Big East Recruiting SuperlativesPosted by mlemaire on May 23rd, 2013
Sometimes it is OK to choose an arbitrary date in the college basketball recruiting process and take stock of things, using our Big East goggles of course. That said, this date really isn’t all that arbitrary. Most of the top basketball recruits in the Class of 2013 signed National Letters of Intent last week . Rather than break down and rank the Big East recruiting classes from top to bottom — which the guys at recruiting sites do much better than we would anyway — we figured to have some fun and bring you back to high school for some good old-fashioned superlatives. Again, we recognize the Big East is breaking up, but we are still looking back rather than forward.
Most Likely To Earn Praise For His Recruiting Prowess: Buzz Williams, Marquette
In the always useless world of recruiting rankings, most experts have recruiting classes at Louisville and Syracuse ranked ahead of Marquette’s class, but that shouldn’t keep Williams from receiving the praise he is due. Williams hangs his hat on his program’s ability to develop talent, not in recruiting superstars, but this class could easily be his most ballyhooed yet. Of course it helps Williams look good when much of the talent is in the same city as the school, but he still had to beat out a number of high-major programs for those kids. Duane Wilson is a local point guard with size who may earn the first crack at replacing Junior Cadougan and fellow local product Deonte Burton is a physical and athletic wing who will rebound and defend. The third local product by way of junior college in Iowa is 6’8″ forward Jameel McKay who has everyone excited about his athleticism, rebounding, and motor. The real prize for the Golden Eagles is slashing guard JaJuan Johnson who Williams and his staff plucked out of Memphis’ backyard despite an offer from the Tigers. Everyone in the Southeast recruited the attacking guard who may be asked to step in immediately and replace some of Vander Blue’s now-missing production.
Most Likely To Make A Difference: Chris Jones or Terry Rozier, Louisville
It is rare to find a recruit who can come in and immediately make a team a national title favorite. Carmelo Anthony did it when he spent a year at Syracuse and now either junior college transfer Chris Jones or prep standout Terry Rozier, neither of whom is the same type of transcendent talent that Anthony is, will have their chance with the Cardinals next season. Jones is an electric talent with plenty of scoring punch who can break down just about anybody off the dribble and is an improving passer. Rozier is a bit taller and more athletic and profiles a bit better as a pure point guard, although he is probably more of a scorer at this point in his development. The Cardinals don’t need another score-first guard with Russ Smith back whomever accepts the role of distributor and floor general faster between Rozier and Jones may end up as the heir apparent to Peyton Siva. The truth is that with Kevin Ware still recovering from his gruesome leg injury, both recruits will play a lot. Smith may end up accepting his fair share of the ball-handling duties, but he works better off the ball, and the Cardinals will be a better team if either newcomer can become a reliable manager of the offense. Assuming the players’ talents are as evident as many say they are, one or both of them have a real chance to transition easily to the college game and the watered down Big East. If they do that, the Cardinals could be favorites to win the National Championship again.
Most Likely To Be Over-Hyped: Rysheed Jordan, St John’s
Jordan is the highest-ranked recruit committed to any school in the Big East and that makes him an easy target for too much hype. He is also, by all accounts, an excellent basketball prospect. His length and size make him hard to stop at the rim and hard to get by defensively, and he is very quick off the dribble and nearly impossible to keep out of the lane when he wants to attack. He is also more of a scoring guard than a point guard, at least at this point, and unfortunately for Jordan, the Red Storm already have plenty of those. D’Angelo Harrison, Phil Greene IV, and Jamal Branch are all tweener guards who can’t be considered true point guards either. Now Jordan is probably more talented than Greene IV or Branch, and there is nothing wrong with having too much backcourt depth, but those expecting Jordan to step on the court and immediately lead the Red Storm back to the NCAA Tournament may want to pump the brakes ever-so-slightly.
Most Likely To Have A Successful NBA Career: Jermaine Lawrence, Cincinnati
There are plenty of recruits in the conference who could hold this title, including the aforementioned Jordan thanks to his size or Syracuse commit Tyler Ennis thanks to his ball-handling and passing ability, but nobody has a better combination of NBA size and skills than the New Jersey native who signed with the Bearcats. Injuries forced Lawrence to miss most of his senior season or else he maybe could have risen higher, but his ability to shoot and put the ball on the floor as a 6’9″ inch forward make him a difficult match-up for anyone. Skilled forwards of his size only come along ever so often and if they learn how to score efficiently and guard multiple positions, they can usually find a way onto an NBA roster. But Lawrence doesn’t just have the talent to make an NBA roster, he has the upside to be a potential All-Star if he develops and remains committed to getting better, and Mick Cronin will have his fingers crossed the whole time.
Most Likely To Be The Recruit On Your Radar For Constantly Being Called Under the Radar: Steve Vasturia, Notre Dame
Perhaps the most remarkable part about Vasturia’s rise from unheralded recruit to intriguing prospect is that he has already climbed so far just to reach the level of respect he receives now. Vasturia is a skinny 6’5″ shooter with an improving all-around game who saw his stock as a prospect shoot up over the course of his senior season. Vasturia is also walking into a near-perfect situation with the Fighting Irish where he will have zero pressure to perform, an all-conference point guard to get him the ball, and the opportunity to carve out a role as a shooting specialist in the same way that Nik Stauskas did at Michigan last season. Vasturia might not have as many inside-outside threats to draw attention away from him as Stauskas did, but he does enter school with an eerily similar profile to Stauskas so as long as his jump shot doesn’t abandon him this summer, there is a good chance we will hear his name a few times this season after he torches several unsuspecting opponents.
Most Likely to Transfer During Or Right After The Season: Billy Garrett Jr., DePaul
If you are wondering what would possess a player of Garrett’s caliber and pedigree to sign with such a downtrodden program, you haven’t been doing your homework. The former high school teammate of Wayne Blackshear is the son of longtime college coach Billy Garrett, who just so happens to currently be an assistant coach for the Blue Demons. Garrett Jr. committed to the Blue Demons as a sophomore and has stayed loyal despite an increasing profile thanks to his basketball IQ and ideal point guard size. The problem is that while Garrett Jr. is a great get for the Blue Demons, he is likely not enough to help DePaul reach the NCAA Tournament and help save coach Oliver Purnell’s job. If Parnell is fired, which seems likely given the non-existent progress of the program under Purnell, the program will likely lose Garrett Jr. as well. It’s uncommon but not unheard of for an assistant coach of a former coach to stay on with the new coach — heck the elder Garrett is actually a holdover from the Jerry Wainright days and is a valuable recruiter for the program thanks to his ties to Chicagoland basketball — but its hard to imagine Garrett retaining his job with a third new coach, especially one who will be eager to start fresh. If his father loses his job, Garrett Jr. will be stuck with a coaching staff that didn’t recruit him in a program that needs to rebuild, which are the initial symptoms for an acute case of transfer-itis. If his father isn’t at DePaul next season, Garrett Jr. has too much talent to contribute to a real winning program to stay loyal to the Blue Demons for too long.
Most Likely To Make Think About What Could Have Been: Aquille Carr, Seton Hall
Thanks to his dazzling display of ball-handling, transition passing, and mid-air acrobatics, the 5’7″ Carr quickly became a YouTube sensation and one of the most recognizable names in the Class of 2013 despite ranking well behind other players in the class in terms of potential. There is plenty to like about Carr’s game, including his athleticism, any time he is in transition, his fearlessness, and ability to finish in traffic. There are also plenty of holes in his game, including his decision-making, shot selection, and penchant for dribbling too much. But no matter whether you love him or hate him, there is little doubt that the Pirates need him next season. Regardless of how effective was, he would have made Seton Hall games must-see and his flashy play would have garnered the Pirates plenty of headlines. However, it has been clear for months that Carr would never be eligible to suit up for Seton Hall and that thought was confirmed when Carr announced plans to start his professional basketball career in China. He was definitely a risk, but given the sad state of Seton Hall’s program at the moment, he was also definitely a risk worth taking.