The class of 2012 is full of storylines between the battle for the No. 1 spot, the fight for the best floor general and the question of who will finish with the best class in the country.
This crop of rising seniors is entrenched with elite big men with five of the top six recruits playing either power forward or center. From Andre Drummond to DaJuan Coleman to Mitch McGary, if your favorite team needs a quality big man, this is the year to nab one.
As Kyle Anderson, Marcus Paige (North Carolina) and Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell (Indiana) battle it out to be named the best point guard in the country, and Indiana and Villanova race ahead of the pack to get the No. 1 class, let's take a closer look at the top 25 college basketball recruits in the class of 2012.
Alex Poythress is a dynamic combo-forward who has good length and runs the floor well. He is an excellent rebounder, one of the best perimeter shooters of all the big men and is a very good finisher. He also passes and handles the ball very well for a forward and can be an effective shot-blocker.
The Tennessee native has the likes of Duke, Kentucky and Connecticut chasing after him, but seems to be high on the local schools such as Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Memphis and Louisville. He said in an interview recently that his favorite coaching staff is Vanderbilt's and said separately that he'll cut his list down to five soon.
L.J. Rose is a pure point guard who has great floor vision and excellent passing abilities. He isn’t the quickest or fastest guard but he uses his size well and has a high basketball IQ. He can also score when needed and has a reliable three-point shot. His ball-handling skills are very good too, which is one of the reasons he so good at dribble-penetration.
Rose had said that UCLA and Texas are the leaders in his recruitment but he is also considering Kansas, Baylor, Arizona and Memphis.
Tony Parker is a monster rebounder and low-block presence who also has good scoring abilities in the post. He is a great finisher who has unbelievable hands and has good touch around the basket. He also eats up a lot of space and is a good shot-blocker as well.
Parker recently said that Duke, Memphis and Ohio State are his top three, although Connecticut has recently made a big push for his services. He is also considering Kansas and Texas but it looks like he will either end up in Columbus or Memphis.
Grant Jerrett is an ever-improving big man who has decent size and great length, which allows him to be a good shot-blocker in the lane. He is one of the better scoring big men in the class since he has good moves on the block, a respectable outside shot and a good mid-range game. He has a variety of interior scoring moves he can get points off of which is why he has the potential to be a big-time scorer and has soft hands and good touch too.
Jerrett committed to Arizona last November and was recently joined by guard Gabe York. The Wildcats are also going after a couple of top-10 big men in power forward Brandon Ashley and center Kaleb Tarczewski.
Anthony Bennett has been one of the rising stars this summer and is a quality defender. He is a very tough, physical and aggressive prospect and attacks the offensive glass with no mercy. Bennett has the ability to step out and knock down the perimeter jump shot as well. He’s an all-around good player who continues to get better and utilizes his strength and size to his advantage.
Bennett is considering Connecticut, Kentucky, Oklahoma, West Virginia and UNLV among others. He says he will likely make a decision late next year, and that Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Connecticut, West Virginia and Florida are recruiting him the hardest.
Archie Goodwin was having a very good summer until a wrist injury interrupted it. He has great length and athleticism for the two-guard, which allows him to excel in rebounding and defense. He is a very good slasher and finisher once he gets into the lane. Also, although he is streaky, he has good range on his perimeter jump shot and has a pure shot. Goodwin simply has a solid all-around game, resulting in sufficient ball-handling skills and above-average rebounding abilities for the two-guard.
It looks like the Arkansas native's recruitment will come down to Arkansas and Kentucky, although other schools he is considering include Auburn, Connecticut, Kansas, Louisville, Memphis, North Carolina and Tennessee.
Amile Jefferson is very versatile due to his athleticism and length and he runs the floor very well. He rebounds, can slash to the basket and is able to finish through contact while also being capable of playing out on the perimeter. He can also knock down jump shots, be an effective shot-blocker and can defend both inside and out.
Jefferson listed Villanova, Miami, Wake Forest, West Virginia, UCLA and Stanford at the NBPA Top 100 Camp. Although, he also said he wants to visit Ohio State and North Carolina State, two schools he didn't list, and that he already visited Villanova and enjoyed it.
Gary Harris is an elite defender who has good strength and can handle the ball well. He has good size and length for a two-guard as well as good athleticism. He also has great three-point range and is a very good slasher who loves to get to the rim. What makes Harris such a great defender is his length which allows him to get his hands into passing lane, his athleticism that allows him to stay in front of his man and his body strength that keeps defenders out of the lane.
At the NBPA Top 100 Camp, Harris listed Indiana, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Louisville and Michigan. He also says Jeremy Hollowell and Yogi Ferrell are recruiting him to Indiana while Ronnie Johnson and Rapheal Davis are recruiting him to Purdue.
Justin Anderson is a freak athlete who gets to the rim at will and is unstoppable in the lane. He can get to the bucket whenever he wants to and finishes strong around the rim. He is also great in transition since he runs the floor extremely well and has good range on his three-point shot when he gets enough arc on it. Additionally, he has significantly improved his perimeter shooting which enabled him to make the jump into the top 20.
The Virginia-commit was once a verbal to Maryland but, once Gary Williams' staff left, Anderson knew he wanted to be a Cavalier. Anderson is joined by small forward Evan Nolte and center Michael Tobey.
Robert Carter is a very good post-player who has great size and strength. He is a great rebounder on both ends, has magnificent hands in the paint and has the ability to step out and be able to score (which separates him from a lot of other guys). He is also an aggressive scorer which is helped by the fact that he can consistently knock down the mid-range jumper. Carter has some of the best interior scoring moves in the country and can score against bigger, stronger, post-players or smaller and more athletic forwards.
Carter lists Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida, Florida State, North Carolina, Ohio State and Kentucky among others, but those look to be the key players in his recruitment. He has already visited Florida, Florida State, Georgia and Georgia Tech and says he wants to take a closer look at Ohio State and Kentucky, too.
Kevin Ferrell is a true point guard who has an excellent mid-range game and an even better defensive presence. He uses his speed and quickness to get into the lane where he consistently knocks down the mid-range jumper or uses his court vision to dish it to the open man. He also has great body control when he gets into the lane and he can hit the three-pointer with a hand in his face. Ferrell is a solid ball-handler and has good strength for the point as well, despite his small stature.
The Indiana-commit is a member of the top recruiting class in the country along with small forward Jeremy Hollowell, power forward Hanner Perea, center Peter Jurkin and shooting guard Ron Patterson. The Hoosiers are also looking to add shooting guard Gary Harris, power forward Mitch McGary, center A.J. Hammons and point guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera.
Marcus Paige is an ideal point guard who can create for his teammates, make excellent decisions and be an extension of the coach. He has excellent ball-handling skills as well as great speed and quickness which he uses to get by his defender. Once by his defender, he has a very nice mid-range game in which he can consistently hit the pull-up jumper. Paige is also a good passer and utilizes his quick hands and feet on defense to pick up steals.
The North Carolina-commit is joined by small forward J.P. Tokoto, and the Tar Heels are looking to sign other top prospects including small forward Shabazz Muhammad, centers DaJuan Coleman and Kaleb Tarczewski and small forward Marcus Smart. It's highly unlikely that North Carolina will land Muhammad or Coleman, but they do have a good chance with both Tarczewski and Smart.
Rasheed Sulaimon is an athletic, big-time scorer who can knock it down from behind the arc, pull up for a mid-range jumper or slash to the basket where he either kicks it out to the open man or finishes in the lane. He is always in attack mode whether he’s on offense or defense, and has a quick first step which allows him to get by his initial defender on a consistent basis where he can utilize his excellent mid-range game. Although he isn’t a great defender now, he has a lot of potential and looks to develop into a lock-down defender at the next level, given all his physical tools.
The Duke-commit is by far the most active recruiter among players, and among his top targets are power forward Tony Parker, point guard L.J. Rose and shooting guard Rodney Purvis. When I talk to any of these three guys, they all say the same thing: "Rasheed is always pushing Duke on me, non-stop, he's on a mission."
Jarnell Stokes is a very strong post-player who rebounds well and uses his big body to his advantage. He is a tough big-man who utilizes the base line where he consistently scores. He runs the floor well, plays good defense and has developed a quality mid-range jumper recently, too. Stokes is working on developing into a small forward for the collegiate and professional ranks; if he gets quicker laterally and is able to stay in front of athletic small forwards, then he will be a very dynamic player because of the strength and athleticism he already possesses. His work ethic is insatiable and he is one of the hardest workers in the class of 2012.
Stokes lists Arkansas, Memphis, Florida, Connecticut, Kentucky and Tennessee as his top six but Arkansas and Memphis look to be in the lead. Many Memphis fans worry that since Stokes is headed to Oak Hill, he may not want to stay in his hometown as much as people previously thought but he has specifically stated that he would like to stay in Memphis.
Cameron Ridley is one of the best rebounders in the class and plays with great toughness. He has great size and length and is a prolific scorer on the low-block. He is also an outstanding shot-blocker who often alters shots when opponents slash into the lane. He has a variety of post moves and has a great motor too, and finishes very well above the rim. If he continues to improve his conditioning he will be dangerous when running the floor.
The Texas-commit is the only recruit head coach Rick Barnes has reeled in so far, but Texas is also going hard after point guard L.J. Rose, small forward Marcus Smart, center Shaquille Cleare, point guard J-Mychal Reese and power forward Ricardo Gathers.
Kyle Anderson is easily the most intriguing player in the class of 2012 because he is a legitimate 6'8 but he plays the point guard position. This ultra-versatile "point forward" has great passing skills and court vision and has the ability to consistently create separation from his defender .He consistently makes smart decisions and has a very high basketball IQ and has the ability to consistently get in the lane because he uses his size and strength to get by defenders.
His final five schools include Florida, Seton Hall, St. John's, UCLA and Georgetown. He says his favorite coaching staff consists of the Seton Hall coaches and that he's planning on visiting Florida in September. He is set to make his decision September 20.
Kaleb Tarczewski is a mobile seven-footer who has good shot-blocking ability and great rebounding skills. His offensive rebounding in particular is excellent which keeps the possession alive for his team and allows him to score a lot of put-back points. He also uses the up-and-under move in the post very well and pump-fakes in general. He has good hands and balance too, which helps him on the block.
Tarczewski is considering North Carolina, Kansas, Duke, Arizona, Connecticut, Kentucky, West Virginia and Indiana, with North Carolina, Arizona and Kansas making up his top three. He has already visited each school in his top three.
Ricardo Ledo is a big-time player who can score in a plethora of ways and is just slightly behind Rodney Purvis (No. 7) for the title of best guard in the country. He is an underrated passer who can make big plays in clutch situations. Ledo is a good shooter and slasher as well, and has good ball-handling skills. He is able to consistently create space to get his shot off, whether it's a spin move or something else, for both his perimeter shots and mid-range jumpers.
He is currently considering Connecticut, Kentucky, Syracuse, Kansas, Providence and Louisville, but from what he's been saying lately he looks like he could be a Kentucky lean. He was previously committed to Providence in December but he later de-committed the next month in January.
Rodney Purvis is an explosive player on both offense and defense and is the best guard in his class. He is very quick and athletic which he uses to be an excellent slasher and excels at both the point and the two since he is a big-time scorer and great passer with good floor vision. He also is dangerous since he nearly always scores or dishes it off for an assist when he gets into the lane and has the ability to make the acrobatic finish. He has a respectable mid-range jumper and has shown the ability to knock down perimeter shots with great range.
Purvis is down to Duke, Missouri and North Carolina State and it looks like he will be staying in the state of North Carolina for college. He committed to Louisville last December, but de-committed in May because of the departure of Tim Fuller, who now coaches at Missouri.
Unlike most high school big men in the country, DaJuan Coleman has the strength and post-scoring ability that is already good enough for the college ranks. He also has good hands and footwork that a big man needs and is surprisingly athletic for his 6’9”, 290-pound frame. His shot-blocking ability is solid for size and length and he has good arc and touch on his hook shots as well.
Coleman is considering Syracuse, Kentucky, Ohio State, UConn, North Carolina, Villanova, Arizona, Texas, Kansas and Florida. However, Syracuse and Kentucky are the two clear leaders—but, if I had to pick, I would predict that Coleman stays home at Syracuse.
Brandon Ashley is the best combo-forward in the class of 2012 and has a lot of potential. He is very versatile and can score in multiple ways whether it’s a short jumper, post-up move or drive to the basket. He also runs the floor very well and is a good shot-blocker due to his length. Ashley is a smart and savvy basketball player too, which not only benefits him but his teammates as well.
Ashley recently cut his list down to Arizona, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Oregon, Syracuse, UCLA and Texas. Location isn't a factor for him, but he is looking for the opportunity to immediately play on a talented squad.
Mitch McGary's stock has soared throughout the past few months and he is one of the top prospects in the country now. He has one of the best motors in the country and his game heavily benefits because his hustle opens up opportunities that wouldn't otherwise exist. He also has excellent shot-blocking abilities as well as great footwork and a good presence of mind. McGary displays a variety of interior scoring moves too, and consistently knocks down mid-range jumpers. In addition, he rebounds, handles the ball well and creates scoring opportunities for his teammates effectively.
He is pretty open in his recruitment, but some of the schools he is considering includes Maryland, North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Connecticut, Texas and Arizona. He says Maryland is "definitely recruiting him the hardest" and also mentions Connecticut, Florida, Texas, West Virginia, Kansas and Kentucky as coming after him hard.
Isaiah Austin is similar to class of 2012 center Andre Drummond in the sense that he is a seven-footer and has the perimeter skills of a wing player. For his size, he has outstanding ball-handling skills and slashing ability, causing him to be a nightmare matchup. He has a good low-post game as well, and is a great rebounder and shot-blocker. He can also make the perimeter shot.
The Baylor-commit is the lone Bear in the class of 2012, but Baylor is also going after point guards Nino Jackson and J-Mychal Reese, shooting guard Katin Reinhardt, small forward Danuel House and center Shaquille Cleare.
Andre Drummond is one of the top prospects in the class of 2012. He has an unbelievable combination of size, athleticism and skill that rarely occurs and can be compared to Amar'e Stoudemire. He has the low-post game and rebounding ability to be an elite big-man but also has the ball-handling, quickness and athleticism to excel on the perimeter. He is able to shoot the short jumper or drive the ball and is an amazing finisher given he is close to seven feet tall and a great athlete. Drummond is also an excellent offensive rebounder and shot-blocker and is a good passer, although he is usually able to score even when facing double-teams.
Although Drummond is widely considered a Connecticut lean, he's also considering North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky and Florida. He's been very quiet in terms of talking to the media about his recruitment and has even been tight-lipped to coaches. There were rumors that he would re-classify to the class of 2011, but they aren't true. He also has the possibility of skipping college and going straight to the NBA because he would in fact be eligible (yes, that's a real possibility).
Shabazz Muhammad is an athletic impact-player who has a great motor and an unbelievable post- and mid-range game. Inside the arc, he is nearly impossible to guard since he has a nice mid-range jumper and is a very good slasher. He is also has an excellent post-game for a wing player which allows him to score on the low block against guys if he has trouble on the perimeter. However, the thing that slides him into the top 5 is his potential to lock down guys on defense. He uses his athleticism and quickness to stay in front of his man and to alter shots very effectively and should continue to develop into a defensive threat.
Muhammad is considering UCLA, Duke, Kentucky, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Memphis and UNLV. His hometown school in UNLV is a real possibility and the Rebel fans have shown how much they want him. One die-hard fan even created a fake Nike commercial featuring Muhammad in a UNLV jersey (see here).