2014 College Basketball Recruiting Rankings: Breaking Down Top Early Classes

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2014

CLEMSON, SC - JANUARY 11: Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils calls out a play during the game against the Clemson Tigers at Littlejohn Coliseum on January 11, 2014 in Clemson, South Carolina. The Clemson Tigers defeated the Duke Blue Devils by a score of 72-59. (Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images)
Tyler Smith/Getty Images

Recruiting season around college basketball is still heating up with the Final Four of the NCAA tournament on the horizon. That said, some programs are already putting together very strong classes and should end up near the top of the recruiting rankings.

The biggest difference between football and basketball when it comes to recruiting is the value of top prospects. Unlike football, where there are dozens of positions to fill, including special teams, a basketball rotation is small. Elite players are still key, but depth is also very important for football.

Since basketball classes are smaller, the rankings are geared more toward which schools are able to land the biggest names, most of whom are capable of making an instant impact. Let's check out which teams are already heading toward getting a major boost.


1. Duke (247Sports' No. 1)

Starting a class with the top overall player available is obviously a huge boost. That's exactly what Duke was able to do with Jahlil Okafor. The 5-star prospect sits atop 247Sports' composite rankings thanks to an impressive post game and an advanced ability to protect the rim.

He's joined by a pair of fellow top-tier prospects joining the Blue Devils. Tyus Jones has all the tools to become one of the top point guards in the nation, and Justise Winslow is a well-rounded swingman capable of taking his game to another level if he can find his jump shot.

The class, as it stands now, is rounded out by Grayson Allen. A shooting guard who isn't afraid of attacking the rim, he should benefit from playing under Mike Krzyzewski. Fitting into the system so his defense doesn't become a liability is the key to him becoming a major contributor.


2. North Carolina (247Sports' No. 3)

North Carolina has added three 5-star recruits. The most intriguing of the group is Justin Jackson. He's a natural scorer from the small forward position, which has grown into a key element for building any team, and the Texas native is also a strong overall athlete.

Jackson is joined by Joel Berry. The high-upside point guard is an outstanding distributor and has proven capable of creating his own offense by getting into the paint. A more consistent jumper would round out his game. As Keeping It Heel notes, he has high expectations as he heads for UNC:

Theo Pinson is the third member of the Tar Heels' potent recruiting trio. He's not much of a spot-up shooter, but his athleticism is off the charts, and paired with his defensive instincts makes him one of the most promising defenders in the class. A nice complement to Jackson.


3. Kentucky (247Sports' No. 2)

One thing John Calipari has been able to consistently do during his time at Kentucky is attract elite post players. Being able to control the paint is a major advantage, especially at the college level with a lack of effective size. Trey Lyles and Karl Towns Jr. should ensure the Wildcats maintain that edge.

They should work well together, as Lyles is more of a natural post scorer while Towns has displayed range beyond the arc. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com reports Lyles also looks in better shape as he gets ready for the McDonald's All-American Game:

Those rising stars on the interior are joined by a pair of 4-star guards in Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis. Booker is one of the best pure shooters in the class. Ulis is undersized, but he makes up for it with quickness and a firm understanding of how to run an offense. They should make a great combo.