NCAA Basketball Recruiting: Dream Package Deals for 2015 Class

Jake CurtisFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2013

NCAA Basketball Recruiting: Dream Package Deals for 2015 Class

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    Kentucky coach John Calipari
    Kentucky coach John CalipariAndy Lyons/Getty Images

    The package deal that enabled Duke to land two of the nation's top recruits, center Jahlil Okafor and point guard Tyus Jones, with a single November announcement has led to speculation that future elite recruits may form similar recruiting partnerships. 

    Whether there will be any such package deals in the class of 2015 is uncertain, and most current high school juniors are a long way from making a college choice. However, we can imagine a number of dream package deals that could change teams' fortunes.

    Of course, Duke, Kentucky and Kansas are at the forefront of every such recruiting discussion, but other colleges could provide a splash with a package signing.

     

Malik Newman/Diamond Stone

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    Shooting guard Malik Newman and center Diamond Stone form a potential pairing that would be similiar to the Tyus Jones-Jahlil Okafor package that committed to Duke.

    There is no indication that Newman and Stone are considering attending the same college. However, like Jones and Okafor, they form a nice center-guard combination any college coach would cherish. Also like Jones and Okafor, Newman and Stone played together for a U.S. national team.

    Okafor, a center, and Jones, a point guard, formed the friendship that led to their recruiting partnership after being teammates on the U.S. Under-17 team that competed in the World Championships. 

    Similarly, Newman and Stone were both starters on the U.S. Under-16 National team that won the FIBA Americas U16 championship this past summer.

    Newman, a 6'4" combo guard, is rated the nation's No. 1 overall recruit for 2015 by virtually every recruiting service, and the 6'10" Stone is ranked among the top five by Scout.com, Rivals.com and ESPN.com.

    Not surprisingly Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina are all on the long lists of college candidates for both Newman and Stone. Any of those three schools could quickly restock its talent to national-title level after their expected departures over the next two seasons.  However, Georgetown and UCLA are also on the lists of both Newman and Stone.

    Newman, who is from Mississippi, and Stone, who is from Milwaukee, are from different parts of the country, but that does not seem to matter anymore regarding potential partnerships. Okafor and Jones are from different states.

     

     

Stephen Zimmerman/Chase Jeter

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    UNLV coach Dave Rice would love to land both local products
    UNLV coach Dave Rice would love to land both local productsEthan Miller/Getty Images

    Center Stephen Zimmerman and power forward Chase Jeter are teammates at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. And in September, each received more than 80 letters in a single day from UNLV, telling them how much the Rebels want them, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

    Those two are the only 2015 recruits UNLV has targeted with such intensity so far, and it's easy to see why. Zimmerman is rated the nation's No. 2 overall 2015 recruit by Rivals.com and ESPN.com and No. 3 by Scout.com. Jeter is ranked as high as No. 19 overall by Scout.com. Plus, they are local products.

    Those two would provide quite a frontcourt for Rebels coach Dave Rice. The need for help up front would increase if current UNLV junior Khem Birch turns pro after this season.

    Both Zimmerman and Jeter have UNLV among the dozen or so colleges they are considering, and it would not be a shock if either or both chose the Rebels.

     

Ivan Rabb/Tyler Dorsey

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    Mike Montgomery
    Mike MontgomeryEzra Shaw/Getty Images

    Cal coach Mike Montgomery has kept the Bears near the top of the Pac-12 standings with players that fit his style, not necessarily the most highly touted recruits. However, he lands big-name players occasionally, and the prospect of landing both Ivan Rabb and Tyler Dorsey is intriguing.

    Rabb, who is rated among the nation's top four recruits by Scout.com, Rivals.com and ESPN.com, is a local product from nearby Bishop O'Down High School in Oakland. Montgomery showed he can sign a prominent local player when he landed current freshman Jabari Bird last year. Maybe he can lure Rabb, who lists Cal among the many schools he's considering.

    Being able to get both Rabb, a 6'9" power foward, and Dorsey, a 6'4" shooting guard rated as the No. 7 overall recruit by Scout.com, would be the ultimate recruiting coup for the Bears.

    Montgomery frequently goes to southern California for his players, and he already has a commitment from 2015 center Idrissa Diallo of Los Angeles. Several years ago, Montgomery signed Allen Crabbe out of southern California and he turned into the Pac-12 Player of the Year.

    Dorsey attends St. John Bosco in the Los Angeles area, and he also has Cal on his long list of colleges he's considering.

    Getting either Rabb or Dorsey would be significant for Cal. Signing both California stars would be a dream come true for Montgomery.

     

     

Carlton Bragg/Luke Kennard

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    Thad Matta
    Thad MattaJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    Ohio State coach Thad Matta has established himself as one of college basketball's best recruiters, and he could have another landmark recruiting class if he lands both highly rated in-state prospects for 2015: power forward Carlton Bragg and shooting guard Luke Kennard.

    Matta went out of state to get a big-name verbal commitment for 2015, Mickey Mitchell, a power forward from Plano, Texas, rated the No. 16 overall recruit in the class by Scout.com.

    But the Buckeyes shoot for bigger things in their recruiting classes these days, and they will need power frontcourt players after loading up on guards and wing players in their 2014 signings.

    Ohio State already has a 2015 commitment from one player from Ohio, Dayton point guard A.J. Harris, who is rated the nation's No. 88 recruit by Scout.com. The Buckeyes are now focusing on the two higher rated prospects from the state, according to the Dayton Daily News.

    The 6'9" Bragg, who is listed among the nation's top 10 recruits by Scout.com, Rivals.com and ESPN.com, is from Cleveland. Kennard, a 6'4" player who is ranked among the top 25 recruits by all three services, is from Franklin, Ohio. Both have Ohio State listed among the schools they are considering.

    Packaging three recruits from Ohio into his 2015 class would provide Matta with an outstanding freshman group in two years. It would also confirm his dominance in in-state recruiting.

     

Charles Matthews/Jalen Brunson/D.J. Williams

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    Illinois coach John Groce
    Illinois coach John GroceMichael Hickey/Getty Images

    Illinois coach John Groce knows he needs to effectively recruit the talent-rich Chicago area, and that aspect was a bit of a letdown for the 2014 recruiting class.

    The Illini had only an outside chance to land Chicago's Jahlil Okafor, the nation's top-rated recruit, who opted for Duke in a package deal with Tyus Jones. But Illini nation is still fuming about missing out on the other hot 2014 prospect from Chicago, Cliff Alexander, who first touched the Illinois cap before donning the Kansas cap to signify his commitment to the Jayhawks in November.

    Maybe 2015 will be different. Illinois already has a commitment from one highly rated prospect from the Chicago area, D.J. Williams, a forward from powerhouse Simeon Academy who is rated the nation's No. 29 prospect by ESPN.com. And the Illini are in the hunt for the two other elite recruits from the Chicago area: shooting guard Charles Matthews of Chicago and point guard Jalen Brunson of Lincolnshire, Ill.

    Brunson is rated the No. 28 overall recruit by Rivals.com, but he might be the best point guard in a class that lacks quality point guards.

    Brunson and Matthews both have Illinois on their sizable lists of colleges they are considering, and if Illinois should land either to pair with Williams, it would represent a nice package via the Chicago area. It would also show Groce can recruit the Chicago area against the likes of Duke and Kentucky.

    If the Illini should somehow land all three, they would be set at three positions and lay claim to Chicago.

     

Elijah Thomas/King McClure

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    Texas coach Rick Barnes
    Texas coach Rick BarnesJamie Squire/Getty Images

    Nearly all of Texas' players come from the Lone Star state, which produces considerable high school talent. And if Longhorns coach Rick Barnes fails to land center Myles Turner, the highly touted 2014 recruit from Bedford, Texas, Barnes will need to sign some of the Texas high school stars on his radar in 2015.

    That, of course, assumes Barnes is still Texas' coach next season.

    If he is still around, Barnes needs to get at least one of the two hot 2015 Texas prospects: center Elijah Thomas of Lancaster, Texas, who is rated the nation's No. 6 overall recruit by ESPN.com, and shooting guard King McClure of Dallas, who is rated the No. 14 recruit by Rivals.com.

    Landing both would give Barnes a nice inside-outside combination and re-establish his recruiting hold in Texas.

    Both Thomas and McClure have Texas on their lists of colleges they are considering, but neither has suggested Texas is his favorite.

     

     

     

Skal Labissiere/K.J. Lawson

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    If Memphis could get a pair of highly rated players from the Memphis area to stay home and play for the Tigers, it would be a feather in the recruiting cap of Memphis coach Josh Pastner.

    K.J. Lawson, a small forward from Hamilton High school in Memphis who is rated the nation's No. 21 recruit by ESPN.com, has already committed to Memphis for 2015.

    But the Tigers are also in the running for a bigger local prize: center Skal Labissiere, who attends Evangelical Christian School in Cordova, Tenn., just outside Memphis. He is rated among the nation's top eight junior recruits by Scout.com, Rivals.com and ESPN.com, and the relatively short list of schools he is considering includes Memphis.

    Kentucky is also on that list, so the competition will be stiff. Last May, Labissiere said Kentucky and Memphis were the schools coming at him hardest, according to CBSSports.com, but a lot can change between now and the time he makes his college choice.

    A back problem will keep the Haitian-born Labissiere out of action for a while, according to the NetCats.com recruiting site. That is unlikely to diminish the interest in Labissiere, though.

     

     

Malachi Richardson/Moustapha Diagne/Isaiah Briscoe

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    Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan
    Rutgers coach Eddie JordanRich Schultz/Getty Images

    Rutgers is off to a shaky start in Eddie Jordan's first season as the Scarlet Knights' head coach, and he needs to make a recruiting splash pretty soon.

    He has a chance to do that with the 2015 class, as all three of the elite recruits from New Jersey are considering Rutgers. The chances of Jordan landing all three players are slim. But, for the moment, he can dream of a recruiting class that would include in-state high school stars at three positions: power forward, small forward and shooting guard.

    Malachi Richardson, a small forward at Trenton Catholic Academy, is rated the No. 12 recruit in the 2015 class by ESPN.com. Shooting guard Isaiah Briscoe of Newark and power forward Moustapha Diagne of Sparta, N.J., are also rated among the nation's top 30 recruits by the major services.

    Richardson, Briscoe and Diagne all list Rutgers among the colleges they are considering, although Syracuse is also on the rather long lists of all three.

    Rutgers has already received a 2015 commitment from forward Leroy Butts of Upper Marlboro, Md., who is rated the nation's 114th-best recruit by Rivals.com. To make headlines, though, Jordan needs to land at least one player from the highly touted New Jersey package. Getting two of them would change the national profile of Rutgers and Jordan. 

     

     

     

     

Doral Moore/Jaylen Brown

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    The rosters of Georgia and Georgia Tech are made up primarily of players from Georgia. Either has a chance to pull off a recruiting blockbuster if it could sign the two highly rated in-state prospects in the 2015 class.

    Doral Moore, a 7'0" center from Locust Grove, Ga., and Jaylen Brown, a 6'6" small forward from Marietta, Ga., both live fairly close to the Georgia and Georgia Tech campuses. Both also have Georgia and Georgia Tech on their lists of colleges they are considering.

    Most important is that both are highly rated. Brown is rated the nation's No. 10 prospect for 2015 by Scout.com, and Moore is No. 22, according to ESPN.com.

    ESPN.com lists Louisville and Vanderbilt as the top two schools under consideration for Moore. That's not good news for the Georgia schools, but a lot can change over the next several months.

    Georgia coach Mark Fox or Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory may have trouble landing Moore or Brown given the limited success the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets have had in recent years. Georgia has been to the NCAA tournament only once in the past five years, while Georgia Tech missed the NCAA tournament the past three seasons.

    Convincing Moore and Brown to stay home might change that.

     

Derrick Jones/Cheick Diallo

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    Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim
    Syracuse coach Jim BoeheimKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Syracuse already has a commitment from one player from New York, Tyler Lydon, but it could add two more high-quality pieces from the Northeast.

    Lydon, a power forward from Pine Plains, N.Y., who attends New Hampshire Prep, is rated as the No. 77 recruit in the 2015 class by Rivals.com. The bigger prize from New York would be Cheick Diallo, a 6'9" center/power forward from Centereach, N.Y., who is ranked among the nation's top 10 recruits by Scout.com, Rivals.com and ESPN.com. Syracuse is among a long list of schools Diallo is considering. The list may grow before it shrinks because Diallo's stock has been rising.

    The list is a bit shorter for Derrick Jones, a 6'6" small forward from Radnor, Pa., who is listed as the No. 12 recruit in the class by Scout.com.  It's difficult to get a gauge on players' leanings at this stage, but Scout.com lists Syracuse as one of just five schools Jones is considering, with Syracuse being the only one of the five that has offered Jones a scholarship.

    Syracuse would have to beat out nearby Villanova and Temple for Jones, who lives in the Philadelphia area. But the Orange and Jim Boeheim have the recruiting juice to land both Jones and Diallo, which would be quite a package.