- Paul Biancardi, Basketball Recruiting
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It's much of the same old story for ACC recruiting when it comes to the Class of 2009. Traditional powers Duke and North Carolina have brought in the top two classes in the league, and UNC's class takes the top spot in our ESPN.com recruiting class.
Those mainstays have finished much, if not all, of their 2009 recruiting. At the same time, a few upstart programs -- N.C. State and Georgia Tech -- have put together some stellar classes. Moreover, both the Wolfpack and the Yellow Jackets still are involved in the recruitment of top-notch 2009 talent. Big man Derrick Favors (Atlanta/South) is considering both schools, and talented point guard John Wall has N.C. State on his list.
Meanwhile, Miami and coach Frank Haith have put together one of the deeper classes so far this recruiting season. The last-minute decision of Durand Scott (New York/Rice) to become a Hurricane vaulted Miami into our rankings at No. 20.
Neither Florida State nor Clemson has finished recruiting, but both schools have landed a freshman standout capable of making an early impact in one the country's premier basketball leagues.
Boston College commits: none
The Eagles missed out on the few players they targeted during the early signing period. Durand Scott (New York/Rice), who picked Miami, would have been a great fit playing in Chestnut Hill. The fact that BC hasn't signed any '09 recruits is not a big concern. The Eagles will lose only one senior off this season's roster.
Clemson commits: three
The Tigers should return a good portion of their rotation players next year, and this 2009 group will give them a nice infusion of fresh talent to go with the returning group. Wing Milton Jennings (Summerville, S.C./Pinewood Prep) is a terrific spot-up shooter to 20 feet, and at 6-foot-9 he has great size for his position. He can be a nightmare to guard because of his length and athletic ability. With his skills, he can be a solid defender and rebounder on both ends. Jennings needs to hit the weight room but should make an immediate impact next season. He reminds me of a young Rashard Lewis (Orlando Magic).
Although Jennings is the headliner, Clemson's other two recruits should be solid contributors. Devin Booker (Union, S.C.) is the brother of current Clemson forward Trevor Booker, and he has a similar game. Devin's a power forward who plays with much effort and intensity. He can score on the block or face up out to 15 feet. He also can take his man off the dribble. Combo guard Donte Hill (Norfolk, Va./Norfolk Collegiate) is a good scorer and an athlete. He's a slasher who likes to score in transition. Hill can knock down shots out to 19 feet but prefers to drive to the basket. He's also a solid defender.
Duke commits: two
Duke's 2009 class gives the Blue Devils exceptional size and scoring ability in the frontcourt. Once again, Mike Krzyzewski has added two players who really understand how to play the game. They will really stretch out defenses in the ACC with their perimeter shooting.
PF Mason Plumlee (Arden, N.C./Christ School) is an athletic post player who is skilled and versatile with a lot of agility. He shoots it well to 17 feet and can score around the basket with a variety of post moves, including jump hooks and face-up jump shots. He has a great feel for the game and is a willing runner who can get down the floor. He'll need to get stronger to battle in the ACC.
Like Plumlee, Ryan Kelly (Raleigh, N.C./Ravenscroft School) is an elite forward with exceptional skills. He can knock down the 3-pointer comfortably and has an excellent touch from 15 feet. Kelly can shoot off the catch and dribble equally well. Most of his scoring comes facing the basket. He has a good basketball IQ. Added strength certainly will enhance his potential.
Florida State commits: two
Coach Leonard Hamilton landed a pair of fierce competitors, and ferocity is needed in the tough ACC. The signing of top-30 prospect Michael Snaer (Moreno Valley, Calif./Rancho Verde) gives Florida State a player who should contribute immediately on the perimeter. The Seminoles now have recruiting momentum heading into the season.
Snaer is a very good shooter with range to 22 feet. He has all the intangibles that college coaches look for; he's a great person, a strong leader and competitor, and he's very vocal on the court. Snaer is a good basketball athlete who can cover multiple positions defensively.
Terrence Shannon (Forsyth, Ga./Mary Persons) is a hardworking power forward who outhustles his opponents. He can score on the block or step out and shoot it to 12 feet. He also can put the ball on the floor and create some offense. He will be a good role player in the ACC. His play is similar to that of Reggie Evans (Iowa/Philadelphia 76ers).
Georgia Tech commits: four
Georgia Tech's four-man class features good depth and versatility. Each of these prospects plays a much different game, so they all should mesh together nicely. Also, it's worth emphasizing that head coach Paul Hewitt is still pursuing top prospects.
Kammeon Holsey (Sparta, Ga./Hancock Central) is an athletic power forward who scores by flashing to the basket. He plays best when facing the basket and taking his man off the dribble. He's a dominant player from 15 feet and in who can drive, rebound and post up. The other forward in this class is a glue-guy type. Brian Oliver (New Castle, Del./William Penn) is a very active player who gives a great effort every time out. He can make 15-footers consistently and can drive to the basket. He'll be a versatile player for Tech.
Point guard Mfon Udofia (Stone Mountain, Ga./Miller Grove) is tough and athletic. He can slash to the basket and plays best in transition. This lefty has good size for a floor general. He pushes the ball hard and always looks to score on the break. He will bring energy and toughness to the ACC.
Finally, guard Glen Rice Jr. is the Yellow Jackets' third in-state recruit. The son of former NBA sharpshooter Glen Rice, Junior is continually improving and is a good athlete who has a lot of upside. With his work ethic, he should become a good shooter and be a nice support player for the Ramblin' Wreck.
Maryland commits: two
Coach Gary Williams needed help in the frontcourt. He has gotten that with two strong post players.
Six-foot-10 forward Jordan Williams (Torrington, Conn./Torrington) is a wide-bodied post who is developing and improving every day. He has great hands and catches most passes and scores with jump hooks. His post moves continue to improve with practice. Williams rebounds below the rim but takes up a lot of space in the paint. As his conditioning improves, so will his game.
At 6-8, James Padgett (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) isn't quite as big as Williams, but he is just as intense. He's a solid role player and a good fifth guy on the floor. He also scores well inside 10 feet and is adept finishing the dump-off pass.
Miami commits: four
This class demonstrates Frank Haith's skill as a recruiter; the underrated coach sold four top-notch out-of-state prospects on the virtues of playing in South Florida.
SG Durand Scott (New York/Rice) signed on the last day of the early signing period, and that really gave this Miami class the marquee talent it needed. Few players in the 2009 class play harder than he does. He can slash to the hoop and is developing a nice jump shot. Scott can defend anyone on the floor and takes a tremendous amount of pride in his defense. He is a competitor who hates to lose.
Scott will be joined in Miami's backcourt of the future by a pair of skilled guards. Garrius Adams (Apex, N.C./Middlecreek) is a shooter who has the ability to create opportunities for himself. His range extends to 22 feet, and he should have no problem with the new college 3-point line of 20 feet, 9 inches, a full foot beyond what it was in the past. Adams had an excellent summer circuit in 2008. Point guard Lisandro Ruiz-Moreno(Argentina/South Kent School) is a lefty point guard who is a very skilled and cerebral offensive player. He shoots 3s with range and accuracy and can deliver pinpoint passes to his teammates. He always plays with his head up. He needs to work on keeping his man out of the lane on defense and must hit the weight room to battle in the ACC.
Finally, Donnovan Kirk (Detroit/Country Day) is an athletic power forward who can jump through the roof. His forte is rebounding and blocking shots. He scores off dump-offs and put-backs. Overall, Kirk is a very productive frontcourt player who has a nose for the ball.
North Carolina commits: five
UNC's 2009 class has received plenty of deserved hype. This No. 1 class in the country has everything a coach could ever dream of, including talent, skill and terrific size. These kids will keep Roy Williams and Carolina rolling for the next few years.
Big men John Henson (Tampa, Fla./Sickles), David Wear (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) and Travis Wear (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) all check in at at least 6-9. Henson is long and athletic. He can shoot the ball from 17 feet and can drive to the basket with skill and grace. He rebounds out of his area and blocks shots with good timing. He needs to get stronger to face the rigors of the ACC. The NBA will come knocking soon if he continues to work on his game. The Wear twins have great versatility for their size. Both players can knock down the 20-foot jumper and are tenacious on the glass.
Dexter Strickland (Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick) is an ultra-athletic guard who can play point guard or shooting guard. He excels in transition and is one of the best finishers in the Class of '09. He needs to improve his jump shot, as he is more comfortable driving than shooting right now.
Leslie McDonald (Memphis, Tenn./Briarcrest Christian) is a big guard with good skills and a strong basketball IQ. He shoots the ball well and can play any of the three perimeter positions.
North Carolina State commits: three
Although coach Sidney Lowe is still in the game for a few top recruits, his 2009 class is loaded with scoring ability, skill and excellent size. Lowe seems to be really coming into his own on the recruiting trail.
Guards Lorenzo Brown (Roswell, Ga./Centennial) and Scott Wood (Marion, Ind./Marion) both have great size, at 6-4 and 6-6, respectively. Brown is an extremely talented combo guard who can shoot with range to 20 feet, slash to the basket and find his teammates. He has all the tools and athleticism to be a great one but needs to be aggressive and assertive on every possession. Wood is an exceptional shooter with range to 25 feet. He moves well without the ball and gets open. He's good at reading screens and comes off them ready to shoot. He must learn to stay low in his defensive stance to guard the ball effectively. A threat on every possession, he needs to add strength before facing ACC competition.
Richard Howell (Marietta, Ga./Wheeler) is a highly skilled power forward who can create his offense from the high post with a jump shot or off the dribble drive. He also is an excellent passer for a four-man offense. He will add immediate help to the Wolfpack's frontcourt.
Virginia commits: two
Head coach Dave Leitao has landed a pair of athletic standouts. They'll improve the Cavs' athleticism and effort at both ends of the floor.
Tristan Spurlock (Woodbridge, Va./Word of Life) is a big, strong and athletic small forward. He catches and shoots extremely well off screens and is a consistent shooter out to 17 feet. He has NBA size for the small forward position but needs to work on his dribble-penetration game. He is effective on the glass, plays hard and gives a good effort.
Point guard Jontel Evans (Hampton, Va./Bethel) is a standout football player, so he has the strength and toughness needed to compete in the ACC. He is a good on-ball defender and always plays hard. He also excels in transition by pushing the ball all the way to the basket or finding guys for shots. His 3-point shot is streaky and needs to be more consistent.
Virginia Tech commits: five
This class has size, depth and versatility. Coach Seth Greenberg has a player at almost every position. He and his staff keep bringing talent to Blacksburg.
Point guard Lamont Jones (Harlem, N.Y./Oak Hill Academy) has pledged to play in Blacksburg, but he won't sign a letter of intent until the spring. Jones is a combo guard who plays the point but is more of a scoring guard. He is a very good shooter with range out to 22 feet but can be streaky at times. He's a tremendous competitor with a true scorer's mentality.
Jones will be joined in the backcourt by Erick Green (Winchester, Va./Paul VI) and Ben Boggs (Roanoke, Va./Hidden Valley). Green is a scoring point guard with range out to 20 feet. He has great size and length for the position. He will run the team and execute the game plan for Greenberg. Boggs is a tough and scrappy shooting guard. He can knock it down behind the arc or pull up for a midrange jumper. He has a solid middle game and always will give a great defensive effort.
Big man Cadarian Raines (Petersburg, Va.) is athletic and long with the tools to be a great rebounder and shot-blocker. His potential is based on his strong body and good athletic ability. He'll be joined in the frontcourt by Manny Atkins (Stone Mountain, Ga./Tucker). Atkins is a solid athlete who is good in transition and can slash to basket. He has improved his shot tremendously and has range out to 20 feet. If he works on his handle, he will be more effective playing either shooting guard or small forward.
Wake Forest commits: two
A year after coming up huge in the early signing period, Wake Forest didn't make quite the same impact. Still, Wake landed two good prospects who will contribute as freshmen and should help the team maintain its status as one of the ACC's top programs.
Ari Stewart (Marietta, Ga./Wheeler) is a very athletic combo forward who can catch and shoot to 17 feet. He's versatile enough to play small forward or power forward. His athletic ability catches your eye, as he loves to finish above the rim. With some added strength, his game will skyrocket.
C.J. Harris (Winston-Salem, N.C./Mount Tabor) is a solid point guard prospect who can shoot the ball out to 20 feet consistently. He is an extension of the coach on the floor because he knows what he needs to do and where his teammates need to be. Harris has a high basketball IQ.
Paul Biancardi, who spent 2007-08 as an assistant coach on Rick Majerus' staff at Saint Louis University, is the national recruiting director for ESPN Scouts Inc. He has 18 years of coaching experience at the Division I level. He was an assistant at Boston University, Boston College and Ohio State before becoming the head coach at Wright State, where he earned Horizon League coach of the year honors in the 2003-04 season.
The top programs in the ACC have brought in talent that should help the conference continue to thrive.