Best ClassThe Ohio State Buckeyes came away with the top class in the Big Ten, and they did it on the strength of landing two five-star prospects. One being scoring guard D'Angelo Russell and the other small forward Keita Bates-Diop. However those two don't make the class, the Buckeyes have three other prospects.
The guy who might be the most immediate impact producer is Jae'sean Tate. The 6-foot-5 forward will play the power forward and small forward, and has the ability to dominate at either spot with his elite athleticism and high motor.
Also the Buckeyes landed two post players in Payton Dastrup and Dave Bell. Dastrup won't enroll until 2016 after serving a two year LDS mission. Bell could be a possible redshirt candidate. He is a very athletic 6-foot-10 center who has all the potential in the world. However is very raw the moment and doesn't have much offensive skill.
Still even with those three, the two five-star prospects steal the show. Bates-Diop has the potential to be a future pro. He is 6-foot-7 with long arms, high level athleticism, and a developing offensive skill set. His perimeter shot is greatly improved and he has a solid handle for a guy his size.
Russell is someone who just knows how to put the ball in the basket. Now he wants to be a point guard, but that experiment will likely be short lived as he is far better as a secondary ball handler and playmaker. Russell can pass so he has that skill, but his first and second instinct is to score and he can do it from the outside and going to the rim.
Overall Thad Matta and his staff reeled in a big time class. This is one of the premier classes in the country and the best that the Big Ten has to offer.
Conference newcomer Maryland will join with a loaded roster, in large part to this 2014 recruiting haul. The Terrapins are bringing in one of the best perimeter groups in the country. Four-star prospects Dion Wiley, Jared Nickens, and Romelo Trimble give the Terps serious firepower with all of them being dynamic scorers.
|Big Ten Rankings|
1. Ohio State|
9. Michigan State
12. Penn State
Illinois brought in the top point guard in the conference with Quentin Snider, and then also they have a talented four-star power forward from Memphis in Leron Black. Snider is the type of floor general that John Groce loves, and Black is an athletic and tough forward who will bring a lot of energy to the team.
Indiana landed two of the top shooters in the country in James Blackmon and Robert Johnson. The Hoosiers needed shot making on the roster, and they got just that. Blackmon might be the premier long range shooter in the entire class and Johnson is right behind him. Both are best on the wing as opposed to at the point, but each player has designs on developing into a complementary ball handler in time.
Who could have the biggest impact
To me this is a two horse race between Snider and Blackmon. Each picked the perfect spot for them. Illinois needs a true point guard and that is what Snider will bring while Indiana has nothing like Blackmon on the roster.
|Top Big Ten Prospects|
|Top Prospect:||D'Angelo Russell, Ohio State|
|Best Scorer:||Dion Wiley, Maryland|
|Best Passer:||Quentin Snider, Illinois|
|Best Shot Blocker:||Trayvon Reed, Maryland|
|Best Floor General:||Quentin Snider, Illinois|
|Best Post Player:||LeRon Black, Illinois|
|Best Athlete:||Jae'sean Tate, Ohio State|
|Best Shooter:||James Blackmon, Indiana|
|Best Rebounder:||Jae'sean Tate, Ohio State|
Blackmon will have to get better on defense, but the Hoosiers are loaded with long and athletic players who can more than make up for it, and his scoring is very important to their future success. Look for a huge freshman season from Blackmon who should score a ton of points in his Indiana Career.
How did the Big Ten Stack Up?
This was an excellent recruiting year in the conference. The league reeled in 13 top 100 commitments, and 14 four-star commitments or higher. Now it didn't rack up a ton of five-star pledges, only two, but there is a ton of depth in the league in this recruiting cycle.
Schools like Ohio State, Maryland, Indiana, and Illinois all rank in the top 25 in the country with a school such as Michigan on the outside looking in. Also some schools like Northwestern and Minnesota saw their first year head coaches bring in some solid prospects.
Overall the Big Ten did an excellent job, and if Illinois can find a way to reel in Cliff Alexander or Ohio State land Myles Turner that would add that much more star power to a very solid group already.