Villanova Basketball Recruiting: Biggest Competition for Top 2015 Targets

With the summer dwindling down and players headed back to school, the Villanova Wildcats have only three players left on their list of prospective targets for the class of 2015. 

The three players left on the table are Chris Silva, Jalen Brunson and Isaiah Briscoe, and each of those individuals possess a different challenge for the Wildcats with a different set of competitors lining up for their respective signatures.

Below is a look at the competition Jay Wright and his staff will face to bring each one of these players to Villanova. 


Chris Silva

Silva recently tweeted a list of the five schools left in the running to bring him in. 

The Roselle Catholic (N.J.) product listed Kansas State, South Carolina, Seton Hall and Rhode Island as the other four schools left in his recruiting process. 

On the surface, it may seem like Villanova has the upper hand in the race for the big man based on program pedigree, but that isn’t likely to be the only factor playing into Silva’s decision. 

Seton Hall is a local team for the player based in North Jersey, and thanks to what Kevin Willard has done there, the school is becoming a contender in the smaller Big East Conference. 

South Carolina brings the appeal of the SEC, but it takes a certain type of player to deal with noted hothead Frank Martin. 

Kansas State will always be included in the second tier of Big 12 basketball schools, but it does have one of the best home courts in the nation, which could act as a major selling point for Bruce Weber. 

Rhode Island seems like an odd school to be included with these names from bigger conferences, but an opportunity to play early in his career could persuade Silva to head up to New England. 

Villanova stands a strong chance to snag Silva since it will need help down low from the first second Silva potentially steps on campus. 

With a need down low and a winning pedigree behind it, Villanova could put itself high atop the forward’s list of favorite schools when the time comes to make a decision. 


Isaiah Briscoe

Briscoe, who is Silva’s high school teammate, has a local feel to his final list of schools, but his decision may not come for quite some time. 

The guard from Roselle Catholic told SNY’s Adam Zagoria he plans to make his decision as late as possible, which means he may not commit until the spring. 

Competing for the commitment of the star guard with Villanova are Arizona, Seton Hall, Rutgers and St. John’s. 

The one school that doesn’t fit in with the others here is Arizona, which has one spot open in the class of 2015 and already has two verbal commitments from shooting guards. 

With Arizona already loaded at Briscoe‘s position, a local school should benefit from his decision, but which program gets his talent remains to be seen.

Rutgers has a tarnished image right now, but playing in the Big Ten has to spark at least a bit of interest in the mind of Briscoe

St. John’s has done well in the recruiting department during the Steve Lavin era, but the results have been hard to come by. 

As mentioned above, Seton Hall is a burgeoning program in the Big East that could easily contend with one or two big-name signings. 

Expect the Pirates to be a big contender for Briscoe, and with a crowded backcourt at Villanova, he could lean toward the local school instead of coming down to join up with Wright and the Wildcats. 


Jalen Brunson 

The third player with Villanova still left on his list of potential suitors is Brunson, who will visit Michigan State, Purdue, Temple and Illinois as well. 

The allure of playing for a contender in a basketball powerhouse like the Big Ten is a big draw for any young player, and Brunson has that at Michigan State and Illinois. 

As for Temple and Purdue, neither school has been on the national radar on a consistent basis as of late, but Brunson could opt for one of those programs to help turn them around for good. 

Villanova presents Brunson with an interesting scenario because the Wildcats will have Phil Booth, Ryan Arcidiacono, Dylan Ennis and Donte DiVincenzo in the backcourt for the 2015-16 season.

Brunson may not be handed a starting gig right away, which could turn him away from the Wildcats given how much freshmen play in this age of college basketball. 

While he may not start right away, Brunson could end up being a solid contributor off the bench, like Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart were last season. 

By handing him playing time during his freshman campaign off the pine, Villanova could jump to the forefront of Brunson‘s list, especially if his visit goes well. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

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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’s 5-star prospects in the 2015 class.

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Michigan Basketball Recruiting: Why the Wolverines Are TJ Leaf’s Best Option

Comparisons will vary, but T.J. Leaf appears to have a dash of Adreian Payne mixed into his impressive repertoire. And that freakishly incredible skill set would fall in line with Michigan’s mission statement. 

At 6’9” and 210 pounds, the 5-star power forward can drive to the basket like a guard, shoot from the perimeter like a guard, pass like a guard, defend like a guard, run (almost) like a guard and adjust on the fly—just like Payne, who developed into a fine four-year player for Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.

The long, super athletic do-all should provide similar results for coach John Beilein at Michigan. As of mid-August, the Wolverines were among the Foothill Christian (El Cajon, Calif.) junior’s top choices.

Beilein made it to the 2013 title game with help from Mitch McGary, a versatile 6’10″ F/C. Without a major inside presence, the Wolverines reached the 2014 Elite Eight.

Beilein needs another big to get the job done. 

Sure, playing for Coach K’s Blue Devils wouldn’t be a bad idea; and Tom Crean’s Hoosiers certainly would provide a comfortable environment for Leaf, who could follow in the footsteps of Cody Zeller and become a program player in Bloomington.

Michigan certainly isn’t the only team in the nation that’s competing for conference titles and vying for extended dances in March. 

However, given Beilein’s style, approach to development—he’s the best NBA developer, per ESPN’s Jeff Goodman—and ability to recruit “coachable” preps, Leaf would be doing himself a favor by packing his bags for Ann Arbor. No disrespect to the other potential suitors, but Beilein would be a phenomenal mentor to Leaf and most likely get the most out of him. 

Again, other programs have molded excellent frontcourts, and others would suit Leaf. But Beilein’s tempo would allow Leaf, who visited May 19 (UO) and was offered June 15, to far exceed the standard duties of a power forward. In the past, Wolverines fans have seen forwards set the tone for the offense and defense, often becoming the team’s best player and leader.

Just because Leaf is 6’9” and growing doesn’t mean that he’ll be stuck in the paint. He could choose to do that elsewhere, but he’s swift with the ball, moves well away from it, and has an eye for the play at hand, meaning that he knows where to be and when to be there.

Why confine that?

Beilein probably won’t have to spend much time on fundamentals, which means that he can immediately begin to refine Leaf’s polished skill set. If his past is of any indication, Beilein would have Leaf doing everything—again, something like what Izzo did with Payne, but maybe sooner.

This season, Kameron Chatman, a 6’7” forward, will get his feet wet. Next year, it’ll be Jon Teske, a 6’10”, 210-pound center and excellent defender who just committed to Michigan’s 2016 class. The future looks bright for Beilein’s team and dim for those who face the challenge of beating one of the fastest frontcourts in the country.

Per Dylan Burkhardt of, Leaf likes the “flexibility” offered by Beilein—who is recruiting the “hardest”—not to mention the coach’s reputation for…well, here’s that word again: Development.

“They have a great reputation of developing players and when they get there they should be good, but when they leave they are well developed and they gain a lot of areas of their game,” Leaf said. “I love them because they play a lot of people in multiple positions like me and they run the ball a lot.”

Option? Yeah. Obvious fit? That’s probably more likely. Beilein doesn‘t offer to offer, he courts players who mimic his design. Leaf is tailored for it. 

Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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Villanova Basketball Recruiting: Would Briscoe or Brunson Suit Wildcats Best?

Over the past week, the Villanova Wildcats were handed a few blows in the recruiting department, as Donovan Mitchell and Bryant Crawford removed the program from the list of their prospective schools. 

Mitchell, who saw his stock rise significantly this summer, committed to Louisville via his Twitter account, while Crawford trimmed the Wildcats off his list of potential suitors. 

Crawford’s list of seven potential suitors includes a pair of Villanova’s Big East rivals, Georgetown and Marquette.

Now that two more prospects have eliminated the Wildcats from their respective recruitment processes, there are just two players left to court at the guard position. 

Isaiah Briscoe and Jalen Brunson are the two guards that Jay Wright and his staff still have a chance at bringing to the Main Line, but both offer different skill sets, and more importantly, a different recruitment process. 

Briscoe, who attends Roselle Catholic in northern New Jersey, has narrowed his search down to five schools, four of which are reasonably close to home, including Villanova. 

The one outlying school in that quintet is Arizona, but with four regional schools in his final five, it looks like he is leaning toward staying close to home. 

On the surface, you would think Villanova has the easy edge over Seton Hall, St. John’s and Rutgers based on recent success, but the two other Big East schools in competition for Briscoe are close to making a breakthrough in the small conference. 

Briscoe is a player who would suit Wright’s system perfectly, as he is able to play both guard positions, which wouldn’t lock up the point guard position exclusively to him, and he has the build of a player ready to enter the college ranks at 6’3″ and over 200 pounds, per Yahoo

Being physically ready to play in his freshman season is a big boost to Briscoe’s game, but he is not fully guaranteed a spot in the rotation at Villanova because of the crowd at the position, which includes Ryan Arcidiacono, Dylan Ennis, Josh Hart and incoming class of 2015 player Donte DiVincenzo. 

If Briscoe were to head to any of the other three local schools, he could easily break into the starting five, which is a factor that shouldn’t be taken lightly by Wright. 

Ideally, Briscoe is the man to go after and secure, but Brunson would not be a bad option for the Wildcats. 

Brunson, who is a few inches shorter than Briscoe at 6’0″, is a point guard with strong court vision, per Those qualities could benefit Wright in the search for Arcidiacono’s permanent replacement at the position starting with the 2016-17 season. 

If Wright is to get Brunson to commit to the Wildcats, he will have to pry him away from Illinois, Michigan State, Temple and Purdue. 

The Illinois-based player is not as physically mature as Briscoe is at the moment, but that could all change in the time between now and the first time he steps on a collegiate court. 

As more of a pure point guard, Brunson would be limited in his flexibility on the court, but he would be given a year to work under the experienced Arcidiacono to grow into a more complete player. 

Regardless of who the Wildcats spend most of their energy on, they will get a quality player, but at the moment, Briscoe is the more complete player of the two. 

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Drake’s recruiting costs Raptors $25,000

The team ambassador for the Raptors decided to get an early start on his team’s recruiting.



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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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NCAA Basketball Recruiting 2015: Projected Roles for Top Committed Players

Although there are still plenty of big names up for grabs, the picture for NCAA basketball recruiting 2015 is becoming clearer. Now that some of the best high school prospects have chosen their future college teams, we can start predicting how they’ll fit in with those teams as freshmen.

The latest big name to come off the board is Chase Jeter, a slender power forward who (as of last week) is heading for Duke. The athletic Nevadan has a great chance to be an instant starter for the Blue Devils and not just because Jahlil Okafor will probably be headed to the NBA next spring.

Herein is a look at which Duke veteran might take a backseat to Jeter, along with potential freshman-season scenarios for the rest of the 20 most promising commits in the class of 2015.

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UNC Basketball Recruiting: Sales Pitches for Top 2015 Targets

UNC basketball recruiting focuses on such ultra-elite prospects that even the winning tradition of Michael Jordan’s alma mater isn’t enough to seal the deal. Roy Williams is one of the country’s most accomplished salesmen when it comes to attracting NBA-bound talent, but even he needs to work hard to bring in the kinds of stars that keep the Tar Heels at the top of the national rankings.

In the class of 2015, that means landing players such as shooting guard Malik Newman, the No. 1 uncommitted prospect in the country, according to Williams has an edge on many of his coaching rivals in this race, because his celebrated fast-break offense is an unbeatable setting to show off the Mississippi native’s scoring ability.

Read on for more arguments in favor of Newman becoming a Tar Heel, along with potential approaches for Williams to take as he woos UNC’s most prominent 2015 target at each position on the floor.

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Michigan Basketball Recruiting: Latest Updates on Wolverines’ 2015 Targets

John Beilein is searching for the one. 

No, really. He is. According to Verbal Commits, the eighth-year Michigan coach has a single scholarship to offer a 2015 prospect. 

Signs point to Beilein taking either a shooting or point guard. However, he could go against the grain and sign another forward/winger or center. When it comes to recruiting, Beilein doesn’t swing and miss very often. If his track record is an indicator, his next selection will easily plug into the Wolverines’ existing roster. 

Using 247Sports and UM Hoops as guides, this slideshow will provide updates on Beilein’s top targets.

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