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2015 Early Signing Period Breakdown: Conference USA

  • Best Player: Quentin Jackson, Charlotte
  • Best Potential: Raekwon Long, Florida International
  • Best Scorer: A.J. Lawson, North Texas
  • Best Shooter: Nate Darling, UAB
  • Best Rebounder: Oliver Powell, Louisiana Tech
  • Best Passer: Ako Adams, Rice
  • Best Defender: Alassane Kane, Old Dominion
  • Best Glue Guy: Tim Harrison, Rice
  • Best Athlete: Javien Williams, UAB

1. Rice Owls

Ako Adams | 6′-2″ | PG | Bishop O’Connell (VA)
Tim Harrison | 6′-8″ | PF | Francis Parker (CA)
Austin Meyer | 6′-9″ | C | Mustang (OK)

Rice nabbed a building-block three man recruiting class during the early signing period, signing three players who have been very successful at the high school level. The Owls have a quality assist man and all-around player in Ako Adams at point guard. Playing in one of the nation’s best high school leagues should help Adams make the adjustment to the Conference USA. The Owls also have two high-potential big men in the front court. Tim Harrison can play a couple positions in the frontcourt and it would not surprise to see him play early . He has good size and a solid skill level. Like Harrison, Austin Meyer comes from a winning background and has as solid post game. He needs to add strength to his 215 pound frame, but has the tools to be a multi-year starting pivot at Rice.

2. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

DaQuan Bracey | 5′-10″ | PG | St. Frances (MD)
Jalen Harris | 6′-4″ | PG | Duncanville (TX)
JaColby Pemberton | 6′-6″ | SF | Lancaster (TX)
Oliver Powell | 6′-8″ | PF | Rowlett (TX)

New head coach Eric Konkol was particularly active in building his first recruiting class at Louisiana Tech, and thankfully for Bulldogs’ fans, it’s a quality one. Three Dallas-area standouts comprise the bulk of the effort, and versatility is arguably the name of the game.  Combo guard Jalen Harris hails from a prominent program and stuffed the stat sheet as a junior. He has the size and guard skills to see time in both guard slots. On the wing, JaColby Pemberton is a another solid prospect, and plays for one of the top teams in Texas, having captured a 5A state championship as a junior. Pemberton could have a variety of roles in Ruston, down the line. Up front, Oliver Powell can perform the duties of an ideal power forward. He has solid size and athleticism, and can clean the glass and also block shots. Powell has been an efficient player at the high school level. Konkol closed out their class by landing a quick guard in DaQuan “Day Day” Bracey. From the Baltimore area, Bracey can get in the lane and also dished 7 assists per game as a junior. Bracey also plays in a quality league.

3. Old Dominion Monarchs

Tre Evans | 6′-1″ | PG | Edmond North (OK)
Randy Haynes | 6′-4″ | SG | New Mexico JC (NM)
Xavier Green | 6′-6″ | SG | Williamsburg Christian Academy (VA)
Alassane Kane | 6′-10″ | C | Kilgore JC (TX)

Head coach Jeff Jones and his staff assembled a quality quartet of four signees during the early signing period, including two high schoolers and two junior college prospects. At point guard, Old Dominion was able to snag Tre Evans, a former Oklahoma State pledge. Evans has a high basketball IQ as the son of a former Oklahoma basketball standout, Terry Evans.  The Monarchs have a mature two-year transfer in the backcourt in Randy Haynes, a solidly build and athletic guard who was the 5A player of the year as a prep in Virginia. Lanky wing Xavier Green has the length, athleticism and skill to be a quality player down the line at Old Dominion. He needs to add strength to his frame, but is considered a versatile playmaker. Up front, junior college big man Alassane Kane is a tremendous rebounder and shot-blocker, and projects as an immediate defensive contributor to the Monarchs. He can be a force protecting the cup right off the bat.

4. North Texas Mean Green

Curtis Hollis | 6′-5″ | SF | Summit (TX)
A.J. Lawson | 6′-5″ | SG | Bryan (TX)

North Texas is blessed to have a ton of talent in their backyard, the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. As such, they nabbed two quality wing prospects in A.J. Lawson and Curtis Hollis, and both players are quality in-state prospects. Lawson is the more touted of the duo, and capable of playing both backcourt prospects and on the wing. Lawson is solid fit for the North Texas system and will be on the court sooner rather than later for the Mean Green. Hollis is also a football standout and as a key get for North Texas as he also reportedly had offers from Florida International and UTEP as well.

5. Florida International Golden Panthers

Greg Shead | 5′-11″ | PG | Atascocita (TX)
Raekwon Long | 7′-0″ | C | Lincolnton (NC)

FIU has struggled with roster turnover in recent years, but could have two legitimate high school prospects as building blocks to the future program in point guard Greg Shead and center Raekwon Long. Shead has excelled on the tough Houston-area basketball scene the last couple years, and can push the ball and lead the attack. Shead should be ready to play right away, while 270 pound 7-footer Long could take some time. He was ranked as a top 100 player nationally early on in high school, but was well-traveled and ended up attending four schools. Still, Long has the size and ability not often seen in Conference USA, and projects with as much upside as any newcomer to the conference for 2016.

6. UAB Blazers

Nate Darling | 6′-3″ | SG | DeMatha Catholic (MD)
Javien Williams | 6′-4″ | SG | Woodlawn (AL)

UAB has done well on the recruiting trail as of late, and two quality high school wings continues that trend. Javien Williams is on the short list of top players in Alabama in the class of 2016, and the Blazers did well to keep him at home. He can swing between the shooting guard and small forward positions and has had a highly-successful high school career. Expect him to see early playing time at UAB. Off the ball, Canadian Nate Darling was brought in as a perimeter sharpshooter for UAB. He’s a knock-down marksman who plays in one of the top high school programs in the country at DeMatha Catholic. Darling also has experience playing in Canada’s youth national basketball championship, representing Nova Scotia.

7. UTEP Miners

Deon Barrett | 5′-10″ | PG | Lancaster (TX)
Tim Cameron | 6′-4″ | SG | Hargrave Military (VA)

The Miners scored two quality backcourt prospects during the early signing period. In-state point guard Deon Barrett may be a touch undersized, but his speed and athleticism were key in leading Lancaster to a Texas state title. Barrett can get things moving from the backcourt, and has been well-coached thus far. Off the ball, Tim Cameron played in one of Georgia’s elite high school programs prior to spending a year as a post-graduate. Cameron has an athletic burst, and is versatile enough to help at two positions. He’ll come in with an edge on playing with his winning background.

8. Charlotte 49ers

Quentin Jackson | 6′-3″ | PG | Carlisle School (VA)

Touted guard Quentin Jackson will play college hoops for a man that knows plenty about the guard position, the 49ers head coach, Mark Price. With Price’s longtime NBA background, Jackson should have  a quality tutor to build on his already substantial talent at point guard. Jackson’s father is a former NC State player, and Jackson turned down a bevy of high-major scholarship offers to pick Charlotte.

9. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

T.J. Howard | 6′-1″ | PG | DME Academy (FL)

A quality post-graduate point guard, T.J. Howard inked with the Hilltoppers during the early signing period in a small class. Howard has quality basketball IQ and can shoot, and should arrive at Western Kentucky with an extra year of maturity under his belt, having spent a year away from home as a post-graduate. Howard is a nice backcourt building block going forward.

10. Florida Atlantic Owls

Devorious Brown | 6′-3″ | SG | Morgan County (GA)
Jaylin Ingram | 6′-5″ | SF | Morgan County (GA)

High school teammates Devorious Brown and Jaylin Ingram will rejoin their former head coach, Florida Atlantic assistant coach Charlemagne Gibbons and teammate C.J. Turman on the roster at Florida Atlantic as freshmen. Brown has earned his chops on the high school level as an aggressive on the ball defender, and sizable off-guard. Ingram’s calling card is his versatility, and he could be just what the doctor ordered for a team needing talent upgrades at several positions. Ingram was also a standout football player, lending to a diverse background.

11. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

Antwain Johnson | 6′-1″ | PG | Chipola College (FL)

Dipping into one of the nation’s most prominent junior college programs, the Blue Raiders inked point guard Antwain Johnson of Chipola College. Johnson was also a standout at the high school level in Florida, and carried over that success to the two-year ranks. Head coach Kemit Davis described Johnson as competitive, athletic and a capable scorer.

12. Marshall Thundering Herd

Phil Bledsoe | 6′-6″ | PF | Wheeling Park (WV)
Jannson Williams | 6′-9″ | PF | Newnan (GA)

Marshall nabbed two frontcourt prospects during the early signing period, in-state forward Phil Bledsoe and Georgia standout Jannson Williams. At 215 pounds, Bledsoe could potentially add a bit more strength and be capable of filling both forward slots for the Herd. As a stretch four, Williams could be a bit under the radar and become an important frontcourt player for Marshall down the line. He reportedly has the ability to hit shots from the perimeter and has the ability to run the floor and jump.

NR. Southern Miss Golden Eagles

No known signings or commitments.

NR. UTSA Roadrunners

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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