Our recruiting class rankings are based on the following criteria:
1) Overall talent
2) Average talent of each player in the class
3) Fit of the class with the projected returning players
4) Positional diversity, i.e. it is better to have players in a variety of positions; a class of a center, forward and guard will score higher than a class with three guards.
With that said, we were fairly certain that Ohio State would be the #1 school in our recruiting class rankings, as they put together an outstanding class in the summer. It was a flurry of activity near the end of the early signing period that put Memphis over the top.
1. Memphis Tigers
If this recruiting class is any indication, hiring boy wonder Josh Pastner was a good move in Memphis. This class is heavily-based in Memphis-area prospects, including several players that played summer club basketball together. The last minute additions of post Tarik Black and wing Jelan Kendrick change this class from a strong class to a special class.
The perimeter group is outstanding. Homegrown point guard Joe Jackson and shooter Chris Crawford team with top notch wing Will Barton. Those three, in addition to Kendrick, will provide the basis for a high-octane attack. Will Barton’s brother Antonio Barton should help at the point, while Hippolyte Tsafack shows promise inside. Simply put, this is an outstanding group with unmatched talent and depth.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
The Ohio State Buckeyes have put together a well-balanced and highly-talented group. Relying heavily on alumni of the talented All Ohio Red club team, Ohio State’s group is tough. Big man Jared Sullinger follows in the footsteps of the talented big men Ohio State has brought it lately. Fellow forward Deshaun Thomas is probably the top prospect in Indiana.
The backcourt is quite solid, as point guard Aaron Craft and wings Lenzelle Smith and Jordan Sibert will be ready for action. Sullinger’s high school teammate J.D. Weatherspoon is an athletic forward joining the fold. Thad Matta has brought in perhaps the top big man in the country, and the support cast to keep the Buckeyes in a nationally prominent position.
3. North Carolina Tar Heels
We love Roy Williams’ class. It’s short and sweet, with three players that all play different positions at a high level. The acknowledged top player in the nation is Harrison Barnes. The Iowa forward has sharpshooter Reggie Bullock, an in-state talent, to draw defenses to the wing with his long-distance shooting prowess.
Who will feed these talents the ball? Virginia point guard Kendall Marshall is a top ranked point guard. This class is not huge, but then again, the Tar Heels roster should be loaded again next year.
4. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
This Wake Forest class is good, probably deceptively so. We have the Wake Forest class more highly-ranked than any other publication we’ve seen. This group really addresses the needs of the Demon Deacons. It’s a balanced group with some tough players. This group also has exceptional versatility.
Forwards Melvin Tabb and Travis McKie are able to play two positions, and point guard Tony Chennault comes from a winning high school background. In-state shooter J.T. Terrell has great scoring potential. Underrated post man Carson Desrosiers finishes a deep class.
5. Tennessee Volunteers
The late commitment of ultra-talented forward Tobias Harris was music to Coach Bruce Pearl’s ears. He joins a three man recruiting class that should be ready to contribute from Day 1. Harris was among the most talented uncommitted players in the country, and could be a one and done college player.
He joins the scoring wing combination of Jordan McRae and Trae Golden. Both are natural shooting guards, but Golden could play some point to allow both prospects room in the backcourt. Make no mistake, this group is loaded.
6. Illinois Fighting Illini
As with the North Carolina and Tennessee classes, it’s quality over quantity for the Fighting Illini. Bruce Weber stayed close to home for the three man group, but all players are top 100.
It’s hard to find a better combination on the wing than Jereme Richmond and Crandall Head. 7 foot big man Meyers Leonard has improved and may be ready to take the next step to being an NBA prospect. This is a very good group, and one that Fighting Illini fans will be happy to have on campus next season.
7. Syracuse Orangemen
Many national recruiting pundits are quite high on the Syracuse class, but we have too many questions for them to make our top five. The aptly named Fab Melo, a 7 foot Brazil native, is prepping in Florida, and did get some rave reviews over the summer.
Shooting guard Dion Waiters is a future star with versatility and should have considerable first year impact at Syracuse. Baltimore native C.J. Fair is available as a big forward. Oak Hill Academy center Baye Moussa Kieta may be a bit of a project, but by all accounts he is developing rapidly.
8. Michigan State Spartans
It’s hard to match the Spartans duo of combo guard Keith Appling and big man Adreian Payne. Appling is a do-it-all homegrown talent, and Payne, from Ohio, has as much potential as any big man in the country.
Wing forward Russell Byrd should be ready to contribute from the wing as a first year player. Gritty post Alex Gauna will undoutably fit in well in Tom Izzo’s scheme. This class is strong top to bottom with players ready for defined roles.
9. Duke Blue Devils
While Coach K missed on the Harrison Barnes sweepstakes, he addressed his team’s needs, namely the point guard position. Two touted point guards join the fold, though the obvious future star is New Jersey lead guard Kyrie Irving.
He would probably see heavy minutes for this year’s Duke squad, and will be ready to contribute from beginning. Fellow point guard Tyler Thornton is no slouch, and is likely to be a four year contributor. Forward Joshua Hairston is also a catch, he should thrive at Duke. This class also has the potential to move up, as Duke targets touted undecided wing forward Roscoe Smith.
10. South Carolina Gamecocks
This is another balanced group with help on the way at all positions. The Gamecocks incoming class is mostly from their backyard, and is awfully good.
This could really be a sleeper class, with several players that didn’t see national exposure over the summer that may blow up. Point guard Bruce Ellington drew strong reviews over the summer. Lengthy forwards R.J. Slawson and Damontre Harris both may have their best days ahead of them. Guards Brian Richardson and Eric Smith should prove to be contributors in their roles.