Make it Five for Kentucky
The unprecedented and remarkable streak of success that the Kentucky Wildcats has amassed on the college basketball recruiting trail continues with the 2013 class, as far as returns from the early signing period are concerned. By the most conservative measure, Kentucky has far and away the best class in the country, as four of the top five members are universally ranked among the top-15 players in the country. This effort is expected to remain as the top group in the land, ensuring a fifth straight top national recruiting class ranking.
Don’t let Kentucky be the only story in SEC recruiting, though, as several schools within the conference that don’t get top billing also cleaned up with recruits.
A pair of twins, guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison headline Kentucky’s class, and both are top-5 players nationally. Their strength and bullish style begs for testing against college competition, before what could be lucrative professional basketball careers. While Andrew is mostly defined as a point guard and Aaron carries the billing as a shooting guard, the reality is the twins can intermix their skills on the court, to the significant detriment of opponents.
Assuming the twins can’t do it all (which they undoubtedly could against some opponents), lengthy wing scorer James Young is a significant option going forward. He has tremendous upside, as does center Marcus Lee, whose fluidity and athleticism in the interior may take time to develop, but will be a huge piece of the class as the only big man. In-state forward Derek Willis isn’t a threat to leave to the NBA early like the other four players, but he’ll add depth.
Before Kentucky cleaned up with pledges, the Florida Gators briefly held the top recruiting class in the land. AAU teammates for Florida Elite, bouncy power forward Chris Walker and terrific point guard Kasey Hill are in-state signees that are headed in. If Walker can keep his emotions in check, the sky is the limit for his burst and relentless attacking mode. Hill is heady, slippery in transition, and nearly an all-around point guard. He’ll star before his time is up at Florida.
The major surprise in the SEC is the prominence of the class signed by new LSU Tigers coach Johnny Jones. Three players with all-conference potential signed with the Tigers, and all are top-100 players. The key to the class is in-state dynamo Jarell Martin, an over sized stretch forward at 6-9 that has versatility for days and a terrific skill package. Martin is some refinement and conditioning away from being a bonafide star, which could be made easier by the presence of no-nonsense power forward Jordan Mickey and versatile wing Tim Quarterman. There’s no dobut that Jones exceeded expectations with this first group, which could end up as a top-10 class nationally.
The Arkansas Razorbacks dipped into the prominent Arkansas Wings AAU team and landed an impressive frontcourt in top-20 power forward Bobby Portis and center Moses Kinglsey. The two are a hoops yin and yang, as Kingsley defensive-minded interior protection will open Portis up to stretch his game.
An impressive inside-outside duo looks promising for the Missouri Tigers. Fast rising point guard Wesley Clark will have one of the most savvy power forwards in the country in Johnathan Williams to distribute the ball to. Clark can attack and pass with acumen, and Williams has a bevy of post skills to go with the footwork to convert. Torren Jones has some upside inside as well, and has the athleticism to be a long term bet.
Over the last year it would hard to argue many players rose up the charts faster than Robert Hubbs, a lengthy shooting guard, did. The Tennessee Volunteers won an important recruiting battle for his services and he can be a tremendous player in college. Likewise, the South Carolina Gamecocks landed the centerpiece of their class by beating out NC State for wing forward Sindarius Thornwell. His toughness should fit right in with new head coach Frank Martin.
The story is big men for the Alabama Crimson Tide and Vanderbilt Commodores. Alabama has two big men with a chance to be multi-year starters in Jimmie Taylor and Shannon Hale, while Damian Jones will play early for Vandy.
The Texas A&M Aggies inked two solid forwards, but their ranking in this article does not include in-state forward Derrick Griffin, who is an elite football player as well as a top-50 basketball player. It’s unclear how much hoops he will play, but if he does than Texas A&M would be ranked just behind Mizzou. While Griffin’s future may be on the gridiron, his freakish athleticism and power have the potential to make him a dominant basketball player with refinement. Just behind Texas A&M is the Georgia Bulldogs, who have a solid wing in Juwan Parker, who can help at multiple positions.
- Best Player: Andrew Harrison, Kentucky
- Best Potential: Andrew Harrison, Kentucky
- Best Scorer: Aaron Harrison, Kentucky
- Best Shooter: Aaron Harrison, Kentucky
- Best Rebounder: Jarell Martin, LSU
- Best Passer: Andrew Harrison, Kentucky
- Best Defender: Moses Kingsley, Arkansas
- Best Glue Guy: Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina
|Derek Willis||6′-8″||PF||Bullitt East (KY)||HS||Signed|
|Andrew Harrison||6′-5″||PG||Travis (TX)||HS||Signed|
|Aaron Harrison||6′-5″||SG||Travis (TX)||HS||Signed|
|Marcus Lee||6′-10″||C||Deer Valley (CA)||HS||Signed|
|James Young||6′-7″||SF||Rochester (MI)||HS||Signed|
|Kasey Hill||6′-1″||PG||Montverde Academy (FL)||HS||Signed|
|Chris Walker||6′-9″||PF||Holmes County (FL)||HS||Signed|
|Jarell Martin||6′-9″||PF||Madison Prep (LA)||HS||Signed|
|Tim Quarterman||6′-5″||SG||Johnson (GA)||HS||Signed|
|Jordan Mickey||6′-8″||PF||Prime Prep (TX)||HS||Signed|
|Johnathon Odo||6′-11″||C||Hill College (TX)||JC||Signed|
|Bobby Portis||6′-9″||PF||Little Rock Hall (AR)||HS||Signed|
|Moses Kingsley||6′-9″||C||Huntington Prep (WV)||HS||Signed|
|Johnathan Williams||6′-8″||PF||Southwind (TN)||HS||Signed|
|Wesley Clark||6′-1″||PG||Romulus (MI)||HS||Signed|
|Torren Jones||6′-8″||PF||La Lumiere School (IN)||HS||Signed|
|Travon Landry||6′-1″||PG||Huntington Prep (WV)||HS||Signed|
|AJ Davis||6′-8″||PF||Buford (GA)||HS||Signed|
|Robert Hubbs||6′-5″||SG||Dyer County (TN)||HS||Signed|
|Sindarius Thornwell||6′-5″||SF||Oak Hill Academy (VA)||HS||Signed|
|Justin McKie||6′-4″||SG||Irmo (SC)||HS||Signed|
|Desmond Ringer||6′-9″||PF||Eagle’s Landing (GA)||HS||Signed|
|Shannon Hale||6′-7″||PF||Christ School (NC)||HS||Signed|
|Jimmie Taylor||6′-10″||C||Greensboro (AL)||HS||Signed|
|Damian Jones||6′-9″||C||Scotlandville (LA)||HS||Signed|
10. Texas A&M
|Davonte Fitzgerald||6′-7″||SF||Tucker (GA)||HS||Signed|
|Tavario Miller||6′-8″||PF||Wheatley (TX)||HS||Signed|
|JJ Frazier||5′-9″||PG||Faith Baptist (GA)||HS||Signed|
|Juwan Parker||6′-5″||SF||Booker T. Washington||HS||Signed|
|Imara Ready||5′-11″||PG||Parkview (AR)||HS||Signed|
|Quantel Denson||6′-9″||C||Mineral CC (KS)||JC||Signed|
|Travis Daniels||6′-8″||SF||Shelton State (AL)||JC||Signed|
|Fallou Ndoye||6′-11″||C||Findlay Prep (NV)||HS||Signed|
|Dwight Coleby||6′-9″||C||Piney Woods (MS)||HS||Signed|
|Janari Joesaar||6′-7″||SF||Sunrise Christian (KS)||HS||Signed|
|Sebastian Saiz||6′-9″||PF||Sunrise Christian (KS)||HS||Signed|
|Ronald Delph||7′-0″||C||IMG Academy (FL)||HS||Signed|
|Benas Griciunas||7′-0″||C||Findlay Prep (NV)||HS||Signed|
|Tahj Shamsid-Deen||5′-10″||PG||Columbia (GA)||HS||Signed|
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.