This year identifying the non-traditional power conference school with the best recruiting class was fairly simple.
The Xavier Musketeers led by Head Coach Chris Mack had an excellent year on the recruiting trail bringing in three high level prospects that all bring a little something different to the table. Point guard Dee Davis was the table setter for the class, and soon he would be followed by four-star wing Dezmine Wells, and power forward Jalen Reynolds.
Leading the way for the Musketeers is Wells. The 6-foot-4 wing is an absolute bull with the ball, and is showing signs of developing a mid-range jumper to go along with his speed, athleticism, and power going to the rim. Wells committed to the Musketeers before the start of his junior season, and only saw his stock rise following the pledge.
With Wells in the fold, the Musketeers had instant credibility on the recruiting trail with other high level prospects, and that helped them bring in an excellent class. When asked about the four man group, Wells was excited for the future.
“I think we have a great class,” said Wells. “I have a lot of guys coming in with me that are down to earth and they want the same thing that I want which is a national championship. At the end of the day I think we can get it done on the court and off the court in the classroom.”
Next to Wells will be Davis. Davis is a diminutive but quick point guard who excels at pressuring the ball on the defensive end while also breaking his man down off the dribble on offense and creating for teammates.
Upfront the Musketeers initially landed a pair of prospects. Michael Chandler is one of the top post players in the class, but after committing to Xavier after their midnight Madness event he had a last minute change of heart and decided not to sign. Still the Musketeers locked up a potentially underrated post in Jalen Reynolds. Reynolds is a very good athlete with good strength and the ability to hit the mid-range jumper. Limited viewings kept him out of the national focus, but he certainly has potential.
Memphis Head Coach Josh Pastner was a big winner last year on singing day, and while he didn’t have quite the same haul this year, he still finds himself on cloud nine.
Pastner put nearly all of his effort into landing local stud Adonis Thomas, and after a long and heated recruiting battle, he was able to do just that. Thomas is one of the premier forwards in the country, and someone who should have an instant impact on his hometown team from the moment he steps on the floor.
Landing a top 10 national prospect as always huge, but doing it at Memphis with a Memphis kid is of the utmost importance for Pastner. By locking down Thomas following up Joe Jackson, Tarik Black, and Chris Crawford the year before makes it clear that a fence is being built around the city.
Big props also have to go to Western Kentucky for the job done with their class. The Hilltoppers brought in a strong group of six led by shooting guard Derrick Gordon and power forward George Fant. Add in a few other strong pieces, and the future looks extremely bright in Bowling Green in what could be a program defining class.
How did they do?
In order to make waves in March, talented players need to be brought in, and overall it was a solid job this year by the schools away from the traditional power conferences. Xavier secured one four-star recruit, Gonzaga stole Gary Bell Jr. away from nearly the entire Pac 10, Memphis secured a huge pledge, and schools such as Butler, BYU, Western Kentucky, Central Florida, Dayton, and even Harvard got players that were coveted by some high powered programs.
While only one five-star sure fire NBA player was secured by this group of schools, numerous big time contributors and potential difference makers down the road decided to take their games to the smaller conferences.