Dallas recruiting update
A look at the Dallas region's top prospects, how the area colleges are faring and what the future holds.
Top five seniors
No. 11 overall, No. 3 SF For the second year in a row, there will likely be a McDonald's All-American from the region. Barring a catastrophe, Nash will likely be selected to play in the game and he's earned the right. There was a major recruiting battle for Nash with Oklahoma State beating out Kansas, Baylor, St. John's and Arizona. Travis Ford's Cowboys scored themselves a powerfully built small forward who rebounds like a 4 man and shoots as if he's a wing. Nash has the markers of an impact scorer and recruit in the Big 12.
Three Things To Watch
1. The amazing race
Private airplane hangars in the Dallas area are going to be busy the next few seasons as coaches drop down their Citations with the hopes of impressing forward Julius Randle. Who's Julius Randle? He's the top prospect in the 2013 class and a current sophomore at Prestonwood Academy. His teammate, junior Zach Peters, is already committed to Kansas and the race is on to land the state's best prospect since Perry Jones.
2. Smart comes to play
If Randle is the state's top player, then junior Marcus Smart (Flower Mound) is its top competitor. The 6-4 wing already owns a reputation as a warrior on the hardwood. Smart is exactly the kind of recruit who can raise the intensity level of his team and comes with a built-in winner's attitude. He's one of the key wing recruits in the junior class based on his impact both on and off the court. Every program in the Big 12 will offer him a scholarship, and that's saying something.
3. Where's Deron?
The biggest recruiting story of the coming seasons could involved Deron Williams. Will the former star from The Colony High School return to play with the Mavericks? Stay tuned.
No. 53 overall, No. 8 PG
The Texas A&M Aggies will look for Branch to replace Dash Harris in the backcourt. Branch, a native of Kansas City, is super-athletic and an excellent passer and he owns one of the top handles in the entire country. The next step in his development is to become a vocal leader and being a touch more selfish as an offensive player. We see him as a point guard who can create, penetrate the seams and one day use his athletic ability to his advantage. Over the last six months, he's showed signs of improving and we're banking on his development.
No. 75 overall, No. 18 SF
It seems like Space was undervalued in his own region, but coveted nationally. His decision came down to Maryland, Missouri, Arkansas and Florida State and Leonard Hamilton's Seminoles scored themselves one of the top offensive rebounders in the senior class. Mix in Space's ability to get off the floor, his perimeter shot and live body and we're thinking he's a guy that the regional programs will be disappointed in themselves for letting him get away.
No. 27 PF
Abron, who is set to sign with Arkansas and is a reason the Hogs have a top-five class, has a strong, rugged frame. He's a lefty with a jump shot inside of 18 feet that will keep defenders honest. Abron's been on the cusp of some top 100 lists and we'll pay close attention to see if he can push through with a strong senior season.
(Flower Mound/Flower Mound)
No. 39 SG
Don't be fooled by his ranking because the wing position is the deepest in the class. Mark Turgeon's troops caught onto him before he hit the spring AAU scene last year and locked him up. Green is a wing with potential and that's not a bad thing. He demonstrated flashes of being a smooth left-handed scorer and although he didn't put it together consistently, scouts saw enough to identify his long-term ability and we'll tag him as a Big 12 sleeper.
The Ones That Got Away
Forward Keaton Miles (Dallas/Lincoln) was pursued by a host of schools in the region though not aggressively by the Big 12 programs. Miles decided to head to a BCS league and picked West Virginia. Miles wasn't the only local product to flock to the Big East. Kyan Anderson (Ft. Worth/North Crowley) will run the point for Providence. The 5-foot-10 Anderson is a tough customer and the Friars are hoping his intangibles help overcome his lack of size.
It wasn't easy, but the Longhorns wound up with a top-10 recruiting class and they only had to leave the state once to get it done. However, that one time Rick Barnes reached beyond the border proved to be his most difficult acquisition. Canadian point guard Myck Kabongo (Henderson, Nev./Findlay Prep) committed, de-committed and then re-committed to the Longhorns, making him only the second senior to re-up with his original class. Kabongo isn't coming alone as he'll be joined by ESPNU 100 recruits Sheldon McClellan (Houston/Bellaire), Jonathan Holmes (San Antonio/Antonian) and Julien Lewis (LaMarque).
Like the Longhorns, the boys in Waco had a couple of recruiting tussles of their own. Scott Drew's commitment to recruiting the state of North Carolina didn't end with a pledge from John Wall a year ago, but it did yield two alums from the same AAU program. Quincy Miller, No. 4 in the ESPNU 100, and Deuce Bello, one of the country's best leapers, picked the Bears over Louisville. Both attend Westchester Country Day in High Point, N.C., and both made the Bears work for their pledge before announcing their decisions on ESPNU.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Ford fended off Baylor and hard-charging Kansas for Nash, who's No. 11 in the ESPNU 100. The Cowboys had missed on a few targets out of Texas, namely sniper D'Angelo Harrison (Missouri City, Texas/Dulles), so Nash's commitment was important. He's the program's best scorer since James Anderson. Ford also welcomes junior college standout Karron Johnson (Richmond, Va./Laurinburg Institute), a powerfully built athlete with all kind of tools. If Johnson can keep his emotions in check, he will be a key player in OSU's frontcourt rebuild.
A long offseason in Norman saw coach Jeff Capel shuffle around his staff. The Sooners weren't overly active on the trail during the first period but did come away with a junior college recruit who could shore up their frontcourt. Robert Goff (Indianapolis/Hutchinson CC), a hulking 6-9, 240-pounder, took a spin around the country before Capel convinced him to become a focal point for the Sooners up front. He was one of Capel's primary targets.
Texas A&M Aggies
Turgeon did all of his recruiting work early as both Green and Branch were committed to the Aggies during their high school seasons. With the focus on perimeter players and locking up the program's next point man to follow Dash Harris, Turgeon had a chance to evaluate the plethora of young big men in his state for future classes.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Coach Pat Knight's recruiting consists of five Texans. In the last two years, the Red Raiders signed eight players; seven of them were residents of the Lone Star State. The best aspect of this class is that there isn't a headliner but a breadth of good players. From wing Terran Petteway (Galveston/Ball) to shooter Toddrick Gotcher (Lakeview/Centennial), Knight's covered on the perimeter. Point man Kevin Wagner (Estacado/Estacado) is just 5-8, but he plays with a chip on his shoulder. Forward Hershey Robinson (Houston/Christian Life) and Jordan Tolbert (Fort Worth/Episcopal) man the future frontcourt.
Cannen Cunningham (Arlington/Lamar) is the No. 16 center on ESPN's list. Like Space, Cunningham was recruited harder out of the region than from within. However, it only takes one and Matt Doherty's SMU Mustangs locked him up. Cunningham was evaluated by a slew of BCS programs in the summer and demonstrated that he could rebound, block shots and knock down jumpers. What prevented him from punching his ticket in the Big 12 was consistency. If Doherty can get Cunningham to perform with a greater intensity level, he'll turn the 6-8 frontcourt standout into a steal. He's joined by small forward Jalen Jones (Dallas/Kimball), guard Ryan Manuel (Sugar Land/Austin) and forward Eric Norman (San Diego/Parker)
North Texas Mean Green
The Mean Green committed five players during the early period led by Jordan Williams (Dallas/Kimball). Williams is joined by Trey Norris (Grand Prairie/South), Chris Jones (Lakeview/Lakeview), Forrest Robinson (Eastland/Eastland) and Brandon Walton (Casper, Wyo./Casper JC).
Dave Telep is the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com. His college basketball scouting service is used by more than 225 colleges and numerous NBA teams. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.