In the latest edition of the Rivals.com 2009 team recruiting rankings, Baylor jumped into the top 20 with the spring pickup of Nolan Dennis and Mark McLaughlin. Both prospects are four-star wing prospects who decommitted from other schools after coaching changes. Dennis left Memphis after coach John Calipari left for Kentucky and McLaughlin left Nevada after Mark Fox took the Georgia job.
Both Kentucky and Kansas moved up in the rankings. Kentucky took over the No. 4 spot in the rankings after adding perhaps the most talented junior college player in the country in Darnell Dodson. The long, athletic and skilled wing prospect had signed with Coach Calipari at Memphis before following him to Kentucky.
Kansas snagged another highly-valued Memphis signee when Xavier Henry decided to follow in the footsteps of his parents and play at Kansas. The addition of Henry, a top-10 prospect, bumps Kansas to the No. 6 slot in the rankings.
USC lost a commitment from five-star prospect Renardo Sidney due to the school's sensitivity concerning questions about his amateur status. The loss of Sidney dropped the Trojans out of the top 25.
Who says the Wildcats are just a guard program? Villanova has a pair of impressive post players in Yarou and Armwood to go along with a couple quality perimeter prospects in Wayns and Cheek. Villanova put a lot of effort into landing Cheek, and his addition was just enough to push the Wildcats ahead of Texas with their two elite wing prospects.
The Longhorns locked up one of the best players in the country regardless of position in Bradley, a 6-foot-3 native of Tacoma, Wash. He should prove to be an immediate impact player for the Longhorns. Hamilton, one of the elite scorers in the nation, picked the Big 12 school at the start of October. He came through on his promise to play alongside Bradley. Williams, a 6-foot-7 forward from national powerhouse Duncanville (Texas) High School, is a deadly perimeter threat and a scary prospect if he takes full advantage of Texas' outstanding strength program.
The Yellow Jackets wanted to lock up the foundation of the class early in 2009 and did so with a quick run of pledges in June and July. Oliver was the first to pick the ACC school and did so in mid-June. Holsey announced at the Nike Peach Jam and a week later Udofia popped in Las Vegas and Rice in Orlando. But the jewel of the class is Favors, an elite post prospect who vaulted the Georgia Tech recruiting class into the top five.
Coach John Calipari quickly added an elite prospect with Cousins once he took the helm of the Wildcats program. Cousins and Dodson join previously signed Orton, who is a five-star prospect as well, and Hood who is a skilled offensive wing player out of the Bluegrass State.
The Tar Heels have sprinted out of the blocks better than any program in the country. Roy Williams and staff have locked up five players all ranked inside the top 70 national rankings in the class of 2009. Henson, a 6-foot-10 versatile post, is the gem. Strickland and McDonald are the future of the backcourt. The Wear twins give UNC some size and depth in the rotation.
The Jayhawks continue to recruit well and recruit nationally. Robinson, a top 40 prospect from Baltimore via Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, is one of the elite rebounders in the class. His presence should be felt the minute he arrives in Lawrence next fall. Johnson, a Las Vegas native, is one of the most athletic point guards in the country. When he's at the top of his game, he is one of the best at his position. The latest pickup for the Jayhawks is top-10 prospect Henry, who is out of Oklahoma. Henry chose Kansas after being released from his Letter of Intent with Memphis.
The Sooners won a major recruiting battle to land Mason-Griffin, one of the best point guards in the country. He is the best point guard Jeff Capel has lured to Norman since taking over the program. Gallon, an AAU teammate with Mason-Griffin, signed with OU on the last day of the signing period. His addition gives the Sooners another big body down low. Pledger, a Virginia native, gives the team a legitimate threat on the perimeter. In-state commitment Hardrick has been committed to the school since 2006. Fitzgerald, a Baltimore native, is a big body that will have no trouble making the transition to Big 12 competition.
Honeycutt shot up the rankings over the summer with his savvy and skilled play. He headlines UCLA's recruiting class. Nelson has battled injuries over the past year, but when healthy, he brings a rugged physicality to the court. Lane, on the other hand, is a skilled, face-up four-man who will stretch the defense for the Bruins. Stover gives the team a long defender that can man the post. Moser, a former Arizona commitment, was a late add for the Bruins and signed with the school on the last day of the early period.
It seems like Oriakhi and Coombs have been committed to the Huskies for a decade. Both pledged to Jim Calhoun very early in the recruiting process, and over time they have improved tremendously. Oriakhi could be a McDonald's All-American while Coombs has developed into one of the top wings in the nation. Look for both to make early contributions in Storrs.
The Hoosiers added Watford at the beginning of September. He gives the program a big, versatile forward that should see major minutes as a freshman. Creek was high on Marquette when Tom Crean was at the helm and carried over his fondness when the Hoosiers hired the former Golden Eagle head man. Creek should help from Day One in the guard-oriented style that Crean employs. Indiana fans love the fact that Crean is recruiting the local kids. Hulls, a Bloomington native, embodies the Hoosier spirit with his play. So does Capobianco, an Ohio forward. Elston, a holdover from the Sampson regime, missed the summer due to injury. Muniru, a 6-foot-11 center, gives the team a physical presence inside the paint and will help on the defensive end of the floor.
First year coach Travis Ford has reeled in a talented six-man class for the Cowboys. Johnson is a big time athlete at the power forward position and he should shine in the fast-paced, up-tempo attack that Ford employs. Penn is an electric undersized scoring point guard who set Vegas on fire in July. He will be accompanied by the high energy and productive wing Roger Franklin. Dowell, like Franklin, will fine tune his craft at national powerhouse Duncanville (Texas) High School before making his way to Stillwater. Three-star prospects Fred Gully and Torin Walker will provide depth for Ford's up tempo attack. Ford added Shaw after the early signing period.
If there was any question about the Illini's ability to lock up the in-state talent like year's past, the class of 2009 has proven that the program can still lock up the locals. The future looks bright, particularly in the backcourt. The trio of Paul, Richardson and Bertrand is a major upgrade at the guard positions. Griffey has the tools to be a grinder down low while being a great forward to run the pick and roll.
The Gators are no strangers to great recruiting classes. This year's class is highlighted by the addition of Boynton, the top player in Florida but also one of the most deadly scorers and defenders in the nation. He was a major coup for Billy Donovan and staff this fall. And Murphy, who will fly south from Massachusetts, is a post player with a highly skilled game.
Rick Pitino and his staff filled several needs. Buckles is one of the most intriguing players in the class because of his size, raw ability and versatility at the power forward position. Siva is a scoring point guard, similar to players the Cardinals have relied on in the past. Marra is an athletic wing with great range on his jumper. Van Treese is a bouncy forward that can run the floor.
One of the best match-ups of the spring grassroots period was Kelly versus Plumlee, ironically, at North Carolina during the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions. The two traded buckets in the match-up. Now, the two will get a chance to help the other improve their talented skill sets. Kelly is more talented in the post, while Plumlee is a big option in the high post.
First-year head coach Buzz Williams immediately tapped into his recruiting prowess, securing a strong seven-man class. Maymon is a versatile, multi-skilled forward ranked in the top 50. Out of Canada comes a savvy point guard in Cadougan who can both distribute the ball and score it. Williams, a four-star forward, was sidelined with an injury during the travel circuit, but he is loaded with potential. Buycks and Johnson-Odom are junior college prospects who had outstanding seasons. Mbao is a 7-foot-2 center with potential.
Thanks to a couple coaching changes at other programs, the Baylor Bears jump into the top 20 with the spring addition of two talented four-star wing players. Dennis, who was formerly committed to Memphis, is an all-purpose type player with strong ball skills. McLaughlin, who was committed previously to Nevada, is a lethal wing scorer. Jefferson brings size to the roster, Walton is a steady point guard and Crump is a shooter with length.
The Wildcats continue to mine the Washington, D.C. area, the same place the produced Michael Beasley and a host of other KSU players. Judge and McGruder are both attend Arlington Country Day school in Jacksonville, Fla., and both should help Frank Martin's program immediately. Judge, a versatile 6-foot-9 forward, plays a style patterned after Beasley. Henriquez signed in 2008 but is spending a year in prep school to tidy up his academics. Russell, a Rivals150 prospect from the Dallas-Forth Worth area, could develop into a very solid guard for the Wildcats.
The Wolfpack love the I-85 pipeline down to Atlanta. After securing J.J. Hickson two years ago, Sidney Lowe and staff have mined Georgia hard for talent. The results have been positive in 2009 with Brown and Howell. Both should help from Day One. A mini Indiana connection is also growing. Last year, the team landed Julius Mays. This year, Wood is the latest Hoosier State player to head south to Raleigh.
Landing the No. 2-ranked point guard in the country, Abdul Gaddy, pushes the Huskies 2009 recruiting class into the top 20. Gaddy is the type of dynamic young talent who excels at making the players around him better. Three-star prospects Clarence Trent and C.J. Wilco will run alongside Gaddy, and three-star junior college big man Charles Garcia rounds out the class.
First-year head coach Craig Robinson has done the what few believed was possible, bringing in a top 25 recruiting class. Four-star guards Cunningham and Nelson headline the class. Burton, who is a ranked three-star prospect, brings size and skill to the interior. And the Beavers landed a pair of Australian forwards in Brandt and Murphy who should add needed depth to the frontcourt.
When Tubby Smith landed the Minnesota job, he immediately targeted White and Williams, two of the top players in the state. The work paid off, and the two local products are staying home to play for Smith. The future Gophers will be asked to contribute immediately. White is the second rated small forward in the 2009 class. Cobbs gives the program a heady point guard that knows how to put the ball in the basket. Mbakwe, a local star, signed with Marquette out of high school and is now at Miami Dade Community College in Florida.
Always known for landing under-the-radar prospects who are perfect fits for his system, Coach Jamie Dixon brings five-star prospect Taylor into the Lair. Complimenting Taylor's prowess in the interior is Patterson, who is a skilled and heady wing player. Texan J.J. Richardson is a blue collar competitor in the Pittsburgh mold. Zanna, a 6-foot-11 big man, is a sleeper that could emerge as a valuable recruiting coup in time.
Florida State makes the top 25 ranking primarily behind the enormously talented Snaer. A shooting guard with athleticism and a complete game, Snaer should immediately have an impact for the Seminoles. Snaer is complemented by Shannon, a relentless rebounder and high-motor player.
Alabama pulled in five players in its 2009 recruiting class. Mitchell, a four-star recruit in 2008, is taking a prep year at Central Park in Birmingham before making it to Tuscaloosa. He's the gem of the class. Kemp, a four-star center, and Payne, a three-star guard, will be joined by junior college sleepers Davis and Hines. The junior college transfers are off to big seasons this year and give the Tide great size and athleticism at their respective positions. Anthony Grant also landed his first recruit as the Alabama coach when Eblen followed him from VCU to Alabama.