Mizzou making noise on the trail
Traditional Big 12 powers Kansas and Texas likely will garner much of the on-court attention during the coming months. That might not be the case on the recruiting trail, however. Recent upstart Missouri had the league's top-rated haul in ESPN.com's 2010 class rankings, at No. 14. The Tigers were joined in the top 25 by Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
Although the recruiting numbers are a bit atypical for the programs in Austin and Lawrence, a lot can change between now and the spring -- some of the nation's top prospects have yet to pick a college. Here's a look at where things stand among Big 12 schools following the early signing period.
(Note: Classes that were ranked outside the top 25 with the same grade are listed alphabetically.)
When it came to filling needs during the early signing period, no one did it better than Tigers boss Mike Anderson. Mizzou's frenetic style of play goes to the next level the addition of two ESPNU 100 talents. Speedy point guard Phil Pressey (Dallas/ Episcopal School), who is the No. 31-ranked player in the ESPNU 100, plays in attack mode on both ends and is capable of big scoring numbers. He'll be aided by the presence of skilled power forward Tony Mitchell (Dallas/ L.G. Pinkston). The nation's No. 57 prospect runs like a deer and rebounds relentlessly. Local shooting guard Ricky Kreklow (Columbia, Mo./ Rock Bridge) will be right at home knocking down jumpers created by Pressey's penetration. The Tigers frontcourt rotation will be further bolstered with the addition of mobile shot-blocker Kadeem Green (Markham, Ont./ Charlotte, NC./ United Faith Christian Academy).
Jeff Capel is bringing in a pair of immediate-impact players with athletic ability and versatility. ESPNU 100 small forward Cameron Clark (Sherman, Texas), the No. 18 prospect in the 2010 class, is a super athletic wing who will provide crowd with exciting finishes on the fastbreak. He'll be joined by strong and physical combination guard T.J. Taylor (Denison, Texas). Taylor gets others involved and scores when needed. Capel has made his presence felt on the recruiting trail in the state of Texas these past few years. In 2009, he pulled Keith "Tiny" Gallon and Tommy Mason-Griffin from the Lone Star State.
The Aggies loaded up at the power forward position. Mark Turgeon took care of business in the state of Texas with this class; the Aggies signed three players from the Lone Star State, including ESPNU 100 posts Tobi Oyedeji (Houston/Bellaire) and Daniel Alexander (Dripping Springs, Texas). In addition to those big bodies, the Aggies secured the services of two other bruisers in Kourtney Roberson (Arcadia, La./Christian Life) and Keith Davis (DeSoto, Texas/ DeSoto). With such an infusion of frontcourt talent, the future looks bright at A&M.
Coach Scott Drew pulled a shocker in landing forward Perry Jones (Duncanville, Texas), the nation's No. 3 player. Jones is an immediate-impact player who has size, skill and athletic ability that is second to none in the 2010 class. Think LaMarcus Aldridge or Chris Bosh. Shooting guard Bakari Turner (Plano, Texas/ Plano West) will stretch the defense and provide Jones space to work in the lane. Don't expect these Bears to go into hibernation as long as Jones is in Waco.
Despite landing only one signee, the Horns earn a high mark. That tends to happen when you land the No. 11 player in the nation. Power forward Tristan Thompson (Brampton, Ont./ Findlay College Prep) brings great size, strength, athletic ability, improved skill and off the charts upside to Austin. Thompson, at times, reminds me of Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford. Coach Rick Barnes continues to bring great talent into his program; the Longhorns are a year removed from signing Avery Bradley, the top player in the 2009 class.
Coach Frank Martin lured small forward Shane Southwell (New York/ Rice) from the Big Apple to the Little Apple -- Manhattan, Kan. Southwell should contribute right away with his athletic ability in transition and skill from the wing. Point guard Will Spradling (Overland Park, Kan. / Shawnee Mission South) will represent his home state and provide the Wildcats a floor leader with deep range and excellent passing ability. The Wildcats also added a big-time low-post presence in Freddy Asprilla (Miami-Dade CC). The former Sun Belt Conference freshman of the year at Florida International decided to leave after a coaching change. However, he was not released from his scholarship and will play this season at Miami-Dade before heading to Manhattan. Asprilla averaged 14 points and nine rebounds at FIU. He will bring experience along with great size and skill. Asprilla should provide K-State with an immediate-impact player in the post.
The athletic ability in this class should have the Cowboys' fastbreak in high gear. ESPNU 100 PF Michael Cobbins (Amarillo, Texas/Palo Duro) leads the way from the talent rich state of Texas. Cobbins is bouncy around the rim, with range to about 17 feet. Wings Markel Brown (Alexandria, La./ Peabody Magnet), Brian Williams (Baton Rouge, La./Glen Oaks) and juco standout J.P. Olukemi (Simi Valley, Calif./Vincennes) are athletic scorers and above-the-rim finishers. This group will have Gallagher-Iba Arena in a frenzy.
Coach Bill Self went West to add shooting guard Royce Woolridge (Phoenix, AZ. / Sunnyslope) to the Jayhawks family. The ESPNU 100 prospect is a true scorer from the wing who posses a great first step and plays in attack mode on the offensive end of the floor.
Small forward Melvin Ejim (Ontario, Canada/ Brewster Academy) and combination guard DeMarcus Phillips (Marshalltown Community College) will provide quality depth for Greg McDermott. Ejim is an athletic wing with a good midrange jumper. He will develop into a solid player for the Cyclones. Phillips is a former Wisconsin player of the year in 2008. He brings juco experience along with the ability to create for teammates and score right away at the Big 12 level.
Coach Doc Sadler went big with this class. The Big Red signed one of the biggest and best junior-college post players in the country in 6-11 Andre Almeida (Sao Paulo, Brazil/Arizona Western College). He is a fundamentally sound, low-post scoring presence. The Huskers also have secured the services of point guard Kenyon McNeaill (Conway, Ark.), a lead guard who can run the team and make plays in the lane. PF/C Vander Joaquim (Price, Utah/ College of Eastern Utah) is a skilled forward with great length who can score inside and out.
Tech landed shooting guard Jamel Outler (Houston/Bellaire) who excels in transition and scores in the half court with a strong middle game. Combination guard Javarez Willis (Dallas/Christian Life Center Academy) can get to the rim and competes on both ends. Juco standout power forward Paul Cooper (Gulf Coast CC) provides a legit post presence and back-to-the-basket scoring.
With zero recruits on board for 2010, CU gets an incomplete grade for the time being.
Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton.
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