The future of West region teams
Who they lose, what recruits are coming in and what it means for the future
Sixty-eight teams made the NCAA tournament, but each of them know if they want to return they need to recruit well. Here's a look at what each team in the West region is losing after this year, what kind of recruiting class they're bringing in and what it means to their hopes of making future NCAA tournaments.
|1. Duke Blue Devils
What they're losing: Mike Krzyzewski, in his heart of hearts won't be counting on Kyrie Irving next year. That means the best point guard in America is gone. As if the specter of losing Irving isn't enough, Coach K says goodbye to two of his all-time favorites in ACC POY Nolan Smith and has to close the book on Kyle Singler, one of the best forwards he's had in the last decade. If all three go, no one in the country will lose as much talent.
What they're adding: And now for the good news. The arrival of Austin Rivers (Orlando, Fla./Winter Park) is well-timed. There will be plenty of shots to go around next year and Rivers is an offensive machine. He and this class cannot replace what Coach K will have lost, but Rivers gives them a gunslinger. Marshall Plumlee (Warsaw, Ind./Christ School) may have to replace his big brother, Mason, if he leaves for the draft. Michael Gbinije (Richmond, Va./Benedictine) is a savvy player who will excel in the system and Quinn Cook (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha) can expect a dogfight with Tyler Thornton for point guard duties.
What it equals: By our math, Duke definitely loses more than it gains but the reloading process is underway. The Devils own a pair of Top 20 commitments from the Class of 2012 as well, so all is well in Durham.
|2. San Diego State Aztecs
What they're losing: The Aztecs will be decimated by graduation as starters D.J. Gay, Malcolm Thomas and Billy White have exhausted their eligibility. In addition, super 6-7 sophomore Kawhi Leonard may test the NBA waters.
What they're adding: Despite their graduation losses, coach Steve Fisher has done an outstanding job of supplanting that departed talent with terrific prospects. The Aztecs will welcome the ultra-athletic duo of 6-8 Deshawn Stephens (Los Angeles, Calif./Santa Monica J.C.) and LMU transfer 6-8 Kevin Young. In addition, Washington State transfer Xavier Thames should take over the point guard duties of senior starter Gay.
What it equals: It will be difficult to replace the leadership of that trio of seniors. However, there is a lot upside with the incoming recruits to make another run at the conference title, especially if Leonard comes back.
|3. Connecticut Huskies
What they're losing: The Huskies are definitely losing a few seniors who have contributed nicely over their careers, especially center Charles Okwandu, who gave them a huge physical presence inside the paint. More importantly, hard to imagine that Kemba Walker will be back after a stellar junior campaign. He has been simply awesome.
What they're adding: ESPNU 100 PG Ryan Boatright (Chicago, Ill./Aurora East) is in some ways like Walker. He possesses super quickness and can get virtually anywhere he wants on the floor with his dribble. He's always in attack mode probing and penetrating the defense looking to score. When he gets on a roll he can be a dangerous offensive talent.
What it equals: Anytime you lose a player of Walker's magnitude, you never replace it with one guy. But in this case UConn is bringing in a talent that could help ease the transition of losing an All-American and help the strong returning core. The Huskies will welcome and need this lightning bolt from the Midwest. Boatright is just what the Huskies need and the timing is perfect!
|4. Texas Longhorns
What they're losing: The guy Rick Barnes will miss most is Gary Johnson, the team's most regular contributing senior performer. However, even though Johnson and three other seniors are exiting, that may not account for the sum total of losses. Barnes' biggest recruiting project this spring is Tristan Thompson. With the NBA lockout looming and Thompson being a lock first-rounder, can Barnes keep him in the fold another season? After he solves that riddle, he'll turn his attention to all-Big 12 performer Jordan Hamilton. He'll have a draft itch as well and if both he and Thompson scratch that itch, Texas will rely on younger players to pave the way.
What they're adding: Make no mistake about it, Barnes is excited about coaching Myck Kabongo (Toronto, Ont./Findlay Prep). Texas could have four Canadians in the program next season as Kevin Thomas (Brampton, Ont./Christian Faith) pledged last week. Another Top 10 recruiting class is on the way with Sheldon McClellan (Houston, Texas/Bellaire), power forward Jonathan Holmes (San Antonio, Texas/Antonian College) and sniper Julien Lewis (LaMarque, Texas/LaMarque).
What it equals: Regardless of the potential NBA defections, this is a lock tournament team again next year and as long as Thompson stays, Texas is a formidable, Top 10 program again next season.
|5. Arizona Wildcats
What they're losing: The Wildcats will lose Jamelle Horne to graduation who was a solid player throughout his career. However, if Pac-10 POY Derrick Williams leaves for the NBA, the pressure will be on the incoming recruits.
What they're adding: The Wildcats are adding by far the most complete class in the Pac-10 with a plethora of instant impact prospects. Sean Miller and his staff signed four ESPNU 100 prospects in PG Josiah Turner (Sacramento, Calif./Quality Education), SG Nick Johnson (Gilbert Ariz./Findlay Prep), PF Angelo Chol (San Diego, Calif./Hoover) and PF Sidiki Johnson (Bronx, N.Y./Wadleigh).
What it equals: This season Sean Miller didn't really have an answer at the point guard position, but that will change with the addition of Turner. Joining Turner in the backcourt will be another terrific all-around talent in Nick Johnson, who is a tenacious defender and explosive finisher. If Chol and Sidiki Johnson become consistent interior post players, the Wildcats should make another run at a Pac-10 title.
|6. Cincinnati Bearcats
What they're losing: The Bearcats lose six seniors but none of them are top scorers. Ibrahima Thomas's six rebounds per game will be missed, as well as a group of solid role players but overall the Bearcats' star power will be returning. Yancy Gates has improved each season under Mick Cronin and should stay and continue on the path.
What they're adding: Anchored by ESPNU 100 SF Shaquille Thomas (Montclair, N.J./Nia Prep), the Bearcats are bringing in a deep, talented and tough group of prospects that add value on the perimeter. Thomas has the tools to give them scoring right away off the bounce and finishing on the break. Also SG Jeremiah Davis (Muncie, Ind./Huntington Prep) has a good feel for the game and is productive at both ends of the floor.
What it equals: This class is loaded on the wing position, gives Cronin versatility and the timing could not have been better. This freshman class adds depth for competitive practices, gives the Bearcats more weapons in games and has the ability to take the pressure off the returning group.
|7. Temple Owls
What they're losing: The inside presence of center Lavoy Allen is the most significant loss for the Owls. Allen played a ton as a freshman so there's precedent for young bigs entering the program and stepping onto the court.
What they're adding: So far, the Owls signed just one player but we love him. Will Cummings (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence) is a very good point guard. He came on strong as a senior and we see him as a guy who can impact the program down the road.
What it equals: Reasonable expectations for this team to continue trending toward the top of the A-10 remain intact. Ramone Moore exploded this season and if he can take another step up with his game it would mean the world to the Owls.
|8. Michigan Wolverines
What they're losing: The future for the Wolverines looks extremely bright with no seniors on the roster and no one likely headed to the NBA.
What they're adding: The Wolverines have added perimeter scoring and plenty of it with two ESPNU 100 players. Guards Carlton Brundidge (Southfield, Mich./Southfield) and Trey Burke (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) both can put up big numbers in a short period of time. Brundidge is a physical driver who scores through defenders with solid range to about 19 feet and Burke has deep 3-point range and a sweet midrange pull up after a few rhythm dribbles. Both could also help at the point in a pinch.
What it equals: With no seniors on the roster and by adding two guards that can flat out score, the Wolverines will be deep on the perimeter and should be in great shape next March because Brundidge and Burke will demand the defense's attention from day one.
|9. Tennessee Volunteers
What they're losing: With the specter of the NCAA investigation still hanging over the program, there could be more than just personnel losses for the Vols. We know center Brian Williams is gone and Melvin Goins won't be easily replaced either. Bruce Pearl continues to weather the storm despite the ever present clouds. This is a program living in a gray area until a final NCAA verdict is rendered. Mix in potential decisions of Scotty Hopson and Tobias Harris and there's a great deal of unanswered questions heading into the offseason.
What they're adding: Recruiting hasn't been a problem for Pearl in Knoxville. Chris Jones (Memphis, Tenn./Evelyn Mack) is pound for pound one of the toughest players in high school basketball. A mid-year transfer after being dismissed from Oak Ridge Academy tainted his senior season. Kevin Ware (Atlanta, Ga./Rockdale) is a deluxe athlete and recruit who will eventually weave his way into the rotation.
What it equals: As long as Hopson and Harris are in town, this will be an NCAA team and Kenny Hall should take a step forward next season. There are recruiting restrictions in place and the cumulative effect hasn't been quantified yet. Talented enough to return to the tourney next year but too many unanswered questions to say much definitely going forward.
|10. Penn State Nittany Lions
What they're losing: The Nittany Lions are a senior led team that has built the program at a steady pace. Everything starts with 6-0 guard Talor Battle who is a second team All-Big Ten Selection by the coaches and first team in the eyes of the media. Battle is the teams leading scorer and considerd one of the best players ever to wear a Penn State uniform. Forwards Jeff Brooks, David Jackson and Andrew Jones provide Battle with a very good supporting cast. Brooks is the teams second leading scorer and leading rebounder. His athletic ability and skill earned him All-Big Ten honorable mention. Jackson is the teams third-leading scorer and an excellent defender. Jones is the team's fourth-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder.
What they're adding: Coach Ed DeChellis has put together a solid four-player class that has great size and scoring. Ross Travis (Chaska, Minn./Chaska) is a 6-7 forward who has the versatility to play and defend both forward positions, in addition to excelling on the break and making plays with his midrange game. A pair of 6-11 centers is something worth getting excited about. Pat Ackerman (Rutland, Mass./Worcester Academy) has the skill to step out to about 18 feet and Peter Alexis (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./Holy Redeemer) is a big bodied, back-to-the-basket scorer who rebounds well in his area and 6-0 combination guard Trey Lewis (Garfield Heights, Ohio/Garfield Heights) can flat-out score the ball with deep shooting range. He can hold his own at the point as well, but scoring is what he does best. This class as a whole has very good upside.
What it equals: Penn State welcomes back guards Tim Frazier, the teams assist leader and Taran Buie who is talented and could be on the cusp of having a breakout year. Travis could develop into a combination of Brooks and Jackson because of his versitility. Lewis' ability to score could get him on the floor right away and if the bigs develop at a steady rate the Nittany Lions could put themselves in the NCAA conversation.
|11. Missouri Tigers
What they're losing: Provided Mike Anderson doesn't get happy feet (he's been mentioned in conjunction with some open jobs and others that aren't yet) Missouri's losses will be manageable. If the current roster behaves itself, the core of the team remains intact.
What they're adding: Here's the bad news. The Tigers don't have anyone locked up ... yet. They lead for Top 50 recruit Otto Porter (Sikestown, Mo./Scott County Central) and if they can bring him home it would be a significant spring boost.
What it equals: Missouri has a nice window to be very good the next few seasons. There's talent on the roster and the likelihood of Porter picking the Tigers is high. With few losses and maybe one key addition, Anderson should have big expectations ahead of him.
|12. Memphis Tigers
What they're losing: Will Coleman is the lone senior on the roster that is dominated by underclassmen.
What they're adding: Adonis Thomas (Memphis, Tenn./Melrose) makes up the Tigers' one man class, which is a far cry from last season's mega class, but Thomas' impact may be just as big. He was the main target for Josh Pastner & Co and his addition is expected to help get Memphis to the next level.
What it equals: Memphis has the talent to compete with anyone and the future is bright for the Tigers as their young talent continues to develop. A good run in this year's NCAA tournament could provide the experience for the youthful team to build a foundation for next season.
|13. Oakland Golden Grizzlies
What they're losing: Coach Greg Kampe will lose a lot after this year. Keith Benson, who is the back to back Summit League POY, will take his team leading scoring and rebounding to the NBA. Will Hudson, who is third in the nation in field goal percentage and guard Larry Wright will also be departing.
What they're adding: The Grizzlies will add two versatile wings in 6-3 Matt Poches (Hartland, Mich./Hartland) and 6-6 Dante Williams (Ann Arbor, Mich./Huron). They are both solid players that can score.
What it equals: Oakland will need to reload next year. It will probably focus more on the perimeter for its scoring nest season.
|14. Bucknell Bison
What they're losing: The Bison will lose floor general Darryl Shazier as well as their third leading scorer and sixth man G.W. Boon. On the surface, the losses may not seem significant but the impact of both players exceeds their statistics as Shazier is the man who runs the show and Boon is one of the team's best athletes and defenders.
What they're adding: Bucknell's class is a very solid one with all three players capable of seeing immediate minutes. Steven Kasper (Cordova, Tenn./Evangelical Christian) is a heady combo guard with deep range on his jumper, while Joshea Singleton (Kinston, N.C./Kestrel Heights) will step into Boon's role as an athletic slasher and defender on the wing. Cory Starkey (Petoskey, Mich./Petoskey is a tough and athletic combo forward who can score inside and out to 15 feet.
What it equals: With leading scorers Mike Muscala and Bryson Johnson only juniors next year, it looks to be an exciting couple of years in Lewisburg and three quality freshman should help to keep the Bison charging ahead.
|15. Northern Colorado Bears
What they're losing: The Bears will be without Big Sky MVP Devon Beitzel who dominated the Big Sky conference championship against Montana. In addition to Beitzel the Bears will have to compensate for around 60 percent of their scoring due to graduation.
What they're adding: Recruiting is all about filling needs and the Bears did that by adding junior college standout 6-5 Aaron Hawk-Harris (Price, Utah/College of Eastern Utah), 6-5 Tim Huskisson (Willard, Mo./Willard), James Davis (San Lorenzo, Calif./Arroyo) and 6-9 Brendan Keane (Alameda, Calif./Saint Joseph Notre Dame).
What it equals: According to coach B.J. Hill this will be the school's most gifted recruiting class ever with tremendous potential. Whether the class finds a scorer that can replenish the loss of Beitzel remains to be seen, but the overall class is solid all-around.
|16. Hampton Pirates
What they're losing: Ed Joyner is excited about his team for next year because he's got a lot of people returning including all-MEAC wing Darrion Pellum. The Pirates lose stalwarts Brandon Tunnell and Charles Funches.
What they're adding: The Pirates stayed local with the addition of Dashawn Stitt (Hampton, Va./Phoebus) who will play small forward. Khalif Wright (Beckley, W.Va./Oak Hill) is his schools all-time leading scorer and put in 27 a game as a senior.
What it equals: The Pirates are going to be a dangerous team in the MEAC for the foreseeable future. They'll add a pair of forwards with size and expectations to stay on top of the league are already in place for next year.