Now that the regular signing period has ended, we have a chance to look back and see what stood out about the 2011 class and give some predictions for the future.
Three years from now ...
Paul Biancardi Rutgers coach Mike Rice has laid a solid foundation on the court and in recruiting circles. With the No. 15 overall incoming class, coupled with Rice's ability to coach and develop talent, the Scarlet Knights will be on a steady climb in the difficult and enormous Big East Conference. This recruiting class has quality and quantity, but it all starts with PG Myles Mack (Paterson, N.J./St. Anthony's), who led St. Anthony's to an undefeated season and No. 1 ranking in the ESPN RISE Fab 50. Also look for PF Kadeem Jack and PG Jerome Seagears (Baltimore/Flora McDonald Academy) to contribute right away, and when you add the recent addition of Kansas State transfer Wally Judge, it will be exciting to see Rutgers three years from now.
Adam Finkelstein: The vast majority of 2011's recruiting darlings will have left college basketball in the rearview mirror, and the programs that had the presence of mind to recruit four-year players will make deep runs into March. Even if a new NBA collective bargaining agreement changes the current one-and-done rule, Kentucky's Anthony Davis and Duke's Austin Rivers, (among others) will have been drafted. That will leave guys like Indiana's Cody Zeller, Kentucky's Kyle Wiltjer, Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams and others as some of the best upper-class talents in college basketball.
Mike LaPlante: Hunter Mickelson, who has barely scratched the surface of his potential, will become an NBA prospect. The future Arkansas Razorback has the potential to become one of the top skilled power forwards in college basketball by 2013. He will play in an up-tempo system that should help feature his skill level but also will demand that he learn how to defend more quickly and aggressively. As his body and overall game develop, NBA scouts will be flocking to follow his development.
Reggie Rankin: Xavier's Dezmine Wells will be the A-10 player of the year and will enter the NBA draft early. The future Musketeer is strong and aggressive and plays in full-attack mode. He has a college-ready body and knows how to use it. He welcomes and finishes through contact like a running back breaking tackles. Plus, Wells can defend both wing positions and some undersized power forwards. He should be a starter from day one simply because he exposes soft players immediately.
Joel Francisco: Three years from now, Florida's Bradley Beal will be entering his first season in the NBA after being chosen by the Boston Celtics in the NBA lottery. He will start alongside veteran point guard Rajon Rondo and cause the Celtics faithful to conjure up memories of recent retiree Ray Allen.
John Stovall: Rivers and Davis will be on the cusp of stardom in the NBA. Both have the "it" factor offensively. Rivers has his holes (defense, goes right too much, not a great sharer of the ball), but he has an innate ability to put the ball in the basket and almost always shows up when the lights come on. Those are things for which people pay big money. Davis is super skilled for a player his size. He could play either forward position in the NBA and excel, and he only needs strength to finish the equation. The scary part is he continues to grow and get better. Wow!
Dave Telep: It will take a while for the effect of this class to fully hit college basketball. As a few of these guys bolt early for the NBA, observers of the college ranks will gradually come to grips with what we've said about this class for a long time: It's short a bunch of bigs. Three years from now, we'd be surprised if a junior big man was on an All-America list. The fact is this: Guys like Davis, Rivers, North Carolina's James McAdoo and Baylor's Quincy Miller won't be around long, so enjoy them while they're in college.
Paul Biancardi is the national director of basketball recruiting. Adam Finkelstein is a frequent contributor, both in player evaluations and event coverage. Joel Francisco is a recruiting coordinator and has been evaluating high school prospects for more than 20 years. Michael LaPlante is a recruiting coordinator who has more than 20 years of coaching and recruiting experience. Reggie Rankin, a recruiting coordinator, has coached in the Mid-American, American East, WAC, SEC, Big 12 and Atlantic 10 conferences over a span of 14 seasons. John Stovall, a recruiting coordinator, has worked as director of scouting for Prep Spotlight Scouting Service and magazine for 15 years. Dave Telep is the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com.