2010 College Basketball Recruits: Elite Eight Impact Freshman
While the majority of next year’s recruiting class is busy preparing for campus life, a few top recruits have yet to make a decision. Among this group of undecided players includes No. 1 overall recruit, Brandon Knight, along with C.J. Leslie and Josh Selby.
This list isn’t a simple rundown of the eight most talented players, sans the three aforementioned prospects. Instead, I’ve chosen kids with the best chance of making a significant impact as a freshman.
Notably absent from this list are a pair of Memphis and North Carolina Top 10 recruits. For the Tigers it’s Jelan Kendrick and Will Barton. The other two are Tarheels commitments Reggie Bullock and Harrison Barnes.
Granted, it’s foolish not to think these kids will have a major influence on the program’s success next year. However, they are heading to rosters of other young All-American talents so the potential for significant impact is somewhat lessened.
One player not listed but who would instantly jump to the No. 1 ranking on this list based on his final decision is Ray McCallum Jr. (Detroit Country Day High School – Beverly Hills, MI).
The explosive scorer and floor general had major offers from top teams but it’s ultimately come down to heading across the country to UCLA or staying home and playing for his Dad at the long dormant, but historically-rich program at University of Detroit Mercy.
Ryan Harrow – North Carolina State (PG / 6-0 / 160)
The Wolfpack are primed to make one of the biggest turnarounds next year after going 5-11 in the ACC last season.
A big part of that is because of the addition of the super-scoring abilities of Harrow. His senior year averages (32.4 PPG, 6.3 AST) in a talented conference were enough to earn the extremely quick point guard the Gatorade Player of the Year award in Georgia this year.
While Javier Gonzales enters his final year for N.C. State, Sidney Lowe might slowly work Harrow into the rotation. I’d like to see him add at least 10 pounds to his small frame before the season but what he lacks in size he more than compensates with lightning-fast moves on the court.
One of my favorite aspects to his game which stand out on film and on his stat line is his 3.5 steals per game. A point guard’s ability to pick pockets is a grossly underrated aspect of the floor general’s overall skill-set and Harrow can do it with the best of them.
Patric Young – Florida (PF / 6-9 / 225)
Billy Donovan’s most important acquisition in a long time is the home state recruit many refer to as “Baby Dwight Howard”.
Young is going to be one of the top defensive players in the nation when his college career is all said and done. Despite the comparisons to a young Howard, I think his approach and performance is closer to Detroit Pistons crowd-favorite, Ben Wallace—but with more offensive upside.
He’s humble, aggressive and explosive near the rim. Florida’s coaching staff will coach up his low-post moves offensively but he should provide an impact early and often his first year in Gainesville clogging the lanes defensively.
On film, he ascends so quickly on dunks or blocked shots, it’s as if he’s on a pogo stick. With leading rebounder and shot-blocker Alex Tyus reportedly skipping his final year to enter the draft, Young will be given ample opportunity to show off his stuff to the Gators faithful in 2010.
Even though Gators fans are bummed over the recent de-commit of 2011 Top 10 talent, Austin Rivers, they can ease some of that knowing a player like Young is on his way.
Nate Lubick – Georgetown (PF / 6-9 / 230)
The Hoyas will likely be without sophomore power forward, Greg Monroe, to the NBA. Far from a finished product, he led Georgetown in rebounding and shots blocked which puts him on the radar of teams looking for a big man.
However, his departure earns Lubick, a Southborough, Massachusetts native, a spot on this list.
Coaches and scouts love his intangibles as much as the sheer skill he provides. A fiery competitor skilled at both ends of the floor, Lubick sets the tempo with his toughness, hustle and desire. He will man up against anybody in the post and make that opponent earn every inch of room.
What makes Lubick truly unique though is an ability to potentially dictate—or confuse—opponents defensive formations as he can step outside and knock down mid-to-long range jumpers all day.
I see a worst-case scenario as an above average-to-good sixth man and best-case as a slightly bigger version of Purdue forward, Robbie Hummel.
Perry Jones – Baylor (C / 6-11 / 230)
Baylor is losing a lot of firepower from their impressive ’09 season in probable first-round picks Ekpe Udoh, a former Michigan Wolverines transfer, and LaceDarius Dunn.
Beyond the production, they will definitely miss the heart, soul and leadership of Tweety Carter, the Bears senior point guard and catalyst of the resurgence of Baylor basketball under Coach Scott Drew, who, ironically enough, is a Butler grad.
Jones commitment is absolutely crucial for a suddenly solid Baylor program that could have easily returned to mediocrity without landing a recruit of his caliber.
He’s continued to grow during his senior season and is now a seven-footer with the ability to run the floor and score or defend on the blocks or along the perimeter.
If Longhorns fans are beginning to tense up, it’s for good reason. Losing out on a Texas kid to in-state Baylor is one thing. But when it’s a Top Five prospect that can seemingly play every position on the floor with a shot-blocking 87 inch wingspan—they should be very concerned.
Adreian Payne – Michigan State (PF-C / 6-10 / 225)
This Dayton, Ohio native is heading north to East Lansing to join an already talented Final Four team. The Spartans front-court immediately turns from good to great with this explosive athlete who plays above the rim.
Draymond Green and Derrick Nix give Tom Izzo considerable bulk in the paint. But the majority of games last season saw the Spartans often struggle against the interior post players of other teams.
There isn’t much Payne can’t do on a basketball court but a couple reports question his intensity and effort. Spartans fans needn’t worry though because Izzo will nip that in the bud early on as he molds Payne into a dark horse Big Ten Rookie of the Year.
Fabricio “Fab” Melo – Syracuse (C / 7-0 / 275)
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A season in which the Orangemen went from unranked preseason has-beens to an eventual spot atop the Top 25 culminated with a No. 1 seed in the tourney. Considering their Sweet 16 showdown was a narrow loss to national runner-up Butler, Syracuse isn’t going to fly under the radar in 2010.
Sure, they lose Wes Johnson, their leading scorer, rebounder, and future Top Five lottery pick. But, coach Jim Boeheim—fresh off his Naismith Coach of the Year award—added one of the most promising, and charismatic, recruits in this class.
With only one year of organized basketball under his belt, the happy-go-lucky Brazilian has barely started to scratch the surface of his enormous potential.
He’s still learning some of the nuances of the game but he’s hard to stop in the post and his mere size alone is going to be a factor teams will need to plan around. Melo adds even more imposing size to a young front-court which already includes 2009 recruit from Detroit, Michigan native, DaShonte Riley.
Both underclassmen give Boeheim a pair of talented seven-footers next year.
I imagine his greatest impact coming on the defensive end next season which Syracuse needs considering Johnson was also their best defender.
Jereme Richmond – Illinois (SF / 6-6 / 195)
The prize of Bruce Weber’s 2010 class is small forward Jereme Richmond from Waukegan, Illinois. Richmond has been a Fighting Illini recruit nearly four years since verbally committing after his first high school game. He’s a versatile wing player who excels at nearly every aspect of the game.
The Illinois Mr. Basketball award-winner looked very good during the 2010 McDonald’s All-American game with 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting with three rebounds and a pair of assists in only 18 minutes of action.
Richmond has an unusually high basketball IQ often demonstrated by his tendency to do the little things on the court. He instantly gives Webber a lockdown defender capable of handling quicker perimeter players and as a shot-blocking force on backside help down low.
He’s going to contribute right away to Illinois’ motion offense that can also fly through the air or step out and knock down the three.
Jared Sullinger – Ohio State (PF / 6-8 / 265)
The Buckeyes have had their eye on “Sully” for a while. Not surprising considering the Columbus, Ohio native was practically dominating the high school level in their backyard. He’s a back-to-back winner of Ohio’s Mr. Basketball award and took home the 2010 Naismith National Player of the Year award too.
Sullinger will instantly be one of Ohio State’s top three players as he brings a ridiculous amount of rebounding tenacity and scoring touch in the paint.
Look for the potentially dominating defensive dynamo to take home 2010 Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors while leading Thad Motta’s team to challenge Michigan State for the No. 1 spot in the conference.
He also took home MVP honors for the East time at the recent McDonald’s All-American game.