UNC, Duke rivalry continues
NC State, Wake Forest starting to close the gap in the ACC with their incoming classes
The usual suspects, North Carolina and Duke, earn the top two spots in the ACC, but NC State and Wake Forest were pleasant surprises. The ACC has six teams ranked in the top 25 and three in the top 10, which is truly remarkable. Here is a look at how we graded each ACC team's 2010 recruiting class.
(Note: Classes that were ranked outside the top 25 with the same letter grade are listed alphabetically.)
Not only did the Tar Heels address the positions they needed (perimeter players), but they also filled those needs with impact recruits. That is the hardest thing to do in recruiting. Small forward Harrison Barnes (Ames, Iowa) is the No. 1 prospect in this class thanks to his versatility and his ability to attack the hoop or score with his deadly midrange game. Plus, Reggie Bullock (Kinston, N.C.) can fill it up from 3, and Kendall Marshall (Dumfries, Va./Bishop O'Connell) could be the best passer in the 2010 class.
The Blue Devils needed to get a point guard in this class, and they landed Kyrie Irving (West Orange, N.J./St. Patrick), who is the best in this class. He is a special talent thanks to his tight handle, blow-by speed and 3-point shooting. Coach Mike Krzyzewski also landed power forward Joshua Hairston (Spotsylvania, Va./Montrose Christian) and a battle-tested guard in Tyler Thornton (Washington, D.C./Gonzaga College), who comes from perrenial power house Gonzaga Colege High School. He can score in transition and play either guard spot in the half-court set. This incoming class is going to make practices fun because there is so much talent and depth.
The Wolfpack also needed perimeter help from this class and will get it from Ryan Harrow (Marietta, Ga./George Walton Comprehensive) and Lorenzo Brown (Roswell, Ga./Hargrave Military Academy). Harrow can score in a variety of ways and is pretty much automatic from the charity stripe, while Brown can handle the ball and is deadly off screens. However, bringing in C.J. Leslie (Holly Springs, N.C./Word of God Christian Academy) is what escalates this class to the elite level. Leslie is one of the most athletic players in the country, and his commitment to NC State was a bit surprising, but it is a tribute to Sidney Lowe and his staff.
Retaining assistant coach Jeff Battle after bringing in new head coach Jeff Bzdelik for Dino Gaudio was very important. By doing that, the Demon Deacons were able to retain their recruiting class, highlighted by J.T. Terrell (Charlotte, N.C./West Charlotte). Travis McKie (Richmond, Va./John Marshall) is a high-energy player and excellent rebounder, who finishes well when he has a clear path to the basket. Wake Forest is bringing in a solid recruit at every position, and it is a tribute to Bzdelik for re-recruiting and capitalizing on Gaudio's excellent work.
The one-two punch of Okaro White (Clearwater, Fla.) and Ian Miller (Charlotte, N.C./United Faith Christian Academy) is an explosive scorer who adds tremendous athletic ability and defensive prowess. White can guard multiple positions, while Miller has a chance to be a perimeter stopper. Coach Leonard Hamilton also did a good job by bringing in two junior college players, Jon Kreft (Parkland, Fla./Chipola College) and Bernard James (Savannah, Ga./Tallahassee Community College), who will make immediate contributions. Keep an eye out for James because he can score off the dribble or with his jumper, and he is an early candidate the ACC All-Newcomer Team.
The Terrapins have added a great combo of perimeter and post depth and toughness, which is necessary to deal with the rigors of playing in the ACC. The guard trio of Mychal Parker (Washington, N.C./The Miller School), Terrell Stoglin (Tucson, Ariz./Santa Rita) and Pe'Shon Howard (Wytheville, Va./Oak Hill) highlight this group. Parker has all the intangibles to be an outstanding wing at the next level, while Stoglin is a scoring point guard who is mentally tough enough to overcome his physical limitations at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds.
In his first true recruiting class, coach Tony Bennett did a great job. Shooting guard K.T. Harrell (Montgomery, Ala./Brewbaker Tech Magnet) will really flourish coming off screens and making shots. He also attacks the rim in transition as well as in the half court with great speed and quickness. Power forward James Johnson (Wildomar, Calif./Elsinore) upgrades the Cavaliers' talent in the front court thanks to his great frame, athleticism and ability to finish around the rim.
With limited scholarships available after bringing in six recruits last year, the Jackets landed a dynamic small forward in Jason Morris (Augusta, Ga./Hotchkiss School). He has great athleticism and skill set to go along with his improving basketball IQ. He's a fantastic finisher on the wing and at his best in transition. However, Georgia Tech did not address its need for a big man.
Even though the Hokies landed only two recruits, they got a pair of tough, perimeter players. Both Jarrell Eddie (Charlotte, N.C./Cannon) and Tyrone Garland (Philadelphia/John Bartram) will contribute immediately and grow with the program. Eddie is a strong, physical small forward who can get to the rim, knock down 3s and is great in transition. Garland is a scrappy, scoring combo guard who is probably more of a 2 than a 1 right now, but he has the basketball smarts to lead a team.
Coach Frank Haith has brought shooting guard Rion Brown (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County), who can play next to Durand Scott, bolster the perimeter and help enhance the Hurricanes' transition game. Brown is a great finisher who will attack the basket. Forwards Erik Swoope (North Hollywood, Calif./Harvard-Westlake) and Raphael Akpejiori (Bel Aire, Kan./Sunrise Christian Academy) will add depth to the frontcourt. Swoope is smaller (6-5, 220) but has a great physique and top-notch ACC athleticism.
The late arrival of new coach Brad Brownell is a big reason why the Tigers were unable to hang onto power forward Marcus Thornton (Atlanta/Westlake), but Cory Stanton (Springfield, Tenn.) is a solid get. The pass-first point guard with good skill level has a good first step and can help run the show for Clemson.
Anytime a new coach takes over, there's attrition. Boston College has to start over, and it's going to take time to get the right players. The 2011 class becomes the coaching staff's biggest priority.
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 2004, 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.