Detroit, CMU highlight best of the rest
Many schools not in the power conferences also had tremendous recruiting classes. Here is a look at a some of the programs that brought in talented prospects that should translate into immediate success on the court. (Note: Classes that were ranked outside the top 25 with identical letter grade are listed alphabetically.)
Detroit's recruiting class grabbed national headlines when point guard Ray McCallum Jr. (Beverly Hills, Mich./Detroit Country Day) decided to stay home and play for his father. Coach Ray MaCallum had already put together an outstanding class that will compete with the upper-tier teams of the Horizon league, but adding a McDonald's All-American to run the team gives the Titans the chance to be special.
Trey Zeigler (Mt. Pleasant, Mich./Mt. Pleasant), like MaCallum, made the decision to shun elite level programs for the opportunity to accomplish something special, while playing for his father. The Chippewas will have a total team makeover as seven new players arrive on campus this fall. There is excitement that Zeigler and Co. will have a chance to compete for MAC championships immediately.
The Lobos are primed and ready to go. On the heels of a 30-win season, coach Steve Alford secured another excellent class that should keep New Mexico near the top of the heap within the Mountain West. The talented incoming class is highlighted by in-state post player Alex Kirk (Los Alamos, N.M./Los Alamos), who was a must get for Alford. The big man will be a hometown favorite and is the center that the Lobos can build around.
Give coach Rick Majerus lesser players and he will find a way to beat his opponents. Give him equal or better players and he will win big. The latter is about to be the case as Majerus and Co. have signed a dynamite class. Power forward Rob Loe (Auckland, New Zealand/Westlake), the top player in New Zealand's 2010 class, was a highly coveted post, while Jordair Jett (St. Paul, Minn./Notre Dame Prep) gives Majerus an intelligent point guard to run his team.
The prodigal son returns after a stint away at prestigious Oak Hill Academy. As one of the top point guards in the 2010 class, Juwan Staten (Dayton, Ohio, Oak Hill Academy) has the locals excited about the future of Flyers basketball. Coach Brian Gregory once again brought in a solid class that should keep Dayton in the hunt for an at-large NCAA bid.
After taking over a program in turmoil and suffering through a 20-plus-loss season in Year 1, coach Charlton Young has quickly energized the Eagles with an outstanding recruiting class. Jelani Hewitt (Oakland Park, Fla./Northeast) is the prospect that has generated the most buzz, but Eric Ferguson (Statesboro, Ga./Winchendon), a 6-8 wing with NBA potential, may be the incoming player who ends up impacting the program the most.
The Grizzles signed a big class with six incoming players. As a heralded and talented point guard, Vaughn Autry (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra) will be expected to lead this group early, while Kareem Jamar (Los Angeles/Westchester), who vaulted up the recruiting rankings, will be counted on to be an impact player from the wing.
Santa Clara's class has some international flavor as Cameroon's Yannick Atanga (Ojai, Calif./Besant Hill) and Julian Clarke (Toronto/Oakwood Collegiate Institute) bring their games to the Bay Area. John McArthur (Concord, Calif./De La Salle), a local product, will give coach Kerry Keating a consistent low-post presence that should help right the ship at Santa Clara.
After a successful run, which included a regular-season championship, UTEP lost coach Tony Barbee to the riches of the SEC. At least Barbee did not leave the cupboard bare for new coach Tim Floyd because the Miners should have a team that is ready to battle Memphis and others for supremacy at the top of Conference USA. Rashanti Harris (Columbus, Miss./The Patterson School), along with John Bohannon (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster) provides versatility and an immediate presence in the paint.
In recent years, VCU has had an outstanding run with three different coaches, and coach Shaka Smart has kept the talent level flowing with the addition of another strong recruiting class. Juvonte Reddic (Winson-Salem, N.C./Quality Education Academy) could be a major steal as he develops in the low post, while Reco McCarter (Goldsboro, N.C./Wayne Country Day) gives Smart a smooth, versatile scoring wing who should help continue the successful trend at VCU.
Coach Dan Monson is slowly starting to work the kind of recruiting magic at Long Beach State that led to his success at Gonzaga. The 49ers mined the recruiting trail and stole a couple of good ones away from higher-profile programs. Shooting guard Jacob Thomas (Columbia Heights, Minn./Columbia Heights) leads a group of five newcomers who should help Monson put the 49ers in the mix for a Big West championship.
In Majok Majok (Northfield, Mass./Northfield-Mt. Hermon) and Adam Jones (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park), Fairfield snagged two players who will have a chance to impact the Stags' program immediately. Both players had opportunities at higher-profile programs, but chose the mid-major route to the delight of hard-working coach Ed Cooley. Fairfield, which smartly extended Cooley's contract, should be well positioned for future success in the MAAC.
Honorable mentionLa Salle Explorers (four recruits), Stetson Hatters (three recruits), Boston University Terriers (seven recruits), Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (five recruits), UC Davis Aggies (four recruits), George Mason Patriots (two recruits), UAB Blazers (three recruits), Butler Bulldogs (three recruits), Pennsylvania Quakers (seven recruits), Harvard Crimson (six recruits), Siena Saints (two recruits), Ohio Bobcats (four recruits), Creighton Bluejays (four recruits), Drake Bulldogs (four recruits), Utah Utes (eight recruits), Wagner Seahawks (five recruits), Morehead State Eagles (nine recruits), Murray State Racers (four recruits), American University Eagles (two recruits), Lamar Cardinals (five recruits), South Dakota State Jackrabbits (three recruits), Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions (four recruits), FIU Golden Panthers (five recruits), Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (five recruits), San Diego Toreros (five recruits), Loyola Marymount Lions (three recruits), Nevada Wolf Pack (seven recruits), Fresno State Bulldogs (five recruits).
Michael LaPlante is a recruiting coordinator and has more than 20 years of coaching and recruiting experience.