Conference Breakdown: Non-Majors

Last fall, multiple schools residing outside the major conferences enjoyed a banner signing week. UNLV, Gonzaga and San Diego State all landed national top 30 prospects, and a combined 11 of the top 100 chose leagues outside the power seven.

Scout Signing Day Central

This year, however, the story has not been nearly as happy for those programs outside the most visible leagues. Only one top-100 senior — No. 54 Jeremy Hemsley, who chose San Diego State — is headed to a school belonging to a league one of the big seven.

And the Aztecs certainly will be very happy to have him. A slashing guard with a tremendously quick first step, Hemsley clearly earned his national status and should become an immediate contributor to Steve Fisher’s program. SDSU looms as a threat to make another NCAA Tournament run this season, and Hemsley will help them maintain their momentum.

In addition to Hemsley, SDSU also scored with three star power forward Brodrick Jones. The slender big man may need time to develop, but he’s another solid talent who easily could have chosen a major conference program.

Keeping it in the West, UNLV inked four star wing Jalen Poyser. The versatile, sharpshooting guard grabbed our attention this past summer, when he soared at various camp and tournament settings. A native of Canada — which the Runnin’ Rebels have mined very successfully in recent years — Poyser is widely underrated and may challenge for a starting role as early as his sophomore season.

Four star point guard Jesse Wade will take his talents to Gonzaga. The Utah native nearly edged his way into the top 100 and will be a steady playmaker and effective spot-up shooter for Mark Few. He also projects as a four-year performer and will give the Zags the benefit of experience — something that has enabled them to thrive in the past.

Staying in Utah, BYU long ago gained a pledge from four star forward Zac Seljaas. A hybrid forward who emerged early within his home state, Seljaas received an offer from the Cougars prior to his junior year and rewarded that early pursuit with a commitment shortly thereafter.

As you can see, select Western schools outside BCS conferences enjoyed far greater success than their counterparts in the Midwest and East.

The only program east of the Mississippi to pick up a four star senior was VCU, which landed ace three-point shooter Kenny Williams. The Rams — a unanimous preseason pick to win the Atlantic-10 — will lose some key seniors following the season and thus Williams may be able to push for a meaningful role early.

Of course, the reality remains that very few schools outside the major conferences ever compete for ranked talent. It’s no accident that SDSU, UNLV, Gonzaga and VCU showed up in this article, because they all frequently do.

Evaluating talent extends well into the two and three star ranges for the vast majority of mid-majors, and then there are the various internationals, jucos and transfers they must track as well. Recruiting at that level is much more complex from an evaluation perspective, and yet, some of those schools have risen to the level that they routinely sign heralded classes.

Let’s bookmark this page and revisit the topic next fall. Was this year’s relatively mediocre pull a fluke, or are even the most celebrated programs outside the power seven beginning to slide? Stay tuned.

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