Thursday, May 5, 2011

Recruiting rankings: Memphis, UNC and Ohio State out front

Thursday, May 5, 2011

But Pastner, the former assistant to both Calipari and Lute Olson at Arizona, proved to be as precocious recruiting as a head coach as he had as an assistant. Famed for his work ethic and his ability to secure top talent, the previous assumption had been that on the recruiting trail he could buttress his own lack of experience against the accomplishments of his bosses.

And that's why his debut effort with the Tigers is so impressive. The 32-year-old Pastner emerged from the shadows of Calipari and Olson to assemble the nation's top fall recruiting class, including landing three players — Jelan Kendrick, Will Barton and Joe Jackson— ranked in the national top 15.

More impressively, of that trio only Jackson is a native of Memphis, the obvious natural territory for any Tigers' coach.

Along with top-50 Tarik Black (another Memphis native) and three additional recruits, Memphis easily outpaced the rest of the collegiate field.

Here's a look at the top 10 classes for the recently completed fall signing period:


No. 8 Jelan Kendrick

No. 10 Will Barton

No. 12 Joe Jackson

No. 48 Tarik Black

Top 150 Chris Crawford

Top 200 Hippolyte Tsafack

Top 300 Antonio Barton

Quick Hit: The emphasis on the Tigers' class was on the perimeter, as five of the seven signees can play in the backcourt. While none of the recruits can be categorized as a traditional point guard, the top three signees all are outstanding scorers, ball-handlers, athletes and competitors. Though not quite as highly touted, powerful Black will be asked to enforce the interior.

2.North Carolina

No. 1 Harrison Barnes

No. 9 Reggie Bullock

No. 20 Kendall Marshall

Quick Hit: Roy Williams capitalized on his most recent national championship, won out for the most prized recruit in the class and severely damaged archrival Duke in the process. Granted no better than an outside shot of landing Barnes a few months ago, the Tar Heels pursued him with ferocious vigor in the summer and fall, culminating in a dramatic announcement in favor of the Tar Heels. Bullock and Marshall possess blue-chip pedigree as well, and all three should address perimeter offense concerns.

3.Ohio State

No. 3 Jared Sullinger

No. 17 DeShaun Thomas

No. 49 Aaron Craft

No. 57 Jordan Sibert

Top 150 Lenzelle Smith

Top 150 J.D. Weatherspoon

Quick Hit: For a class this good, the Buckeyes received very little media attention during the fall. That's because Thad Matta and his assistants did the bulk of their work very early in the process, but the lack of buzz certainly does not detract from another stellar effort in Columbus. Sullinger could become one of college basketball's best big men, Thomas is a proven scorer and rebounder, and Craft is underrated and one of the best defenders in the country.


No. 4 Kyrie Irving

No. 32 Josh Hairston

Top 150 Tyler Thornton

Quick Hit: The Blue Devils' offense has sputtered in recent years due largely to the absence of an elite point guard, but now Duke has addressed the void with Irving. A superb scorer who should shine in Duke's system, he'll have the opportunity to post big numbers and also spearhead the team's pressure defense. Hairston, meanwhile, is a solid rebounder who will improve the roster's athleticism.


No. 16 Jereme Richmond

No. 29 Meyers Leonard

No. 50 Crandall Head

Quick Hit: Illinois didn't have to leave the state to reel in its elite signing class. The Illini added smooth scoring and ball-handling with Richmond and Head, and Leonard should become one of the best frontcourt players in the Big Ten after a year or two of weight training.


No. 13 Tobias Harris

No. 36 Jordan McRae

Top 150 Trae Golden

Quick Hit: After getting crippled earlier when elite scorer Josh Selby and point guard Aaron Craft backed off commitments, the Vols responded by getting a dramatic win for Harris at the close of the signing period. A creative score who looks like a power forward but in fact is more of a slick, ball-handling wing, Harris should have the opportunity to post big numbers in Knoxville. Elsewhere, McRae is a fine defender on the wing and Golden is a steady combo guard.


No. 19 Tony Mitchell

No. 42 Phil Pressey

Top 200 Ricky Kreklow

Top 300 Kadeem Green

Quick Hit: Many were surprised by Mizzou's valiant, Elite 8 performance in the NCAA Tournament last season, and that result boosted Mike Anderson's credibility even further in recruiting battles. Mitchell is a potential star and Pressey — son of former NBA guard Paul Pressey— is an electrifying playmaker. In Missouri's fullcourt system, those two guys will be very fun to watch.


No. 11 Fab Melo

No. 68 Dion Waiters

Top 150 C.J. Fair

Top 150 Baye Moussa Keita

Quick Hit: Melo's commitment during the summer solidified this class as a national winner. The Brazilian big man is considered by some to be potentially the best long-term (read: NBA) prospect in the senior class. Meanwhile, Waiters is a tough and confident three-point shooter who also should compete for early playing time.

9.N.C. State

No. 22 Ryan Harrow

No. 41 Luke Cothron

Quick Hit: Sidney Lowe's class gets a top-10 nod and in practical terms is even better than appears at first glance, given that guard Lorenzo Brown is another top-25 talent who counted in last year's rankings (and thus is not eligible this year) but actually is spending this year at prep school. Along with dynamic scorer Harrow, the Pack will enjoy a tremendous infusion of backcourt talent. The only grey cloud is that Cothron opted not to sign in the fall, so he remains formally unbound until April, at the earliest.

10.Wake Forest

No. 45 Travis McKie

No. 55 Carson Desrosiers

No. 75 Melvin Tabb

No. 95 J.T. Terrell

Top 200 Tony Chennault

Quick Hit: Wake's signing haul features quality and quantity, with no prep All-Americans but instead a class that will provide the foundation for long-term success. The upside of signing players who are very good, yet not likely one-and-doners, is that it's easier to predict and therefore address needs in upcoming recruiting efforts. The Deacs are now perhaps one star away from competing for national glory.

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