dante Exum (who may not play in college at all) and Jonah Bolden (a slender scoring PF).
23. Oklahoma State
Key Recruits: SF Joe Burton, SG Jared Terrell
Why They're Here: Next year’s Cowboys will need to replace lots of scoring, and Burton and Terrell are a great start. Both are accomplished finishers, and Burton is an impact player as a long-range shooter as well.
Who They're Still Targeting: The Cowboys are among many teams in the running for Texan uber-center Myles Turner, but they’d settle for 6’9” James Thompson as a consolation prize.
22. Virginia Commonwealth
Key Recruits: SF Terry Larrier, PF Mike Gilmore
Why They're Here: 6’9” Gilmore is one of the rare big men who has the agility to shine in VCU’s Havoc press, while Larrier brings great length (6’7”) on the wing. Both will be intimidating finishers for an offense that loves the fast break.
Who They're Still Targeting: Even more size might be on the way if Smart lures 6’10” center Johnathon Wilkins to Richmond.
21. North Carolina State
Key Recruits: PF Abdul-Malik Abu, SF Caleb Martin, SF Cody Martin
Why They're Here: The Martin twins aren’t exactly the Harrisons, but they’re effective slashers who play smart. Abu is a Serge Ibaka-type with very little polish but loads of muscle.
Who They're Still Targeting: Backcourt help wouldn’t come amiss here, with one possibility being Baltimore point guard John Crosby.
Key Recruits: PG Justin Coleman, SF Riley Norris, SG Devin Mitchell
Why They're Here: Mitchell and Norris are both big-time shooters, something the current Tide roster could use more of. Coleman, a pass-first type, is the best defender of the group.
Who They're Still Targeting: Richard Lee, one of several Floridians Mark Gottfried has been looking at, would add to a solid collection of perimeter scorers.
Key Recruits: C Paschal Chukwu, SF Jalen Lindsey, PF Ben Bentil
Why They're Here: 7’1” Chuwku and 6’8” Bentil are a scary rebounding pair, with Chukwu bringing outstanding shot-blocking and Bentil adding a bit of jump shooting. Lindsey, mostly a scorer, adds even more length at 6’7”.
Who They're Still Targeting: Small forward D’Angelo Allen would fit nicely into both the height (6’7”) and rebounding themes of Ed Cooley’s class.
Key Recruits: PF Chris McCullough, PG Kaleb Joseph
Why They're Here: McCullough is a superb athlete and great defender at 6’10” but is currently in some hot water off the court. Joseph isn’t as instinctive as some of the top PGs in the class, but he’s got great quickness and some impressive moves off the dribble.
Who They're Still Targeting: Syracuse has only offered five players so far, so Jim Boeheim has options. The Orange might take a flyer on a scorer such as swingman Kobe Eubanks.
Key Recruits: SG Ahmed Hill, SF Sandy Cohen, SF Marial Shayok
Why They're Here: The versatile Hill and sharp-shooting Cohen bring some offensive spark to the defensive-minded Golden Eagles. Shayok is the best pure athlete of the bunch and still a pretty good shooter.
Who They're Still Targeting: D’Angelo Allen would bring even more length and athleticism on the wing, and Buzz Williiams has his eye on several 3-star centers, too (including in-state favorite Trevon Bunch).
Key Recruits: PF Reid Travis, PF Michael Humphrey, PG Robert Cartwright
Why They're Here: Travis and Humphrey are high-motor guys who will rack up rebounds, though neither is a great shot. Cartwright is an iffy athlete but has great leadership skills and passing touch.
Who They're Still Targeting: Johnny Dawkins is still short on perimeter help, where 5-star Justise Winslow or smooth-shooting Dorian Pickens would fit right in.
Key Recruits: PF Dwayne Morgan, C Goodluck Okonoboh
Why They're Here: The Rebels win the shot-blocking sweepstakes in a runaway with two game-changing defenders. Okonoboh has very little to offer on offense, but Morgan has a stronger all-around game.
Who They're Still Targeting: Rashad Vaughn, one of the top shooting guards in the country, just relocated to UNLV’s backyard at Findlay Prep, and either he or new teammate Jonah Bolden could add some welcome scoring here.
Key Recruits: SG James Blackmon Jr., SG Robert Johnson
Why They're Here: Both Blackmon (an in-state star who decommitted, then re-committed in Bloomington) and Johnson have the potential to play either guard spot. Johnson’s an inch taller at 6’3”, while Blackmon is the more accomplished marksman.
Who They're Still Targeting: The Hoosiers are one of the many teams hoping to convince Australian PG Dante Exum to play a year of college ball before he heads to the NBA.
13. San Diego State
Key Recruits: SF Malik Pope, SG Trey Kell, PF Zylan Cheatham
Why They're Here: Pope, a scary combination of power and speed, is the prize here, but he’s far from alone. Kell is a terrific scorer who knows how to pass, while Cheatham will be a force in transition.
Who They're Still Targeting: There’s no point guard here yet, but homegrown Devin Watson has some scoring punch to go with his passing.
12. Seton Hall
Key Recruits: SG Isaiah Whitehead, PF Angel Delgado
Why They're Here: The versatile Whitehead is a scorer who can carry a team. Delgado is a 6’8” rebounding machine, though he won’t put many points on the board.
Who They're Still Targeting: Local product Marques Townes is a shooting guard with the toughness to play linebacker (though his football aspirations may send him elsewhere).
Key Recruits: SF Trevon Bluiett, PG Edmond Sumner, PF Makinde London
Why They're Here: Bluiett (a former UCLA commit) and London give the Musketeers a pair of top-notch athletes for the forward spots, with 6’9” London adding much-needed length. Sumner provides another tall (6’3”) scoring PG as heir apparent to Semaj Christon.
Who They're Still Targeting: Melvin Swift, a skinny Houston product, would add depth as a combo forward, though he’s not quite on London's level.
Key Recruits: PF Isaac Copeland, SF L.J. Peak, PF Paul White
Why They're Here: Copeland and White are both finesse types who will knock down plenty of jumpers in Georgetown’s Princeton offense. Peak is a swingman with explosive athleticism.
Who They're Still Targeting: The Hoyas would love to add lightning-fast Aussie import Dante Exum to run the offense, but he’s considering turning pro rather than playing in college.
Key Recruits: PG Romelo Trimble, SG Dion Wiley, C Trayvon Reed
Why They're Here: Trimble (a combo guard) and Wiley will make an impressive backcourt, especially where scoring is concerned. Reed is a hard-working 7-footer whose offensive game is raw.
Who They're Still Targeting: Floridian Richard Lee would add another big-time three-point threat to a class that’s already loaded with shooters.
Key Recruits: SG Brandone Francis, SF Devin Robinson, PG Chris Chiozza
Why They're Here: Francis and Robinson both have good length and can serve as playmakers in addition to scorers. Chiozza’s just 5’11”, but his quickness creates space for him to shoot.
Who They're Still Targeting: Justise Winslow would make a tremendous addition to Billy Donovan’s defense, though there are plenty of other teams clamoring for his services, too.
Key Recruits: SF Stanley Johnson, PF Craig Victor, PG Parker Jackson-Cartwright
Why They're Here: Johnson is a freight train of an athlete who plays outstanding D. Victor is a more polished offensive weapon (particularly down low), while the microscopic Jackson-Cartwright has scoring punch that belies his 5'8", 150-pound frame.
Who They're Still Targeting: Arizona is still in the running for almost any big-name prospect you can think of—Myles Turner, Rashad Vaughn, Justise Winslow—so the Wildcats could climb even higher very soon.
6. Ohio State
Key Recruits: SG D’Angelo Russell, SF Keita Bates-Diop, SF Jae-Sean Tate
Why They're Here: Russell is a combo type—one of the few who’s primarily a 2-guard—who can fill up stat sheets with anyone in the class. Bates-Diop and Tate fit right into the Deshaun Thomas/Sam Thompson mold of hybrid front-line standouts.
Who They're Still Targeting: This class desperately needs Myles Turner, considering the dearth of true post players on the existing Buckeyes roster. Whether the 7-foot Texan needs Ohio State may be a different question entirely.
5. North Carolina
Key Recruits: SF Justin Jackson, SF Theo Pinson, PG Joel Berry
Why They're Here: Jackson and Pinson are classic Tar Heel wing players who bring length, athleticism and impressive shooting touch. Berry is a terrific leader and distributor, even if he’s not primary-scorer material.
Who They're Still Targeting: Rashad Vaughn, the best shooting guard in the class by some estimates, is very much on Roy Williams’ radar, though he’s hardly essential with two great small forwards already here.
Key Recruits: C/F Cliff Alexander, SF Kelly Oubre
Why They're Here: Whatever position Alexander plays, he's a beast inside on both ends of the floor. Oubre will take care of the perimeter, where he's a respectable defender and deadeye shot.
Who They're Still Targeting: In typical Bill Self fashion, the Jayhawks have a lot of irons in the recruiting fire. Any of Rashad Vaughn, Justise Winslow or Myles Turner could add another top-10 superstar to this already-imposing class.
Key Recruits: SF Shaqquan Aaron, PG Quentin Snider, PF Jaylen Johnson, C Chinanu Onuaku
Why They're Here: Johnson (with offense) and Onuaku (defense) add up to one very impressive post presence.
Aaron is a primary-scorer type who can also pass the ball, while speedster Snider—an 11th-hour recommit who had jumped to Illinois—adds even more scoring.
Who They're Still Targeting: Louisville lost out on Trey Lyles, but it's not done pursuing blue-chip bigs, as agile 7-footer Myles Turner would be a great fit on the uptempo Cards.
Key Recruits: PF Trey Lyles, C Karl Towns Jr., SG Devin Booker, PG Tyler Ulis
Why They're Here: Towns (an Isaiah Austin clone) and Booker are two of the best pure shooters in the class, but Lyles is the real prize here. He’s the rare freshman PF with an NBA body (6'10", 255 lbs), and he's got a lethal inside-outside offensive skill set.
Ulis is a classic micro-point guard with blinding quickness at 5'9", 150 pounds.
Who They're Still Targeting: Uber-center Myles Turner would be overkill with Towns already here, but that's not to say John Calipari can't land him anyway.
SF Justise Winslow could pair with Booker to give Kentucky the smartest playing pair of wings in the country.
Key Recruits: C Jahlil Okafor, PG Tyus Jones, SG Grayson Allen
Why They're Here: Okafor and Jones aren’t just a great inside-outside offensive tandem—they’re two of the four best players in the recruiting class, period.
Allen will get overlooked, but he’s a terrific outside shot and a smart player who will be a nice complement to the bigger names.
Who They're Still Targeting: Amazingly, this group could add another superstar recruit if Justise Winslow opts to join Rasheed Sulaimon (his old AAU teammate) in Durham.