The most interesting story line in the Class of 2014 involved Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and the way they marketed themselves as a package deal to the teams that were recruiting them.
The story has been told hundreds of times by now. Okafor, who was the top recruit in the country, and Jones, a top five recruit nationally, played together for Team USA in the U16 World Championships and, as a result, developed a bond on and off the court that they wanted to build on in college.
The way that it played out, both players ended up committing to Duke, automatically giving Coach K one of the best recruiting classes in the country and a top five ranking heading into the 2014-2015 season.
That’s why Malik Newman and Diamond Stone have immediately become the most intriguing prospects in the Class of 2015.
In case you missed it over the weekend, Stone confirmed to Scout.com that he and Newman are seriously considering playing their college ball together. The pairing is a bit odd — Newman is a 6-foot-3 combo-guard from Mississippi and Stone is a 6-foot-10 center from Wisconsin — but the weight of what they are saying isn’t. Newman, according to Rivals.com, is the No. 1 recruit in the class while Stone checks in at No. 3.
The Class of 2015 is not considered strong by many in the industry, but even with that disclaimer, landing two of the top three players in the class will be enough to push any of the schools pursuing the two prospects into a position where they are an immediate threat to win their league and reach the Final Four.
If Newman and Stone truly are going to play their college basketball together, than that makes them both by far the most important recruits in the country.
That’s a big ‘if’, however.
No one would blame you if you had ‘package deal fatigue’. Once prospects saw the kind of press that Jones and Okafor were getting for talking package deal, other recruits began to do the same. Whether it was a calculated ploy by the athletes to up their profile and bring in some bigger programs into their recruitment, an overreaction by the media that covers these things or simply a couple of kids saying they wouldn’t mind attending college with a friend, too many stories about ‘package deals’ that were never deals in the first place made the rounds.
In other words, there is no guarantee that Newman and Stone will actually end up at the same school.
But given their talent level relative to the rest of the class, any coach pursuing either player would be foolish not to try to bring them in together.