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2015 Early Signing Period Breakdown: ACC

  • Best Player: Harry Giles, Duke
  • Best Potential: Harry Giles, Duke
  • Best Scorer: Frank Jackson, Duke
  • Best Shooter: Kyle Guy, Virginia
  • Best Rebounder: Javin DeLaurier, Duke
  • Best Passer: Ty Jerome, Virginia
  • Best Defender: Harry Giles, Duke
  • Best Glue Guy: DeAndre Hunter, Virginia
  • Best Athlete: Dennis Smith, NC State

1. Duke Blue Devils

Frank Jackson | 6′-3″ | PG | Lone Peak (UT)
Jayson Tatum | 6′-9″ | SF | Chaminade (MO)
Javin DeLaurier | 6′-9″ | PF | St. Anne’s-Belfield (VA)
Harry Giles | 6′-10″ | PF | Oak Hill Academy (VA)

Giles660
Harry Giles (Under Armour)

It’s fair to say the Blue Devils are today’s co-top dog college basketball program with Kentucky, as least on the recruiting trail. It remains to be seen how the prominent 2015-2016 recruiting class replaces the NBA talent from 2015, and it’s fair to assume this class could be pressed into similar early service with high expectations.

The heart-and-soul of USA Basketball’s U16, U17 and U19 teams lately, Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum both headline the class, and have three Gold medals under their belts. Pick the best five or so players nationally and each has be in that group. Giles is considered by many as the top prospect nationally, with true two-way skills on the floor. He’ll have to overcome and injury that caused him to miss his senior season, but it wouldn’t be unusual to see him as the top pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Arguably the most skilled forward in the country, Jayson Tatum has dominated on the the high school circuit as well. He has the size, length and overall skill to play potentially three positions at Duke, and is a legitimate one-and-done candidate.

Duke needs some serious shoring up at point guard, and while Frank Jackson has been thought by some to be more of a scorer at the high school level, it’s also easy to be of the opinion that Coach K will help refine Jackson’s game into being the dynamic point guard model that has been so successful in recent years. Jackson was a one-time BYU pledge whose game completely blew up, prior to picking Duke. Another top-50 prospect, Javin DeLaurier completes the class. A tremendous rebounder and energy player with a non-stop motor, DeLaurier looks like a four-year big man who can provide stability to the front court.

2. Virginia Cavaliers

Ty Jerome | 6′-3″ | PG | Iona Prep (NY)
Kyle Guy | 6′-3″ | SG | Lawrence Central (IN)
DeAndre Hunter | 6′-6″ | SF | Friends Central (PA)
Jay Huff | 6′-10″ | C | Voyager Academy (NC)

Kyle Guy (adidas)
Kyle Guy (adidas)

A program which has enjoyed considerable amounts of success on the hardwood as of late, Virginia has once again plugged the holes on the roster with talented players who appear to fit their system. Each of the four players inked in the early signing period are ranked as a top 100 prospects nationally by at least one source. The Cavaliers’ coaching staff locked down the backcourt prospects Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy early. Both are top 50-caliber prospects, with great basketball IQs and skill-levels. Guy, in particular, is one of the best pure shooters in the country, while the same can be written of Jerome’s passing ability. Virginia also has a glue guy and multi-skilled performer in Deandre Hunter at forward. He’s a jack-of-all trades and projects a piece that ties the roster together. Up front, Jay Huff is a finesse-oriented big man with solid potential, assuming he can add strength to his frame.

3. Miami Hurricanes

Bruce Brown | 6′-4″ | SG | Vermont Academy (VT)
Dewan Huell | 6′-10″ | PF | Norland (FL)
Rodney Miller | 6′-10″ | C | Oak Hill Academy (VA)

Dewan Huell (adidas)
Dewan Huell (adidas)

Going into the early signing period, Miami held a solid pledge and was in decent shape. They won two recruiting battles to nab top 25 big man Dewan Huell and top 50 wing Bruce Brown and became one of the most important storylines in college basketball recruiting. Huell is a local prospect and a bonafide star in the frontcourt. He runs the floor, has great agility and athleticism and comes from a winning background, having captured three state championships during his first three years of high school. The ‘Canes also had stiff competition to beat out to score Bruce Brown, a tough wing with a relentless motor. Brown has a college-ready frame with a long winspan, and can contribute in a couple positions. It will be hard for head coach Jim Larranaga and his staff to keep Huell and Brown off the court for too long.  A long and skilled big man, Rodney Miller brings incalcuable experience from playing at Oak Hill Academy. Strength and defensive development are still a priority for Miller, but early on in high school he was considered one of the nation’s premier talents. As he continues to develop and put things together, Miller could look like an absolute steal for Miami down the line.

4. Florida State Seminoles

C.J Walker | 6′-0″ | PG | Arsenal Tech (IN)
Trent Forrest | 6′-4″ | SG | Chipley (FL)
Jonathan Isaac | 6′-9″ | PF | IMG Academy (FL)

The Seminoles train never stops chugging along as far as recruiting is concerned and head coach Leonard Hamilton and his assistants have once again put together a more than servicable trio for 2016. The headliner is Jonathan Isaac, a player who perhaps only a handful of his peers have more potential than in the 2016 class. Isaac has the size of the big man with the skill and athleticism of a wing. He absolutely needs to add strength to his frame, but don’t be surprised if with some refinement and a year in a college weight training program, Isaac is ready to be a one and done player. The same can’t be said for his peers, but both Trent Forrest and C.J. Walker should be starters before their time is up in Tallahaase. Walker is a one-time Purdue commit who can be an adequate floor general, and Forrest boasts a nice combination of scoring and rebounding from the wing positions. Forrest is a solid top 100 prospect, and Walker isn’t that far behind him.

5. North Carolina State Wolfpack

Dennis Smith | 6′-2″ | PG | Trinity Christian (NC)

Dennis Smith (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)
Dennis Smith (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

A player who legitimately could have gone anywhere in the country, top 10 nationally ranked point guard Dennis Smith brings an electrifying game to Raleigh. Though injuries ruined his senior year plans, that should all be forgotten as Smith could star early for the Wolfpack. His blend of athleticism, creativity and attacking nature brings bonafide star power to the roster, and gives NC State a one and done prospect.

6. North Carolina Tar Heels

Seventh Woods | 6′-2″ | PG | Hammond School (SC)
Brandon Robinson | 6′-4″ | SG | Douglas County (GA)
Tony Bradley | 6′-10″ | C | Bartow (FL)

Despite the haze of an NCAA investigation, the Tar Heels managed to bring in three top 100 prospects who will meet immediate needs on their 2016 roster. North Carolina needed a wing with scoring pop and Brandon Robinson should provide just that. His profile really rose during the spring and summer of 2015 on the grassroots circuit, and he brings a blend of scoring instinct and outside shooting capabilities to Chapel Hill. YouTube star Seventh Woods also was a recruiting battle won by North Carolina’s head coaches. Woods is tremendous athlete but perhaps caught between positions in the backcourt. With tremendous physical gifts, it’s hard to bet against Woods being successful at the college-level. On the interior, Tony Bradley has a thick frame and fills the role of a true paint presence. Bradley has plenty of upside as he refines his body and develops his skill level inside. Bradley is an exceptional rebounder and will really bolster North Carolina’s paint corps in time.

7. Syracuse Orange

Tyus Battle | 6′-6″ | SG | St. Joseph’s (NJ)
Matthew Moyer | 6′-8″ | PF | South Kent (CT)

NCAA restrictions on scholarships have and will continue to force the Orange to be judicious with the scholarship offers they tender, and it’s clear Syracuse spent two full rides wisely on a pair of top 100 prospects in Tyus Battle and Matthew Moyer. Battle is a solid two-way wing with good size. A one-time Michigan commit, Battle switched over to the Orange and could be an early starter. On the interior, Moyer moved from his high school in Ohio to a prep school to round out his game. He’s an athletic big man who actually could play both forward slots if necessary. Both Battle and Moyer have the length and size to be successful defensively at Syracuse, as well.

8. Louisville Cardinals

Frankie Hughes | 6′-3″ | SG | Garfield Heights (OH)
V.J. King | 6′-6″ | SF | Paul VI (VA)

Off the court controversy regarding past recruiting practices at Louisville are certainly prominent right now, and it remains to be seen how the Cardinals will recruit going forward. For the time being, though, Louisville has one of the more talented wings in the country in V.J. King, who played in Ohio and the Washington, DC-area in high school. King is a longtime member of USA Basketball’s youth development program (gaining two Gold medals in international play) and is a versatile and multi-talented prospect. While not a top 25 prospect nationally like King, Frankie Hughes could have a niche at Louisville as well. According to head coach Rick Pitino, Hughes has great range and fills a void in perimeter shooting on the Cardinals’ roster.

9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Temple Gibbs | 6′-3″ | PG | Seton Hall Prep (NJ)
Nikola Djogo | 6′-6″ | SG | Athlete Institute (CAN)
John Mooney | 6′-8″ | PF | Lake Brantley (FL)

Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey believes he addressed his squad’s roster needs and added three players with strong basketball IQ in this class. The Fighting Irish landed a top 100 prospect in combo guard Temple Gibbs, who is the brother of former college basketball standouts Sterling and Ashton Gibbs. Temple Gibbs has the size and ability to be a backcourt scorer but can also run the offense. He’s a great insurance policy for head coach Mike Brey to have in his back pocket as current guard Demetrius Jackson is an NBA prospect. On the wing, Nikola Djogo has experience playing for Canada’s U17 national team and will be the first Canadian to play for Notre Dame’s men’s basketball team. He scored almost 2000 points and dished almost 1000 assists at the high school level in Ontario.  Brey noted he believes Djogo can play three positions and can shoot. One-time Florida commit John Mooney bolsters the inside. A four-year high school starter, Mooney carries 240 pounds on his frame and can play face up as well as rebound. Mooney is a skilled big man that was a key pop for Brey and his staff.

10. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Josh Okogie | 6′-5″ | SG | Shiloh (GA)
Christian Matthews | 6′-6″ | SF | National Christian (DC)
Romello White | 6′-8″ | PF | Wheeler (GA)

Georgia Tech add significant positional size and talent in a good three-man recruiting class. The headliner is top 100 prospect Romello White, who transferred from IMG Academy (FL) to finish out high school at Wheeler. He’s a one-time Tennessee pledge who head coach Brian Gregory called one of the most versatile forwards in the country. White can score and has good size. Also from in-state, Josh Okogie was a first-team all-state pick and a top 150 player nationally. Okogie reportedly has the basketball IQ to play three positions for the Yellow Jackets and has good versatility and an offensive game. Georgia Tech also tapped into National Christian to pull Christian Matthews into the program. Matthews has the reputation of being a good shooting wing and a capable scorer.He’ll be reunited with former high school teammate Sylvester Ogbonda at Georgia Tech.

11. Pittsburgh Panthers

Justice Kithcart | 6′-2″ | PG | Virginia Episcopal School (VA)
Crisshawn Clark | 6′-5″ | SG | Canada College (CA)
Corey Manigault | 6′-8″ | PF | Paul VI (VA)

With the impending graduation loss of longtime guard James Robinson, the Panthers took the opportunity to nab a potential replacement in Justice Kithcart. He has good size for his position and has the overall skill package to be a starter down the line. On the interior, Pittsburgh also signed Corey Manigault to hold down the post. Manigault was tutored in a tremendous high school program and earned some notice as a potential top 100 prospect nationally. He’ll have time to develop. Pitt also adds some experience to the roster with junior college transfer Crisshawn Clark, an Ohio native who spent two years at the two-year level. Clark drew acclaim from head coach Jamie Dixon as an athletic guard. Clark missed the 2015-2016 season with a knee injury and will have three years to pay for the Panthers.

12. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Brandon Childress | 6′-0″ | PG | Wesleyan Christian (NC)
Richard Washington | 6′-6″ | SF | Walsingham Academy (VA)
Donovan Mitchell | 6′-7″ | PF | Buchanan (CA)
Samuel Japhet-Mathias | 6′-11″ | C | England

There’s no question head coach Danny Manning has had the Wake Forest program on an upward trajectory since taking over. The quartet that he and his staff landed during the early signing period won’t be seen on any national lists, but does add depth across the board to the roster. Assistant coach Randolph Childress’ son Brandon Childress was an easy call and a skilled point guard. While following in his legendary father’s footsteps at Wake Forest will be hard, Childress is a solid player in his own right. Perhaps the headliner of the class is big man Samuel Japhet-Mathias, a near 7-footer who is finishing out high school in England after previously playing at Vermont Academy (VT). Japhet-Mathias has tremendous potential and likely could have been a top 100 prospect had he remained in the United States. Athleticism and versatility are the names of the game for Richard Washington and Donovan Mitchell, as each was rated as a three-star prospect and can play more than one position. Both played in solid grassroots programs and add solid depth for the Demon Deacons.

13. Boston College Eagles

Ty Graves | 5′-11″ | PG | Page (NC)
Mike Sagay | 6′-7″ | SF | St. Thomas More (CT)
Nik Popovic | 6′-9″ | PF | Sagemont (FL)

Boston College’s program has found it difficult to shake the lull it’s presently in, and head coach Jim Christian and his staff signed a trio of prospects to inject more life to the program.  Perhaps the most touted of the newcomers is Ty Graves, a savvy point guard with a high skill level. A good shooter and unquestionably a sleeper in the 2016 class, Graves projects as an early starter in Boston. Up front, Nik Popovic and Mike Sagay can add depth to the forward slots. Popovic is the more regarded of the duo, as he played for the U18 Serbian National Team and had a variety of high-major offers. Popovic has some heft at almost 230 pounds and also has a good skill level. From the powerhouse program at St. Thomas More, the Eagles plucked Mike Sagay, a good athlete with serious length (6′-11″ wing span). Sagay has the potential to be a strong defender and could hone his game playing a tough prep school schedule.

14. Virginia Tech Hokies

Khadim Sy | 6′-9″ | C | Oak Hill Academy (VA)

Head coach Buzz Williams is striving bring a winning culture to Virginia Tech men’s basketball, and adding a prospect from one of the nation’s winningest basketball programs, Oak Hill Academy, won’t hurt. Center Khadim Sy has rapidly improved and has a high ceiling to be a mutli-year start in the paint for the Hokies.

15. Clemson Tigers

Scott Spencer | 6′-6″ | SF | Blue Ridge School (VA)

Clemson’s sole early signing period newcomer was sharpshooting wing Scott Spencer, a post-graduate prospect. A native of Virginia, Spencer was an all-region performer at Nansemond River (VA) prior to taking the prep school route. Spencer’s prep school plays a tough schedule and perhaps that will prepare Spencer for the rigors of ACC hoops.

About K.J. Hassenstab

K.J. Hassenstab is the publisher of the College Basketball Newcomers Guide book and Hoopniks.com. He founded Hoopniks.com in 2009, and has contributed to SlamOnline, Dime Magazine's HighSchoolHoop.com, and NBCSports.com, along with other publications in the past. Hassenstab has covered grassroots, high school and basketball recruiting for over a decade. Follow on Twitter, @Hoopniks.

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