CBB Recruiting 2017: Ranking 10 Best Classes After McDonald's All-American Game

Scott Phillips@@phillipshoopsFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2017

CBB Recruiting 2017: Ranking 10 Best Classes After McDonald's All-American Game

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    Nick Richards (Kentucky) and Wendell Carter (Duke)
    Nick Richards (Kentucky) and Wendell Carter (Duke)Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    With high school senior all-star games being played over the next few weeks, recruiting for the class of 2017 is starting to finish up as colleges prepare for next season.

    Most of the nation's top 4- and 5-star prospects have already pledged for next season, giving us a good idea of which teams have the best recruiting classes.

    While the Duke versus Kentucky one-and-done recruiting wars continue in 2017, other familiar faces appear near the top of this year's classes (Arizona and UCLA), as do some newcomers who are trying to make a push by landing top-flight talent (Alabama and Illinois).

    What follows is a look at the top 10 college basketball recruiting classes at the end of March. There are still enough uncommitted prospects to change these rankings over the next several weeksincluding the six uncommitted McDonald's All-Americansbut most of these teams should feel good heading into next season. 

    These top class rankings are based on overall quality of talent, number of commitments and number of immediate impact players. Players with 5-star status pull a little more weight with these recruiting rankings as they are the kind of prospects who help programs immediately compete for titles.

10. Illinois

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    Rankings: No. 9 in Scout.com, No. 10 in 247Sports composite

    5-Star Recruits: Jeremiah Tilmon (6'10" C)

    4-Star Recruits: Trent Frazier (6'1" PG), Da'Monte Williams (6'2" SG)

    What they'll do well: Perimeter depth

    Illinois has struggled to find consistent guard play over the past few seasons, but this class should help immensely in that category.

    Frazier might be able to split point guard responsibilities with rising sophomore guard Te'Jon Lucas, while Williams and 3-star recruit Javon Pickett give the Fighting Illini additional guards with upside for the future.

    Where they'll need work: Rebounding

    Adding an in-state 5-star center like Tilmon will help Illinois on the interior, but this class doesn't have much size outside of the East St. Louis native.

    With the Illini losing senior big men like Maverick Morgan and Mike Thorne from last season's team, they could be thin up front over the next few seasons if they don't recruit more help.

    Tilmon is one of the better rebounders in the class of 2017, but he won't have much frontcourt help around him from the returning roster or this recruiting class.

9. Xavier

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    Rankings: No. 8 in Scout.com, No. 9 in 247Sports composite

    5-Star Recruits: None

    4-Star Recruits: Elias Harden (6'5" SG), Naji Marshall (6'6" SF), Paul Scruggs (6'4" SG)

    What they'll do well: Perimeter firepower

    After losing point guard Edmond Sumner to a torn ACL in late January, Xavier went into a tailspin before figuring things out and making the Elite Eight.

    The class of 2017's recruiting haul of three 4-star perimeter players should prevent the Musketeers from being short-handed on the outside for quite some time.

    Scruggs is a multi-positional menace who defends and attacks the basket, while Marshall is a strong athlete and slasher on the wing. Harden and 3-star forward Jared Ridder give the group more three-point shooting and a pair of fundamentally sound players.

    Where they'll need work: Inside scoring

    While the Musketeers added a number of quality perimeter players, they're going to be relying on unproven commodities when it comes to big men.

    Xavier owns commitments this year from 3-star center Kentrevious Jones and junior college big man Brady Ernst.

    Weighing in at 285 pounds, the 6'11" Jones needs to focus on conditioning to see the floor early in his career, while Ernst has to prove himself at the highest level after transferring out of Iowa State following his freshman season. 

8. Miami

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    Rankings: No. 12 in Scout.com, No. 8 in 247Sports composite

    5-Star Recruits: Lonnie Walker (6'4" SG)

    4-Star Recruits: Chris Lykes (5'7" PG), Sam Waardenburg (6'9" PF)

    What they'll do well: Three-point shooting

    Miami struggled at times to knock down perimeter shots last season, finishing 147th in the nation in three-point percentage at 35.6 percent. Those numbers could improve dramatically thanks to this class.

    Lykes and Walker are both top-100 recruits who shot at least 39 percent from three-point range in Nike EYBL play last spring and summer, while Waardenburg caught the attention of American basketball scouts with his three-point shooting prowess at Adidas Nations last summer.

    All three floor-spacers should give the Hurricanes more scoring punch from the perimeter next season.

    Where they'll need work: Adding strength

    Miami's entire class is a bit on the smaller side. Lykes is going to be one of the nation's tiniest floor generals next season, and while there isn't much the Hurricanes can do about that, the team's other three prospects all have room to grow physically.

    Walker adding weight would help him create his own shot while also finishing through contact, while Waardenburg and 3-star center Deng Gak both weigh under 220 pounds despite being 6'9" or taller.

    If these guys hit the weight room and add strength, they'll be much better off once ACC play rolls around. 

7. Louisville

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    Rankings: No. 10 in Scout.com, No. 7 in 247Sports composite

    5-Star Recruits: Malik Williams (6'10" C)

    4-Star Recruits: Darius Perry (6'2" PG), Lance Thomas (6'10" PF)

    What they'll do well: Versatility

    This four-man class is an intriguing group for the Cardinals, as they are also bringing in 3-star forward Jordan Nwora.

    The great thing for Louisville is each player's versatility. Perry can manage a bit of both guard spots thanks to his defense, while Nwora's ability to knock down three-pointers and rebound effectively means he can play multiple spots.

    Williams and Thomas are each 6'10", but both have the type of shooting range and athleticism that will allow Louisville to play a spread-out offense.

    It'll be fascinating to see how head coach Rick Pitino utilizes these guys over the next few years.

    Where they'll need work: Toughness

    Perry and Nwora should both be fine in this department.

    However, while Williams and Thomas might have the highest upside among this Louisville class, they each must add strength to be effective playing around the basket.

    Williams is a potentially strong shot-blocker, but smaller, more physical players can manhandle him. Thomas is more of a natural perimeter player who is starting to learn about playing down low, and he's also mastering how to be at his best near the hoop.

6. Texas

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    Rankings: No. 7 in Scout.com, No. 6 in 247Sports composite

    5-Star Recruits: None

    4-Star Recruits: Matt Coleman (6'2" PG), Jase Febres (6'5" SG), Royce Hamm (6'8" PF), Jericho Sims (6'9" C)

    What they'll do well: Floor leadership

    This relies almost exclusively on Coleman's ability to come in and be an immediate difference-maker.

    After Texas finished in last place in the Big 12 this past season, the Longhorns needed a true point guard in the worst way, and Coleman is the type of steady force that should make a major impact.

    His point guard abilities are going to be vital for Texas, but the Longhorns are also getting some hard-playing 4-star prospects in Febres, Hamm and Sims.

    All three have showed a willingness to play both ends of the floor, which should help Texas with depth next season.

    Where they'll need work: Shooting

    Texas brought Febres in to be the floor-spacer of this class, but the rest of this group needs to work on shooting.

    For as good as Coleman is at point guard, he's also woefully inconsistent as a jump-shooter, which is the main reason he's not a 5-star prospect at this point. He has to improve his 18.9 percent three-point shooting from the Nike EYBL circuit last spring to keep defenses honest.

    Hamm, a potential combo forward who could play some on the wing, also shot a mediocre 31 percent from three in EYBL play. 

5. Alabama

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    Rankings: No. 5 in Scout.com, No. 4 in 247Sports composite

    5-Star Recruits: Collin Sexton (6'2" PG)

    4-Star Recruits: John Petty (6'5" SG), Alex Reese (6'9" PF)

    What they'll do well: Scoring

    Alabama had the nation's 10th-best adjusted defensive efficiency this season, per KenPom.com, as head coach Avery Johnson implored his team to generate repeated stops. But the Crimson Tide struggled mightily to score last season, which this recruiting class should help fix.

    After leading the Nike EYBL in scoring last spring, Sexton might be college basketball's highest-scoring newcomer this coming season, as he's one of the most aggressive guards that high school basketball has seen in recent years. Petty and Reese are likewise capable of putting up points in droves.

    Where they'll need work: Decision-making

    Watching Sexton play with top-tier talent around him will be one of the most fascinating subplots in the country next season. Leading the EYBL in scoring is one thing, but he'll soon have the ball in his hands as opposing SEC defenses load up to stop him as a main option.

    Sexton will need to show he can also distribute, as he'll have more talent surrounding him at Alabama than he had in high school.

    Petty is another talented scorer, but he's also turnover-prone and takes ill-advised shots at times.

    If Sexton and Petty move the ball and steer clear of poor shot selection, Alabama could be an SEC contender.

4. Duke

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    Rankings: No. 4 in Scout.com, No. 5 in 247Sports composite

    5-Star Recruits: Wendell Carter (6'10" C), Gary Trent Jr. (6'5" SG)

    4-Star Recruits: Alex O'Connell (6'6" SG)

    What they'll do well: Immediate starters

    Duke is recruiting one-and-done prospects at such a high level that Carter and Trent will be expected to come in and potentially start right away.

    A load on the interior who is also skilled enough to serve as a pick-and-roll threat, Carter is Duke's most polished post prospect since Jahlil Okafor, and the Blue Devils can only hope he has anywhere near the same impact.

    Trent's minutes will depend on whether Grayson Allen and/or Luke Kennard decide to go pro. With one (or potentially both) of those guards leaving, Duke would need Trent to be an immediate scorer.

    Carter and Trent both won multiple gold medals with USA Basketball, so Duke is hoping for more championship success with this duo in Durham. 

    O'Connell might not be a starter but he has a chance to earn regular minutes if he can knock down shots and handle the ball. The late-blooming wing could earn more minutes depending on Duke's NBA draft defections. 

    Where they'll need work: Defense

    Carter and Trent are known scorers, but they also must prove they can come in and guard some of the ACC's best players.

    If they log heavy minutes right off the bat, they're going to be frequently tested on defense, which has been a problem for some highly touted Duke freshmen in the past.

    Carter is capable of being a solid rim protector, but his defense in high ball-screen situations can be shaky. Trent has also shown flashes of defensive promise, but he's largely an offensive-minded guard who takes the occasional play off on defense.

    O'Connell has plenty of upside as a wing shooter and creator, but he has work to do on the defensive end, too.

3. Arizona

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    Rankings: No. 3 in Scout.com, No. 3 in 247Sports composite

    5-Star Recruits: DeAndre Ayton (7'0" C)

    4-Star Recruits: Brandon Randolph (6'5" SG), Ira Lee (6'7" PF), Alex Barcello (6'2" PG)

    What they'll do well: Athleticism

    Arizona already had plenty of athletes on the floor in 2016-17, but next year's team could be even more ridiculous.

    Not many 7-footers have ever moved as well as Ayton does at the high school level, which suggests he could be a force on both ends if he stays motivated.

    Lee is another rugged and bouncy forward who covers a lot of ground, while Randolph has showed impressive above-the-rim play when he's not knocking down perimeter jumpers.

    Where they'll need work: Creating their own shot

    This class of 2017 haul is incredibly talented, but all four of these players have a tough time creating their own shot.

    Barcello is at his best as a creative passer who can knock down catch-and-shoot opportunities, while Randolph is still refining his skills as a ball-handler. Lee gets most of his production off of energy plays and putbacks, while Ayton needs help from a guard to generate ideal scoring situations.

    Having Allonzo Trier, Rawle Alkins or Kobi Simmons return next season would greatly help this recruiting class, as those three can break guys off the dribble and find shots for others. 

2. UCLA

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    Rankings: No. 2 in Scout.com, No. 2 247Sports composite

    5-Star Recruits: Jaylen Hands (6'2" PG), Kris Wilkes (6'8" SF)

    4-Star Recruits: Jalen Hill (6'8" C), Cody Riley (6'7" PF)

    What they'll do well: Get out and run

    Since head coach Steve Alford embraces an uptempo offense, this new recruiting class should fit in perfectly for the Bruins.

    Hands and Wilkes are both elite athletes on the perimeter who do much of their damage in the open floor, while big men like Riley and Hill should also thrive getting up and down the floor for UCLA.

    After his days at nationally ranked Chino Hills High School, 3-star shooting guard LiAngelo Ball, the younger brother of Lonzo, is used to playing fast as well. Another 3-star commit, Chris Smith, is also a strong athlete who should fit in well with Alford's system.

    Where they'll need work: Interior defense

    UCLA's interior defense for next season should be OK if veterans such as Thomas Welsh and Ike Anigbogu return, but the future could be concerning.

    The 6'8" Hill has the potential to be a solid rim protector and rebounder at the next level, but he has also been inconsistent during his high school career.

    Also undersized at forward, Riley should be fine as a bruising interior scorer, but he might have a hard time defending if the opposition has a huge frontcourt.

    Rim protection and defense haven't been major hallmarks of Riley's game to begin with, so he'll have to improve on his defense either way.

1. Kentucky

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    Rankings: No. 1 in Scout.com, No. 1 in 247Sports composite

    5-Star Recruits: Hamidou Diallo (6'6" SG), Quade Green (6'0" PG), Nick Richards (6'10" C), Jarred Vanderbilt (6'7" PF), P.J. Washington (6'8" PF)

    4-Star Recruits: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (6'5" PG)

    What they'll do well: Athleticism

    Once again, Kentucky has the nation's No. 1-ranked recruiting class, as this group of new Wildcats features an absurd collection of athletes at multiple positions.

    Scout ranks Diallo as the top shooting guard in the class, as he plays well above the rim on both ends of the floor, while forwards like Vanderbilt and Washington are likewise big-time athletes.

    Center Nick Richards also moves well for a big man, so he should enhance Kentucky's frontcourt rotation with his ability to protect the rim.

    Where they'll need work: Perimeter shooting

    Head coach John Calipari's six-man recruiting class is deep and filled with talent, but these players will need to show they can hit outside shots.

    Since the Wildcats have three frontcourt players in this class, players like Vanderbilt and Washington need to improve their range so Kentucky can have more flexibility with lineups. Diallo is also a mega-athlete, but he's been a shaky perimeter shooter during his high school career.

         

    Individual recruiting rankings and star ratings courtesy of Scout.com. Team rankings courtesy of Scout.com and the 247Sports composite. All rankings current through March 29.