Sullinger makes Ohio State's class elite
Kentucky's late-night magic by landing Terrence Jones (Portland, Ore./Jefferson), is the only thing keeping Ohio State from having the No. 1-ranked class this year. However, the Big Ten also has two other schools in the top 15.
(Note: Classes that were ranked outside the top 25 with the same letter grade are listed alphabetically.)
The Buckeyes are bringing in a team of players. Jared Sullinger (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) will have an immediate impact in the post for the Buckeyes. Don't be surprised if he is one of their best players, if not the best. He will give them something they have not had since Terence Dials, someone who can score on the low block. Deshaun Thomas (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers) can score the basketball, and that skill will come in handy if not as a starter, as a super sub off the bench. Aaron Craft (Findlay, Ohio/Liberty-Benton), Jordan Sibert (Cincinnati/Princeton) and Lenzelle Smith Jr. (Zion, Ill./Zion-Benton Township) will all contribute in the backcourt. Craft is the only true point guard on the roster, Sibert is an athletic shooting guard, and Smith can play all three perimeter positions. J.D. Weatherspoon (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) has the kind of athletic ability that can make an impact in games, and coach Thad Matta will find a spot for him.
After another routine run to the Final Four, this group should help the Spartans reload. Adreian Payne (Dayton, Ohio/Jefferson Township) and Keith Appling (Detroit/Pershing) could be immediate contributors, but the Spartans are deep in the post and at the point guard spot. Payne is very talented but could be a redshirt candidate to allow him to get stronger and acclimated to the Big Ten. Appling is versatile enough to play either guard spot, is a very capable scorer and should earn some minutes. Russell Byrd (Ft. Wayne, Ind./Blackhawk Christian) is a pure shooter and may be used as a specialist early in his career. Alex Gauna (Eaton Rapids, Mich.) has great tools, but may have some difficulty breaking into the rotation as a freshman.
Length, athletic ability and potential are the key words to describe this class. All three of these kids are near the top of their positions as far as athletic ability and talent are concerned. All three could easily be pros with hard work and skill refinement. Jereme Richmond (Waukegan, Ill.) is a long and athletic wing whose only question has been consistency. Meyers Leonard (Robinson, Ill.) has all the tools needed to be an NBA post player. Crandall Head (Chicago/Rich South) has an NBA pedigree (his brother Luther is in the NBA) and phenomenal athletic ability. This class could help the Illini make it to the next level.
Michigan lost two huge pieces in its offensive puzzle (Deshawn Sims and Manny Harris), so these new recruits will be expected to contribute immediately. Tim Hardaway Jr. (Miami/Palmetto) is a long, lanky shooting guard with great upside. The son of ex-NBA player Tim Hardaway will need to be prepared to play right away. Evan Smotrycz (Reading, Mass./New Hampton School) is a shooter with size who can conceivably play either forward spot. Jon Horford (Grand Ledge, Mich.) has an excellent pedigree, is solid and should be able to play a role, if needed, from Day 1.
The Boilermakers have added a few solid contributors to their program. Terone Johnson (Indianapolis/North Central) is a strong, athletic combo guard who should be ready for the Big Ten wars from the time he arrives on campus. Travis Carroll (Danville, Ind./Danville Community) is a solid, skilled low-post insider who should be a four-year contributor. Anthony Johnson (Chicago/Whitney Young) is another athletic combo guard who can score and defend. Donnie Hale (New Albany, Ind.) is a raw and athletic insider.
Coach Bo Ryan keeps turning underrated classes into upper-echelon Big Ten teams, and this class is no exception. Evan Anderson (Eau Claire, Wis./North) is the typical Wisconsin center -- a big low-post player who can score on the block. The big lefty has some tools for Ryan and company to work with. Ben Brust (Mundelein, Ill.) is an athletic point guard who decommitted from Iowa after the coaching change. Duje Dukan (Deerfield, Ill.) is a European import who is skilled on the perimeter, while Josh Gasser (Port Washington, Wis.) is a combo guard with size and savvy.
The Gophers signed a class with plenty of size and experience. Maurice Walker (Toronto/Brewster Academy) is a big-bodied, Canadian-born center who will definitely help the team in the paint. Austin Hollins (Germantown, Tenn.) is a thin wing with upside and has a strong pedigree, being the son of ex-NBAer and current Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins. He is a solid shooter that will contribute down the road, if not as a freshman. Elliott Eliason (Chadron, Neb.) is another big-bodied insider, but he's not quite as developed as Walker and could take a redshirt and be ready to contribute for four years after that.
Coach Tom Crean has secured a couple of solid wings in Victor Oladipo (Upper Marlboro, Md./DeMatha Catholic) and Will Sheehey (Stuart, Fla./Sagemont School). Oladipo is an athletic, tough slasher who can make an impact on a game with his athletic ability. He plays hard and is a streaky shooter but is at his best getting to the rim and finishing. Sheehey is a skilled wing who can shoot and score. He is also a solid athlete who really came into his own this last year. Guy-Marc Michel (Coeur d'Alene, Idaho/North Idaho College) is a bit of a project but has one thing you can't teach: size.
After the coaching change, Iowa lost a couple of its key recruits to Florida and Wisconsin; however, Iowa still does have some talent arriving on campus. Roy Marble Jr. (Southfield, Mich./Southfield-Lathrup) is a skilled and athletic wing who has very good upside. He has really improved in the last year. Melsahn Basabe (Glen Cove, N.Y./St. Mark's School) is an aggressive player and should be able to help the team score from day one. Zach McCabe (Sioux City, Iowa/Bishop Heelan) is a combo forward who will probably be used as a mismatch high-post power forward after he puts on weight.
Penn State is always good at finding undervalued players and turning them into conference studs. Taran Buie (State College, Pa.) may be just that kind of player. He is a scoring combo guard who is athletic and competitive. Jonathan Graham (Towson, Md./Calvert Hall College) is a power forward who can also score. He has solid skills and can play facing the basket or with his back to it. Tre Bowman (York, Pa./St. Thomas More) is a versatile, solid guard who can help in a number of ways and can even handle the point in a pinch.
The Northwestern staff signed only one player, but he should make an impact. Jershon Cobb (Decatur, Ga./Columbia) is a versatile player and a solid athlete. He can play either wing position, can provide some immediate scoring and is a solid defender with a good basketball IQ. Cobb should see the floor a lot this season as a freshman.
John Stovall is a recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting. He has worked as part owner and director of scouting for Prep Spotlight Scouting Service and magazine for 15 years.
MORE MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL HEADLINES
- UConn agrees to play Arizona, Ohio State
- Beavers' Baker in ICU; required defibrillator
- Lawsuit: Tulsa failed to protect woman from player
- Blue Jays oppose Creighton's trademark bid