Signing period recap
Terrence Jones is the reason Kentucky lays claim to the No. 1 recruiting class in 2010
Now that the late signing period is over, we have had a chance to break down each school's class. Here is a look at what stood out during this year's recruiting cycle.
While it is impressive, it should come as no surprise that Kentucky made a late surge up the rankings because that is exactly what John Calipari did last year. One month ago, the Wildcats were ranked No. 15 and now they have jumped up to No. 1 thanks to three players, point guard Brandon Knight (Coral Springs, Fla./Pine Crest), shooting guard Doron Lamb (Laurelton, N.Y./Oak Hill) and the last-minute signing of small forward Terrence Jones (Portland, Ore./Jefferson). These three, combined with center Enes Kanter (Turkey/Stonebridge Prep), will help replenish Kentucky, which is losing five players to the NBA. While Jones was the one that vaulted Knetucky to the top after he decommitted from Washington, Knight was the most crucial get for Calipari because point guard is the most important position in college basketball and he needed someone to take over for John Wall. Kanter has the potential to have the same impact DeMarcus Cousins had, while Jones is a hybrid 4-man who is the most versatile big in this class. With his skills and ability, Jones will benefit greatly from the dribble-drive offense.
Up until Jones' commitment to Kentucky, Ohio State, North Carolina and Memphis have occupied the top three spots in our rankings, in some order. This is a tribute to these programs being able to make a splash early and fill their needs with impact players. However, there was one reason that the Buckeyes finished No. 2 over the Tar Heels and Tigers -- 6-foot-8, 262-pound power forward Jared Sullinger (Columbus, Ohio/Northland), who is the most productive and dominant post player in this class.
Ohio State Buckeyes
On top of bringing in Sullinger, Ohio State has added a great scoring combo forward in Deshaun Thomas (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers), a big-bodied combo guard in Lenzelle Smith Jr. (Zion, Ill./Zion-Benton Township) and three more players who will have an immediate impact. Sullinger is the No. 2-rated player in the country thanks to his excellent rebounding, great basketball IQ and winning attitude. Thomas has a knack for scoring, whether it be on the block or out on the perimeter. He is also a great rebounder and often a mismatch against most defenders.
North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina may be ranked No. 3 in these rankings, but it did land the No. 1 prospect in Harrison Barnes (Ames, Iowa/Ames). He is a special talent thanks to his high basketball IQ, versatility, advanced maturity and Paul Pierce-like middle game. The Tar Heels also addressed their need on the perimeter with shooting guard Reggie Bullock (Kinston, N.C./Kinston) and point guard Kendall Marshall (Dumfries, Va./Bishop O'Connell). Bullock has great versatility and is a dangerous 3-point shooter, while Marshall is the best passer in this class and will immediately make everyone on the team better. He is exactly what North Carolina needed.
Josh Pastner's 2010 class comes in at No. 4 thanks to bringing in a deep, talented class highlighted by the best shooting guard in the country, Will Barton (Baltimore, Md./Brewster Academy). He is a pure scorer with deep range and incredible body control. Memphis also did a great job by landing local blue-chip point guard Joe Jackson (Memphis, Tenn./White Station). Pastner will put the ball in his hands from Day 1 and let him make plays because he is a big-time shot-maker. Other than Barton and Jackson, Memphis also landed two other ESPNU 100 prospects.
NC State Wolfpack
One of the biggest surprises in this recruiting cycle was the fact that power forward C.J. Leslie (Holly Springs, N.C./Word of God Christian Academy) ended up with the Wolfpack after decommitting. Leslie is an impact player and Sidney Lowe deserves a lot of credit for keeping the lines of communication open and finally reeling Leslie in. On top of bringing in Leslie, the Wolfpack landed point guard Ryan Harrow (Marietta, Ga./George Walton Comprehensive) and shooting guard Lorenzo Brown (Roswell, Ga./Hargrave Military Academy). Leslie is one of the most athletic players in the country, Harrow can score in a variety of ways and is pretty much automatic from the charity stripe, while Brown can handle the ball and is deadly off screens.
The Longhorns vault themselves all the way up to No. 8, despite landing only two players. However, teammates power forward Tristan Thompson (Brampton, Ont./Findlay Prep) and point guard Cory Joseph (Pickering, Ont./Findlay Prep) are elite prospects. Thompson is a hardworking 4-man who can dominate the paint, while Joseph is a top-notch point guard with first-rate ballhandling skills, explosiveness and deep range from 3.
While small forward Roscoe Smith (Baltimore, Md./Oak Hill) is the only ESPNU 100 player in Jim Calhoun's class, point guard Shabazz Napier (Randolph, Mass./Lawrence Academy) is the key to the Huskies' No. 20-ranked class. Napier is the type of point guard the Huskies have been missing because he can run the point and shoot long-range 3s. Smith is an excellent shooter with great size to see over the defense.
The Jayhawks sneak into the top 25 by landing point guard Josh Selby (Baltimore, Md./Lake Clifton). He is a difference maker that is unstoppable in transition and gets in the lane like no other in the the half-court set. He competes and plays with toughness and never allows his defender to relax.
• Once again, there were a number of potential "one-and-done" prospects waiting to commit. Some were waiting to see how coaching changes panned out and some were waiting to see who was going to declare for the NBA draft, but all were trying to find the situation to play and win right away. Players who fall into this category are Knight, Selby, Leslie, Jones, Joseph and Lamb, among others. This seems to be a growing trend, but if prospects have done their homework and make a decision, they should commit rather than play around with the process.
• The ACC had the strongest representation in the rankings. It had six schools in the top 25 (North Carolina, Duke, NC State, Wake Forest, Florida State and Maryland) and three in the top 10 (UNC, Duke and NC State).
• This class has a handful of prospects who are very versatile, which bodes well for their ability to play in the NBA. Five recruits who are potential "one-and-done" prospects with great size, skill and versatility are Barnes, Terrence Jones, Thomas, Tennessee recruit Tobias Harris (Dix Hills, N.Y./Half Hollow West) and Baylor recruit Perry Jones (Duncanville, Texas/Duncanville).
• The top 10 point guards in this class ended up at programs that really needed them, so they should get immediate playing time. Players who stand out include Irving at Duke, Knight at Kentucky, Selby at Kansas, Joseph at Texas, Ray McCallum (Beverly Hills, Mich./Detroit Country Day) at Detroit and Marshall at North Carolina.
Paul Biancardi is a veteran of the coaching ranks with years of college experience. He has recruited on a national level with stops as an assistant coach at Boston University and Boston College, associate head coach at Ohio State and most recently as an assistant at Saint Louis University. Biancardi was head coach at Wright State University from 2003 to 2006. In 2004, he was named Horizon League Coach of the Year. He is a selection committee member for the prestigious McDonald's All-America Game and the Gatorade Player of the Year award.