College basketball’s early signing period, which kicked off on Wednesday, waited until Friday to drop some relative intrigue on fans, with four pledges of top-50 talents of varying surprise announced. The decisions of two thick-bodied true centers in a class with a relative dearth similar players, Kennedy Meeks to the North Carolina Tar Heels over the Georgetown Hoyas and Beejay Anya to the NC State Wolfpack, both went largely as expected, but two other decisions were of more appeal to recruiting junkies.
It would be hard to overstate the importance of talented SoCal combo guard Isaac Hamilton’s decision to go with the UTEP Miners. Ranked the No. 21 player in the country in the November update of the Hoopniks Top 150 for the Class of 2013, Hamilton is now the best player in the country headed to a non-BCS school, which rated as an eyebrow raiser, given many thought UNLV or the UCLA Bruins had established themselves in his recruitment.
The younger brother of current professional basketball players Gary and Jordan Hamilton, Isaac as also an important score because his allegiance implies that the No. 15 player in the country in the 2014 class, Daniel Hamilton, is likely to follow his brother in playing for the Miners. Daniel is a long drink of water at 6-7, while Isaac has a lithe and active scoring package at 6-4. With perhaps among the most complete scoring games from the backcourt in the 2013 class, it can be reasonably be assumed that Isaac will hit the ground running as a double-digit scorer from day one in El Paso.
With a bevy of also talented players blessed in the backcourt at UNLV, UCLA and San Diego State, the path was comparatively cleared for Isaac Hamilton to step in and star, if he’s ready, from the time he joins the squad. The Miners have also signed in-state forward Jake Flaggert of Lovejoy (TX) and are starting to establish themselves under coach Tim Floyd.
Meanwhile the addition of Tyler Roberson to the Syracuse Orange is important in adding the final piece to a deep class of five prospects that addresses future holes on the roster, but also in the fact that the Villanova Wildcats missed on him, as well as forward Austin Colbert (who recently picked Illinois). The Kansas Jayhawks were also among Roberson’s reported finalists, though they have also sewn up a complete class of complementary players.
Roberson will be blessed with a terrific point guard among his peers in Tyler Ennis, and a solid supporting cast that includes former Indiana Hoosiers signee (in 2012) in Ron Patterson , along with forward BJ Johnson and center Chinoso Okoboh. Of that group, Roberson presents the most likely opportunity to star, as he’s a skilled combo forward that’s just scratching the surface on his potential. He has the game to make us regret our current No. 62 national rank.
The aforementioned declarations by Meeks and Anya ensure the ACC’s continuing pipeline of talent. Both will have similarly talented classmates at the “4” watching their backs, as Meeks will be paired alongside Isaiah Hicks and Anya has Kyle Washington as his classmate. Another factor in both’s development should be the presence of a skilled passing point guard in their peer groups, as elite lead guard Anthony Barber is headed to NC State, and the Tar Heels have Nate Britt in the fray. With strong pieces around them, the path is clear for Anya and Meeks to do anchor the interior, as a foremost goal.--------------------------------------------
For those fans that wish college basketball was a year-round sport, the College Basketball Newcomers Guide paperback and Kindle book previews the incoming recruits for every team nationally. There’s no need to wait until Fall to learn about the new names in college basketball that will be starring on the hardwood.