CBB Recruiting 2014: Ranking 25 Best Classes After McDonald's All-American Game

Kerry MillerCollege Basketball National AnalystApril 3, 2014

CBB Recruiting 2014: Ranking 25 Best Classes After McDonald's All-American Game

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    With the 2014 NCAA tournament nearing its conclusion and the 2014 McDonald's All-American game taking place Wednesday night, this felt like a great time to re-rank the 25 best incoming recruiting classes.

    There was a lot of great talent on display in Chicago, and (at least) 11 of those 24 players are headed to either Duke, Kentucky or North Carolina next season. Kansas and UCLA will each be adding a pair of McDonald's All-Americans, resulting in a lot of blue-blood schools at the top of the rankings.

    Justin Jackson (North Carolina), Jahlil Okafor (Duke), Emmanuel Mudiay (Southern Methodist), Rashad Vaughn (UNLV) and James Blackmon Jr. (Indiana) were the leading scorers Wednesday night, showcasing the skills that they'll be bringing to their respective schools in a few months.

    Myles Turner was the only player in the game who has yet to declare where he will be playing in November, but we'll have more on him in a bit.

    On the following slides, we utilized team rankings and individual scouting reports from 247Sports.com and ESPN.com. Teams are primarily ordered based on their composite rankings from those two sources. Each team's listed 5-star and 4-star recruits are according to 247Sports.

Last Man Standing

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    There are a few guys on the fringe between 3-star and 4-star recruits who haven't yet declared where they will be playing this fall, but Myles Turner is a unanimous top-five recruit and is the only one in the top 75 who has yet to make a decision.

    Turner said in an interview during ESPN's broadcast of the McDonald's All-American game that he's going to wait until after the Jordan Brand Classic (April 18) to make a decision.

    Whoever gets him will have won the recruiting lottery.

    The 7'0" center is a great shot-blocker who can score, rebound and defend in the paint. And just for good measure, he can shoot it out to the three-point line.

    Turner wasn't particularly assertive in Wednesday night's game, attempting just three shots in 21 minutes of playing time, but he did finish with seven points and seven rebounds after scoring the first bucket just seconds into the game.

    The odds-on favorite to land Turner's services is Texas, but Kansas, Ohio State, Southern Methodist and even Duke (could you imagine?) are still in play.

25. USC Trojans

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    Rankings: No. 28 in 247Sports, No. 25 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: NR

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Jordan McLaughlin (5'11" PG)

     

    What they'll do well: Score in the post

    That might seem like a weird strength with only one highly rated recruit—one who happens to also be less than 6' tall—but McLaughlin is a fantastic finisher at the rim.

    USC has a pair of 3-star centers (Malik Price-Martin and Jabari Craig) as well who could benefit greatly from McLaughlin's occasionally ridiculous vision to find open teammates while weaving through defenders.

     

    Where they'll need work: Strength

    McLaughlin only weighs 165 pounds on a good day, and he could get battered and bruised if he continues driving to the rim in college as much as he has in high school. Both incoming centers are quite slim. USC's other primary recruit, Malik Marquetti, is a bit undersized as well, but he sure can fly.

24. Brigham Young Cougars

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    Rankings: No. 26 in 247Sports, No. 20 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: NR

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: T.J. Haws (6'3" SG), Payton Dastrup (6'9" PF)

     

    What they'll do well: Mid-range game

    With Matt Carlino transferring, there may very well be room for T.J. Haws to earn a spot in the starting lineup alongside his brother Tyler. Between the two, expect an awful lot of whistles, as they both refuse to shy away from contact on offense.

    Dastrup is also a physical player with an above-average mid-range game for a guy his size. He may have difficulty finding playing time, though, as there's not a single departing senior on BYU's roster.

     

    Where they'll need work: Athleticism

    Haws and Dastrup are both tough guys who can play through contact, but neither is a particularly great athlete. Haws is quick but not very strong. Dastrup is strong, but he's not much of a leaper or speedster.

23. Providence Friars

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    Rankings: No. 21 in 247Sports, No. 27 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 21

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Paschal Chukwu (7'2" C), Jalen Lindsey (6'6" SF), Ben Bentil (6'8" PF)

     

    What they'll do well: Rebound and defend the interior

    Chukwu is an absolute giant, and Bentil is no small fry in the paint either. Both are exceptional rebounders and shot-blockers and should eventually help the Friars develop into a very difficult team to score against.

     

    Where they'll need work: Assertiveness on offense

    Bryce Cotton did everything for Providence during the 2013-14 season, and these guys won't be the ones to pick up the scoring slack from the departing senior. Of the bunch, Lindsey seems most likely to develop into a reliable scorer, but all three need to become more aggressive to put the ball in the hoop.

22. Syracuse Orange

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    Rankings: No. 23 in 247Sports, No. 22 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 20

    5-star recruits: Chris McCullough (6'8" PF)

    4-star recruits: Kaleb Joseph (6'2" PG)

     

    What they'll do well: Be flexible

    Both McCullough and Joseph have been described by scouts as long, lanky and athletic. McCullough can function as either a power forward or a center depending on the team needs. Same goes for Joseph at point guard and shooting guard. They both have a ton of potential and haven't yet been pigeon-holed into a specific position or style.

     

    Where they'll need work: Developing consistency

    With flexibility comes inconsistency. McCullough and Joseph are each described as raw talents who occasionally struggle to know when to be assertive and when to defer to teammates. However, you can't ask for a much better place to develop basketball IQ than with Jim Boeheim.

21. Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    Rankings: No. 19 in 247Sports, No. 26 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 22

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Jared Terrell (6'3" SG), Joe Burton (6'5" SF), Mitch Solomon (6'9" PF)

     

    What they'll do well: Getting to the rim

    Both Burton and Terrell are a bit on the small side, but they have a nose for the rim. Burton has a great baseline jumper that opens up lanes to the hoop, and Terrell can just bowl over anyone in his path.

     

    Where they'll need work: Getting in proper shape for their positions

    Terrell is both undersized and oversized for a shooting guard. He's built like a fullback and can drive to the hoop with the best of them, but his shot is inconsistent and he will struggle against taller guards.

    Burton has played as a combo forward in high school, but he'll barely even be big enough to pass as a small forward without a growth spurt. He does have three-point range, but he isn't very consistent in that department.

    Tough to say what position either of those guys will ultimately end up playing.

20. Virginia Commonwealth Rams

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    Rankings: No. 25 in 247Sports, No. 15 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 23

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Terry Larrier (6'7" SF)

     

    What they'll do well: Running the floor

    VCU only has one 4-star recruit on 247Sports, but Mike Gilmore and Justin Tillman are a pair of lanky power forwards regarded as 4-star guys by ESPN. Between the three of them, Shaka Smart is getting a bunch of explosive big men who can run for days.

     

    Where they'll need work: Tapping into their potential

    All three guys are described as having tremendous upside, but not one of them appears to be quite ready to make an immediate impact. We'll see if it takes a few months or a few years for them to develop into consistent ball-handlers and shooters.

19. Marquette Golden Eagles

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    Rankings: No. 20 in 247Sports, No. 19 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 18

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Ahmed Hill (6'5" SG), Sandy Cohen (6'5" SG/SF), Malik Harris (6'7" SF)

     

    What they'll do well: Make decisions

    Both Harris and Hill have a high basketball IQ and should serve as great, moldable freshmen in Steve Wojciechowski's first year as a head coach. Each 4-star recruit also has range out to the three-point line.

     

    Where they'll need work: Interior play

    Marquette did land a 6'11" transfer from Indiana in the form of Luke Fischer, but 6'7" Steve Taylor Jr. is the Golden Eagles' tallest returning playerand he barely played 10 minutes per game. 

    With Davante Gardner, Chris Otule and Jamil Wilson graduating, Wojo may need to count on some of these incoming guys to play in the post.

18. North Carolina State Wolfpack

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    Rankings: No. 15 in 247Sports, No. 24 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 16

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Abdul Malik Abu (6'8" PF), Caleb Martin (6'7" SF), Cody Martin (6'7" SF)

     

    What they'll do well: Attacking the rim

    For the second straight year, Mark Gottfried is losing a ton of scoring. T.J. Warren is leaving for the NBA, Tyler Lewis recently announced that he will be transferring and Jordan Vandenberg is graduating.

    There's an awful lot of openings in that Wolfpack rotation, and the incoming freshmen have a nose for scoring. Both Martin twins are great slashers, and Abu is a solid rebounder with the footwork you love to see from a big man.

     

    Where they'll need work: Everywhere else on the court

    Abu is a dunk machine, but force him to actually shoot the ball and there's no telling where it'll end up. Neither Martin brother has much of a mid- or long-range game, either.

17. Xavier Musketeers

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    Rankings: No. 16 in 247Sports, No. 18 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 13

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruitsTrevon Bluiett (6'6" SF), Makinde London (6'10" PF), J.P. Macura (6'4" SG), Edmond Sumner (6'4" PG)

     

    What they'll do well: Mid-range game

    Bluiett, Macura, Sumner and even London each has a solid mid-range shot with the ability to stretch out to beyond the three-point line. With the exception of Bluiett, they're all on the slender side, so it's nice that they won't need to battle in the paint to get bucketsthough their offensive rebounding percentages could be dreadful. 

     

    Where they'll need work: On-ball defense

    London is a solid shot-blocker, but the rest of the group gets beat pretty regularly on the defensive end of the court. They're all good scorers, but they're not good enough to get away with minimal defense.

16. Indiana Hoosiers

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    Rankings: No. 18 in 247Sports, No. 17 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 17

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: James Blackmon Jr. (6'3" SG), Robert Johnson (6'3" SG)

     

    What they'll do well: Three-point shooting

    We wrote in December that Blackmon Jr. might be the deadliest three-point shooter in this year's class, and he proved it by winning the McDonald's All-American three-point contest. He added 13 points in the actual game too.

    Johnson has a very nice three-point stroke as well.

     

    Where they'll need work: Secondary strength

    While both are silky smooth long-range jump shooters, neither Blackmon Jr. nor Johnson is overwhelmingly athletic. Sometimes, exceptional shooters can get away with not doing much else on the courtsee: Bader, Travis. Other times, though, they struggle to even find consistent playing timesee: Dawkins, Andre.

    If either Blackmon Jr. or Johnson can just develop a complement to his jump shotbe it driving, passing, defending or something elseit would lead to more playing time and a more immediate impact at the college level.

     

15. San Diego State Aztecs

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    Rankings: No. 13 in 247Sports, No. 16 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 15

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Malik Pope (6'8" SF), Zylan Cheatham (6'7" PF), Trey Kell (6'4" SG)

     

    What they'll do well: Positional flexibility

    Kell is a prolific long-range shooter and can score from anywhere on the court. Cheatham has the skill to be a point-forward (watch the no-look, left-handed pass that the right-handed Cheatham makes at the 35-second mark of the above video). And Pope has the size, strength and stroke to play anywhere between shooting guard and power forward.

    This will be a fun team to watch over the next couple of seasons.

     

    Where they'll need work: Fundamentals

    Pope doesn't grab rebounds with both hands. Kell doesn't slide his feet well on defense. Cheatham doesn't have much of a jump shot.

    These three guys definitely have the athleticism to excel. They'll just need to work on some of the basics.

14. Stanford Cardinal

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    Rankings: No. 14 in 247Sports, No. 13 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 14

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Reid Travis (6'7" PF), Michael Humphrey (6'9" PF), Robert Cartwright (6'2" PG)

     

    What they'll do well: Post play

    With the exception of Jahlil Okafor and Myles Turner, Travis simply looked like the biggest man in the McDonald's All-American game. As Jay Williams commented during ESPN's broadcast of the game, "Reid Travis looks like he has been outside chopping wood since the age of four."

    He's a little smaller than Julius Randle, but he could definitely develop into a less dominant version of him. Not only is he not afraid of contact, but he seems to crave it. Depending on his ability to hit free throws, he could immediately fill one of the voids in Stanford's starting rotation caused by the graduation of Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis.

    The Cardinal will also be getting Humphrey, who is very tall but also still very raw, having not grown up playing basketball.

     

    Where they'll need work: Quickness

    Travis is a big dude, but he is hardly fleet of foot. Cartwright isn't particularly speedy, either. Humphrey runs the floor well, but he's still learning the game.

13. Maryland Terrapins

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    Rankings: No. 10 in 247Sports, No. 14 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 9

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Melo Trimble (6'2" PG), Dion Wiley (6'3" SG), Jared Nickens (6'6" SF), Trayvon Reed (7'1" C)

     

    What they'll do well: Three-point shooting

    Nickens, Trimble and Wiley are regarded as prolific catch-and-shoot players on the perimeter. Along with Jake Layman and Evan Smotrycz, Maryland will just about always have a trio of three-point shooters on the court.

    Trimble played in the McDonald's All-American game, but he failed to connect on any of his four field-goal attempts. Nowhere to go but up? He'll be in the mix with Seth Allen and Roddy Peters for minutes at point guard.

     

    Where they'll need work: Ball-handling

    All three of the perimeter guys will need to work on being able to create his own shot off the dribble. They could also benefit from some coaching as on-ball defenders.

12. Seton Hall Pirates

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    Rankings: No. 12 in 247Sports, No. 10 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 11

    5-star recruits: Isaiah Whitehead (6'4" SG)

    4-star recruits: Angel Delgado (6'9" PF)

     

    What they'll do well: Finishing at the rim

    Delgado isn't a very good shooter, but he'll get a lot of offensive rebounds and put-back dunks. He has a nose for the ball and great athleticism.

    Whitehead is really going to be something special. There aren't very many one-and-done type of guys in this year's class, but he could be one of them. He is an outstanding scorer from all parts of the court and is an excellent passer.

    He didn't get much playing time in the McDonald's All-American game, but he still finished the night with six points and one impressed scout.

     

    Where they'll need work: Finishing elsewhere

    Whitehead's jumper has improved drastically, but he still prefers to do his damage at the rim when he can. Delgado has developed a bit of a hook shot, but he really shouldn't be shooting from anywhere outside the semicircle in which you're not allowed to draw a charge.

11. Florida Gators

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    Rankings: No. 8 in 247Sports, No. 12 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 10

    5-star recruits: Devin Robinson (6'8" SF/PF)

    4-star recruits: Brandone Francis (6'5" SG), Chris Chiozza (5'10" PG)

     

    What they'll do well: Ball-handling

    Chiozza is an exceptional point guard. (Watch the two sequences in the above video starting at the 36-second mark.) He isn't rated super highly because of his height and his reliance on finishing in the paint, but that hasn't stopped Jahii Carson from developing into a fantastic player for Arizona State.

    Francis and Robinson are also plenty capable of putting the ball on the floor and scoring in the pull-up game.

     

    Where they'll need work: Defense

    All three guys could be critical components on offense, but you won't get far in Billy Donovan's system without learning how to play solid defense.

10. Kansas Jayhawks

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    Rankings: No. 17 in 247Sports, No. 8 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 8

    5-star recruits: Cliff Alexander (6'9" PF), Kelly Oubre (6'7" SG/SF)

    4-star recruits: None

     

    What they'll do well: Commanding the paint

    Both of Kansas' top recruits competed in the McDonald's All-American game, and both were impressive.

    Alexander was playing with a heavily bandaged right hand, which he injured in the dunk contest. It unquestionably caused him to miss a few could-have-been-highlight-reel-alley-oop dunks, but he still finished the night with nine points, 11 rebounds and a block.

    As Cameron Schott wrote for RealGM.com after the game, "If he develops a post game and adds some bulk at Kansas, he should be one of the top freshmen in the country. There’s plenty of upside for this athletic power forward."

    Oubre was stuffing all sorts of categories, tallying 11 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Jahlil Okafor earned the MVP honors, but Oubre couldn't have been far behind.

    There's no doubt that they'll be good, but who knows how much playing time will be available to them. Andrew Wiggins is going to the NBA, but Joel Embiid might stay another year. Even if he doesn't, Kansas still has Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor, Wayne Selden Jr., Naadir Tharpe and Conner Frankamp as perfectly capable starters.

     

    Where they'll need work: Finding open teammates

    It's hard to nitpick with a pair of 5-star recruits, but because they're so much better than most of their competition, both Alexander and Oubre can get a little ball-hoggish. Then again, between Wiggins and Ben McLemore in recent years, it's pretty clear that Bill Self doesn't mind the occasional "Hero Ball" player.

9. Georgetown Hoyas

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    Rankings: No. 11 in 247Sports, No. 7 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 12

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Isaac Copeland (6'9" SF), Paul White (6'9" SF), L.J. Peak (6'5" SG), Tre Campbell (6'2" PG)

     

    What they'll do well: Athleticism

    Georgetown jumped from No. 14 to No. 7 in ESPN's team rankings shortly after the announcement that L.J. Peak was invited to the Jordan Brand Classic game.

    Peak is just one of four incoming Hoyas who is an exceptional athlete. Both he and White have range out to the three-point line, and Campbell is both quick and fast at the point guard position.

    Another reason for Georgetown's rise in the rankings was the domination of Copeland at the Hoophall Classic in January. Copeland was even more of an unknown variable than most recruits after a knee injury in 2012 slowed his development, but it's pretty clear that he's ready for the next level.

     

    Where they'll need work: Toughness, especially on defense

    Athletic as they are, all four guys are on the skinnier side and can be pushed around on defense. 

8. UCLA Bruins

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    Rankings: No. 7 in 247Sports, No. 11 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 7

    5-star recruits: Kevon Looney (6'9" PF)

    4-star recruits: Jonah Bolden (6'9" PF), Thomas Welsh (7'0" C)

     

    What they'll do well: Interior play

    UCLA has a ton of turnover this year. The Wear twins are graduating, and both Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine are leaving early for the NBA. Add it all up, and Tony Parker is the only returning player taller than 6'5" who averaged so much as five minutes per game this season.

    Help is on the way.

    Both Looney and Welsh took part in the McDonald's All-American game, and both recorded two blocks despite very limited minutes. Looney played just 11 minutes, but he scored six points and grabbed 11 rebounds while he was in there. Welsh played eight minutesthe least of anyoneand did not score.

    These three players instantly become three of the four tallest guys on the team and will be counted on to carry a significant workload in the paint.

     

    Where they'll need work: Shooting

    Both Bolden and Looney have some range, but neither is particularly consistent in the mid-range and three-point game.

7. Louisville Cardinals

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    Rankings: No. 9 in 247Sports, No. 4 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 6

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Shaqquan Aaron (6'8" SG/SF), Quentin Snider (6'1" PG), Jaylen Johnson (6'9" PF), Chinanu Onuaku (6'10" C)

     

    What they'll do well: Ball distribution

    Snider is a true point guard who could definitely develop into the next Peyton Siva at Louisville. Both he and Aaron have excellent court vision and do a great job of setting up teammates.

    Onuaku will follow Gorgui Dieng and Mangok Mathiang in what is becoming a long line of centers for Rick Pitino who excel defensively but need some serious help in developing an offensive game. Having Aaron and Snider to get him the ball at the right times in the right places will be very beneficial for all involved.

     

    Where they'll need work: Perimeter play

    Snider is great with the ball in his hands, but he'll need to work to develop a more consistent long-range shot. He is not a prolific defender at the other end of the court, either.

    Aaron can hit spot-up threes, but he's much more of a slasher. He also needs to learn to harness his length and quickness on defense to become a more valued member of the Cardinals rotation.

6. Arizona Wildcats

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    Rankings: No. 4 in 247Sports, No. 9 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 5

    5-star recruits: Stanley Johnson (6'7" SG/SF)

    4-star recruits: Craig Victor (6'8" PF), Parker Jackson-Cartwright (5'10" PG), Kadeem Allen (6'3" PG/SG)

     

    What they'll do well: Mature

    Johnson, Victor and Jackson-Cartwright have each been described by scouts as gifted for their age. They are wise beyond their years, if you will. All three should develop quickly and become a pivotal part of the team.

    Johnson was a starter in the McDonald's All-American game. He didn't do much compared to the other nine starters, scoring eight points and grabbing four rebounds. However, he did show off some of the explosiveness that will make him an immediate starter and impact player at Arizona. 

     

    Where they'll need work: Building strength

    Johnson is a beast, but the rest of the incoming class is a bit undersized.

    Not only is Jackson-Cartwright 5'10", but he only weighs about 150 pounds. Even T.J. McConnell is a bit of a small point guard for Arizona at 6'1" and 195 pounds, so hopefully Jackson-Cartwright spends his summer in the weight room.

    Victor will also need to get much stronger to help with his post-up game against these bigger players.

5. UNLV Rebels

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    Rankings: No. 5 in 247Sports, No. 6 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 19

    5-star recruits: Rashad Vaughn (6'5" SG), Dwayne Morgan (6'8" SF)

    4-star recruits: Goodluck Okonoboh (6'9" C)

     

    What they'll do well: Explode (in a good way)

    All three of UNLV's recruits are gifted athletes who seem capable of jumping out of the gym. Okonoboh's leaping ability will almost certainly turn into at least one season in which he leads the Mountain West Conference in blocked shots.

    The Rebels were the biggest movers since the last update by a long shot, thanks almost entirely to Vaughn's commitment in mid-February to play for them. The McDonald's All-American instantly made this one of the best classes in the country.

    In the game itself, Vaughn scored 14 points in 15 minutes and looked more than comfortable on the court against the best incoming freshmen in the country.

     

    Where they'll need work: Consistent shooting

    Vaughn and Morgan are both exceptional finishers at the rim, but their mid-range game could use some work. Okonoboh is a great defender in the paint, but his ability to put the ball in the net isn't anywhere near as advanced as his ability to keep opponents from doing so.

4. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Rankings: No. 6 in 247Sports, No. 5 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 4

    5-star recruits: D'Angelo Russell (6'5" SG)

    4-star recruits: Keita Bates-Diop (6'6" SF), Jae'Sean Tate (6'4" SF)

     

    What they'll do well: Score

    For each of the past two seasons, the question with Ohio State has been "where will the Buckeyes get their points?" With Lenzelle Smith Jr. and Aaron Craft graduating and LaQuinton Ross leaving a year early for the NBA, we'll be right back there again this year.

    The Buckeyes do have a great incoming transfer from Temple in Anthony Lee (13.6 PPG and 8.6 RPG for the Owls), but we'll likely be looking at Russell as the team's primary scorer. He took 10 shots in 15 minutes in the McDonald's All-American game, scoring 11 points and adding four assists.

    Both Bates-Diop and Tate have great touch at the rim and should benefit from Russell's style of play.

     

    Where they'll need work: Perimeter defense

    The Buckeyes certainly won't be replacing Craft's hard-nosed defense with any of these guys. Russell is incredible on the offensive end of the court, but his defense is a bit hit or miss. Bates-Diop and Tate have both been solid interior defenders in high school, but their height will likely force them to the wings, where they'll need to improve their on-ball defense.

3. Kentucky Wildcats

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    Rankings: No. 2 in 247Sports, No. 2 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 2

    5-star recruits: Karl Towns Jr. (7'1" C), Trey Lyles (6'9" PF)

    4-star recruits: Devin Booker (6'6" SG), Tyler Ulis (5'8" PG)

     

    What they'll do well: Athleticism

    All four of Kentucky's top recruits were on display in the McDonald's All-American game. Of the bunch, I was most impressed by Ulis. Not only was the little guy willing and able to navigate through the trees in the paint, but he had the audacity to try to draw a charge in an all-star game.

    Unless you're from Lexington, Ky., Kentucky is tough to cheer for, but I'll be rooting for Ulis next season.

    The other three guys are your standard freakishly athletic Kentucky players. Booker can and will score from anywhere on the court, and Towns Jr. has range well beyond the three-point line despite being over seven-feet tall.

     

    Where they'll need work: Strength

    Lyles and Towns Jr. are big guys who block shots and rebound well, but they could both benefit from a few more pounds of muscle. Towns Jr. in particular is built more like a Willie Cauley-Stein than a Julius Randle, but he will need to be able to battle in the paint in order to succeed at the collegiate level.

2. North Carolina Tar Heels

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    Rankings: No. 3 in 247Sports, No. 3 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 3

    5-star recruits: Justin Jackson (6'8" SF), Joel Berry (6'0" PG), Theo Pinson (6'6" SF)

    4-star recruits: None

     

    What they'll do well: Ball

    A Duke recruit won MVP honors at the McDonald's All-American game, but it was the incoming Tar Heels that stole the show. Pinson threw down the dunk of the night over Kansas' Kelly Oubre on the fast break. Jackson led all scorers with 23 points, shooting an incredible 11-of-14 from the field. Berry showcased some of his skills as well, hitting a three-pointer and dishing out four assists.

    With Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson definitely staying for another year, North Carolina is going to have one heck of a talented rotation.

     

    Where they'll need work: Secondary strengths

    In order to make a lasting impact at the collegiate level, the Tar Heels will need to be more than just one-trick ponies.

    Jackson has a fantastic mid-range game, but he could use some work as a ball-handler. For Berry, it's the exact opposite. And Pinson is an explosive athlete who can get to the rim against anyone in high school, but he'll need to develop a jump shot that opponents need to respect before he can excel as a dunker in college.

1. Duke Blue Devils

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    Rankings: No. 1 in 247Sports, No. 1 in ESPN

    Rank on 12/31: No. 1

    5-star recruits: Jahlil Okafor (6'10" C), Tyus Jones (6'2" PG), Justise Winslow (6'6" SF)

    4-star recruits: Grayson Allen (6'4" SG)

     

    What they'll do well: Provide incredible depth

    Allen won the slam dunk competition this past week, and Okafor was named MVP of the McDonald's All-American game. Jones had 10 assists in the game, and Winslow added nine points in just 13 minutes of action.

    Duke's talent cup runneth over, especially if Jabari Parker comes back for another season.

    Allen could go down in the annals of Duke three-point shooting history if he's even able to get playing time. Midway through the 2013-14 season, Mike Krzyzewski started employing a hockey mindset to basketball, frequently subbing out all five players at once. Expect more of the same this season, as Duke legitimately runs 10 guys deep.

     

    Where they'll need work: Perimeter defense

    Okafor will give Duke the shot-blocking presence in the paint that it hasn't had since the days of Shelden Williams and Josh McRoberts, but Allen and Jones leave something to be desired when it comes to defending opposing guards.

     

    Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.