Conference Breakdown: No. 6 American Athletic

The new American conference was built on the backs of former Big East members that also play football, along with some former Conference USA programs and others. The new league didn't jump out to an auspicious recruiting debut but has enjoyed a few successes.

Best Class

Given that the league scored with only two top-100 recruits, this one is easy. Larry Brown and the SMU Mustangs stunned Kentucky when they landed a commitment from No. 3 senior Emmanuel Mudiay.

A prototypical point guard for the NBA, Mudiay should shine as one of the country's best freshmen next season in what's likely to be his only year in college. He'll bring a needed dose of stardom to a conference that flagged this year overall on the recruiting trail.

AAC Rankings
1.  SMU
2.  Connecticut
3.  Cincinnati
4.  Memphis
5.  Temple
6.  UCF
7.  East Carolina
8.  Tulsa
9.  Tulane State
10.  Houston
11.  South Florida

Rarely will a one-player class propel a program to the top spot in its conference recruiting rankings, but that's exactly what transpired at SMU. The gap between Mudiay and everyone else is so wide that Brown's troops could compete with league powerhouses from day one.

Other Winners

Connecticut also reeled in a solid haul. The Huskies' signature recruit is slinky, confident wing scorer — and No. 18 senior — Daniel Hamilton. Between the retirement of legendary coach Jim Calhoun and the demise of the Big East, Kevin Ollie certainly hasn't had it easy in Storrs.

And that's why Hamilton looms so critically. The California product will bring immediate offensive gravitas to the lineup and could emerge as a key scorer as early as next season.

Meanwhile, we also like Cincinnati's class despite the absence of a ranked player. The Bearcats landed two guys who just missed — strong big man Quadri Moore and versatile forward Gary Clark — along with talented juco Coreontae DeBerry.

Immediate Impact

Mudiay, all the way. Hamilton will play a key role for UConn as well, but within and outside the conference, Mudiay will attract numerous eyeballs. SMU also enjoys the presence of a Hall of Fame coach on the sidelines, and the Mustangs will receive significantly more exposure than most of their AAC peers.

How did the AAC stack up?

Top AAC Prospects
Top Prospect:Emmanuel Mudiay, SMU
Best Scorer:Emmanuel Mudiay, SMU
Best Passer:Emmanuel Mudiay, SMU
Best Shot Blocker:Obi Enechionyia, Temple
Best Floor General:Keith Pinckney, Tulane
Best Post Player:Quadri Moore, Cincinnati
Best Athlete:Emmanuel Mudiay, SMU
Best Rebounder:Obi Enechionyia, Temple
Best Shooter:Troy Holston, South Florida

Honestly, not too well. The new conference simply didn't attract enough top talent, and conceivably — depending upon Mudiay and Hamilton's NBA timelines — the conference could be devoid of any top-100 players from this class by 2015-16.

Examining the big picture, the AAC's upper echelon will need to carry the less heralded programs until they cement themselves at the major conference level. Schools such as East Carolina and Tulane aren't accustomed to recruiting to the big leagues, so a bumpy transition period should be expected.


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