College basketball recruiting junkies have no doubt heard about the impressive 2012 incoming class hauls that have been reeled in by UCLA, Kentucky, Arizona and other perennial blue blood programs. Often, BCS conference teams dominate team recruiting class rankings, by virtue of pulling in the most publicized and touted of recruits.
Still, recent NCAA tournament history indicates that not only are non-BCS schools relevant, they also have a significant share of talented players, which they identify and land on the recruiting trail.
In looking at non-BCS schools, the efforts of Houston, Xavier, Memphis, and UNLV have been well-publicized by virtue of each school landing multiple top-100 prospects. With that in mind, here are a handful of non-BCS recruiting classes that could have an impact as early as next year, which haven’t received as much attention.
Head coach Greg Marshall has plenty of options in keeping Wichita State’s juggernaut going, given the talented group he assembled for next year. Junior college guard Nick Wiggins (the older brother of the top prospect in the nation’s 2014 class, Andrew Wiggins) could provide an instant offensive infusion. Skilled point guard Fred Van Vleet is on the way from Illinois, and forward Teddy Hawkins locked up an Ohio state championship. JUCO power forward Cleanthony Early should be set to help anchor the inside. Make no mistake, Marshall has a stellar group headed his way next year, which is not a shocker given the program’s recent success.
Marshall locked up five players that will keep the Herd program going. The last, and probably most-important signee is former Louisville-commit Ryan Taylor, a 6-6 forward that is seasoned from a year of prep school. Two of the top prospects from Texas’ junior college basketball ranks, Elijah Pittman and D.D. Scarver both look ready to contribute, while high school guards Kareem Canty and Tamron Manning are both extremely solid. This group looks to have five players that are nicely suited for Conference USA.
While many fans are aware of the storyline that led 7-footer Robert Upshaw to Fresno State, the reality is that coach Rodney Terry’s first full recruiting class addresses the program’s needs and should set them up in good position for the future. While Upshaw is a top-50 prospect and clearly the headliner, there’s other room for excitement. 6-5 forward Broderick Newbill is a glue guy, and former Kansas-signee Braeden Anderson should have a niche in the frontcourt. Another newcomer with some acclaim is 6-3 shooting guard Marvelle Harris, reportedly one of the most underrated players in SoCal.
By no means is San Diego State going to sneak up on anyone, but their three man recruiting class arguably has the most bang for its buck at the non-BCS level. The icing on the cake came when top-50 forward Winston Shepard decided to pick the Aztecs over numerous suitors, as he becomes an immediate mismatch at 6-8 against most of their slate. Two other talented prospects from Southern California, bouncy wing Matt Shrigley and slender but talented center Skylar Spencer, will be hard for coach Steve Fisher to keep off the floor.
Coach Pat Skerry’s first season at Towson was ugly and undoubtedly difficult to watch for any observers that slogged their way through a 1-31 season. Skerry has a background as a successful recruiter as an assistant coach in the Big East and that has carried over to his tenure at the helm for the Tigers. In high school guards Jerome Hairston and Frank Mason, Skerry has a base to build from for the future. Forwards Barrington Alston and Timajh Parker-Rivera both should also be very solid CAA players. Near the end of the period, Skerry also added the services of two wings, Marquis Marshall and Rafriel Guthrie. With presumably almost every starting slot open to consideration the talent newcomers figure to have more than first crack and revitalizing the ailing Towson program.
Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.