Some college basketball programs are still trying to land a player or two or next year from a miniscule crop of unsigned 2012 players, while the majority are focusing on 2013 class members for the 2013-2014 season. While those are the classes with the primary targets, several high-major programs have made headway in recent days with early verbal pledges from 2014 players.
While it can be considered somewhat of a gamble to accept a verbal commitment from a prospect that has completed only two seasons of high school hoops, that hasn’t stopped Mississippi State and South Carolina with snagging backcourt prospects from in-state. Marcus Stroman is new coach Frank Martin’s first pledge from the 2014 class, and is likely the point guard of the future for the Gamecocks. Likewise, combo guard Maurice Dunlap could be a dandy for Rick Ray at Mississippi State, a newly minted head coach. Both players have excelled against in-state competition, and time will tell if they have been locked down before becoming nationally known.
Perhaps the most intriguing of the recent 2014 commitments is Drake Harris, a 6-4 wing that would not be a surprise if he was the best walk-on basketball player in the country when he hits campus at Michigan State. Harris is a gridiron star as well, and is expected to be on scholarship for football and walk-on to the hoops team. Reportedly an elite speedy wide receiver, he also possesses legitimate backcourt skill on the hardwood. It remains to be seen what sport he will pick, but it would not shock to see him play a key role at Michigan State.
Also recently, Wisconsin snagged Ethan Happ, a skilled 6-7 forward from Illinois. The early skinny on Happ is that he will fit nicely into the Badgers’ offensive game in the future.
As programs take pledges and fill out their roster for next season and beyond, the 2014 class will be increasingly targeted on the recruiting trail. It should be interesting to see if coaches have a clear crystal ball when picking prospects that have two or more years to develop before hitting their respective campuses.
Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.