Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Quick Recruiting Update

Posted by Zach on September 20, 2008

There’s been an influx of stunning recruiting news this past week, so it’s time for a roundup:

– Two more top-25 players committed over the last few days, most recently Avery Bradley pledging his allegiances to Rick Barnes and Texas, who are quickly putting together one of the most impressive classes in the nation. Bradley is a do-everything point guard that has an advanced mid-range jumper and is positively mature for his age on the defensive end of the court. He’s ranked #10 in the nation for 2009 by Scout.com and will team up with Shaun Williams, who most consider the top HS player in Texas, for possibly Rick Barnes’ top class in recent years. Also committing over this past week is Tyler Honeycutt, who chose Bradley’s second choice- the UCLA Bruins. Honeycutt is a 6’8 forward ranked #21 overall by Scout who saw his stock soar this summer at elite camps. Honeycutt opted for UCLA over rival USC.

– With the Bradley and Honeycutt commitments, along with Abdul Gaddy choosing Arizona recently, 16 of the top 30 prospects in the 2009 class have made their decision. Some of the top names in the class are still ripe for the picking, though. This group includes Renardo Sidney (Arizona State, Kentucky, USC, UCLA, Texas), John Wall (Baylor, Kansas, Kentucky), Derrick Favors (Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech) and Xavier Henry (Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina). The top overall class for 2009 still remains in the hands of Roy Williams and North Carolina, who have five top 75 prospect locked up, and appear to be in the running for Xavier Henry, which would be just unfair. Other top classes include Villanova, Arizona and Kansas.

– The real story of this recruiting season is a developing pattern that, frankly, I think is great for college basketball: top-flight prospects committing to mid-major schools. The newest example, and really the most stunning, is the #26 player overall from Rivals opting for Georgia State. That’s right, Georgia State. Rashanti Harris will be the biggest man in the history of the Georgia State campus. Harris had plenty of academic problems to derail possible suitors, but he still chose GSU over Memphis, Arkansas and Mississippi State. Harris had a great relationship with coach Rod Barnes and decided to stray far, far away for the norm of top-30 prospects and commit to a low-major program. I say, good for him.

This isn’t the first example of huge prospects going to small schools. And I’m not talking about Gonzaga, Butler or Nevada. Four of the top-13 center prospects are heading to these smaller schools. As someone who has season tickets to a mid-major school, I say this is excellent for the state of college basketball. Spread the wealth a bit and get more people interested in more schools. Of the centers, Harris to Georgia State joins Zeke Marshall to Akron, Greg Smith to Fresno State and Aaric Murray to La Salle. Throw in Nevada and you have Luke Babbitt. Also, don’t forget DeMarcus Cousins,  Rivals #2 prospect in the entire 2009 class, will be a UAB Blazer.

Gary Parrish of CBS thinks the change is due to a number of elite prospects noticing star players from these small schools still going high in drafts. While before they felt obligated to commit to a BCS school to receive attention, stories like Courtney Lee, George Hill and Jason Thompson have turned the tide. They now feel comfortable going with the best option for themselves. And that’s a good thing.

Quick note: Davidson-Purdue and Southern Illinois-Saint Mary’s in the Wooden Classic this season.

College basketball isn’t that far off, folks.

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