When one looks at school recruiting class rankings, similar college basketball programs pop up every year. With that in mind, it is important to keep an eye on outliers, programs that either jump up for a year or two (an indicator of a head coach or assistant on the rise) and possibly produce a deep tournament squad.
Two teams that look to be on the verge of entering the national top-10 recruiting class rankings, perhaps unexpectedly, are Cal and Tennessee. Both have a strong duo of players already committed, with a potential elite player, or two, in the pipeline.
In the case of Cal, they are set on the perimeter, with two local preps, top-25 national wing Jabari Bird and scorer Jordan Mathews (son of a UCLA assistant coach) already in the fray. Mathews increased his profile rapidly with tremendous play during the summer.
Cal also has a legitimate shot at landing a top-15 national prospect, with another in-state prospect in center Marcus Lee strongly considering the Golden Bears. They will have to beat out another Cal (as in Coach Cal) as Kentucky and Louisville made the final three for Lee. Should Cal get Lee and Bird to go with Mathews, they could have two players in the venerable McDonald’s All American games.
Cal is also in the mix for a top-150 post in Torren Jones, an Arizona-native that played on the circuit with Mathews and Lee on California Supreme. He would be solid consolation prize if Lee heads to the Bluegrass State.
Meanwhile, Tennessee seems to be really getting their recruiting efforts in gear under coach Cuonzo Martin. He only had a short time to assemble his first recruiting class, but outside of Memphis star Jarnell Stokes the second class was also under the radar.
Now, the Volunteers received commitments on Monday from forward AJ Davis and in-state star guard Robert Hubbs. A potential top-15 national prospect, Hubbs ran on an AAU team with Austin Nichols, another possible McDonald’s All American, during the spring and summer circuit.
Nichols and another Memphis big man Johnathan Williams, are both considering the Vols and are among the elite power forward prospects nationally. Through in either post with Hubbs, and the core of an elite class is there, along with a solid forward with NBA bloodlines in Davis.
Tennessee and California haven’t been in national recruiting class rankings as of late, but both are off to great starts in ’13 and are bordering on breakout groups. Don’t be surprised if either class spurs a deep NCAA tournament run while on campus.
Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.