- Reggie Rankin, College Basketball Recruiting
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In recent years, the Big East has been one of the top basketball conferences in the nation. As is usually the case, the league lived up to its rep on the recruiting trail in the 2010 recruiting cycle. Syracuse's four-man class is among the country's finest; it features both size and perimeter talent. The Orange are joined by Marquette and Georgetown in ESPN.com's recruiting class rankings.
Here's a look at how the Big East classes stand following the early signing period. It's important to keep in mind that much can change in the coming months; many prospects have elected to wait for the spring period to pick their college destination.
(Note: Classes that were ranked outside the top 25 with the same grade are listed alphabetically.)
Syracuse commits: four
Coach Jim Boeheim hit the jackpot with this class. This group features three ESPNU 100 performers led by combination guard Dion Waiters (Philadelphia/Life Center Academy). The nation's No. 14 prospect could remind the Orange faithful of Dwayne "Pearl" Washington. Although he missed much of his junior season with injury, Waiters now looks to be back at full strength. This group also includes two true centers -- seven-footer Fabricio Melo (Weston, Fla./Sagemont) and 6-11 project Baye Moussa Keita, (Mouth of Wilson, Va./ Oak Hill Academy) -- to anchor the trademark 2-3 zone defense. Adding to the frontcourt excellence is scoring wing C.J. Fair (Baltimore/ Brewster Academy). This group should have the Carrier Dome rocking for years to come.
Marquette commits: three
This class gives the Golden Eagles perimeter scoring and physical guard play. Combination guards Vander Blue (Madison, Wisc./Memorial) and Reggie Smith (Thornton, Ill./ Thornton) pair well with wing Jamail Jones (College Park, Ga./ Montverde Academy). These three prospects give coach Buzz Williams scoring options off the catch and dribble. Blue brings speed, quickness and playmaking ability to Milwaukee. The lightening-quick Smith can get into the lane at will. Meanwhile, with Jones' ability to knock down shots, the Golden Eagles tradition of great perimeter players will continue.
Georgetown commits: two
The Hoyas added two perfect fits for their Princeton-style speed offense. This class has IQ, size, skill, speed and quickness. PF Nate Lubick (Southborough, Mass./ St. Mark's) is a passionate, high-energy player who can score and pass. Local point guard Markel Starks (Bethesda, Md./ Georgetown Prep) brings speed, quickness and scoring ability to the backcourt. Coach John Thompson will have the luxury of plugging in these two ESPNU 100 players right away for instant production, inside and out.
Cincinnati commits: two
ESPNU 100 PF Justin Jackson (Jacksonville, Fla./ Arlington Country Day) provides the Bearcats with a very athletic, versatile player whom Coach Mick Cronin can depend on to be terrific in transition. The 6-8 Jackson is a force on the boards and defensively in the post and on the perimeter. Jackson will be joined by shot-blocking specialist Kelvin Gaines (Ocala, Fla./Arlington Country Day), who is an above-the-rim finisher. With this dynamic duo, the Bearcats filled their need for immediate frontcourt help that also fits their up-tempo style of play.
Pittsburgh commits: three
This class features perimeter size and a lead guard who can make plays. Attacking point guard Isaiah Epps (Plainfield, N.J./Hargrave Military Academy), who comes in at No. 93 in the ESPNU 100, will have some excellent wing players to distribute the ball to in J.J. Moore (6-5, 200, Brentwood, N.Y./South Kent) and Cameron Wright (Cleveland/ Benedictine). Jamie Dixon's transition game and physical man defense will be a perfect fit for these young Panthers.
Villanova commits: two
Villanova's two 2010 recruits give it tremendous athletic ability on the wings and power in the lane. Coach Jay Wright adds James Bell (Orlando, Fla./ Montverde Academy) at the small forward position. Bell gives the Wildcats another athletic wing who thrives in transition. Meanwhile, local wide-body Markus Kennedy (Philadelphia/ Winchendon) is a low-post threat when the game becomes half-court oriented.
West Virginia commits: two
The Mountaineers add a point guard who matches the personality of head coach Bob Huggins in ESPNU 100 prospect Noah Cottrill (Logan, W. Va.). The West Virginia native is confident and tough as nails. He has talent and skill, and he plays in attack mode on both ends of the floor. Cottrill fills the need for a marquee lead guard and will run the Mountaineers with great energy and urgency from Day 1. He's joined by true 7-1 center David Nyarsuk (Sudan/ Mountain State University Academy), a high-major defensive presence. Huggins has to feel pretty good about his haul; he has added quality players at the two most important positions in college basketball.
Connecticut commits: three
The Huskies added perimeter scoring with this group of prospects. The leader in that department is SG Jeremy Lamb (6-4, 170, Norcross, Ga.), who was on the cusp of being an ESPNU 100 ranked player. He is an excellent scorer with great length and athletic ability. Lamb is not only a great fit for UConn's fast break, but he has the talent that may remind Husky fans of Richard Hamilton. Coach Jim Calhoun also added depth inside with skilled post Michael Bradley (Chattanooga, Tenn./Tyner Academy), who will stretch the defense. PF Cleveland Melvin (Baltimore/Notre Dame Prep) is a high-energy player with great athletic ability who relentlessly attacks the rim.
Notre Dame commits: three
Coach Mike Brey instantly improved his motion offense with this class. SF Jerian Grant (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic) leads the way with his ability to slash, finish and pass the basketball. Grant is coming off a great spring and summer performance during which he played himself into our ESPNU 100. The Irish also added point guard depth with lighting quick Eric Atkins (Columbia, Md./ Mt. St. Joseph's). Also in the backcourt, they have gained a great perimeter shooter in Alex Dragicevich (Northbrook, Ill./ Glenbrook North). Each of these players has versatility, skill and a feel for the game.
Providence commits: three
Coach Keno Davis has put together a class that his spread offensive attack and can immediate contributors because of its ability to score and rebound. Friars fans should get excited about the shooting guards in this class -- ESPNU 100 prospect Gerard Coleman (West Roxbury, Mass./ The Tilton School) and Texas sharpshooter Joseph Young (Houston/Jack Yates). This class also features strong and physical power forward Ron Giplaye (Lowell, Mass./Notre Dame Prep), who can finish above the rim and rebound. Coleman has proved he can score in a variety of ways. Young could be one of the best sleeper guards in the 2010 class.
DePaul commits: three
The Blue Demons meet some major needs with this group, which features quality perimeter help and athletic ability. The group is led by PG Brandon Young (Washington, D.C./Edison-Friendship), who had as good of a spring and summer on the travel circuit as any point guard we saw. Young can run the team, pass and score when needed. He has range to the arc when open and should contribute right away -- especially if he continues to improve at the rate he has over the past several months. Coach Jerry Wainwright went out West to land wing shooter Moses Morgan (Las Vegas/Palo Verde). Athletic PF Walter Pitchford (Grand Rapids, Mich./New Creations Christian) will add versatility and depth in this very impressive, under-the-radar class.
Seton Hall commits: two
Seton Hall's class features a pair of versatile wings. SF Fuquan Edwin (Paterson, N.J./ Paterson Catholic) and SG Jesse Morgan (Philadelphia/ Patterson Olney) provide coach Bobby Gonzalez with slashing scorers. These two can produce points in a hurry and excel in the open court. Morgan can even help at the point in a pinch. Both of these wings can cover four positions, and Edwin could play as an undersized power forward with the right matchup.
South Florida commits: two
Stan Heath added quality depth at the two most important positions in college basketball -- point guard and center. Lavonte Dority (Chicago/Forman) is a power point who makes good decisions and has a great feel for the game. Big man Waverly Austin (Fredericksburg, Va./ Heat Basketball Academy) has great size and finishes consistently around the rim and has tremendous upside. The Bulls could be ready to take the next step forward in the super talented and deep Big East.
Louisville commits: two
Point guard depth is the foundation of this class. Coach Rick Pitino again has been successful in New York by signing lead guard Russell Smith (Briarwood, N.Y./South Kent ). Smith will bring excellent athletic and passing ability to Louisville's attack. Also, true point guard Elisha Justice (Pikeville, Kent./Shelby Valley) is an invited walk-on. He will be a dream come true for the Cards wing and post. He simply makes teammates better with his off-the-charts basketball IQ and feel for the game.
Rutgers commits: one
The Scarlet Knights needed a shooter, and they got one in SG Austin Carroll (Bedford Mass./Brewster Academy). He is deep shot-maker who also has a great feel for his surroundings on the court. The opponent's defense will have to pay attention to Carroll's whereabouts; he is also a willing and able passer when he draws multiple defenders.
St. John's commits: one
Combination forward Ronald Roberts (Bayonne, N.J./Saint Peter's) is St. John's lone signee. He is a little undersized, but Roberts plays with great energy and effort. Those attributes aid him in being an effective rebounder on both ends. He also a solid finisher around the basket.
Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton.
With the three top 100 recruits, the Syracuse Orange have the top early recruiting class in the Big East, writes Reggie Rankin.