College basketball’s early signing period starts on November 11, 2015, and runs through November 18, 2015. This is a look at the top Pac-12 college basketball recruiting classes to date.
- Best Player: Lonzo Ball, UCLA
- Best Potential: Lauri Markkanen, Arizona
- Best Scorer: Markelle Fultz, Washington
- Best Shooter: Lauri Markkanen, Arizona
- Best Rebounder: Ike Anigbogu, UCLA
- Best Passer: Lonzo Ball, UCLA
- Best Defender: De’Anthony Melton, USC
- Best Glue Guy: Sam Cunliffe, Arizona State
- Best Athlete: Kobe Paras, UCLA
1. UCLA Bruins
Lonzo Ball | 6′-5″ | PG | Chino Hills (CA)
Kobe Paras | 6′-6″ | SG | Cathedral (CA)
Ike Anigbogu | 6′-10″ | C | Centennial (CA)
The Bruins continue to amass talent via the recruiting trail, and their 2016 haul is headlined by a special prospect in 6′-5″ point guard Lonzo Ball. He’s a supersized player and arguably the premier passer in the class. It will be hard to keep Ball off the hardwood in Westwood, and it’s easy to see him having the keys to the offense at some point during the 2016 season. In contrast to Ball’s offensive skill game, center Ike Anigbogu is among the top rim protectors and shot-blockers in the class nationally. He also uses his length to grab caroms with authority. With several players on the roster who can get a high-octane offense going, Anigbogu provides an elite defender to begin to balance things out, though he’ll have to battle the existing interior depth on the roster. Local wing Kobe Paras was lightly regarding when he picked the Bruins early but perhaps UCLA has a sleeper on their hands, given his superior athleticism.
2. Oregon Ducks
Payton Pritchard | 6′-1″ | PG | West Linn (OR)
Keith Smith | 6′-7″ | SF | Rainier Beach (WA)
M.J. Cage | 6′-9″ | C | Mater Dei (CA)
Head coach Dana Altman has a unique trifecta of a player each from one of the best high school programs in each of the mainland West Coast states. In-state point guard Payton Pritchard was originally committed as a legacy recruit to Oklahoma, but their loss is the Ducks’ gain. One of the best point guard prospects nationally, Pritchard has an impeccable resume as a schoolboy in Oregon, and could take the Oregon program over the hump with his moxie, passing ability, and overall skill level. Like Pritchard, Seattle wing Keith Smith switched his pledge to ultimately decide on Oregon. He was once headed to San Diego State, but decided to take his deluxe wing game to Oregon instead. He has plenty of upside, but will have to stay healthy to make an impact in Eugene. The son of former NBA center Michael Cage, M.J. Cage has been on an upward trajectory for awhile. He can figure into the plans at power forward or center, in an Oregon program which has been undersized at those positions for several years and will lack depth. Cage continues to improve and there’s no reason to believe it will stop.
3. Washington Huskies
Markelle Fultz | 6′-4″ | PG | DeMatha Catholic (MD)
Sam Timmins | 6′-10″ | C | New Zealand
The Huskies have amassed an impressive collection of young talent for the 2015-2016 season, and assuming the roster returns relatively intact, point guard Markelle Fultz could be the X-factor on what could be one of the most interesting teams nationally in 2016-2017. In terms of trajectory, Fultz has practically ridden on a rocket ship the last two years. He went from being a junior varsity player as a sophomore (albeit in one of the nation’s top high school programs) to a top 10 national player as a senior. Fultz is a guard with size and can take the reins at point guard from day one, with the departure of Andrew Andrews to graduation. Fultz is a likely opening day starter, while New Zealand center Sam Timmins will have time to develop. He inked early with Washington and will have the chance to develop in the post.
4. Arizona Wildcats
Lauri Markkanen | 6′-11″ | PF | Finland
With three senior big men on the 2015-2016 roster, it was highly important for the Wildcats to strike with Markkanen, as he reportedly has the tools to make an impact as a freshman. Markkanen already served notice in last summer’s European U18 championships by averaging 18 points and 6 rebounds per game. He also torched the nets by hitting 41% from 3-point range in the same event, showing his versatility. Already listed on DraftExpress as a potential early entry candidate, Markkanen may have a short stay in Tucson, though he’s clearly going to be an important piece next season for the Wildcats. Arizona previously held a pledge from T.J. Leaf in the 2016 recruiting cycle, a top 25 prospect in his own right, but adding Markkanen may lead fans to forget losing Leaf down the line.
5. USC Trojans
Jonah Matthews | 6′-3″ | SG | Santa Monica (CA)
De’Anthony Melton | 6′-4″ | SG | Crespi Carmelite (CA)
Harrison Henderson | 6′-8″ | PF | South Grand Prairie (TX)
With his remodel of the USC roster almost complete, head coach Andy Enfield grabbed three solid prospects during the early signing period. Expect De’Anthony Melton to have a role on the Trojans’ roster sooner rather than later. He is a defensive stopper with significant size on the perimeter. He potentially could see time both guard slots, and be pressed into duty to shut down some of the Pac-12’s top scorers. Up front, skilled forward Harrison Henderson is the son of former Duke big man J.R. Henderson and is coming into his own. He too gives the Trojans another option in their burgeoning collection of forwards. USC bolstered their long range scoring capabilities by added Jonah Matthews, the son of longtime college hoops coach Phil Matthews. Matthews has earned his rep on the grassroots circuit as being a mid-range and 3-point shooting threat.
6. Arizona State Sun Devils
Sam Cunliffe | 6′-6″ | SF | Rainier Beach (WA)
Jethro Tshisumpa | 6′-10″ | C | Mountain Mission (VA)
It wasn’t as if former head coach Herb Sendek failed in Tempe, but obviously the administration felt they needed to go in a new direction when they hired Bobby Hurley to head the program. The early returns in terms of recruiting are favorable, with two top 100 caliber talents already pledged in Hurley’s first full recruiting cycle for the Sun Devils. Washington wing Sam Cunliffe burst on the scene during the spring and summer of 2015 and earned a reputation as a skilled performer who can shoot and score. He can be used in a variety of roles down the line, and could be the type of glue guy that can be plugged into a variety of slots. Inside, Jethro Tshisumpa is a large and in charge post prospect who can hold down the pivot. He has as many physical gifts as most incoming Pac-12 big guys and could be as good as any as he develops, down the line.
7. Utah Utes
Jojo Zamora | 6′-2″ | PG | Yuba College (CA)
Devon Daniels | 6′-5″ | SG | Prolific Prep (CA)
Jayce Johnson | 6′-11″ | C | Santa Monica (CA)
Utah has put together an early signing period class that will plug the holes on next year’s roster, with an eye towards the future. Bringing some experience in to the backcourt was important, and junior college transfer Jojo Zamora looks to help after a successful freshman year at Yuba College in which he averaged 18 points and 4 assists. Up front, skilled center Jayce Johnson is a near 7-footer and was a key addition for Utah. He matriculated early, and redshirted so he could be ready to impact in the 2016 season, before what could be a strong career for the Utes as a top 100 prospect. Versatile wing Devon Daniels is a Michigan-native who should add some options to the Utah roster. He can play either guard slots, and has strong potential as a defender.
8. Oregon State Beavers
JaQuori McLaughlin | 6′-3″ | PG | Peninsula (WA)
Ben Kone | 6′-8″ | PF | Archbishop Mitty (CA)
Point guard JaQuori McLaughlin must really like Corvallis. He committed to the Beavers during the era of Craig Robinson’s coaching staff, re-opened his pledge and made another commitment, all before ending up at Oregon State. With size and scoring ability he’s another top 100 prospect being added the Wayne Tinkle’s impressive collection of young players, in the rebuilding of the Beavers program. Sizable post Ben Kone joins McLaughlin in the class, and hails from the Bay Area which is sure to be an area Tinkle will focus on in upcoming years. Kone fills a hole in the paint on the current Oregon State roster, as they need additional bulk and rebounding.
9. California Golden Bears
Tyson Jolly | 6′-4″ | PG | Elev8 Prep (FL)
Oscar Frayer | 6′-5″ | SF | Moreau Catholic (CA)
After hitting a grand slam during the 2015 recruiting cycle, life goes on for Cal and they need recruits to overcome graduation losses and potential NBA early entry. One retread is expected from the 2015 class, guard Tyson Jolly. Orignally from Oklahoma, Jolly was considered at top 150 caliber prospect, prior to heading off for a year in prep school. He looks to use his prep year to add point guard experience and refine his overall game, which could help in light of Tyrone Wallace’s graduation. Local wing forward Oscar Frayer was head coach Cuonzo Martin’s first recruit to Berkeley, and has a solid game to plug into the wing forward slot. As with Ivan Rabb in the 2015 recruiting class, it’s an important statement for Martin and his staff to mine his area’s top prospects.
10. Colorado Buffaloes
Bryce Peters | 6′-5″ | SG | Damien (CA)
Deleon Brown | 6′-6″ | SG | Brewster Academy (NH)
In the Tad Boyle-era Colorado has thrived with multi-talented, lengthy wings. In Bryce Peters and Deleon Brown, the Buffaloes appear to be continuing that trend. Neither player received much Pac-12 recruiting attention, but Boyle has done just fine molding players to his system. Peters is a fine scorer who can add pop to the offense. Brown has earned a reputation as a shooter, and pledged early as a Michigan high schooler, before heading to finishing school at arguably the nation’s top prep school program.
11. Washington State Cougars
Milan Acquaah | 6′-1″ | PG | Cathedral (CA)
Jeff Pollard | 6′-10″ | PF | Impact Academy (NV)
Like others who came before him, it hasn’t been easy for head coach Ernie Kent to recruit to Pullman, an off the beaten path location in comparison with other Pac-12 programs. There’s no quick fix for the Cougars in their duo of recruits, either, as Milan Acquaah and Jeff Pollard are both lightly regarded relative to their Pac-12 signee peers. Acquaah carries a reputation of being a solid defender and distributor, while Pollard crossed state lines from Utah to Nevada to develop his game at Impact Academy. Both players are likely to add depth as freshmen.
NR. Stanford Cardinal
No known signees or commitments.