“Rebuilding Year” is a phrase that Ben Howland never utters, and why would you need to when you coach the most storied program in college basketball? In this day and age, finding freshman to fill starting spots is a lot easier than it used to be. For 2008, UCLA got five tremendous recruits, which is why UCLA is number one on my list of the best recruiting classes for 2008.
(“Stars” are equal to Scout.com’s player rankings)
SG-Jrue Holiday (5 star recruit, No.1 SG)- This kid is a winner. He isn’t on the court to showboat his skills to eventually garner himself a higher pick in the draft. On top of that he can score at will, although he isn’t the greatest three point shooter. Holiday can get to the rim and post double digit points every night.
C-J’Mison Morgan (5 star recruit, No.3 C)-This guy kind of reminds me of Dan Gadzuric (another UCLA standout), neither were very athletic and can’t pass, but they can finish around the rim and they have great hands for catching the ball in the post. Morgan can be a top center in college basketball, but I don’t think he will be next season.
PF-Drew Gordon (4 star recruit, No.15 PF)- Gordon is at UCLA to rebound, and rebounding is what he will do. This kid is all about the dirty work: blocking shots, getting offensive rebounds, and just all out hustling. If he can improve his scoring, he has the athleticism to be an All-Pac 10 selection.
SG-Malcolm Lee (4 star recruit, No.7 SG)- This guy reminds me of Austin Daye from Gonzaga, he has tremendous upside but he needs a little work on strength before he can take that next step to being a big time player. At 6’4” 165 pounds, it would be nice to see him gain some muscle. Other than that he has a pretty good stroke from behind the arc.
PG- Jerime Anderson (4 star recruit, No.3 PG)- Once again I am going to compare a UCLA recruit to a current Gonzaga player; Jeremy Pargo. Anderson has the natural ability to get to the bucket but his passing and perimeter shots aren’t great. I think a year to be the understudy behind Collison is what this kid needs and in the future he can be the guy you want with the ball late in the game.
Like UCLA, here is a team that lost a lot of players to the draft and graduation. Memphis had a lot of holes to fill and they did it nicely. John Calipari did his best job getting the late commitment from Tyreke Evans, who helped make this class number two on my list.
SG-Tyreke Evans (5 star recruit, No.2 SG)- Evans is all about using his athleticism to score, and when you watch him this year you may see comparisons to Kobe Bryant. He can shoot it from three, and he can create for himself. There isn’t any reason Evans can’t be an All-American in his first NCAA season.
SF-Wesley Witherspoon (4 star recruit, No.13 SF)- Another late addition to the Memphis recruiting class, Witherspoon will probably be a bench guy his first season. He needs to bulk up before he can be a great forward but the basics are there. He has length and athleticism… its just about putting it all together.
PF-Matt Simpkins (4 star recruit, No.29 PF)- Simpkins is a great defender and has great athleticism, which is pretty much the bread and butter of Memphis basketball. He won’t score a ton, but he can still be an offensive presence if he is guarded by someone smaller than him.
PF- Angel Garcia (4 star recruit, No.19 PF)- In my opinion, Garcia is a very underrated recruit. He is a 6’10” guy that can shoot threes and he can spread the floor on you which will help this athletic Memphis roster. If he can consistently make three pointers he can win the Tigers some ballgames.
Dino Gaudio has done a great job getting this program back on track after the tragic death of then head coach Skip Prosser. The Demon Deacons should have a fun time with these outstanding freshman, and they might just lead this team to an NCAA tournament appearance.
SF-Al-Farouq Aminu (5 star recruit, No.4 SF)-This is another guy that has the ability to create shots for himself. He will have no problem being the go-to-guy for Wake. We’ll also see how he does playing against his brother who plays for Georgia Tech.
C-Ty Walker (5 star recruit, No.4 C)- He is a tremendous defender and can block shots inside. If he improves on the offensive end, Wake will be a much scarier team next year. As for now, he should work on strength in order to have the ability to battle in the post with ACC big men.
C-Tony Woods (4 star recruit, No.10 C-This guy is an athletic rebounder. He is a great player to have in the game but, like Walker, he needs to improve his offense. If he does, these two guys could be a scary combo.
Kosta Koufos was a great center, but Ohio State more than replaced him with BJ Mullens. In my opinion Mullens is the best incoming freshman; he is an athletic, tall, and versatile player. Thad Matta did another great job preparing this team for an NCAA tournament run with this class. The word is Terrelle Pryor will not be playing basketball in college (source: http://www.terrellepryor.org)
C-BJ Mullens (5 star recruit, No.1 C)-I love this kid, and I believe that he can be the best player in college basketball next season. The key for him is rebounding on the offensive end. If he does that, you might be seeing games like this in the Big Ten.
SG-William Buford (5 star recruit, No.3 SG)-Buford provides a scoring guard that the Buckeyes lacked last season. He can penetrate to the basket which will open up shots for Mullens. Buford may be the key to the Buckeyes success this season.
PG-Anthony Carter (3 star recruit, No.21 PG)-Plays a good point guard position but isn’t a huge factor on the offensive end. His job will be getting Mullens and Buford the ball when he gets off the bench.
SG-Walter Offutt (3 star recruit, No.29 SG)- Tore his ACL last season for the second time. He may be done with basketball, but that remains to be seen.
It must be fun having Roy Williams’ job: getting some of the best recruits while having the best team in the nation heading into next season. This group might not get the playing time that they would at other schools, but they could have a national championship at the end of the season. Nonetheless, they are outstanding players and that’s why UNC is number five on my list.
PF-Ed Davis (5 star recruit, No.3 PF)-Davis is lengthy and he can rebound. As for now, he isn’t a great scorer in the low block but he has time to develop. Playing for UNC, he won’t have to contribute as much right away.
PF-Tyler Zeller (5 star recruit, No.7 PF)- Zeller is a scorer (he averaged 32.1 PPG in high school) and if he can improve his strength, he can put up double digits consistently as early as his sophomore season. He is also a good guy to have running the floor; don’t think this guy will ever pass up the opportunity for a bucket.
PG- Larry Drew (4 star recruit, No.4 PG)- He doesn’t have a great perimeter shot, but like the other freshman he’ll have time to develop it. In the future he can be a good point guard for the Tar Heels.
SG- Justin Watts (3 star recruit)- He is an athletic combo guard, he’ll eat up minutes late in his career but don’t expect much next season.
Rick Pitino gets yet another stellar recruiting class for 2008. Samardo Samuels is an amazing player and should score with more ease than most freshmen in the Big East. With this class, Louisville should easily fill the hole left by two big men: Derrick Caracter and David Padgett.
PF-Samardo Samuels (5 star recruit, No.1 PF)- Samuels will dominate almost anybody inside. He is a big time scorer and will prove it next season for the Cardinals.
PF-Terrence Jenniings (4 star recruit)- He will be a defensive presence; the Cardinals will want him to block shots and not try to do too much offensively. He is a 20 year old playing as a freshman, was originally an ’06 recruit.
SF-Jared Swopshire (4 star recruit, No.18 SF)- Looks a lot like Ronald Ramon, and plays a lot like him too. He has a good three point shot, but he isn’t the most athletic guy on the floor. He can be a go-to-shooter in the future.
SG-Kyle Kuric (3 star recruit, No.28 SG)- Won’t see much time if any next season, and he may be one of those guys who transfers in the future. However, he can shoot the three so if he improves athleticism he may be a good player.
Georgetown will have a tough time replacing last year’s team even with a great recruiting class. In the event that these guys can stick around another season, the Hoyas should be back in contention for a national championship. John Thompson III did a great job recruiting these players.
PF-Greg Monroe (5 star recruit, No.2 PF)- Great athlete and a great scorer, he will have a huge offensive load to carry for Georgetown next year and it will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure.
C-Henry Sims (4 star recruit, No.7 C)- Not a great scorer/rebounder, but he will be in there for defense. He can block almost anyone’s shot but won’t be a threat on the offensive end.
SG-Jason Clark (4 star recruit, No.12 SG)- He is a mid range shooter that plays good defense and isn’t too quick. He needs to develop his perimeter game if he wants to really help this Georgetown team because I don’t see a lot of players on that team that can make threes.
PF-Chris Braswell (4 star recruit, No.18 PF)- Quick guy that can score inside but doesn’t play too great defensively. He needs to be a little more consistent with his scoring but can be a great player in the future because he has good size.
UConn will have a great team next season regardless of recruits. However, getting top players never hurts. Jim Calhoun was smart to go out and get a point guard, especially one as good as Kemba Walker. The rest of the recruits may have to wait their turn to get into the limelight, but it will be worth the wait and all should be great players.
PG-Kemba Walker (5 star recruit, No.2 PG)-Not a good three point shooter but he is a tremendous athlete and plays a great point guard. He gives it his all on the court and plays great defense. He can really help this UConn team reach the Final Four.
PF-Ater Majok (4 star recruit, No.10 PF)- He is a quick forward but he isn’t a great scorer down low. He might see a lot of time next season but he won’t get too much of an offensive load to carry as his main objective will be playing good defense.
SG-Nate Miles (4 star recruit)- Needs to improve his strength but he can be a very good three point shooter for the Huskies in the future.
SG-Scottie Haralson (3 star recruit, No.38 SG)- Has good strength, but will probably be riding the bench next season. If he does see time, don’t expect a lot of scoring.
Bill Self set himself up for another possible national championship run in the future with this class. He got himself a set of twins (seemed to help Stanford) and three other great basketball players. In the future these guys could contend with past year’s teams for one of the best teams in Kansas history.
PF-Markieff Morris (4 star recruit)- Has great size and can score the basketball. He won’t be tremendous next season but he should be a great player in the future if he can continue to play good defense.
PF-Marcus Morris (4 star recruit)-Has grown a couple of inches and now has surpassed his brother in height. Like him, he can score the ball and will need to keep improving defense to be a great player.
SG-Tyshawn Taylor (4 star recruit, No.20 SG)- Originally committed to Marquette but backed out when Crean left for Indiana. He can push the tempo and score in transition and is a pretty good pickup for this Kansas team.
SG-Travis Releford (4 star recruit, No.10 SG)- This kid can be a big time scorer for the Jayhawks if he can improve his mid-range game. He can score a lot of points as early as next season.
PF-Quintrell Thomas (4 star recruit, No.32 PF)- Great rebounder and a tough guy, but he needs to work on his offensive game in order to be a great player for Kansas in the future.
SG-Tyrone Appleton (3 star recruit, JUCO)- Won’t see a lot of time, but will be used for defense.
SF-Mario Little (3 star recruit, JUCO)- Also won’t see a lot of time, can score sometimes but mainly used for defensive situations.
+ Not only is the Big East the best conference this year, but it looks like its setting itself up to be the best conference in years to come. Bob Huggins got a key late signing in Devin Ebanks, and if he can keep Ebanks around campus for a couple seasons then the Mountaineers could be contending for a final four in short time.
SF-Devin Ebanks (5 star recruit, No.3 SF)- Has a good shot, but not from three point range. He is an athletic combo forward that can score a ton of points for WVU. If he sticks around longer than his freshman year he will put up tremendous numbers.
PF-Kevin Jones (4 star recruit, No.11 PF)- Should improve his perimeter shot before he becomes a great player for Huggins, but as for now, he is a good athlete and a great passer. He is small so he’ll probably play more of a small forward in college.
PF-Roscoe Davis (4 star recruit, No.34 PF)- He is a big player that needs to work on scoring, but he plays pretty good defense and can be a good interior defender. If he improves his offense he can be a great weapon for the Mountaineers.
PG-Darryl Brant (3 star recruit, No.26 PG)- He won’t see a lot of time this year, but in the future could be a good player. He needs to work on his point guard skills before he sees a lot of the court, maybe a year to learn the position will help this kid.
Also Considered: USC, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota, Alabama, Tennessee