The Top 15 Mid-Major Recruiting Classes of 2009
While teams like Kentucky, UNC, Villanova, and other power programs stole the limelight this offseason, mid-majors assembled stellar recruiting classes of their own.
Of course, none were filled with one-and-done superstars, but maybe that's not such a bad thing.
Inside this slideshow you will find the top 15 mid-major recruiting classes of 2009.
No. 15 Valparaiso
After losing three of his top five scorers to graduation, Valpo coach Homer Drew signed four high school seniors and two junior college players to complete the Crusaders' recruiting class of 2009.
Most important get: 6'1" point guard Tommy Kurth from Penn High School in Mishawaka, IN.
Although his ESPN rating of 83 is the lowest of Drew's incoming freshmen, Kurth offers his coach something that he hasn't had in a while: a true point guard.
ESPN says Kurth is adept at many aspects of the game, primarily passing and defending.
Highest rated recruit: 6'8" power forward Chris Halvorson from Henry Sibley High School in Minneapolis, MN.
Based on numerous reports, Halvorson, rated 86 by ESPN, is an athletic big man who is still not fully developed and is highly rated because of his potential.
The rest: Ryan Broekhoff, Matt Kenney, Brandon Wood, and Milos Milosevic.
No. 14 Virginia Commonwealth
It's pretty hard for a mid-major coach to replace a star like Eric Maynor, but Virginia Commonwealth's Shaka Smart did a pretty good job by signing in-state stud Darius Theus.
Ranked as the No. 21 point guard in the class, Theus is supposedly a real talent. ESPN says the 6'4" floor general has a superb basketball IQ, a knack for putting his teammates in good scoring positions, an ability to shoot over smaller guards from mid-range, and a quick pair of hands on defense.
It'll be hard for a freshman to come in and perform at the same level as Maynor, but it sounds like Smart will receive immediate solid play from his new point guard.
Troy Daniels, a 6'4" shooting guard from Roanoke's William Fleming High School, shot 40 percent from long range as a high school senior and has a high basketball IQ.
Unfortunately for the shooting guard, he will likely not see too many minutes early on because of eligible transfer Jay Gavin and rising junior Joey Rodriguez, both of whom are established two-guards.
Smart also landed Findlay Prep's point guard, Isaiah Grayson, during the summer.
Grayson, who played the one for the No. 1 prep school, is very quick, pressures the ball on defense, and has a high IQ on offense.
He will likely play backup to Theus.
No. 13 Akron
The Akron Zips only needed one commitment and they got a great one. Zeke Marshall, the ninth best center in the class of 2009, will be the Zips' starting center from day one next season.
ESPN says defense is Marshall's strength because of his size and leaping ability, but it also claims that the 6'11" center has the potential to be a low-post threat if he builds up his legs.
No. 12 Long Beach State
The Big West will be up for grabs in 2009-10 as Cal-State Northridge and Pacific each lost a handful of key players to graduation.
Long Beach State lost top scorer Donovan Morris and Cornel Williams, but they have the players to fill the voids and will add depth with Kyle Richardson, Jules Montgomery, Lin Chang, and Tristan Wilson.
With the exception of Wilson, the incoming freshmen will compete with the returning players for starting positions. ESPN rated Richardson 89, Montgomery 87, and Chang 85, all ratings that are considered high for the Big West.
No. 11 Georgia State
Georgia State is coming off a miserable 12-20 season, but the addition of Rashanti Harris, a 6'8" power forward rated 93 by ESPN, should enhance the Panthers' ability to win.
They lose Rashad Chase, their leading rebounder, but Harris's specialty is cleaning up the glass, especially on the offensive end.
The scouts say that he needs to improve his low-post offensive game in order to be considered a premiere power forward, but his exceptional defense makes up for what he currently lacks on offense.
Harris was recruited by Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Florida, and Texas before signing with Georgia State.
The Panthers will also bring in James Vincent, a raw post player who provides size inside. Scouts say he does not have much talent but he is an aggressive defender.
Junior college transfers Mi'kyel Nero and Jamar Taylor round out the Panthers' class.
No. 10 Radford
Brad Greenberg assembled a recruiting class that should improve Radford's chances of returning to the Big Dance next year.
6'7" power forward Tommy Spagnolo supposedly flew under the radar, enabling Radford to steal him, his athleticism, and his strong defensive presence.
ESPN rated Spagnolo 85. Unfortunately for Spagnolo, he will likely need to wait until his sophomore year to be an everyday starter because of established big men Artsiom Parakhouski and Joey Lynch-Flohr.
Tolga Cerrah and Jamal Curry are two other power forwards in the class. They will probably take a backseat to Spagnolo and the two prominent big men.
The Highlanders already have experienced starting guards, but they bring in two shooting guards and two combo guards to add depth to their backcourt.
Evan Faulkner and Gorkem Sonmez are the combos and Michael Wooten and Blake Smith are the twos.
Radford will be very dangerous next year because Coach Greenberg added lots of talented depth to a team that has already succeeded.
No, 9 Drake
Drake returns four of its top five scorers, but loses depth.
Second year coach Mark Phelps hopes for an improvement from last season and his chances of exceeding last year's sub-par record went up with each of the five recruits he signed.
Reece Uhlenhopp, a defensive-minded power forward, is the highest rated of the group. The scouts say that his defense is the best part of his game, but he is strong in the offensive post and has good eyes for his teammates.
Aaron Hawley, a perimeter shooter with a deep understanding of basketball, is a 6'7" small forward who will provide the Bulldogs with points from mid-range and beyond the arc. Coach Phelps used his Arizona connections to land Hawley.
Phelps also added another sharp-shooting small forward in Ben Simons.
Shooting guard David Smith and power forward Seth Van Deest round out Drake's class.
No. 8 Loyola Marymount
If you're wondering why any highly rated recruits would sign with a Loyola Marymount team that suffered a 3-28 2008-09 season, the reason is simple.
The Lions are loaded with young talent, which began to develop last year. Of the top six scorers from last year's abysmal team, only one was a senior; the team was primarily led by one sophomore and four freshmen.
Rising junior and top scorer Vernon Teel will be accompanied by the 28th best shooting guard, Given Kalipinde.
According to reports, Kalipinde has many assets to offer the Lions. At 6'3", he is a combo guard with great scoring ability from all over the floor, exceptional court vision, and good defensive skills.
Kalipinde will likely be inserted into the starting lineup in the backcourt with Teel and Jarred DuBois.
Quincy Lawson, the No. 38 small forward, might not make the starting five immediately.
The scouts say that he is rated so high because of upside rather than present skill, but he averaged 23 points, seven rebounds, and five blocks in his senior season.
Expect him to make an impact off the bench as Coach Max Good will work to improve Lawson's jumpshot and teach him to play small forward.
Edgar Garibay, a 6'10" center, is a bit soft inside, but his value is high because of his ability to knock down mid and long range jumpers. Garibay was also recruited by Marquette and UConn.
Although his ESPN rating of 78 is the lowest in the Lions' class, Alex Osborne is a very solid rebounder who will be able to help the team clean up on the glass.
No. 7 Western Kentucky
Despite already having two guard-forwards, Western Kentucky coach Ken McDonald chose to bring in another.
Jordan Swing is that other.
According to reports, Swing is a scorer who can work on his defense. He is ranked as the 32nd best small forward in this class and is rated 89 by ESPN.com.
William Green is too thin to be a power-forward and doesn't have all the skills required of a small forward. However, his athleticism enables him to be an effective scorer, rebounder, and shot-blocker. Green was given a rating of 87 by ESPN.com.
Caden Dickerson is a combo guard who scores in every manner. Scouts say he has a good basketball IQ and that his defense is special.
Power forwards David Laury and Cliff Dixon are the two remaining pieces of the class.
The de-commitment from highly-rated shooting-guard Terrence Boyd caused WKU to fall from No. 3 to its current standing.
No. 6 Santa Clara
Santa Clara graduated one senior and will add four freshmen. Not such a bad deal, right?
Kind of. John Bryant and his 18 points, 14 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game are not easy to replace, but the Broncos will benefit from the four incoming freshmen.
6'7" power forward Niyi Harrison headlines this class. Rated 89 by ESPN, Harrison will assume the power forward role as Marc Tasolini shifts to center. Harrison can score off the drive or from outside and he is an established rebounder.
Robert Smith, rated 86 by ESPN, is a powerful point guard without a jump shot. His bulky frame enables him to pervade traffic and finish in the lane. Scouts say he has an ankle-breaking crossover and that he should be very valuable to the Broncos.
According to reports, center Chris Cunningham and shooting guard Raymond Cowels will each be valuable bench players as freshmen.
No. 5 Delaware
Delaware signing a player rated as high as Devon Saddler is about as rare as a hen actually being blue.
Having suffered five consecutive losing seasons, Delaware hopes this recruiting class will point the Blue Hens in the right direction.
Saddler is a combo guard who will primarily play the one at Delaware. He is extremely quick, good at getting into the lane, and can finish, but he lacks a consistent perimeter shot. Reports say he is an effective defender.
Delaware graduated its top scorer and its two best rebounders, and forward Josh Brinkley is the only recruit capable of ameliorating both aspects.
At 6'6" and 230 pounds, Brinkley is huge and uses his size to get position, rebound, and score. Brinkley will do the bulk of his scoring with his back to the basket, but he can also step out to about 17 feet and knock down a jumper.
Malcolm Hawkins, rated 87 by ESPN, is a good defender, but he is primarily an offensive talent. His three-point shot is a strength and he can also score off the drive. Hawkins is a 6'6" shooting guard/small forward who will get minutes from day one.
Power forward Jamelle Hagins and center Keion Palmer each offer their own specialties to Delaware, but neither are as talented as Saddler, Brinkley, or Hawkins.
No. 4 Ohio
Ohio's most important signing is that of Ivo Baltic, a 6'7" power forward who can score. Baltic plays in the high post and can score off the drive or the mid-range jumpshot.
He is not as effective of a rebounder as Jerome Tillman, who graduated after last season, but he has the size to grab boards.
D.J. Cooper will replace graduated senior point guard Michael Allen. Cooper is six feet tall and lightning quick.
Although he plays the one and is an exceptional passer, he can also score off the drive or three when he is asked to do so. Cooper is a great signing for the Bobcats, who were in desperate need of a point guard.
Marquis Horne is not the best defender, but he is adept at scoring inside. A 6'7" combo forward, Horne can also shoot from beyond the arc; however, he needs to improve his consistency.
Reggie Keely has not reached the peak of his potential yet. Reports say that he lacks good hands and post moves, but if he can develop those aspects, he can be effective in years to come for the Bobcats.
The final recruit, James Kinney, is supposedly an excellent scorer. He can shoot the three or score off the drive. He is also able to read the defense and knows how to draw two defenders to open up a teammate.
No. 3 Illinois State
Headlined by Terry Johnson Jr., Illinois State's recruiting class is one of the deepest of 2009.
Johnson Jr. is a point guard with a good head and overall skills on both ends of the floor. Because senior Lloyd Phillips is still around, Johnson Jr. will split time this year before becoming the Redbirds' number one point guard.
As Osiris Eldridge heads into his senior season, Illinois State needs to prepare to replace its top returning scorer.
6'4" shooting guard Justin Clark will have one year to learn under Eldridge and will presumably take over at the two following Eldridge's departure. Clark's best talent is his lock-down defense, but he is also a good scorer with long arms.
Heavily recruited by schools a level higher than ISU, 6'9" Jackie Carmichael has game-changing rebounding. He is very skilled at getting position, grabbing the board, and sending an outlet pass downcourt.
The scouts are very high on Zeke Upshaw, a 6'6" small forward who can score and rebound.
They say Upshaw is a dangerous shooter and can hit shots behind the three-point arc, and he is also defensive-minded.
Small forward Jon Ekey and junior college transfer Austin Hill round out the Redbirds' recruiting class of 2009.
No. 2 George Mason
This class, topped by Sherrod Wright and Johnnie Williams, is absolutely stacked with talent.
According to reports, Wright has plenty to improve, specifically on his jumpshot. However, his athletic ability is superior, especially at a mid-major level, and he should be able to develop because of his athleticism.
He is a very quick shooting guard who can score, even with an unusual release on his jumpshot. I've seen Wright play; he is a very capable defender.
Williams is a strong power forward who, unlike the majority of the power forwards in this top 15 list, already knows how to produce off the low post.
He does the majority of his scoring from the block because he is able to play with his back to the basket. Williams is also a good rebounder and defender.
6'5" small forward Luck Hancock is a long-range sharpshooter who can also score off of put-backs.
Shooting guard Rashad Whack is also an accurate shooter from deep, but, unlike Hancock, he can create for himself. Whack's defense is nothing special yet, but scouts think he will be able to develop under coach Jim Larranaga.
Vertrail Vaughns is a combo guard who is strong and quick. It appears that Vaughns would be most effective in a run and gun offensive system, as he is adept at leading breaks.
Even in traffic in a half-court offense, Vaughns is able to penetrate and find an open teammate for a score. The scouts claim that Vaughns is an excellent on the ball defender.
Paris Bennett, the lowest rated recruit in the class, is undersized for his skill set. He is a power-forward in a small-forward's body, and his lack of size has prevented him from reaching his full potential.
Nonetheless, programs like Penn State and Siena wanted him.
No. 1 Gonzaga
Austin Daye's replacement: Kelly Olynyk. At 6'10" Olynyk's primary position is small forward, but he can play the four or two, as well. He is a shooter, a scorer, and a solid rebounder, which is proven by his 35 ppg and 13 rpg as a high school senior.
Olynyk's versatility will likely lead to lots of minutes as a freshman.
Scouts who saw Samuel Dower at the Timberwolves Shootout concluded that he has tremendous potential. His defense is his strength, but Dower can also score from anywhere on the floor; however, his offensive strength is a jump hook.
The scouts also said that he will be valuable to Gonzaga because he is exceptionally talented at sensing when to kick a pass out to the wing from the post.
G.J. Vilarino will probably fill in at point guard for the graduated Jeremy Pargo. Vilarino doesn't have much of a scoring touch, but what he lacks in producing himself he provides for others.
His court vision is supposedly superb and he is extremely quick, so he will be able to get the ball to his teammates in opportune situations.
Mangisto Arop is the most athletic member of Mark Few's 2009 class. He is 6'6", has a large wingspan, and uses his length well. Arop uses his vertical leap to his advantage when taking mid-range jumpers and his length when defending the ball.
Another solid get for Few.