The 2015 Early Signing Period for college basketball recruiting came and went, with many late commitments making big splashes for their respected program. After the busy week, there are a few main points to break down.
Takeaways from College Basketball’s 2015 Early Signing Period
The Kentucky-Duke Recruiting Rivalry:
There is no question who college basketball’s best recruiters are, as Kentucky’s John Calipari and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski are head-and-shoulders above everyone else right now. Calipari has reeled in a top two class every year since he arrived in Lexington, according to 247Sports. Krzyzewski has had a top three class every year since 2013.
The class of 2016 has brought the best out of both coaches. Each school has seemingly been trying to match each other during the process and it has led to some epic classes.
Kentucky has five five-star players, all of which bring a little something different to the table. De’Aaron Fox is a terror on the defensive end, Malik Monk can jump out of the building, Sacha Killeya-Jones can stretch a defense, Wenyen Gabriel can run the floor like a gazelle, and Edrice Adebayo is a built like a truck. The versatile class will do damage, mostly on defense.
Duke can match the Wildcats’ class pretty well with three five-star players and a four-star player. Frank Jackson is the point guard for the class, and he is a guy that can score or distribute. Javin DeLaurier is the forgotten man of the class (being a four-star is rough), but he is an athletic big man that can pull down rebounds in bunches. The class is highlighted by two top-five players in Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum. The forwards have great basketball IQ and are consistent performers, not to mention being good all-around players.
College basketball fans can only hope these two schools meet up to play next year, especially if each school returns some guys from their teams this year. For now, Calipari and Krzyzewski will continue to box it out on the recruiting trail.
Miami Hurricanes’ Future Brightens in a Matter of Hours:
Jim Larranaga has slowly, but surely, built Miami’s basketball program up from the underground, and the Hurricanes scored big on the recruiting trail on Wednesday.
Bruce Brown, a physical guard from Vermont, was the first to commit. The four-star is solid at both ends of the floor and really prides himself on his defense. The race for Brown seemed to come down to Miami and Indiana, but an official visit to Miami on October 30th may have been enough to sway Brown. While Brown is a solid get, Hurricanes would be pleased to hear the news of another recruit a few hours later.
Dewan Huell is a five-star big man that has a nose for the rim, and his signing was great news for Larranaga’s staff. Huell is from Miami, Florida, so it was a big deal for the Hurricane staff to secure an in-state, five-star recruit. They held off Mississippi State and Florida State, both of which have put together solid classes and would have loved to have added Huell.
Mississippi State is Legit:
The Ben Howland hire looks better and better every week for Mississippi State, and to be perfectly honest, he is recruiting out of his mind right now. Howland’s run at UCLA was will always be underappreciated because of how it ended, but he can coach at the college level.
Howland’s first big commitment came last spring with Malik Newman. The former five-star has a lot of flair and status with his game, and it has been a positive for the Bulldogs on the trail.
Howland has SIX players signed to play for Mississippi State next season including five four-stars and one three-star. Mario Kegler, a small forward from Oak Hill Academy (VA), heads the list. He is a strong rebounder and an excellent athlete that Howland can take the reins off of. Needed big men additions were signed as well in Abdulhakim Ado and Schnider Herard. Both players play primarily inside, but should be able to coexist at Mississippi State.
Pretty good for a school that has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2009.
Florida State’s Class is Still Being Overlooked:
Florida State has had their three man class set in stone for a little bit now, but it still seems to be one of the most underappreciated in the country. Five-star forward Jonathan Isaac, four-star guard Trent Forrest, and four-star guard C.J. Walker all have signed their Letter Of Intent during the Early Signing Period. The Seminoles commitments have come with little fanfare, which involves no logical reason considering their fan base.
The three commits are all level-headed kids that do not bring too much attention to themselves. Isaac is a freak athlete that is just starting to graze his potential. Forrest is the type of kid that will do all the little things that need to be done at the guard spot to win. He can score the ball too, though, as can Walker. Walker broke out in the EYBL scene this summer, but he is still a pretty unknown player. He ability to break down a defense should help the team as a whole.
The Seminoles could even return players like Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Dwayne Bacon unless they decide to turn pro early. Five-star center Udoka Azubuike is another optional addition for Florida State, as it seems to be their recruitment to lose.
Kansas Will Be Fine:
The whole country has gone into freak out mode about Kansas’ recruiting ‘woes’ so far for the 2016 class, but there is simply no reason for it.
The only commit right now for Bill Self is big man Mitch Lightfoot. Lightfoot is a three or four-star player depending on the site you look at, but he is a kid that can develop and play minutes for Self.
The Jayhawks are in contention for other top recruits as well. Josh Jackson is arguably the best prospect in the country, and he has Kansas in his final contenders. Marques Bolden, a five-star center, also has Kansas on his list. Another five-star big man in Thon Maker is also considering the Jayhawks, but not as strongly as the first two.
In short, Self still has some options recruiting wise. It does not look like he will not be replacing any one and done players either, unless Cheick Diallo ends up making the jump. Still, Self should have a solid team back with capable seniors Frank Mason and Wayne Selden (assuming they do not blow up this year and go professional). Package that with a strong 2015 class, and it is easy to see why Jayhawks fans should breathe a sigh of relief.