Big Ten Shows Early Strength
Generally speaking kids from Big Ten Country tend to stay close to home more frequently than their counterparts on either coast, and also they tend to make their decisions earlier. The class of 2012 is a perfect example as five Big Ten teams already have commitments, and three of them have secured multiple pledges.
It is tough to argue that any school is off to a better start in the country than the Indiana Hoosiers. The 2012 class in the state of Indiana is absolutely loaded with talent, and along with staff connections, Head Coach Tom Crean is taking full advantage by locking down a strong early class.
Joining Perea is four-star wing Ron Patterson and three-star center Peter Jurkin. Patterson is an excellent athlete who can shoot from deep and knows how to defend. His growth area will come in terms of being able to handle the ball, especially going to his left. Jurkin is a pure shot blocker who runs the floor. His offense is a work in progress, but on defense he can really impact a game.
If Indiana doesn't have the top Big Ten and national class, then Michigan State likely does. The Spartans went on a huge run in late July and early August to quickly put together a strong three man class.
The headliner for the Spartans is four-star center Matt Costello. Costello can score inside and out, and has shown toughness rebounding the basketball. Also with him on the frontcourt is a fellow four-star prospect. Kenny Kaminski is a high level pick and pop shooter who can be a factor a stretch power forward. Kaminski needs to do a better job of rebounding his position, but he can be matchup problem.
Also in the group for the Spartans is Denzel Valentine. An extremely skilled and savvy wing, Valentine can play multiple positions on the perimeter. While not a quick or explosive athlete, Valentine is an excellent passer who can also shoot it from deep.
When it comes to locking down a class quickly, no one did it quicker than Matt Painter and the Purdue Boilermakers. Painter had this three man class committed before the calendar even turned to 2010. While none of the three commitments are projected superstars, shooter Raphael Davis is a good looking prospect on the wing, power forward Jay Simpson is loaded with potential, and point guard Kyle Molock could be a lock down defender.
Other schools in the Big Ten with commitments are Michigan and Wisconsin. The Wolverines made a strong push for Glenn Robinson III who is a solid and skilled wing from Indiana, and the Badgers continued their dominance of in-state recruiting by picking up small forward Sam Dekker.
Overall the Big Ten didn't blow away anyone with their haul in the 2011 class, but on Signing Day for the 2012 group they are already off to an extremely quick start.
More Quick Starters
Though not quite the numbers that the Big Ten has in terms of commitments, the Big East is also off to a good start.
Leading the way is the Pitt Panthers. Panther assistant coach Pat Skerry built a great relationship with Khem Birch while at Providence, and once he made the move to Pitt he locked in the five-star elite level talent. Also making an early pledge to the Panthers is New Zeland native Steven Adams who has done a good job of impressing scouts at international events.
As is to be expected, several other Big East programs are off to a good start. Villanova tabbed local point guard Ryan Arcidiacono who could be a five-star prospect before it is all said and done. Then there is Georgetown who secured athletic combo forward Brandon Bolden, St. John's locked in local point guard Jevon Thomas, and Rutgers picked up Georgetown de-commitment Jordan Goodman who has re-classified back to 2012.
The Baylor Bears already have a pledge from Isaiah Austin, and that means the Bears are in select company. In the 2010, 2011, and 2012 classes Baylor has pulled in a commitment from a top 10 kid, and possibly the kid in each class with the most NBA level potential. Obviously Austin has Coach Scott Drew and company off to a very strong start.
Both Xavier and Florida did a good job of bringing in a top target who can really score. For the Musketeers D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera is dynamic using his strength and basketball IQ to get to the rim and score as well as improving his outside jumper. The Gators locked in big time shooter Michael Frazier from Tampa. Frazier might be one of the best outside shooters in the entire class, and is a kid who really works on his game.
Some other schools such as NC State, Butler, Kansas, and Miami-Florida have all also scored significant early commitments.
While it is still way too early to know who will come in with the top class in the country one year from now, there are some teams that have jumped out to a quick start and have put themselves way ahead of the game.