Commentary

Buckeyes have 2010 bragging rights

Originally Published: February 27, 2009
By Antonio Williams | Scouts Inc.

While some schools continue to hustle to garner commitments from talented, uncommitted players in the Class of 2009, other top college programs have closed out their 2009 recruiting efforts. These schools will begin to pay particular attention to heralded prospects in the 2010 class to get a jump on the competitors who may still have to concentrate on rounding out their 2009 recruiting hauls. Though the top five recruiting classes have not seen much movement since the fall, we should fully expect these rankings to remain volatile and subject to change, given that a good number of highly regarded 2010 prospects who have not selected their college programs of choice at the moment.

1. Ohio State Buckeyes

Jared Sullinger
Les Bentley for ESPN.com Jared Sullinger is the nation's top junior.
Ohio State established a rather sizeable lead in the 2010 recruiting class rankings, and the Buckeyes have managed to maintain this lead. They have five prospects slated to make their way to Columbus in 2010, led by 6-foot-8 PF Jared Sullinger (Columbus/Northland), the top player in the ESPNU Super 60. Over the past few years, Buckeyes coach Thad Matta has brought in post players who have the ability to dominate games in each one of his recruiting classes with players such as Greg Oden, Kosta Koufos, and current Buckeyes pivot B.J. Mullens coming to mind. Sullinger will add to this recent trend of outstanding bigs suiting up for Ohio State with his mature offensive game, an impressive trait for a young interior player. Inside players tend to develop slower than guards, but Sullinger has a very polished post game, equipped with great footwork and counter moves that allow him to score in the paint over more athletic big men. He also can stroke the jumper consistently from the 15-17 foot range. The Buckeyes have three other ESPU Super 60 prospects, including 6-7 combo forward DeShaun Thomas (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers), a frontcourt player with the ability to score from the perimeter and the athleticism to score inside. The two other Super 60 players, shooting guards Jordan Sibert (Cincinnati/Princeton) and Lenzelle Smith (Zion, Ill.), along with 2-guard Cameron Wright (Cleveland/Benedictine), will all provide scoring, athleticism, and depth from the backcourt that will greatly complement the Buckeyes' embarrassment of riches along the front line. The Ohio State University has made The initial statement with regard to its 2010 recruiting efforts.

2. Duke Blue Devils

Over the years, some have speculated that Mike Krzyzewski may have lost his recruiting magic. Fresh off the heels of an Olympic gold medal, another top-10 team on the hardwood, and a 2009 recruiting class that will go a long way toward solving the Blue Devils' lack of interior production, reports of the demise of the mighty Duke program seem greatly exaggerated. Coach K's 2010 haul is headlined by two top-25 prospects, 6-5 SG Andre Dawkins (Chesapeake, Va./Atlantic Shores Christian) and 6-8 PF Joshua Hairston (Spotsylvania, Va./Courtland). Dawkins possesses very good athleticism and leaping ability, which will make him a great fit for Duke's transition game. He also can stroke the jumper with range that extends out to the 3-point stripe. With his college-ready body, Dawkins should see the court immediately. Hairston will give the Dukies another athletic frontcourt player who will cause matchup problems because of his ability to utilize the turn-and-face moves to exploit bigger, slower interior defenders. PG Tyler Thornton (Washington, D.C./Gonzaga) provides the Blue Devils with quality depth in the backcourt, particularly at the point guard slot.

3. Illinois Fighting Illini

Jereme Richmond
Kelly Kline/NikeJereme Richmond, above, could form a formidable wing tandem with Crandall Head -- the brother of former Illinois great Luther Head.

Similar to Coach K at Duke, many have speculated that Illini head coach Bruce Weber isn't recruiting as well as he needs to. After taking his squad to the NCAA title game in 2005, Weber took some heat for his recruiting efforts -- including losing current Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Gordon to Indiana after he originally committed to the Illini. Weber has struck with a vengeance in landing one of the top three recruiting classes for 2010. Top-10 prospect Jereme Richmond (Waukegan, Ill.), a versatile 6-6 SF, leads the way for this impressive collection of players. Richmond has the ability to score the ball in a variety of ways, has very good athleticism and outstanding passing ability, which allows him to make his teammates better. Crandall Head (Chicago/Crane), a top-30 player in the Class of 2010, also has good athleticism and quickness, which makes him very tough to for opposing defenses to contain off the dribble. Meyers Leonard (Robinson, Ill.), a 6-10 post player, gives the Illini a post prospect who has great potential. He can stretch defenses with his shooting ability and will become even better once he adds strength and muscle to his frame, which will enhance his back-to-the-basket game. Most importantly, all three of these talented players hail from the talent-laden state of Illinois, which communicates to highly regarded in-state prospects and top national programs that the Fighting Illini will remain a major player for years to come on the national recruiting scene.

4. Louisville Cardinals

Louisville coach Rick Pitino has built a recruiting juggernaut in the Bluegrass State, with the ability to land recruits from all over the country with his intense coaching style and the strong tradition that he has built. In order to compete in the brutal Big East, Pitino understands that he has to continue to attract talented prospects from across the country. He has successfully accomplished this task with his 2010 recruiting haul, led by top-10 post player, Jeremy Tyler (San Diego), this group has players from California, Indiana and Alabama, which indicates Louisville's recruiting range under Pitino. Tyler has the ability to place his imprint on games on both ends of the court, especially when he remains engaged and dedicated to the task of dominating games. SG/SF Justin Martin (Indianapolis/Lawrence North) has the athleticism and shooting ability to score from the perimeter as well as driving to the bucket. SF Josh Langford (Huntsville, Ala./Johnson) does a good job using his scoring ability in the midrange portion of the floor. He will become an even better wing prospect on the next level if he can improve the range on his jumper.

5. Syracuse Orange

The Orange always seems to have strong guard play. This year's squad features point guard Johnny Flynn leading the charge at the Carrier Dome. Top-15 prospect Dion Waiters (Philadelphia/Life Center Academy), a 6-3 combo-guard should follow as the next backcourt prospect to don the orange when he arrives. Waiters plays an incredibly physical brand of basketball from the perimeter, using his strength to overpower weaker guards on his way to the paint. As he improves his shot selection and jump shot consistency and range, Waiters will become a dominant backcourt player for Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. Forward C.J. Fair (Baltimore) gives the Orange a highly skilled frontcourt player who can score on the perimeter with the jumper and in the paint. Big man Baye Moussa Keita (Mouth of Wilson, Va./Oak Hill) has a tremendous amount of upside and his length and shot-blocking ability should provide an anchor for Syracuse's vaunted zone defense alignment.

Antonio Williams is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. He previously worked as an NBA scout for Marty Blake Associates.

Antonio Williams

Basketball Recruiting
Antonio Williams is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. He previously worked as an NBA scout for Marty Blake Associates.