Top Ten Recruiting Classes For 2009-10 07/01/2009Posted by Zach in Recruiting.
Tags: Avery Bradley, Connecticut Huskies, Derrick Favors, Duke Blue Devils, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Indiana Hoosiers, John Wall, Kansas Jayhawks, Kentucky Wildcats, North Carolina Tar Heels, Oklahoma Sooners, Texas Longhorns, Villanova Wildcats
Many recruiting experts (I don’t pretend to be one of them, although I’ve done my preparation) insist that this year’s freshman crop is an improvement over last year’s class entering college basketball. With a weaker group of upperclassmen than in the past couple of the seasons, the invigoration of these young freshmen will certainly provide a boost for college basketball in 2009-10. Players like John Wall, Derrick Favors, Lance Stephenson and Kenny Boynton are not only exciting and electric forces on the court, but could instantly be the featured player on their respective teams. The question I’m looking to answer here relates directly to the team concept: Which head coach has put together the top recruiting class for this season in all of college basketball? The winner probably won’t surprise you:
1. Kentucky Wildcats (Coach: John Calipari)
The hiring of John Calipari changed everything in Lexington. Not only did they reel in one of the premier coaches in all of college basketball, Calipari was able to lure Rivals.com top two players in the entire class in John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. Wall is Calipari’s dream for a point guard with his tremendous speed and excellent court vision with the ability to finish. Cousins will bang inside with Patterson and can also step outside and hit midrange jumpers. Calipari was able to sign a backup point guard in the top 50 who would start on most teams in the nation with Eric Bledsoe. He also kept Gillispie’s recruiting class- elite center Daniel Orton and 6’5 forward Jon Hood. Junior college small forward Darnell Dodson can be a quality wing player for the Wildcats and completes one of the top overall classes in recent memory.
2. Villanova Wildcats (Coach: Jay Wright)
Coach Jay Wright reached a Final Four in March and now has put together the best recruiting class in the Big East led by two top-notch guards and two big men with supreme upside. Mouphtaou Yarou may take a year or two to develop but has a physical body/presence and will turn into one of the most effective forwards in the conference. Two Philly-area guards (and both McDonald’s All-Americans) join Yarou in this tremendous class. Dominic Cheek is an advanced shooter with a quick handle and Maalik Wayns is a rough-and-tumble point guard in the Randy Foye mode who will compliment Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher very well. 6’8 forward Isaiah Armwood definitely has to develop but could become a player.
3. North Carolina Tar Heels (Coach: Roy Williams)
You had to know that North Carolina would reload right away. Losing four starters from last year’s championship team will be an easier transition with this exceptional recruiting class led by lanky forward John Henson. He’s a top-notch passing big man with great penetration ability and a decent mid-range jumper but adding some more muscle will be beneficial. David and Travis Wear are two California twins are also big men who can shoot and will help Williams off the bench. Dexter Strickland may be more of a 2-guard but is so skilled scoring-wise that he may pose a threat to Larry Drew III at the point guard spot. Leslie McDonald is only an afterthought on a few classes and this is one of them- he’s a big guard who plays well around the perimeter.
4. Kansas Jayhawks (Coach: Bill Self)
The reassurance that Xavier Henry will be attending Kansas instead of bolting to Kentucky with his brother keeps Kansas at this position on the list. I love Henry- he has superb athleticism and a left-handed shooting touch that you simply cannot teach at that size. He’ll be a big-time scorer and the third option on a loaded KU team along with Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich that gives Self so many tremendous options. Arizona transfer Jeff Withey is a 6’10 center that will likely back up Aldrich and spell the talented Kansas big man when he’s in foul trouble or needs a rest without a ton of drop in production. Both 6’2 point guard Elijah Johnson and forward Thomas Robinson only make Kansas that much deeper.
5. Texas Longhorns (Coach: Rick Barnes)
My favorite player in the entire class might be wing Avery Bradley, a player who keeps getting better and shot up to #1 on ESPN’s recruiting board. Bradley can do everything- brings energy and passion to both offense and defense, can shoot effectively from outside and showed off his athleticism and dunking ability in Miami during the McDonalds competitions. It’s Bradley’s defense that separates him from most in this class and the skill that will have Rick Barnes drooling. Jordan Hamilton is another top-20 player with a score-first mentality that may start right away for Barnes. The biggest coup could turn out to be Florida transfer Jai Lucas who has a great handle and can lead the Longhorns charge scoring and dishing from the point guard position.
6. Oklahoma Sooners (Coach: Jeff Capel)
Jeff Capel will have a difficult time transitioning from the Griffin era in Norman, that’s obvious. Helping to smooth out the transition will be two McDonalds All-Americans in Keith Gallon and Tommy Mason-Griffin (okay, so maybe the Griffin era isn’t completely finished). I liked what I saw from Mason-Griffin in limited time- he has a complete game for a point guard with the ability to locate open teammates off the dribble and shoot from way outside. He should become Willie Warren’s best friend right away. Keith Gallon sometimes plays away from the hoop too much, but can shoot for a 300 pound center. He certainly has the muscle and girth to score inside at will when he’s committed. Steve Pledger is a big-time long distance shooter and both Andrew Fitzgerald and Kyle Hardrick will help on the boards to help make up for the loss to Juan Patillo and the Griffin brothers.
7. Duke Blue Devils (Coach: Mike Krzyzewski)
A commitment from John Wall would have bolted Duke all the way near the top of this list; instead, Duke is “stuck’ with two top-20 talents in Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly. Whether these two will be able to bang inside with the big boys, the type of player Duke has lacked the last couple of seasons, is unlikely. But these two stud forwards have many top-notch traits to their advanced games including the ability to face the basket, stretch defenses and hit short jumpers with ease. Kelly’s jump shot is above average and Plumlee can also shoot it from 16 feet comfortably. Both of these players are long, lanky, possess great instincts and high basketball IQ’s, two traits that I’m sure will make Coach K happy.
8. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Coach: Paul Hewitt)
We all know Paul Hewitt can recruit, but will the excellent talent finally result in consistent success on the floor? Securing the commitment of one Derrick Favors may have kept Hewitt’s job in tact during the middle of ACC play last season and Georgia Tech sitting near the conference cellar. Favors will be the Jackets best player right away…and this is a preseason top 25 team according to many experts. Favors is the second-best defensive player in the class after Bradley, but he does it in the paint rather than outside. His offensive game is developing but will get there. He can also dunk on pretty much anyone and other facets are slowly but surely improving. Kammeon Holsey is another big man who will rebound and score inside for Hewitt and point guard Mfon Udofia is an underrated prospect- a physical point guard with great athleticism and speed.
9. Connecticut Huskies (Coach: Jim Calhoun)
Coach Calhoun lost a breadth of talent from his Final Four squad a year ago, but reloads with this class and the return of players like Robinson, Walker and Dyson. 6’9 big man Alex Oriakhi could develop into a Thabeet-like defensive presence with his shot-blocking and rebounding ability. When Stanley Robinson plays outside or becomes disinterested, Oriakhi can pick up the slack inside. Point guard Darius Smith will provide defense off the bench and spell Walker at the point. Jamal Coombs-McDaniel is a 6’6 versatile wing player who can play multiple positions effectively for Calhoun. If Ater Majok is eligible, he can really help the Huskies facing the basket. He’s a project, though.
10. Indiana Hoosiers (Coach: Tom Crean)
The rebuilding process at Indiana is just beginning and coach Tom Crean is doing his part by reeling in the first of many phenomenal recruiting classes. Christian Watford is a top-50 player who is quick, versatile and could become Indiana’s best scorer right away. Maurice Creek is an offensive/defensive force who can knock down jumpers and defend the other team’s best scoring guard. Bloomington native Jordan Hulls is a nice backup point guard with great court vision and passing ability. The class of 2010 is where Tom Crean may truly strike gold, though.
Also considered: Marquette, Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, UCLA.