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2015 Early Signing Period Breakdown: Big Ten

  • Best Player: Miles Bridges, Michigan State
  • Best Potential: Miles Bridges, Michigan State
  • Best Scorer: Miles Bridges, Michigan State
  • Best Shooter: Kevin Huerter, Maryland
  • Best Rebounder: Nick Ward, Michigan State
  • Best Passer: Xavier Simpson, Michigan
  • Best Defender: Nick Ward, Michigan State
  • Best Glue Guy: Lamar Stevens, Penn State
  • Best Athlete: Miles Bridges, Michigan State

1. Michigan State Spartans

Cassius Winston | 6′-1″ | PG | UD-Jesuit (MI)
Josh Langford | 6′-5″ | SG | Madison Academy (AL)
Miles Bridges | 6′-6″ | SF | Huntington Prep (WV)
Nick Ward | 6′-8″ | PF | Lincoln (OH)

Josh Langford (adidas)
Josh Langford (adidas)

For a few years, there were whispers that Michigan State wasn’t getting it done on the recruiting trail, as several prominent prospects they targeted elected to go elsewhere. The 2016 class for the Spartans quiets any of that talk going forward. Four top 100 prospects, including three top 50 players provides a serious talent infusion the program and is the basis of high hopes for fans going forward.

The premier talent, Miles Bridges, is an elite bullish combo forward who can simply do it all. Bridges has a unique combination of strength and athleticism, which leads to serious star power. He had perhaps the best and most consistent summer of any prospect nationally. Strong scoring guard Josh Langford has some of Bridges’ gifts, and has been known to fill it up in a hurry. Due to their frames and strength, Bridges and Langford should have a reduced adjustment period to Big Ten basketball.

The straw that could stir the Spartans’ drink is in-state point guard Cassius Winston. A heady prospect, Winston has already played with Bridges in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League and is a premier point guard nationally. Running the show for one of Michigan’s top high school basketball programs, Winston comes in to East Lansing with a refined game. On the interior, Nick Ward also looks like a strong addition. He has the potential to develop into a multi-year start in the frontcourt in time, and can provide toughness defensively and on the glass.

2. Penn State Nittany Lions

Tony Carr | 6′-3″ | PG | Roman Catholic (PA)
Nazeer Bostick | 6′-5″ | SG | Roman Catholic (PA)
Lamar Stevens | 6′-6″ | SF | Roman Catholic (PA)
Joe Hampton | 6′-6″ | PF | Oak Hill Academy (VA)

Joe Hampton (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)
Joe Hampton (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

While the public isn’t privy to the Penn State coaching staff’s recruiting plans, it’s to be assumed that Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia was at the centerpiece to their efforts for the 2016 cycle. The Nittany Lions nabbed a nearly unheard of three prospects from Roman Catholic in a four member class. Point guard Tony Carr is probably the signee most likely to get early playing time as a tall and talented guard prospect, but wings Nazeer Bostick and Lamar Stevens will already be familiar with Carr when they hit the hardwood. Carr is a top 50 prospect nationally as a lanky point guard while Stevens falls in nearly every source’s top 100 as a jack-of-all-trades forward. Strong, if undersized, power forward Joe Hampton doesn’t hail from Roman Catholic, but played in two of the elite programs nationally in DeMatha Catholic (MD) and Oak Hill Academy. He is a skilled post player with a thick frame.

3. Maryland Terrapins

Anthony Cowan | 6′-0″ | PG | St. John’s (DC)
Kevin Huerter | 6′-5″ | SG | Shenendehowa Central (NY)

Unquestionably one of the hottest teams in college basketball presently, the Terrapins once again added significant talent in two top 100 talents in the 2016 recruiting cycle in guards Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter. It’s probably not too early at Maryland to prepare for life after Melo Trimble, and the duo of Cowan and Huerter can replace some of what Trimble has provided. Cowan has been thought of for quite awhile as one of the most skilled and savvy point guards on East Coast. Meanwhile, Huerter is a premier shooter who can stretch defenses by hitting shots from long range. Both Cowan and Huerter have a long-term role on the Maryland roster.

4. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Amir Coffey | 6′-5″ | SG | Hopkins (MN)
Michael Hurt | 6′-7″ | SF | Rochester (MN)
Eric Curry | 6′-8″ | PF | Southwest Christian (AR)

A bevy of blue chip players have come from Minnesota in recent years, but the Gophers have struggled to sign them. That trend changed by nabbing in-state talent Amir Coffey, a legacy recruit who was pursued hot and heavy by some of the most notable blue blood programs in the country. His versatile wing play and overall skill game means he could potentially contribute at three positions for Minnesota, and be an all-conference player down the line. In-state forward Michael Hurt was the first member of the class and also a talented addition. His size and skill-level could provide Minnesota with a solid starter in the frontcourt in sooner than you’d think. After focusing on guard play during the 2015 recruiting cycle, Minnesota added another post player at forward in Eric Curry of Arkansas. He fits the mold of the head coach Richard Pitino’s scheme potentially better than some of the existing roster players. Curry’s length and athleticism are both very promising.

5. Indiana Hoosiers

Curtis Jones | 6′-2″ | SG | Huntington Prep (WV)
Grant Gelon | 6′-5″ | SG | Crown Point (IN)
De’Ron Davis | 6′-8″ | PF | Overland (CO)

De'Ron Davis (adidas)
De’Ron Davis (adidas)

Indiana plugged some holes with a promising 2016 recruiting class. The most promising player in the effort is Colorado-native De’Ron Davis, who the Hoosiers tracked since he was a freshman. With that in mind, landing Davis is a strong coup for Indiana, as one of the best legitimate big men in the country. Davis will shore up the paint for the Hoosiers going forward. The starting guard slots will look much different in 2016 with the steadying presence of four year starter Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell gone, but incoming combo guard Curtis Jones figures to at least be in the picture to absorb minutes at both guard slots. Formerly of Virginia, Jones tuned up his game for a couple seasons at Huntington Prep (WV) and shouldn’t be that far off from competing in the Big Ten. On the wing, Grant Gelon was thought of as one of the premier in-state shooters in the Hoosier state. It remains to be seen how long it will take the rest of his skills to allow him see the floor in Bloomington.

6. Michigan Wolverines

Xavier Simpson | 5′-11″ | PG | Lima (OH)
Ibi Watson | 6′-4″ | SG | Pickerington Central (OH)
Jon Teske | 6′-10″ | C | Medina (OH)
Austin Davis | 6′-10″ | C | Onsted (MI)

The Wolverines got it done on the recruiting trail by inking four solid players from nearby to Ann Arbor during the early signing period. Two Ohio guards, Xavier Simpson and Ibi Watson are likely to significantly push some of the current roster players for time as freshmen. Simpson can be underestimated based on his size, but his toughness and basketball IQ are quickly apparent in watching him play. His defensive skills and passing also make him an important addition. Watson has the athleticism and intangibles to really help off the ball in the backcourt. His upside is as good as all but a handful of incoming recruits to the Big Ten. On the interior, Michigan has two options going forward in Jon Teske and Austin Davis. Teske is perhaps more ready to contribute due to his size and rim protection ability. Teske still needs to add strength but has a solid skill level to work from. Davis has starred at the small school level in Michigan and is young for his grade. He was a double-double machine but Michigan has the ability to take a long outlook on his development as a promising big man.

7. Iowa Hawkeyes

Jordan Bohannon | 6′-1″ | PG | Linn-Mar (IA)
Cordell Pemsl | 6′-8″ | PF | Wahlert Catholic (IA)
Tyler Cook | 6′-9″ | PF | Chaminade (MO)
Ryan Kriener | 6′-10″ | C | Spirit Lake (IA)

Iowa was particularly active during the early signing period, and was rewarded with four signatures on opening day. While power forward Tyler Cook can sometimes be overlooked on his high school and AAU teams in playing alongside Duke signee and top 5 prospect Jayson Tatum, that won’t be the case at Iowa, which Cook signed with over Florida. For the Hawkeyes, Cook should challenge to start early as a top notch interior player with power and size. In-state prospects Jordan Bohannon, Cordell Pemsl, and Ryan Kreiner also inked to play with the Hawkeyes. Bohannon could provide a steadying presence at point guard while Pemsl has has the brawn to be a tough customer on the inside. Kreiner was labeled by head coach Fran McCaffrey as a “running big man” and a stretch power forward. Bohannon, Pemsl and Kreiner all played on the grassroots circuit together and could be able to hit the ground running with their familiarity.

8. Ohio State Buckeyes

Derek Funderburk | 6′-9″ | PF | Hargrave Military (VA)
Micah Potter | 6′-10″ | C | Montverde Academy (FL)

Ohio State really bolstered their interior with size in signing Derek Funderburk and Micah Potter. Funderburk is a top 100 prospect and was the first member of the class. Interestingly, each player was a standout junior in Ohio before departing to finish high school at an out-of-state program. Funderburk looks to use his size and athleticism in the paint, and can run the court. Meanwhile, Potter is a true post player at around 240 pounds and was a near double-double performer as a junior. It’s clear Funderburk and Potter each give Ohio State a different dimension in the paint, and could be upperclassmen starters as time moves on.

9. Northwestern Wildcats

Isaiah Brown | 6′-2″ | PG | Lakeside (WA)
Rapolas Ivanauskas | 6′-8″ | PF | Brewster Academy (NH)
Barret Benson | 6′-10″ | C | Hinsdale South (IL)

Steady improvement has been the order of the day at Northwestern after head coach Chris Collins took the reins. He and his staff have to be rather satisfied with a trio of early signing period newcomers. In particular, the front line receives a boost in skilled power forward Rapolas Ivanauskas and center Barret Benson. Both were in-state prospects, until Ivanauskas transferred to a prep school for this season. Each has protypical Big Ten size for their respective positions. Ivanauskas is another true top 100 prospect for Collins to add to his arsenal, while Benson’s low-post power can be a force to be reckoned with in time. On the perimeter, Isaiah Brown will trek from the Pacific Northwest to Evanston. He is a four-year varsity standout and all-state player in the Seattle-area, and has been known as more of a scorer to date.

10. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Jeriah Horne | 6′-6″ | SF | Barstow (MO)
Isaiah Roby | 6′-7″ | SF | Dixon (IL)

It’s clear Nebraska added significant length to the wing and forward slots by signing Jeriah Horne and Isaiah Roby. Neither are consensus top 100 prospects but both are set to be solid contributors in their own right, which should help Nebraska compete in a loaded Big Ten. Of the two, Roby is likely more regarded. His athleticism, length and size has led to whispers that Roby is one of the most prominent sleepers in the basketball rich state of Illinois. Meanwhile, Horne hails from the Kansas City-area, where Nebraska has home some significant success on the recruiting trail in lately.  Horne has more bulk than Roby at 220 pounds, and has a reputation of being a serious two-way forward.

11. Purdue Boilermakers

Carsen Edwards | 6′-1″ | PG | Atascocita (TX)

The Boilermakers have landed more than their fair share of talented post prospects as of late, but have scrambled a bit to cobble together point guards via the graduate transfer route. That may change with the addition of Carsen Edwards at guard. He has played in a nationally Houston-area high school program over the last several seasons and is used to playing in big games. Edwards is perhaps best known for scoring out of the backcourt.

12. Illinois Fighting Illini

Te’Jon Lucas | 5′-11″ | PG | Washington (WI)

After beating out several high-major rivals, Illinois was able to land a quality point guard with Te’Jon Lucas announcing his pledge. Illinois dipped into the Milwaukee area to nab Lucas, who had a strong spring and summer on the grassroots circuit. Given the Illinois roster, it was a priority to bring a point guard into the fray, and they did just that with Lucas.

NR. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

No known signings or commitments.

NR. Wisconsin Badgers

No known signings or commitments.

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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