Top Recruits Sign With Small Schools

April 15, 2010

As many gush over Kentucky’s recruiting class (myself included), there are some schools that are never mentioned in college basketball circles landing some big fish in this year’s recruiting class. Let’s take a quick look at four of the top-100 prospects of 2010 that will instantly be the Big Man on Campus.

Shavon Coleman, SF – LA Monroe

Rivals’ No. 97 ranked player, Coleman is going to the University of Louisiana Monroe. What? Coleman is from Louisiana, so obviously staying close to home was a priority of his. It’s just interesting to see that LSU wasn’t in on this kid. The 6’6″ small forward will be the best player on the ULM team the first time he steps on the floor. A 12-19 team (6-12 in a horribly weak Sun Belt conference), Coleman should challenge North Texas in the Sun Belt’s West division, possibly leading to an NCAA tournament berth.

Ray McCallum, PG – Detroit

The 6’1″ point guard out of Detroit decided he wanted to say home and with his family. Literally. Not only is he staying in the city he has lived his entire life, Rivals’ No. 60 player in the 2010 recruiting class will play for his father, Coach Ray McCallum Sr. McCallum played in the McDonald’s All-American game last week and showed a flare you like to see out of your floor general as well as some great vision and passing skills. As good as McCallum is and may become, Detroit has no chance of challenging Butler in the Horizon League.

Domonique Ferguson, PF – Florida International

When FIU hired Isiah Thomas, I’m not sure they expected it to pay recruiting dividends this quick. Before his senior season even started, the 6’9″ Ferguson committed to Isiah and the Golden Panthers. Some say the kid is rated too high by Rivals.com (No. 40 overall, No. 10 power forward) but his skill set for a player his size can be a factor in the college game. He’s got handles of a wing player and great athleticism for a power forward. It will be interesting to see how Isiah Thomas develops this kid.

Trey Zeigler, SG – Central Michigan

The No. 26 prospect on Rivals.com, Zeigler follows the same story line as Ray McCallum. Michigan kid, staying close to home, playing at a small school where his father is the coach. He’s been listed at 6’5″ and brings great versatility to the game, being able to play all three wing positions. He’s a good shooter and can attack the rim aggressively, making him a tough guard for anyone, especially for MAC defenders.

With so many people discussing the one-and-done rule and how it is ruining college basketball, it will be interesting to watch these top-flight talents take their game to schools that are off the basketball radar. Will they carry their teams to a long-awaited NCAA tournament appearance, or will they pad their stats enough to make the leap to the NBA before they can leave their mark on their respective school of choice?

Advertisements

Calipari Monopolizing Recruits

April 14, 2010

Derrick Rose. Tyreke Evans. John Wall. Eric Bledsoe. Demarcus Cousins. Daniel Orton.

That is the list of one-and-done players that have played for Coach John Calipari over the past three seasons. Rose (2007) and Evans (2008) were while he was dominating Conference USA at the University of Memphis. Wall, Bledsoe, Cousins and Orton all graced his inaugural class at Kentucky in 2009.

With all that fire power leaving school for the professional ranks, including junior power forward Patrick Patterson, the Wildcats’ roster has been left scarce of elite level talent. Enter: the first day of the NCAA late signing period.

Today was the first day since mid-November for high school basketball players to announce their decision on where they have decided to continue their careers. The #1 recruit in the nation (rated by Rivals.com) went unsigned… Until today.

Point guard Brandon Knight, two-time reigning Gatorade National Player of the Year, committed to Kentucky and Calipari while spuring Connecticut, Syracuse, Kansas and hometown Florida. It is fully expected that Knight will be the successor in the long line of one-and-done turned franchise point guards in Coach Cal’s dribble-drive-motion offense.

Along with Knight, Turkish big man Enes Kanter signed with Kentucky after de-comitting from Washington. He was recently deemed eligible by the NCAA Clearinghouse after speculation whether or not he was considered a professional player in Turkey.

And last, but certainly not least, the Bluegrass State’s flagship university locked up the #1 player in the 2011 class. Mike Gilchrist, the 6’6″ forward out of Elizabeth, NJ, verbally commited to be a Kentucky Wildcat. That’s a commitment that certainly will not waver.

After losing five NBA prospects just last week, Kentucky has only  just begun their reloading process by adding Knight, Kanter and Gilchrist. Also a member of their 2010 recruiting class is four-star shooting guard Stacey Poole, who is expected to be around longer than just one season.

Calipari was quoted saying that they were looking to add “five or six” recruits to the Kentucky roster this year. With Knight, Kanter and Poole filling three scholarships, there is at least two left to hand out. Calipari is a hell of a recruiter, but it seems like he’s going to get a little help from a new friend.

Newly-signed Brandon Knight went on to say the following: “There’s a lot of great players out there still, Josh Selby’s (#4) a great player, C.J. Leslie (#14), Terrence Jones (#13), Cory Joseph (#7), a lot of great players. So whoever wants to come, I’m going to try to get them to come here.” [Rankings from Rivals.com]

With two elite-level players already packing their bags for Lexington, with potentially three more on the way, how are other schools in the SEC, let alone the nation, expected to keep up with the talent level being bought in to Kentucky?

One way to battle a team loaded with freshmen is to build a team centered around chemistry and experience, much like Duke did this year. This article explains Coach K’s system and how he recruits. Maybe that is the way to go, but you won’t stop Calipari from taking players who plan on being around for less than a calendar year.

Sure, Coach K won yet another title, but does that mean Calipari is destined to never win one? Obviously not, as he was a miracle three by Mario Chalmers away from being on top of the college basketball world.

A lot of people may not like the one-and-done rule and the way Kentucky has/will become a stepping-stone for future NBA players to spend their mandatory year out of high school, but you better get used to this story as we are sure to see this year in and year out regarding Calipari and the Wildcats.