Indiana adds recruit to newest freshmen class

Hoosiers announce Emmitt Holt is newest addition to freshman recruiting class

      
 

 

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College Basketball Recruiting Rankings: B/R’s Top 20 Players in Class of 2015

Every class has its strength. From what I saw this summer keeping tabs on the top prospects in the 2015 class, this is the year of the big man.

Based on Bleacher Report’s recruiting rankings—picked using my observations and discussions with college coaches throughout the summer—12 of the top 20 players in this class are big men.

That’s good news for coaches chasing a national title. A lot is made of guard play in the NCAA tournament, but it’s hard to win without a big guy. Going into last season, only one national champ in 13 years had won the title without a big man who would eventually get drafted in the first round of the NBA draft.

Connecticut likely bucked that trend unless one of the Huskies’ bigs ends up getting drafted in the first round down the road. Their lack of talent in the post made their run all the more unbelievable.

Most champs are built inside out. And with that in mind, let’s take a look at which 2015 big fellas landed in my top 20 prospects.

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NCAA Basketball Recruiting: Pro-Player Comparisons for 5-Stars in Class of 2015

Coaches at the nation’s top college programs are eminently familiar with the NCAA basketball recruiting class of 2015, but fans may not have gotten to see much of the next crop of young stars. As these top prospects prepare for their senior years of high school, one way to get some perspective on what kinds of players they are is by looking at the pros they could grow up to become.

Isaiah Briscoe, for example, is an undersized shooting guard whose toughness lets him play bigger than his height. That’s a playing style that has helped Dwyane Wade earn bushels of All-Star appearances in his NBA career.

While Briscoe certainly isn’t on Wade’s level now, the Heat veteran makes a great role model for the New Jersey-based youngster. Read on for a closer look at that pairing, plus NBA counterparts for the rest of Rivals.com’s 5-star prospects in the 2015 class.

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Michigan State Basketball Recruiting: Best-Case Scenarios for MSU’s 2015 Class

With Kenny Kaminski released from the team, the once-limited remaining potential for Tom Izzo’s 2015 class has expanded. Now, there are two scholarships available for the prospects within Izzo’s sights.

The more scholarship space, the more possibilities.

Izzo was initially in a much more difficult spot with the precariousness of which recruit would fill that void after Eron Harris and Bryn Forbes transferred. State’s signal-caller has located several highly targeted high school seniors and extended offers.

Last week, one of those players, Montaque Gill-Caesar, signed on with the Missouri Tigers. That eliminates one prospect on Izzo’s radar, with several still remaining.

Given the team’s current personnel, Izzo will have to emphasize which recruits are most important to acquire.

 

Securing Swanigan

In terms of personnel in 2015 and sheer talent level, garnering Caleb Swanigan must be at the top of Izzo’s priorities. Not only is he ESPN’s highest rated recruit out of MSU’s offers, but his skill set also perfectly addresses Sparty’s biggest issue: frontcourt talent.

Branden Dawson is the only returning forward from last year’s team who played meaningful minutes. Role players Matt Costello and Gavin Schilling also return, but neither played a key role last season. Both players are inexperienced and lack offensive skill.

Skill is certainly present with Swanigan. And so is size.

The 6’8″, 275-pound forward imposes his will with physicality. Still developing a solid jump shot, he has a soft touch around the rim and fantastic perception of nearby defenders.

Swanigan seals opponents deep into the paint and finishes right over them. He knows how to use his robust frame to dominate in the post, and his skill around the rim makes him such a difficult cover.

A player with that type of skill set and mindset fits MSU perfectly. Once Dawson graduates after the 2014-15 campaign, State will have to rely on Costello, Schilling and Deyonta Davis, who is Swanigan’s AAU teammate and a talented stretch 4.

Despite Davis’ potential, that frontcourt needs some help. Swanigan is already a polished post player, something that seems more and more distant in today’s guard-dominated world of college and professional basketball.

Think Zach Randolph.

Like Randolph, Swanigan uses his overpowering size and craftiness around the rim to score. Combine his bruising mentality with Davis, who complements him wonderfully, and MSU will have one of the most complete lineups in recent memory.

The guard play will be loaded. If Swanigan is acquired, the frontcourt will boast similar potential, though it won’t retain as much depth.

He is evidently the most important target for Izzo because of the team’s desperate need for size and talent down low.

 

Acquiring Brunson after official visit

Jalen Brunson is one of the top point guards in the 2015 class. For a while, Temple was a plausible destination for the 6’2″ scorer after his father was hired by the staff.

But now, it appears as though MSU is back in the running.

According to 247Sports’ Crystal Ball Predictions, Brunson is most likely to sign with Michigan State. If this were to happen, MSU would boast one of the most talented backcourts in the nation, if not the deepest.

With Tum Tum Nairn running the point, transfers Harris and Forbes shooting from the perimeter and Denzel Valentine showing his ubiquity on the wing, the guards are already appearing formidable.

But if Brunson, who is arguably more talented than any of the aforementioned names, were to sign, this would be one of Izzo’s best backcourts he’s ever had.

Brunson can distribute to teammates and run the show. He can certainly light it up as well.

For Izzo, acquiring the necessary fit for his system and personnel situation is often most important. But Brunson is so talented and polished that he would immediately become a dynamic threat on the perimeter, despite the overload of options MSU has.

Izzo’s “small-ball” lineup with those mix of players would be deadly. Brunson is reportedly scheduled to visit MSU in the near future.

The prospect of him joining this loaded backcourt certainly is exciting for Spartan fans.

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Michigan Basketball Recruiting: Best-Case Scenarios for Wolverines’ 2015 Class

As John Beilein and the Michigan basketball program get prepared to reel in another fine recruiting class for 2015, the best-case scenario may actually be if they land a small class.

You see, the Wolverines basically have just one scholarship to give out at the moment, according to VerbalCommits.com. Now, things could change.

With Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin catching the eye of NBA scouts and general managers—ESPN’s Chad Ford has both of them in his top 50 NBA prospects list—they could be candidates to declare early for the NBA draft, and therefore, their departures would open more scholarships.

Most Michigan fans would elect to see LeVert and Irvin come back to Ann Arbor for their senor and junior years, respectively, than to see their scholarships used elsewhere.

But that may not be a viable option.

Throwing a wrench into the plans is that Michigan is set to host Division III transfer Duncan Robinson (Williams College) shortly, as Chris Balas at TheWolverine.com reported (subscription required).

Robinson played for Beilein’s former assistant coach at West Virginia, Mike Maker, at Williams College last year.

But now that Maker is the head coach at Marist, Robinson is looking for a new start on the big stage. Thomas Beindit also reported on the visit:

Also of note is that there could be other transfers or issues freeing up scholarships, so it’s a fluid situation to monitor.

Here then are a few best-case scenarios for the Wolverines’ 2015 class.

 

1. LeVert and Irvin elect to stay at Michigan while the Wolverines add the best player available.

It’s probably safe to say most Michigan fans would prefer LeVert and Irvin stay at Michigan, while in the process the Wolverines restrict the scholarships they could use in 2015. I’m guessing that’s the same feeling Beilein has as well.

If Michigan gets LeVert and and Irvin to stay, and no else leaves for unforeseen reasons, the Wolverines conceivably may be able to land only one 2015 prospect.

At that point, it may be in Michigan’s best interest to land the best overall prospect it can considering its 2015-16 squad would be a deep one.

If that’s the case, Michigan would consider itself lucky if it can secure the services of point guard extraordinaire Jalen Brunson, perhaps the highest-rated recruit—No. 17 overall, according to Scout.com—they have a legitimate shot of landing.

Granted, point guard is not a pressing need with Derrick Walton Jr. expected to stick around for a while, but on a deep team, grabbing a high-end player like Brunson may be the route to go.

Brunson, from Lincolnshire, Illinois (Adlai E. Stevenson HS), is an electrifying floor general who makes steady decisions with the ball in his hands. He can set up his teammates just as well as he can torch the nets from deep.

 

2. LeVert unfortunately declares for the NBA draft, but Michigan uses his scholarship on a promising wing with Irvin also returning.

Say LeVert becomes an all-Big Ten performer and perhaps earns All-American status, too. Then the 2014-15 season will likely have been considered a success, right?

If the Wolverines get 20-plus wins and enjoy another deep NCAA tournament run, LeVert could leave. We can live with that trade-off.

If that were to happen, look for Michigan to use a scholarship on a versatile wing like Jalen Coleman, Eric Davis, Prince Ali or Perry Dozier, all of whom are viewed as top-50 (or close to) recruits in the 2015 class.

While you don’t want to see LeVert leave, the replacement player for him could be a great consolation prize, as all of the aforementioned targets have upside through the roof.

 

3. Both LeVert and Irvin regretfully leave Michigan, but the Wolverines nab a three-man recruiting class that ranks among the best in 2015.

Again, Michigan would prefer not to lose the services of LeVert or Irvin. However, let’s say both players erupt this year and leave—similar to the way Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson did this past year.

Then it would be best if the Wolverines can recover and garner a top-10 or top-20 class to offset what they might lose.

This is the not the ideal way you want to shape up the 2015-16 roster, but it could be a reality.

So, if that were to come to fruition, the best way to rebound from that would be to recruit a well-rounded class that has a bit of everything.

Maybe you start with Brunson at point guard. Add a wing in Coleman, Davis or Dozier and then add a big man to complete the class.

That big man could be Trevor Manuel, who is an overlooked but skilled big still developing his game.

In all, the Michigan basketball program is in good hands with Beilein at the helm.

Whether Michigan signs one player or perhaps three or more, the 2015-16 season should be a year the Wolverines are equipped for another successful run.

Follow me on Twitter@Stacdemon

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UCLA Basketball: Expectations for the Bruins’ Incoming 2014-15 Class

While the floors of Pauley Pavilion are ripped out and replaced with a state-of-the-art court after damage from a burst water main destroyed the court UCLA played on last season, the Bruins are in a reconstructive phase of their own.

Although they had hoped to only lose point guard Kyle Anderson to the NBA, guards Jordan Adams and Zach LaVine elected to take their talents to the professional ranks as well.

This has left the Bruins facing a number of questions as they prepare for their second season under head coach Steve Alford.

Athletic director Dan Guerrero has assured that the new court in Pauley will be ready by the end of October, but Bruin fans will have to wait and see what kind of team will take that court this coming season.

The departures of Anderson, Adams and LaVine have opened a void in the UCLA squad, but Alford has lined up an incoming class—and a transfer guard—that may be able to not only fill that void but build upon what the trio created in Westwood last season.

Here’s a look at the expectations for the Bruins’ incoming class for the 2014-15 season.

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Ohio State Basketball Recruiting: Buckeyes’ Top Remaining Targets in 2015 Class

If Thad Matta strikes out on every available prospect for the rest of the 2015 recruiting cycle, he will still have one of the nation’s best classes. 

Ohio State currently boasts the No. 3 class in America, per 247Sports, thanks to the commitments of shooting guard Austin Grandstaff, center Daniel Giddens, small forward Mickey Mitchell and point guard A.J. Harris. All four players are 4-star prospects, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings.

What’s more, Matta has added depth to every single position on the floor except power forward thus far in his 2015 group.

That doesn’t mean Ohio State is done yet. If the Buckeyes can land any of the three following targets, they have a legitimate chance at securing the No. 1-ranked class in the country come signing day.

 

Carlton Bragg

Carlton Bragg, who is a local kid from Cleveland, would immediately fill that power forward need for this class. He would also add some more Buckeye State flavor to a group that features three out-of-state prospects. 

Bragg is a 5-star game-changer who checks in at 6’8” and 205 pounds. There are some serious heavyweights that have pursued Bragg this offseason, including Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA and Arizona. Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports highlighted why some of the best programs in the country are after the power forward:

Bragg is a double-double machine who brings elite-level athleticism to the table down low. His offensive arsenal includes a strong post-up game thanks to his overall strength, but he can stretch the floor with perimeter jumpers if needed.

Outside of the rebounding and formidable scoring, Bragg swats plenty of shots on the defensive end because of his quickness and nose for the ball. 

Bragg is the entire package at power forward and the top-rated prospect in the state of Ohio for 2015. He is one of those special kids Matta needs to secure if the Buckeyes are going to be seen as the team to beat for elite Ohio prospects going forward.

 

Doral Moore

Doral Moore is a Georgia native and 4-star prospect who measures 7’0″ and 220 pounds. Kentucky and Louisville are both going hard after him in addition to the Buckeyes, which means Matta certainly has his work cut out for him.

The Buckeyes already have Giddens as a center in the 2015 class, so landing Moore may not be quite as important as Bragg. Still, we are talking about a lengthy and athletic center who would immediately improve Ohio State’s frontcourt on both ends of the floor.

On the offensive side, Moore can stretch the defense with a mid-range jumper and mix in an array of low-post moves. He has impressive touch around the rim and even mixes in a soft hook shot when the opportunity presents itself. 

Moore will also swat plenty of shots and grab any rebound within his vicinity. The combination of Moore and Giddens would be particularly worrisome for the rest of the Big Ten.

 

Ivan Rabb

Matta is clearly looking to add more size in this class that currently features three perimeter players. Ivan Rabb is another power forward/center type who checks in at 6’10” and 210 pounds. Arizona, Duke and Kansas are among the other squads pursuing the 5-star prospect.

That means the Oakland native could be heading far away from home, which may not be a problem if his recent comments are any indication, via Laura Keeley of The Charlotte Observer:

“I’m not really a guy that gets homesick. I used to be, actually. I take that back. Freshman year in high school I used to get homesick, but now I’m used to being away from home.”

Rabb’s ability to finish with either hand immediately stands out on the offensive side, but his footwork should not be overlooked. He has the potential to develop into an elite post scorer because of his quickness and collection of moves down low.

His offensive skill level may already be at a college level, but his rebounding and defense should also appeal to the Buckeyes. As to be expected for a top big-man prospect, Rabb is an impressive shot-blocker and controls the boards on both sides of the floor.

Landing any of these three players would give the Scarlet and Gray a complete 2015 class. Perhaps it will be the one to finally lead Matta to that elusive national championship.

 

All rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Duke Basketball: Best-Case Recruiting Scenarios for Class of 2015

Duke’s 2015 recruiting class got a big boost earlier this week when Chase Jeter committed to the Blue Devils.

With commitments from Jeter and Luke Kennard, Duke joins Arizona as the only schools with multiple 5-star recruits so far in the class of 2015.

Duke will also have transfer Sean Obi available to play in 2015 after he redshirts this season due to NCAA transfer rules.

Duke’s top remaining targets for the class of 2015 include Brandon Ingram, Ivan Rabb and Henry Ellenson. Duke’s ability to bring these players to campus will rely on many factors beyond the players’ preference of where to play.

The team will be hard-pressed to find scholarship offers with Quinn Cook the only senior next year. Duke will open another spot if Jahlil Okafor declares for the NBA draft after his freshman year.

Both Tyus Jones and Rasheed Sulaimon could possibly bolt if they have strong individual seasons. There is also the chance that a player transfers midseason or after the year due to a lack of playing time on this talent-rich team.

Even if Okafor, Sulaimon and Jones go to the NBA and a player transfers, Duke would still have plenty of talent on the roster for 2015.

With Jeter, Kennard, Obi, Amile Jefferson, Matt Jones, Justise Winslow and more, Duke’s worst-case roster for 2015 could compete for an ACC championship. Duke’s best-case roster would be a Final Four favorite in 2015.

The following is a look at how Duke can best handle different roster scenarios through recruiting and building a new rotation.

While players transferring can be a looming reality for a team with so much talent, predicting a player to transfer is a pretty harsh undertaking, so my scenarios assume that no one leaves.

 

Okafor, Tyus Jones and Sulaimon All Declare for the NBA Draft

The good news is that if these three all declare, it probably means Duke had a successful season. The bad news is that it would leave Duke with a lot to replace, especially at point guard.

Cook, Tyus Jones and Sulaimon are capable of playing point, but if all three are gone in 2015, Duke would be left with very few options. The remaining guards on the team would be Matt Jones, Kennard and Grayson Allen.

Matt Jones did not show much ball-handling ability during his freshman year, and Kennard is unlikely to be able to run a team as a freshman.

Allen is a smooth ball-handler and could play minutes at the point, but one combo guard does not provide enough ball-handling capability for a team with high aspirations.

Adding to the problem, Duke has very little chance of landing a point guard in the class of 2015 who could step in and play right away. According to ESPN, there is not a single point guard in the class who is considering the Devils.

To avoid this problem, the coaching staff will need constant communication with Tyus Jones and Sulaimon throughout the season. If both are having strong seasons, the coaches will need to know whether or not they are considering declaring for the draft.

If this happens, look for Duke to start recruiting a lower-rated or junior college prospect in order to fill what could be a gaping hole.

 

No One Leaves for the NBA: Ingram, Ellenson and Rabb All Agree to Pay Their Own Tuition and Play for Duke

This is the literal best-case scenario and will not actually happen. Back to reality.

 

Okafor Leaves, Tyus Jones and Sulaimon Stay

Out of all the combinations, this might be the most likely to become a reality next spring. Duke would still have plenty of ball-handling, as well as big men Jeter, Jefferson, Obi and Marshall Plumlee in the paint for 2015.

With all that coming back, Duke should look to add a player who is capable of fitting in and contributing in small ways.

Enter Brandon Ingram.

Ingram is 6’8” and capable of playing multiple frontcourt positions. He has an insane wingspan that allows him to block shots, disrupt passing lanes and grab offensive rebounds.

Ingram most likely would not be a go-to player early in his career, but he could have a similar impact to Jefferson’s last year.

Every team needs capable role players, and Ingram should be up to the challenge. However, don’t let his intangibles fool you into thinking he has no skills with the ball.

His length and shooting ability recently drew a comparison to Kevin Durant. He could start off as a role player but grow into a big-time scorer in college.

 

Okafor and Either Sulaimon or Tyus Jones Leaves

If this happens, Duke’s team needs would be very similar to that of the previous scenario. The Devils would still have adequate guard play and bodies up front and would still benefit from having Ingram on the team.

Tyus Jones’ or Sulaimon’s departure would leave the team with an extra scholarship to offer. With no obvious needs in this situation, Duke should take a page from pro drafts and go for the best player available—Rabb.

Rabb is the No. 1 of the top prospects in his class. He recently took a visit to campus and met with the players and coaches.

Rabb is considered the cream of the crop as far as the next class of one-and-done prospects goes, and his lofty status gives Duke a timing advantage for recruiting him.

Most recruits choose to announce a college choice in the first semester of their senior season of high school, and with those players, college coaches have to project which of their players will go to the NBA after the current season.

However, a new trend is emerging among players who know they will stay only one year in college. These players are often looking for the right mix of prestige, exposure and, most important, available playing time in a school.

To find the right mix, they are willing to wait and see who will be leaving college teams, opening prime space.

If Rabb delays his decision and two Blue Devils leave, he could end up at Duke when the type of role he could play in Durham becomes clear.

If Rabb becomes a Devil, he would be the second straight No. 1 recruit to come to Duke.

Now that is a best-case scenario in recruiting.

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Villanova Basketball Recruiting: Best-Case Scenarios for Wildcats’ 2015 Class

The Villanova Wildcats are in the final stages of putting together the class of 2015, and things are looking bright for Jay Wright’s team in the recruiting department. 

With a few scholarships still open, the Wildcats have a chance to make a big splash over the coming months and strengthen a program that has been successful during the Wright era. 

Below is a look at a few of the best-case scenarios surrounding the rest of the potential class of 2015 recruits. 

 

Roselle Catholic Teammates Look to Play Together in College

Isaiah Briscoe and Chris Silva are teammates at the high school level with Roselle Catholic in northern New Jersey, and both players have left Villanova on their list of potential suitors. 

Briscoe recently released his final five schools: Villanova, Seton Hall, Rutgers, St. John’s and Arizona, per SNY’s Adam Zagoria.

There will be, if there isn’t already, a big push from Seton Hall, St. John’s and Rutgers to keep the guard close to home, but he may choose otherwise if he can play with Silva somewhere. 

Silva will announce his final five teams August 17, per NJ.com, and after that he will make a decision on his birthday, September 19. 

The Wildcats should be in that final five, but whether the big man commits to the Wildcats remains to be seen.

If Silva commits to Villanova, he could play a big role in bringing Briscoe to the Main Line to fill a role at the guard position. 

 

Bring In Donovan Mitchell and Another Guard Instead of Briscoe

One of the names that has flashed onto Villanova’s radar lately is Donovan Mitchell, who recently made a visit to the school.

Mitchell, who has narrowed his choices down to five schools, has been on the rise all summer long, and the Wildcats would be smart to swoop him up.

With competition coming from Providence, Florida State, Louisville and Boston College, Wright and his staff will have to work hard to bring in the player from Brewster Academy. But it would be worth it, especially if Briscoe decides to go elsewhere. 

If Briscoe does not end up in a Villanova uniform, it would be wise for the Wildcats to go after another guard to partner with Mitchell, and Donte DiVincenzo, in the potential class of 2015 backcourt. 

The two options the Wildcats have are to go after Bryant Crawford or Jalen Brunson, both of whom have offers from big-name schools. 

Crawford has yet to dwindle his potential suitors down to a small list, but it was reported back in June that Villanova was one of five schools recruiting him the hardest. 

If Villanova still ranks high in the mind of Crawford, it would be wise for the Wildcats to prioritize his recruitment over Brunson, who has offers from a few schools in the middle of the country where he resides. 

Brunson looks like a last-ditch option at the moment, so Crawford and Mitchell should be the guard combination that Wright looks to bring in if things with Briscoe don’t work out. 

 

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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Predicting the Top Performers from This Year’s NBA Draft Class

Michael Carter-Williams emerged as the most productive player from the weak 2013 NBA draft.

The 2014 edition was stocked with potential All-Stars and longtime contributors. But the immediate question on everyone’s mind is how their team’s draft picks will fare in the next 12 months.

These questions depend on a few factors: Is there a significant hole in the depth chart the team needs to fill? Will he be expected to start from day one? Does he have the body to compete in the NBA? Will a new free agent bump him down before training camp even begins?

Looking through the first round of the draft, here are five players who should get their shot early in the 2014-15 season and may prove vital to their team’s success earlier than anyone imagined.

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