Grading Every Top 10 College Basketball Team's Recruiting Class
Wednesday marked the beginning of the regular signing period for college basketball, which runs through May 16 for Division I. Prospects who didn't sign in November can now make it official where they'll be playing next season.
Most of the big names came off the board in the fall, though a handful of notable recruits held off while waiting to see which teams would have openings due to players turning pro or transferring.
So, how did everyone do? A few uncommitted players remain out there who could sway opinions, but for now, we have a good idea of the strength of each team's 2018 recruiting class. Using Bleacher Report's final 2017-18 rankings as a guide, we've graded the hauls of the 10 best teams from this past season and break down what impact they should have on the 2018-19 campaign.
No. 10 Xavier Musketeers
2018 recruiting class ranking: 51st
Signees: PF Dontarius James, SG Keonte Kennedy, C Jake Walter
Xavier no longer has Chris Mack as its head coach, but it still has the three players he signed in November before leading the Musketeers to their first-ever Big East regular-season title and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA men's tournament.
The three-man group that new coach Travis Steele has at his disposal is good but not enough to replace departing stars such as guards Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura and forward Kerem Kanter.
Xavier still has offers out to several uncommitted players, but according to 247Sports, those recruits are nothing more than "cool" on the Musketeers. That explains why the team has been so active on the graduate transfer market, bringing in Division II big man Zach Hankins and Columbia shooting guard Kyle Castlin. Dartmouth forward Evan Boudreaux was previously committed to Xavier, but he pivoted to Purdue after Mack left to coach the Louisville Cardinals.
No. 9 Purdue Boilermakers
2018 recruiting class ranking: 39th
Signees: C Emmanuel Dowuona, SG Eric Hunter, C Trevion Williams
Purdue is graduating four starters and may need to replace the fifth if sophomore guard Carsen Edwards doesn't withdraw from the 2018 NBA draft on June 21. That's going to put a lot of pressure on the Boilermakers' younger players. Of the three they signed in November, however, only Hunter looks to be an immediate contributor.
A 6'3" guard from Indianapolis, Hunter is the No. 139 player in the 2018 class and picked Purdue over Butler, Ohio State, Minnesota and Xavier. Dowuona and Williams are both big men who will likely start out behind 7'2" Matt Haarms as well as the 6'8" Boudreaux and 6'9" Aaron Wheeler, who redshirted in 2017-18.
No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels
2018 recruiting class ranking: 8th
Signees: SF Rechon Black, SF Nassir Little, CG Coby White
With only two of its top seven scorers graduating and no underclassmen expected to turn pro, North Carolina is in great shape to contend yet again in 2018-19 and maybe pull a Villanova with two titles in three seasons (bookending an unexpected second-round loss to Texas A&M). How the Tar Heels integrate a strong trio of newcomers may prove to be the deciding factor.
Little was the MVP of the McDonald's All-American Game last month at Philips Arena in Atlanta, with his 28 points the third-most in the game's 41-year history (and only two fewer than Michael Jordan's second-place total). The 6'7" wing is ranked No. 6 overall and picked UNC over the Arizona Wildcats and Miami Hurricanes.
White is a 5-star combo guard who could slide into Joel Berry II's role depending on the continued development of Kenny Williams and Seventh Woods as well as how the Heels use Black, a 6'7" wing who can play the point and goes by the nickname "Leaky."
No. 7 Texas Tech Red Raiders
2018 recruiting class ranking: 37th
Signees: SF Deshawn Corprew, SG Kyler Edwards, SF Khavon Moore (hard commit)
Chris Beard has gone heavy on the junior college transfers since taking over as Texas Tech head coach two years ago, signing at least one player from that level in each recruiting class. That continued in 2018 with the addition of Corprew, the No. 3 JUCO prospect in the country. He had signed with Texas A&M in 2016 but was ruled a non-qualifier by the NCAA.
But the signature piece of the Red Raiders' class is Moore, the No. 51-ranked prep player who committed to Tech in February over Alabama, Ohio State and Oklahoma. He would be the first 4-star player from the U.S. to sign with the Raiders since 2007, per Jarret Johnson of 247Sports.
No. 6 Virginia Cavaliers
2018 recruiting class ranking: 79th
Hard commits: PG Kihei Clark, SF Kody Stattmann
Virginia's shocking loss to 16th-seeded UMBC in the NCAA tournament put a major black mark on what had been an incredible season. The Cavaliers should again be one of the top teams for 2018-19 as they're set to return most of their key players. That is good because the expected freshman class is sorely lacking.
Stattmann is a 6'6" wing from Australia who has some good experience playing for his country's national teams, but he didn't have any other Division I offers. And Clark, who is listed at 5'9" and 145 pounds, was previously committed to UC Davis.
The 2019 class is already looking a lot better, with Virginia recently getting a commitment from 3-star shooting guard Casey Morsell. But unless Morsell has the ability to reclassify and enter college a year earlier, the Cavs aren't getting much from the recruiting front for next season.
No. 5 Duke Blue Devils
2018 recruiting class ranking: 1st
Signees: SF R.J. Barrett, PG Tre Jones, SF Cameron Reddish, PF Zion Williamson (hard commit)
There's no need to mince words: Duke doesn't just have the best recruiting class for 2018. It might have the best one ever.
So it goes when you sign the No. 1 (Barrett) and No. 2 (Reddish) players in the country, with a hard commit from the third-ranked prospect (Williamson), and your "worst" player is No. 9 Jones, who is the younger brother of former Duke star Tyus Jones. The average composite rating of the Blue Devils' 2018 class is 0.9989, which is about as close to perfect as you can get.
Barrett and Reddish signed in November along with Jones, and then Williamson, a 6'6", 275-pound dunk master, shocked the college basketball world when he picked Duke in January over Clemson, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina. That made Duke the first school in the so-called one-and-done era (dating back to 2006) to land the top three players in a class.
No. 4 Loyola of Chicago Ramblers
2018 recruiting class ranking: 84th
Hard commits: C Franklin Agunanne, SG Cooper Kaifes
Beat the big programs, get graded like the big programs. And while Loyola of Chicago showed it could hang with college basketball's top teams by reaching the Final Four in 2018, it still lags far behind on the recruiting front.
The Ramblers are graduating three of their top six scorers but only have two players committed to replace them, neither of whom is ranked in the top 200. Then again, the highest-rated player on the roster that got them so far in the NCAA tournament was junior guard Clayton Custer, who was No. 141 in the 2014 class but signed with Iowa State before transferring to Loyola-Chicago.
And Cameron Krutwig, the team's top freshman this past season, was ranked 348th overall.
The Ramblers are more likely to see a Final Four recruiting bump in the 2019 class.
No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks
2018 recruiting class ranking: 6th
Signees: PG Devon Dotson, CG Quentin Grimes, C David McCormack, SG Ochai Agbaji (hard commit)
Next season, Kansas' lineup is going to look a lot different than the one that was in the Final Four a few weeks ago. It's a good thing head coach Bill Self prepared by stockpiling transfers and grabbing another strong recruiting class.
And it could be even better if the top uncommitted player left in the country, 5-star shooting guard Romeo Langford, picks the Jayhawks over Indiana and Vanderbilt.
For now, though, what Kansas has coming in is pretty good and should help fill the void from the losses of guards Devonte' Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman (and LaGerald Vick if he remains in the draft pool). Dotson, Grimes and McCormack are top-25 recruits at their respective positions, and they all played in the McDonald's All-American Game. Grimes scored 14 points and dishing out six assists, while the 6'9", 255-pound McCormack had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Getting Langford would be huge, but even without him, the Jayhawks are set up well for the future. In addition to their freshmen, they will have three key eligible transfers in former California guard Charlie Moore and ex-Memphis standouts Dedric and K.J. Lawson.
No. 2 Michigan Wolverines
2018 recruiting class ranking: 16th
Signees: SF Ignas Brazdeikis, PF Colin Castleton, PG David DeJulius, PF Brandon Johns, SG Adrien Nunez
Michigan signed all five of its players for 2018-19 in November, long before it went from fifth place in the Big Ten to the national title game. The highest-ranked player in the group is Johns, a 6'8" recruit who is No. 74 overall and whom the Wolverines stole out of Michigan State's backyard in East Lansing.
Right behind him is Brazdeikis, a 6'8" prospect from Canada who, like Johns, figures to bring plenty of versatility to the lineup. But the sleeper of the group could be Florida native Castleton, a 6'10", 215-pound forward who chose the Wolverines over Illinois.
Castleton isn't particularly heralded, but neither was Moritz Wagner when he came to Ann Arbor as a 6'9", 210-pound project in 2015.
No. 1 Villanova
2018 recruiting class ranking: 12th
Signees: SG Brandon Slater, PF Cole Swider, PG Jahvon Quinerly (hard commit)
Villanova is coming off its second national title in three seasons, doing so without a ton of talent when it comes to recruiting rankings. So it's impressive the Wildcats are bringing in their best class since 2009—while bringing back a good chunk of their rotation from the championship.
The team got a commitment from its top target in Quinerly, a 6'0" recruit who is ranked 25th overall and who decommitted from Arizona in October amid the FBI's investigation into bribery in college basketball.
Now that Jalen Brunson has entered the draft, Quinerly could step right in for Villanova—like Brunson did as a freshman on the 2016 national title team—or he could learn under Donte DiVincenzo if he ends up becoming the primary backcourt player next season.
Slater is a 6'6" shooter who can fill the spot Mikal Bridges vacated when he entered the draft, while Swider, 6'7", is in the mold of Eric Paschall as an undersized frontcourt guy who can stretch the floor.