Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program. Teams can win without high-quality recruiting classes (Washington State), but almost any program that gets on top and stays there recruits well. There are exceptions who have staying power despite no McDonald’s All-Americans, but those programs are typically mid-majors or Wisconsin. So who’s get an edge moving forward in terms of incoming talent? Here’s a ranking of the teams:
A relatively easy choice. There is a ton of talent here; a class of Josiah Turner, Angelo Choi, and Nick Johnson would probably garner #1, and that doesn’t even count the talent of 4 star forward Sidiki Johnson. Turner may have some problems off the court, but there’s no denying his talent on it. His commitment probably played some part in the transfer of MoMo Jones; the fact Turner could challenge him should send a shiver down the spine of the conference. Nick will make his impact felt right away in the backcourt, and Angelo Chol is a solid big man for the future, if not the present.
2. Washington: UW has become a recruiting power in recent years, hauling in plenty of talent from Seattle and beyond. The newest blue chipper is Tony Wroten, a five star talent who will find his way into the starting line-up. He’s a good floor general who also can score from the inside or from deep. The rest of the class isn’t bad; my favorite is Martin Breunig, a German who can run the floor and play like a guard despite being 6-9. Jernard Jarreau provides size for a team that’ll need it down the line, and guards Hikeem Stewart and Andrew Andrews (best name in the class) are interesting projects.
3. Oregon: Jabari Brown will forever be the one that got away for Cal; a five star recruit from Oakland who Mike Montgomery chased heavily. He figures to start right away and make a huge impact on an Oregon program sorely in need of some talent. As for the rest of the class, it’s not a lot of talent that gets front billing, but landing two big men and some guards are some nice pieces for the Ducks to make use of down the road.
4. Arizona State: A class that’s similar to Oregon’s: a frontlining guard, a big, and another guard. The quantity is lessened, and so is the quality. Jahii Carson is a high quality point guard, a 4 star recruit, who will find playing time right away. He’s another guy Cal chased…and didn’t get. Three star Chris Colvin could be a backcourt player later on, and 6-8 big Jonathan Gilling is an intriguing project from Denmark.
5. UCLA: The Bruins picked up a pair of shooting guards, De’End Parker. We said plenty about Parker when he was a Cal commit; in short, he’s a good player to have come off the bench and provide defense. He’ll be an instant impact player as a junior college transfer. Norman Powell is another solid recruit, in the Top 100 in the country. With Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt gone, and Lazeric Jones and Jerime Anderson not exactly inspiring confidence, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to start.
6. Stanford: Not really a class, with just one recruit, but a quality player in it. With Jeremy Green leaving early for the very green pastures of Europe, Chasson Randle will have his chance to make an immediate impact. The Illinois area product spurned area schools Purdue and Illinois to join the Cardinal. At 6-1, he needs to be a point guard, but he doesn’t have the skills for that quite yet. Should still find playing time for the Furd.
7. Washington State: I like Washington State’s class; maybe it’s because I like the school (despite their blog predicting us to go 2-10 in football). Local product Davonte Lacey is from the Washington area, graduating from Curtis. He’s athletic and can get to the hole, although his jumper is a work in progress. He’s no Klay Thompson, but a good shooting guard nonetheless. DJ Shelton is a junior college big guy that can provide a big body for a team that needs one badly, and center Greg Sequele is a project who may be able to do the same.
8. Colorado: Colorado needs to fill plenty of spots after losing a ton of scoring in graduation and to the NBA Draft, but this recruiting class doesn’t have a star to replace Alec Burks. Burks started as a three star prospect, so any of these guys could be the next one. I like Spencer Dinwiddie, a quality guard prospect from Taft high school. I think he’ll fill in a starting role right away. Damiene Cain is the only big in the class, while JUCO forward Jeremy Adams should make an immediate splash.
9. USC: Kevin O’Neill went the JUCO route, signing a pair of them. Guard Greg Allen is one of them, and he figures to be a solid player off the bench. O’Neill needs 7 footer James Blascyzk to step up, as this is a team in desperate need of a center. I don’t see Dewayne Dedmon, Alexis Moore, or Byron Wesley doing anything substantial as freshmen.
10. Utah: I’ll be honest in saying I don’t know much about the Utes class, as their talent doesn’t come from California and wasn’t heavily recruited by Pac-10 schools. Junior College players Cedric Martin, Dijon Farr, and Javon Dawson are the most likely candidates to play early on.
11. California: It hurts to put my Bears this low, but it would have been easy to put them last. Others have. Christian Behrens is a bit of a tweener, sliding between either forward spot. I like his potential, and he could easily be a sixth man or starter later on. As a freshman, his role will probably be foul trouble insurance and occasional sub. David Kravish is a rail thin big man with athletic ability, but it’s going to take him some time before he’s ready to play at the Pac-12 level.
12. Oregon State: A class with intrigue, but little certainty either. Euros can either be spectacular or flame out spectacularly, and Swede guard Charles Barton is no different. Given the lack of luck OSU has had in recent years, it would be no shock if he flamed out. Big guy Daniel Gomis went to prestigious Oak Hill Academy, but just like all incoming big guys he has a sharp learning curve. This class has good potential, but it also could end up flaming out completely. For Craig Robinson’s sake, we hope it turns out the former.