- Joel Francisco
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Here's a team-by-team breakdown of the Pac-10's 2011 recruiting classes after the early signing period.
Sean Miller has an excellent eye for talent; for example, he lured the underrated Derrick Williams (Pac-10 freshman of the year) to Tucson out of California. This recruiting season, he filled a major hole at point guard by signing one of the elite talents in the country in five-star prospect Josiah Turner (Sacramento, Calif./Sacramento). He should be the starter from the day he steps foot on campus due to his size, strength and passing ability. To complement the signing of Turner, the Wildcats also landed 6-foot-2 Nick Johnson (Henderson, Nev./Findlay Prep), who is a tenacious competitor and scorer, especially in transition. While the backcourt is set for the next couple of seasons, Miller ventured east to snag an intriguing face-up 4-man in 6-8 Sidiki Johnson (Bronx, N.Y./Oak Hill Academy), who is a physical specimen with significant upside. He has a terrific frame and is a load to stop in transition, where he loves to attack the rim.
Dana Altman has inherited a program that has just eight scholarship players. The upside, however, is he can promise early playing time. Heading this impressive class is five-star SG Jabari Brown (Oakland, Calif./Oakland), who might be the most prolific shooter in the country. He has great size and strength for the off guard position. Meanwhile, the Ducks received another commitment from yet another sharpshooter in 6-1 Brett Kingma (Mill Creek, Wash./Henry Jackson), who has a quick release and can be deadly off the catch. To fill the void at point guard, Altman headed east to land 6-2 Bruce Barron (Carbondale, Ill./Brehm Prep), who doesn't fit that prototypical point guard mold but has impressive size, burst and tenacity. Rounding out the class, Altman stayed local with the late-blooming 6-9 Austin Kuemper (Portland, Ore./Westview), who is deceptively bouncy and can nail the jump shot at the elbow.
Each and every season, Lorenzo Romar does an outstanding job of adding talented players to his roster. This time around, ultra-skilled ESPNU 100 SG Tony Wroten Jr. (Renton, Wash./Garfield) highlights the Huskies' class. Wroten is a unique guard-type who can affect the game on multiple levels. His passing prowess sets him apart from most guards, and his overall size is impressive. If his jump shot can continue to improve, his upside is immense. To complement Wroten's passing ability, the Huskies also signed 6-2 Hikeem Stewart (Seattle, Wash./Rainier Beach), an athletic scoring guard who can pull up and hit the 3-point shot or attack the rim. In addition, Romar ventured east to grab a lengthy, athletic hybrid 4-man in 6-10 Jernard Jarreau (New Orleans, La./McDonogh). Finally, the Huskies got their point guard of the future in 6-1 Andrew Andrews (Portland, Ore./Benson Tech), who plans to enroll during the 2012-13 season after a year at prep school.
Herb Sendek did an outstanding job of filling needs last season, and he's off to a good start this season, as the Sun Devils snagged an elite point guard in Jahii Carson (Mesa, Ariz./Mesa). The 5-10 guard is as quick and explosive as any point guard in the country. He can get to the rim at will or drain the 3-point shot. Once he matures with his decision-making, he should be an all-conference performer sooner rather than later. The Sun Devils still have three scholarships to hand out and have expanded their recruiting base to evaluate talent from foreign areas. However, with the exception of landing an immediate impact recruit like DeAndre Daniels (Montverde, Fla./IMG Academy), look for Sendek to start concentrating on the upside of the 2012 class out west.
Even with a solid haul last season, led by current freshman starters Maurice Jones and Bryce Jones, the Trojans are in need of adding depth -- and they have done that with this current group. The best of the bunch is 6-5 Byron Wesley (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Etiwanda), who should fit well in Kevin O'Neill's tough-minded system. Wesley is a basketball player in every sense of the word. He projects to being a glue-type who will rebound, defend and get a handful of points off physical drives to the rim. O'Neill might have found his point guard of the future in 6-2 Alexis Moore (Long Beach, Calif./Poly). He needs to continue to hone his point guard skills, but overall he is one of the more physically gifted guard-types out west. Last, but certainly not least, the Trojans went the junior college route and landed 7-1 James Blasczyk (Friendswood, Texas/Lee College), who should help replace the loss of current senior starter Alex Stepheson. Blasczyk is very physical and has a potent 3-point touch.
Johnny Dawkins has a roster chock full of young talent, so he and his staff had to be selective with their approach. They did that with the signing of ESPNU 100 point guard Chasson Randle (Rock Island, Ill./Rock Island). He is a talented combo guard who is just beginning to learn the nuances of the point guard position. He has a wiry frame that should fill out nicely and a high basketball IQ. Due to his versatility (he is a gifted scorer as well), Randle should make an impact the moment he arrives.
With a roster overflowing with underclassmen (not one senior), the Cougars had only two scholarships to hand out, and they filled those two slots with a pair of prospects beaming with upside. Ken Bone landed one of the most unheralded bigs in the Los Angeles area in 6-7 Greg Sequele (Los Angeles, Calif./Ribet Academy). Blessed with a chiseled frame and explosive bounce, Sequele projects well to the next level. His skills are raw, but he fills the lane well in transition and can attack the offensive glass with a vengeance. To add some backcourt depth, the Cougars added 6-3 Davonte Lacy (Tacoma, Wash./Curtis Senior), who is a versatile prospect with a nice combination of strength and athleticism. Due to his solid all-around game, he'll be able to swing between the 1 and the 2 at both ends of the floor.
Although Ben Howland signed arguably the best scoring guard prospect in California in Norman Powell (San Diego, Calif./Lincoln), as a whole, it was a very disappointing early signing period. The Bruins decided to move beyond their borders and try to lure some of the nation's best to Westwood -- but came up short as ESPNU 100 recruits Branden Dawson (Michigan State), Adonis Thomas (Memphis) and Quinn Cook (Duke) decided to go elsewhere. Not too mention they came up short for the best point guard prospect out west in Turner. From now until spring, the Bruins will be investigating the talent in the junior college ranks to see whether they can locate some hidden gems.
After a terrific haul last season, the Golden Bears have been much more selective this time around. Mike Montgomery filled many needs last season, and thus far he has done the same with the addition of 6-9 David Kravish (Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit North). The Golden Bears are void of bigs, and Kravish has an impressive upside. He'll need to gain strength, but he has a bright future due his length, bounce and blossoming skill set. Montgomery has some exceptional shooters in the program, so maybe the possibility of landing a "true" point guard might be the call during the spring signing period.
The Beavers signed only one prospect in 6-9 Daniel Gomis (Mouth of Wilson, Va./Oak Hill Academy), but coach Craig Robinson has a very young squad with a combination of nine freshmen and sophomores. Gomis is an athletic 4-man who is just scratching the surface of his potential. He's an explosive athlete in transition, and he'll attack the offensive glass with a vengeance. If his face-up skills continue to develop, he should be a solid contributor from the moment he arrives. The Beavers still have three scholarships to give and are still involved with 6-1 Elijah Carter (Paterson, N.J./Brewster Academy). However, Robinson might wait and save some of those open spots for the outstanding 2012 class.
Joel Francisco is a recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting.
Arizona, featuring five-star PG Josiah Turner, is the leader of the Pac-10, writes Joel Francisco.