College Basketball Recruiting: Dream Package Deals from the 2015 Class
On the heels of Duke’s success in landing both Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, package deals have become a major storyline in college basketball recruiting.
Although few high school stars will actually wind up tying their college selection to that of a friend as Okafor and Jones did, the chance to get two elite prospects for the price of one is tough to pass up for a coach—and tough to ignore for fans speculating on how to secure the best class.
One such hypothetical pairing could see two of the nation’s most celebrated big men arrive on the same campus, with Stephen Zimmerman and Chase Jeter forming a potential package. The two high-powered centers have already shown that they can play together effectively for Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High, so continuing their partnership at the next level wouldn’t be too much of a reach.
Read on for more on the twin-towers possibilities for Zimmerman and Jeter, along with a half-dozen more package deals (announced or imagined) that might come out of the class of 2015. Note that only uncommitted players were considered for these packages, and that (in the interest of variety) only one suggested package is discussed for any given player, though other possibilities often exist.
Jalen Brunson and Isaiah Briscoe
Jalen Brunson, the nation’s top-ranked point guard recruit, according to ESPN, would be a great start for any collegiate backcourt.
Adding an elite scorer such as Isaiah Briscoe, a 6’3” sparkplug of a shooting guard, would turn the recruiting class into a ready-made offensive makeover.
Even better, from a college coaching standpoint, the two perimeter stars are getting experience playing together as they compete for Team USA at this weekend’s U18 championships.
There’s no guarantee, of course, that their national-team experience will translate into a recruiting package, but a school pursuing both prospects (such as UConn) wouldn't exactly mind, either.
Thomas Bryant and Montaque Gill-Caesar
The short history of Huntington Prep’s vaunted hoops program hasn’t seen its alumni stick together at the college level, but then, most of the West Virginia powerhouse’s top graduates are looking to be "The Man" on their new teams.
Thomas Bryant, the most celebrated senior-to-be on the current Huntington roster, is a 6’10” power forward with top-notch rebounding skills, but he’s also so sufficiently unassuming that he might be willing to share the spotlight with a talented classmate.
Montaque “Teki” Gill-Caesar is one of the more impressive athletes in the 2015 ranks, a 6’5” swingman whose dunking prowess rivals that of Huntington predecessor Andrew Wiggins.
One program in the running for both talents, unsurprisingly, is nearby West Virginia, where Bob Huggins would be glad to find playing time for the two stars if they did opt to play together as collegians.
Tyler Davis and D.J. Hogg
Tyler Davis hasn’t yet gotten to suit up for Plano West since transferring there last year, but he’s already had plenty of time to get to know D.J. Hogg.
The two AAU rivals-turned-teammates will be sharing the court for Plano West next season, and they’ve discussed the possibility of doing the same at the college level, Davis told SNY.tv (h/t Matt Jessen-Howard of ZagsBlog), perhaps at Baylor or Arizona.
Davis, a gargantuan center at 6’10” and 270 pounds, is the more coveted prospect, but Hogg would make an awfully appealing perimeter partner for the big man.
At 6’7”, the small forward is a big-time shooter who could punish opponents for double-teaming the post against Davis’ size.
Tyler Dorsey and Ray Smith
Tyler Dorsey and Ray Smith aren’t even the highest-rated prospects on their own Dream Vision AAU team, an honor that goes to center Chase Jeter.
Of course, that says more about the talent level of the San Diego-based hoops squad than any deficiency in its athletic perimeter stars.
Dorsey, a 6’4” combo guard, has the more varied (and more explosive) offensive game, while the 6’8” Smith is a tougher defender and an outstanding rebounder from the wing.
Neither has said anything about continuing to play together in college, but they'd look awfully good in the Pac-12, where programs such as Arizona and UCLA are interested in both wings.
Stephen Zimmerman and Chase Jeter
The biggest danger in recruiting multiple top-tier big men at once is that they’ll get in each other’s way if they try to play together.
That wouldn’t be an issue for Stephen Zimmerman and Chase Jeter, who have shared the court to great effect at Bishop Gorman High (though they’ve said nothing about sticking together in the future).
Zimmerman, the taller of the two at 7’0”, is nonetheless more likely to play up high, using his superior jump shot and outstanding mobility to pressure slower centers.
The 6'10" Jeter, for his part, is an improving back-to-the-basket scorer who also does serious damage as a rebounder. Nearby at UNLV or further afield at Kansas, there are plenty of programs that would love to find room for both post presences.
Jaylen Brown and Allonzo Trier
Allonzo Trier has spent the spring rewriting the scoring records in Nike’s EYBL, one of the nation’s top AAU leagues. Jaylen Brown is the best perimeter defender in the class of 2015.
That kind of offense-defense pairing doesn’t come along very often, and any coach would jump at the chance to land it in one recruiting swoop.
The two superstar wings are getting a chance to appreciate each other’s games this weekend, as they both compete for Team USA in the U18 Championships.
If that experience did turn into a package deal in recruiting, a program such as Louisville or Kansas could reap major dividends.
Diamond Stone and Malik Newman
Although there are rumblings that it may not last, per Jeff Ermann of InsideMDSports.com (via Raphielle Johnson of College Basketball Talk), the first package deal to come to light in the 2015 class is still the most impressive.
If Diamond Stone and Malik Newman really do land at the same program, they’ll be enough to generate a competitive offense by themselves.
The unlikely pair became friends with the U16 edition of Team USA in 2013, and their interest in playing together in the future has every elite program from Kentucky to North Carolina salivating.
That's hardly surprising, as Stone’s polished offensive game on a 6’10”, 250-pound frame and Newman’s ability to create his own shots are assets that no other prospect in the class can match.