Blue Devils set pace in 2014

Almost all the data points have been entered, and Mike Krzyzewski's banner class carries national honors in advance of the 2014-15 season.

Duke didn't sign anyone after last fall, and yet the Blue Devils managed to tighten their stranglehold upon the top ranking in the Class of 2014.

That development owes to the progression of Grayson Allen, who rose significantly — all the way to No. 22 in the country — between the fall and spring. Although elite point guard Tyus Jones dipped slightly to No. 9, Allen's emergence gives the Blue Devils four prep All-Americans as they eyeball a run toward a national championship next season.

Allen and Jones aside, it's the nation's best senior prospect, Jahlil Okafor, who continues to spearhead the class. Although Chicago rival Cliff Alexander, dynamic guard Emmanuel Mudiay and others made a push at No. 1, Coach K already has said that he expects Okafor to be his squad's most talented player next season. Okafor likely will earn preseason All-American honors and will give Duke a rare, powerful interior scorer to balance the club's offensive attack.

Kentucky didn't dominate recruiting with the 2014 class as much as it did prior years, but if signing the country's No. 2 class represents failure — everyone should be so lucky to fail in that fashion.

Like Duke, the Wildcats enjoyed the rise of two signees: Big man Karl Towns (now No. 4 in the class) and point guard Tyler Ulis (No. 20), who performed very well during the postseason as his scoring prowess now resembles that of his playmaking and defense.

UCLA's class stands as the greatest surprise. Upon taking over in Westwood a year ago, throughout last summer Steve Alford appeared to flail at a host of national targets missing on some in Southern California. Well, who wants to argue with the results now?

Kevon Looney delivered the Bruins their first breakthrough in the fall, and two more top-25 signees, Thomas Welsh and Jonah Bolden, further cemented the class as an elite. And now that the coaching staff has been entrenched for 13 months, they could meet or even surpass this year's success with the Class of 2015.

Bill Self has ranked among the country's best recruiters for more than a decade, including his work at Illinois and now Kansas, and the Jayhawks reeled in our fourth-ranked class. A pair of top-10 talents, Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre, lead the way, and late signee Devonte' Graham (No. 41) could prove a national surprise.

Arizona rounds out the top five. The Wildcats may be the hottest recruiting machine west of Lexington, Ky., and even Kentucky has not won out for its top targets any better than Sean Miller's crew over the past year. No. 3 Stanley Johnson will bring an elite combination of power, athleticism, skill and toughness to Tucson next season, and Arizona's 2015 class is shaping up to be even better.

Of schools located outside the major conferences, UNLV performed by far the best. The Runnin' Rebels inked No. 8 Rashad Vaughn — who was spectacular at times at the recent McDonald's festivities — and also will welcome two more top-50 signees to campus: Jumbo wing Dwayne Morgan and shotblocking center Goodluck Okonoboh.

North Carolina's three-player class features a trio of top-30 signees — Justin Jackson, Theo Pinson and Joel Berry — that should produce immediately for Roy Williams in Chapel Hill. Louisville's deep class led by Shaqquan Aaron (No. 27) will help the Cardinals acclimate to their new digs in the ACC, while Maryland (which has suffered a roster exodus this spring and will need its frosh to play) and Ohio State round out the top 10.

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