Ranking CBB's Top 10 Classes After the Start of the Early Signing Period

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2018

Ranking CBB's Top 10 Classes After the Start of the Early Signing Period

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    Duke-bound Cam Reddish
    Duke-bound Cam ReddishAdam Glanzman/Getty Images

    College basketball is fading into the background for versatile sports fans, but the current recruiting period offers one more moment in the spotlight.

    As many of the sport's most recognizable names decide whether to chase the NBA or return for another season, several standouts in next year's freshman class are finalizing their college destinations.

    When those choices are revealed, the biggest announcements affect the recruiting rankings for the 2018 cycle. The most noteworthy so far is E.J. Montgomery's selection of Kentucky, which ascended three spots from its previous place in the top 10 as a result.

    The order won't change substantially, but this is the current top 10 as college basketball waits on decisions from Romeo Langford, Jordan Brown and other top-100 prospects.

10. Villanova Wildcats

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    Jahvon Quinerly
    Jahvon QuinerlyGregory Payan/Associated Press

    247Sports composite ranking: 13

    5-star recruits: Jahvon Quinerly (6'0" PG)

    4-star recruits: Cole Swider (6'7" F), Brandon Slater (6'6" SG)


    Instant-impact players

    Jalen Brunson has entered the NBA draft, so Jahvon Quinerly will compete with Collin Gillespie to start at point guard. Quinerly will be a factor in the rotation regardless. The same cannot be assured with Cole Swider and Brandon Slater, but it's likely they'll make regular appearances should Villanova continue thriving as anticipated.


    Don't sleep on: Cole Swider

    Cole Swider is a sweet-shooting forward. During his senior year, the stretch 4 averaged about 30 points per game at St. Andrew's School in Barrington, Rhode Island. Swider also finished second in the three-point competition during 2018 Final Four festivities in San Antonio. When called upon, he'll give the 'Cats another long-range weapon.

9. Maryland Terrapins

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    Jalen Smith (31)
    Jalen Smith (31)Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    247Sports composite ranking: 7

    5-star recruits: Jalen Smith (6'10" PF)

    4-star recruits: Aaron Wiggins (6'6" SF), Eric Ayala (6'5" G)


    Instant-impact players

    Unless the Terps have a few surprise NBA draft departures, the incoming freshmen may begin their Maryland career as reserves. Still, Jalen Smitha possible starterand Aaron Wiggins should be expected to contribute right away. Eric Ayala's involvement is largely dependent on whether Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter stay or go.


    Don't sleep on: Aaron Wiggins

    Wiggins would've been a factor in 2017-18 anyway, but Dion Wiley's decision to transfer freed up a few extra minutes. The 4-star is a more versatile player than Wiley, who fell out of the rotation late in the season. Wiggins is a comparable shooter, but his combination of ball-handling ability and length make him a possible impact player at two positions.

8. UCLA Bruins

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    Moses Brown
    Moses BrownGregory Payan/Associated Press

    247Sports composite ranking: 4

    5-star recruits: Moses Brown (7'0" C)

    4-star recruits: Shareef O'Neal (6'9" PF), Jules Bernard (6'6" SG), David Singleton (6'5" SG), Tyger Campbell (6'0" PG)


    Instant-impact players

    Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes will go through the NBA predraft process, and their eventual decisions will shape how much playing time is available to the incoming guards. Moses Brown, however, will likely replace Thomas Welsh up front, while Shareef O'Neal will compete with a few power forwards for minutes.


    Don't sleep on: Tyger Campbell

    This is another superb recruiting class for the Bruins, but if Hands departs for the pros, they're short on point guards. Tyger Campbell would be asked to immediately take over the offense. Even if Hands returns as anticipated, Campbell will be the primary backup.

7. North Carolina Tar Heels

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    Nassir Little
    Nassir LittleKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    247Sports composite ranking: 9

    5-star recruits: Nassir Little (6'7" SF), Coby White (6'5" G)

    4-star recruits: Rechon Black (6'7" SF)


    Instant-impact players

    Since nontraditional forwards Luke Maye and Cam Johnson are expected to return, Roy Williams could use Sterling Manley or Garrison Brooks at center. But if the UNC coach sticks with a small-ball lineup, Nassir Little is an obvious choice to start at small forward. He and Coby White should be important members of the rotation.


    Don't sleep on: Coby White

    Little earned MVP honors at the McDonald's All-American Game, so he'll arrive with plenty of national attention. White, the local kid, has enormous offensive potential and may be more valuable than possible starter Seventh Woods. It wouldn't be surprising if White's three-point range sparks UNC in a few games next season.

6. Vanderbilt Commodores

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    247Sports composite ranking: 8

    5-star recruits: Simisola Shittu (6'9" PF), Darius Garland (6'1" PG)

    4-star recruits: Aaron Nesmith (6'5" SF)


    Instant-impact players

    Riley LaChance and Matthew Fisher-Davis have used up their eligibility, so Vanderbilt will count on Darius Garland to fill one backcourt void. He posted 27.6 points and 4.3 assists per game as a senior. Simi Shittu is recovering from an ACL injury, so his workload will likely increase as the season progresses, but he'll be a key contributor at the 4.


    Don't sleep on: Aaron Nesmith

    During most recruiting cycles, Aaron Nesmith would be Vanderbilt's top-rated recruit. In this impressive class, though, the nation's No. 64 prospect is the "afterthought" of the class. Nesmith averaged 21 points as a senior at Porter-Gaud School in Charleston, South Carolina, where he won three consecutive state championships.

5. Kansas Jayhawks

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    Quentin Grimes (5)
    Quentin Grimes (5)Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    247Sports composite ranking: 6

    5-star recruits: Quentin Grimes (6'5" G), Devon Dotson (6'2" PG)

    4-star recruits: David McCormack (6'9" C)


    Instant-impact players

    Kansas must replace all four starting guards from its Final Four team, and Cal transfer Charlie Moore, Memphis transfers K.J. and Dedric Lawson, and Marcus Garrett could be the answers. If that happens, Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson should be key players off the bench, along with David McCormack. Grimes may be a starter, though.


    Don't sleep on: David McCormack

    Silvio De Sousa's emergence saved Kansas after Billy Preston's departure, but Kansas lacked depth down low. McCormack, a 6'9", 255-pounder from Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, should provide a much-needed third big for the Jayhawks behind Udoka Azubuike and De Sousaor backup if Azubuike leaves for the NBA.

4. LSU Tigers

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    Nazreon Reid
    Nazreon ReidKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    247Sports composite ranking: 5

    5-star recruits: Nazreon Reid (6'9" PF), Emmitt Williams (6'7" PF)

    4-star recruits: Javonte Smart (6'4" G), Darius Days (6'7" PF)


    Instant-impact players

    Naz Reid should be a day-one factor for LSU, which finished the recent campaign at 18-15. The Tigers lost a couple of starters in Duop Reath and Aaron Epps. Even though Daryl Edwards started half of 2017-18, Javonte Smart could open as the shooting guard. If not, he'll be a regular reserve with Emmitt Williams.


    Don't sleep on: Darius Days

    The path to a rotational spot is crowded, but Darius Days' versatility should not be overlooked. Before playing his senior season at Florida's IMG Academy, he averaged 18.6 points with a three-point mark of 38.5 percent and free-throw clip of 82.1 percent as a junior at the Rock School in Gainesville. Days also swiped 1.6 steals per game.

3. Oregon Ducks

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    Bol Bol
    Bol BolGregory Payan/Associated Press

    247Sports composite ranking: 3

    5-star recruits: Bol Bol (7'1" C), Louis King (6'8" SF)

    4-star recruits: Will Richardson (6'4" G), Miles Norris (6'10" PF)


    Instant-impact players

    Bol Bol is still a work in progress physically, but that type of talent doesn't sit on the bench. His ability to stretch the floorand dribble without looking helpless, as many centers aregives Oregon a little positional versatility too. Louis King should slide into the starting lineup following Troy Brown's decision to pursue the NBA.


    Don't sleep on: Will Richardson

    Rising junior Payton Pritchard will oversee the starting unit, but the departure of Brown means Oregon needs a backup ball-handler. Richardson can slide into that role. As a senior at Oak Hill Academy, the guard averaged 7.6 assists compared to only 1.9 turnovers.

2. Kentucky Wildcats

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    Keldon Johnson
    Keldon JohnsonGregory Payan/Associated Press

    247Sports composite ranking: 2

    5-star recruits: E.J. Montgomery (6'10" PF), Keldon Johnson (6'6" SG), Immanuel Quickley (6'3" PG)

    4-star recruits: Tyler Herro (6'5" SG)


    Instant-impact players

    As we've come to expect with John Calipari at Kentucky, the opening lineup will be filled with freshmen. Depending on whether PJ Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt, Hamidou Diallo and Nick Richards chase the NBA or return, there could be space for each incoming freshman to startor maybe only Immanuel Quickley and Keldon Johnson do.


    Don't sleep on: Tyler Herro

    The Wildcats ranked 309th nationally in three-pointers made last season, but Tyler Herro is a potential high-volume, high-efficiency marksman. As a senior at Whitnall High School in the Milwaukee area, he drained a notch over four trifectas per game while connecting at a 41.8 percent rate.

1. Duke Blue Devils

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    R.J. Barrett
    R.J. BarrettGregory Payan/Associated Press

    247Sports composite ranking: 1

    5-star recruits: R.J. Barrett (6'7" SF), Cam Reddish (6'7" SF), Zion Williamson (6'6" PF), Tre Jones (6'2" PG)

    4-star recruits: None


    Instant-impact players

    Well, all of them. Mike Krzyzewski might insert each of the 5-star prospects into the starting lineup in 2018-19. R.J. Barrett will likely be the leader on offense. It's worth noting, though, that the Blue Devils might encounter spacing issues. None of the three forwards are efficient three-point shooters. Still, Duke won't mind trying to figure it out with elite talent.


    Don't sleep on: Tre Jones

    The lowest-rated 5-star of the group, Tre Jones might provide the most important contributions behind Barrett next season. Duke must replace both Grayson Allen and Trevon Duval, and no returning player has comparable passing skills. Jones dished six-plus assists in each of his final three high school seasons.