The Big Story
There’s no question Eric Gordon was the recruiting saga of the year even in a season where Top 10 kids kept us guessing. Gordon’s flip-flop between Illinois and Indiana set the tone for the Big Ten conference slate, that’s for sure. The flames of the fire were consistently fanned all summer. While Gordon was torching the nets and rising up the rankings, the gossip surrounding his situation reached an all-time high. Even O.J. Mayo’s “alleged” commitment to Southern Cal couldn’t trump this Midwest mud wrestling match.
Matt Painter is the new “Big Dog” in West Lafayette and now he’s got the recruiting resume to prove it. Painter sketched out a recruiting class by aggressively targeting 3 players from the same AAU team and committing to JaJuan Johnson when he was regarded as more prospect than player. His hard work will propel his program back into the Big Ten spotlight. Painter’s true masterpiece: keeping his program’s recruiting budget to a minimum.
Paging O.J. Mayo
Where to begin with this one. Back in July, the GM of the Harlem Globetrotters watched Mayo play. So did Tim Floyd and for a long stretch it was thought the Trojans would ride the Mayo horse to victory. While news of the commitment seemed Greek to Mayo, the rest of the recruiting world figured USC was a lay up and moved on. Since July Mayo hasn’t said much about his situation and we’ll be caught off guard if a fax shows up this week.
How Did The Mid-Majors Do?
Well, the answer is “solid”. However, a huge change wasn’t perceived across the board. The school of thought amongst college basketball aficionados was that the NCAA success of the mid-level programs might propel them into more recruiting wars. In isolated instances that may have been the case but overall the big boys recruited their guys and the mid-majors didn’t factor much into the high stakes battles. Translation: not a single Top 100 player shocked us and picked a program from a designated mid-major league. Only Gonzaga (insert correct argument that they are a high-major school in a mid-major league here) was able to snare a Top 100 guy and Austin Daye wasn’t their first.
The Six Degrees of Jai Lucas
Kentucky and Maryland are two programs with a lot riding on the decisions of a few kids. Take the Wildcats for example. Tubby Smith’s club could potentially pair up Jai Lucas (Scout.com No. 46) with Patrick Patterson (No. 11) to form a powerful duo. Lucas, by the way, could alter the landscape of every program still in the running for his pledge.
A closer look at Maryland shows Lucas could be instrumental to the Terps plans. If he and Herb Pope join forces we’ll welcome Maryland into the Top 25. Pair him up with James Anderson at Oklahoma State and the Cowboys ride into the mix. How about Oklahoma? If he goes with the Sooners (presently No. 25), they lock up their spot among the nation’s best. The Lucas’s, college basketball’s reigning first family, could sway the election in a number of directions as precincts begin officially reporting on Nov. 8.
Be On The Lookout For …
The Big Ten Conference. Last year the league supplied just 3 schools to Scout.com’s Final Top 25 recruiting classes (Ohio State did step up big time with the No. 2 class). This year is a different story. The Big Ten placed 4 schools among the 10 best classes in the nation, led by Purdue and Michigan State who checked in with Top 5 classes. Last year at this time the league had 13 Top 100 players who were committed; this season there are19, the most of any conference. Nice work, fellas.
Paging The Jucos
Wow, once a bountiful treasure chest for under-the-radar talent, the junior college ranks have been depleted of their resources. On the flipside, prep schools continue to crank out talent year after year. In fairness to the junior colleges, we expect a host of names to emerge as the season unfolds and guys heat up their recruitments. However, it won’t change the current perception that the preps are putting a hurtin’ on the JC ranks.
Syracuse Gets Connected
Jim Boeheim weaved an interesting web of commitments as he collected the No. 2 recruiting class. Check out these interesting connections – Donte Greene attended the same high school where ‘Melo began his career. Johnny Flynn is a former teammate of Paul Harris. Rick Jackson and Antonio Jardine are high school teammates. Sean Williams is a native of Villa Park, Calif., which is 7.94 miles from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, which happens to be the alma mater of Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins.
When It Rains It Pours … In The Desert
Chris Sandle, nearly 22 years ago, marks the most recent burger game participant to play in the Valley of the Sun. It only rains 7 inches a year in Tempe but since Herb Sendek’s arrival at Arizona State the McDonald’s players are literally pouring in. Counting transfer Eric Boateng and assuming James Harden is bestowed the honor, that makes 2 in the last 8 months. That folks, is no mirage.
Some say the Bruins were a big man away from winning the national title last year. Well, Ben Howland solved that issue this summer when he landed the most eligible big man in America. Roy Williams fell in love with Kevin but surf was up for the boys from Westwood.