- Paul Biancardi, Basketball Recruiting
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The storylines remain relatively unchanged in ACC country; it's no shocker that the North Carolina Tar Heels have the conference's top recruiting class, which also ranks third nationally. Roy Williams' program isn't the only ACC school adding top-tier talent. Wake Forest, Duke and Maryland all landed talent that should have them in a good position in the coming years.
Of course, many of these classes are incomplete. Things could look completely different after the spring signing period. Here's a look at how we graded the ACC following last week's early signing period.
(Note: Classes that were ranked outside the top 25 with the same letter grade are listed alphabetically.)
North Carolina commits: three
UNC landed a star-studded class of perimeter talent! The Tar Heels have signed three of the top 20 players in the ESPNU 100. On its present roster, North Carolina has a stable of versatile and extremely productive frontcourt bigs returning. This year's class adds everything the Tar Heels need to stay on top of the ACC and make a run for a national championship. The talent in this group starts with the top player in the nation, Harrison Barnes (Ames, Iowa). Barnes is a very skilled SF with all the tools to be an immediate starter and a star. He is an excellent shooter with range to 22 feet, possesses an exceptional middle game with the handle to drive his man into the lane and score or make the assist. He has shown advanced maturity both on and off the court. He is a possible one-and-done player. Reggie Bullock (Kinston, N.C.) is a skilled SG who can do it all. He comes from the same hometown as Jerry Stackhouse and has a game that is somewhat similar. Kendall Marshall (Dumfries, Va./Bishop O'Connell) is the best passer in the class. He is a pure point guard who thinks pass first. He makes his teammates better and his teams constantly win! Strong perimeter play wins championships and coach Roy Williams and staff are bringing three of the best in the country to Chapel Hill.
Wake Forest commits: five
Dino Gaudio and his staff continue to bring great players to Winston-Salem, N.C. This five-man class covers each position on the floor. Some of these recruits will be immediate impact players -- such as J.T. Terrell (Charlotte, N.C./West) Travis McKie (Richmond, Va.) and Melvin Tabb (Raleigh, N.C./Enloe). Terrell is an excellent scorer and shooter who shows the ability to possibly move to the point in the future. McKie is an athletic 3 who can do a little of everything. He rebounds, competes and is a winner. Tabb is an athletic and skilled post player who can be an impact player when his motor is running high. He can score on the block and out to 15 feet. Carson Desrosiers (Windham, N.H./Central Catholic) demonstrates a high ceiling of potential with impressive shooting and passing skills for a player of his size. Tony Chennault (Philadelphia/Neumann-Goretti) is a solid point guard that can run the show and score. You have to love the talent, versatility and depth in this class.
Duke commits: three
Coach K will have a loaded roster returning in 2010-2011. In this group, Duke got the star point guard it wanted and needed with Kyrie Irving (Orange, N.J./St. Patrick). He will be entrusted with the ball in his hands from day one. He can score on drives or nail long-range jumpers, along with creating and finding his teammates. Joshua Hairston (Rockville, Md./Montrose Christian) can score inside but is much more effective as a scoring high post forward who can drive his defender and shoot it with range to 19 feet. Tyler Thornton(Washington, D.C./Gonzaga) is a solid point guard who can defend the position, provide leadership and run a team. Playing at Gonzaga, he brings a pedigree of success.
NC State commits: three (two signed, one verbal)
Prep-school prospect Lorenzo Brown (Roswell, Ga.), who originally signed with the Wolfpack last year, is playing at a high level at Hargrave Military Academy. Spending another year working on his game will only make him more of an impact player for Sidney Lowe. Ryan Harrow (Marietta, Ga./Walton) is a consistent scoring point guard who creates for himself or can create for teammates just as effectively. He plays with great confidence and makes all his free throws at the end of games. Lowe is waiting on Luke Cothron (Huntsville, Ala./Flora MacDonald) to sign in April. Assuming he does, N.C State has a pair of dominating guards to go along with a do-it-all power forward.
Maryland commits: four (three signed, one verbal)
Coach Gary Williams has brought in three immediate contributors. SG Mychal Parker (Washington, N.C./The Miller School) has all the tools and frame to contribute immediately. He is a load to handle in transition as he sprints the floor to spot up for 3s or runs rim for the dunk. Terrell Stoglin ( Tucson, Ariz./Santa Rita) is a lefty scorer who can put the ball in the basket as well as run the show when needed. He is a natural scoring point guard and is greatly improved over the past year. Ashton Pankey (New York/St. Anthony) is a gifted athlete who will finish inside and will be an active rebounder on both ends of the floor. Terrence Ross (Portland, Ore./Montrose Christian) is an elite level scorer with deep range on his 3-point shot. Ross has yet to sign. When he does this spring, Maryland's class goes from good to great!
Virginia commits: five
This class possesses a strong blend of talent, high basketball IQ and depth that will serve as a solid foundation for future success. James Johnson (Wildomar, Calif./Elsinore) is a solid post player who can be the cornerstone of the new regime. Johnson is a perfect pick-and-pop forward and can do damage inside as well. An aggressive scorer, Johnson should shoot plenty of free throws over his career. K.T. Harrell (Montgomery, Ala./Brewbaker Tech) was one of the top stock risers of the summer; he scores from the dribble penetration or knocks down the midrange jumper. He is a willing defender who prides himself on all aspects of his game. Will Regan (Williamsville, N.Y./Nichols School) is a solid post player inside who rebounds with toughness. He has a solid jumper to 17 feet. Akil Mitchell (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian) is a long and athletic SF who is versatile offensively and brings energy to the court. Joe Harris (Chelan, Wash.) has range, accuracy and consistency on his jumper with size on the perimeter. New coach Tony Bennett is making his mark in the ACC.
Florida State commits: three
Okaro White (Clearwater, Fla.) is a big-time athlete with energy. He can defend multiple positions in the ACC. What makes him special is that he is very efficient and productive scoring the ball. He was one of the most improved players on the summer circuit. At 6-9, watch him rebound and bust out with the dribble to start the break -- it's impressive. Ian Miller (Charlotte, N.C./United Faith Christian) is a scorer who can play either guard position and can put up points in bunches. Bernard James (Tallahassee CC) is a physically-imposing man at age 25 and will help inside immediately.
Georgia Tech commits: one
Paul Hewitt doesn't have a ton of room on a roster that could return most of its talent next season. He made his one early signee a good one. Jason Morris (Augusta, Ga./Hotchkiss School) is an absolutely incredible athlete who plays above the rim like few others are capable of doing. He's a fantastic finisher and at his best in transition. He impressed with the way he uses his left hand to finish in the paint over and around defenders. His best basketball is still in front of him; he continues to learn the game and develop his skills.
Boston College commits: three
The Eagles may not always get the household names, but they do get guys with game. Senegal native Papa Samba Ndao (Montverde, Fla./Montverde Academy) is extremely athletic with a quick first step. At 6-foot-9, he beats defenders off the dribble from the high post and wing area. Defensively, he can very effective with his length contesting shots and pursuing the ball off the glass. We like his versatility as he can play and defend a SF. Brady Heslip (Burlington, Ont./New Hampton School) creates for his teammates and will run the team displaying strong leadership qualities. Six-foot-10 inch prospect Kevin Noreen (Minneapolis/Minnesota Transitions Charter) is a skilled big with a 4.0 GPA.
Clemson commits: one
Clemon's one early signee, Marcus Thornton (Atlanta/West Lake) should be an immediate contributor and grow into a starter soon. Thornton is a strong and long power forward. He is athletic and finishes above the rim in transition on any clear paths to or around the rim. Thornton is a terrific rebounder who goes up in traffic and comes away with the possession. In landing Thornton, Oliver Purnell continues to recruit great athletes who fit into his successful style of full-court pressure and tough man-to-man defense.
Miami commits: two
The Hurricanes' two-man class gives them help on both the inside and perimeter. Big man Raphael Akpejiori (Bel Aire, Kan.) is a tremendous rebounder and shot-blocker from anywhere in the lane due to his quickness and agility. Right now, his defense is ahead of his offense but his offensive skills are underrated. SG Rion Brown (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) has incredible athleticism and leaping ability, which makes him very tough to guard on the wing. He has a knack for creating his own offense off the dribble, using his leaping ability as well as his quick first step, then scores with good body control when at the rim. Frank Haith is bringing in a pair high-caliber athletes who can score and defend and in time should be key players for the Hurricanes.
Virginia Tech commits: two
Seth Greenberg has landed a couple of perimeter players with solid potential. Jarrell Eddie (Charlotte, N.C./Cannon School) has all the makings of a high-major wing. He understands how to draw contact and he makes you pay at the free throw line. He is explosive and aggressive around the basket; Eddie plays in attack mode at all times. Tyrone Garland (Philadelphia/John Bartram) is a 6-2 scoring combo guard who scores the ball by slashing to the basket. He's probably more of a 2 than a 1 right now but he has the basketball smarts to lead a team. Defensively, he's a scrappy, tough on-ball defender who gives great effort and plays with heart.
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 2003, 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.
The usual suspects -- UNC, Wake Forest and Duke -- have landed the top classes in the ACC after the early signing period, writes Paul Biancardi.