Conference Breakdown: Big Ten

Ohio State leads the way in the Big Ten again on the recruiting trail. Still the conference as a whole had a solid showing.

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Best Class

Big Ten Rankings
1.  Ohio State
2.  Illinois
3.  Michigan State
4.  Minnesota
5.  Wisconsin
6.   Nebraska
7.  Penn State
8.  Rutgers
9.  Iowa
10.  Indiana
11.  Northwestern
12.  Purdue
13.  Maryland
14.  Michigan
It is close, but this honor once again goes to Thad Matta and Ohio State. The Buckeyes have been a force on the recruiting trail since Matta arrived on campus in Columbus, and he continued it again with a very solid four man class.

While the Buckeyes didn’t land a five-star recruit like they did last year in highly D’Angelo Russell, they do have a high level shooter and scorer in Austin Grandstaff, a physical presence on the low block in Daniel Giddens, a true point guard in A.J. Harris, and a very unique forward in Mickey Mitchell who provides elite passing ability and a high IQ for the game.

Overall this is the type of class that should stick around campus for a while and provide a lot of building blocks for the program as Matta and his staff work on reloading the roster.

While Grandstaff comes in as the most highly rated, it is Giddens who might be able to make the biggest immediate impact. Rebounding is something that translates from high school to college, and he does that as well as virtually anyone in the country, and already Giddens has a college ready body. Add in that Ohio State is losing seniors Amir Williams, Anthony Lee, and Trey McDonald, and minutes will definitely be available at the post position.

Also keep a close eye on Harris The diminutive point guard provides a calming presence on the floor and has a great ability to make plays for others. Also he has done a good job of improving his shooting ability. If Russell leaves after one year, which some are speculating he might, the position could be open for Harris to play 30 minutes per game as a freshman.

Other Winners

Like always the coaches in the Big Ten did a good job on the recruiting trail, especially John Groce at Illinois and Tom Izzo at Michigan State. They along with Ohio State brought in the best classes in the Big Ten.

Illinois brought in potentially one of the players with the most upside in D.J. Williams. Williams is a legit 6-foot-7, and can play almost anywhere on the court. At times during the high school season he even plays point guard, though his future is clearly on the wing. Still with his athleticism, size, and skill combination there is a lot to like with Williams. Now the question is will he bring his game to the next level and have his production come close to matching his potential.

Along with Williams, Illinois got some major help in the backcourt with Jalen Coleman-Lands and Aaron Jordan. Coleman-Lands is one of the premier shooters in the class, and someone who has improved his ability to create. A top 50 talent, Coleman-Lands was a huge coup for the Illini. Jordan is also known for his ability to shoot the basketball, but he is best working in the mid-range. A solid athlete with length, Jordan brings the versatility to play either the shooting guard or small forward position.

Michigan State also brought in a very talented three man class like the Illini. Leading the way for Izzo in this class is Deyonta Davis. Davis is an extremely talented 6-foot-9 power forward who has big time athleticism and ability to score both inside and in the mid-range facing the rim. He is a long run and jump guy who really excels on the offensive glass, and when he gets into a college weight program there is no telling how good he can become.

Also the Spartans brought in some much needed shooting on the outside. Matt McQuaid is as good as any player in the country when it comes to shooting the basketball and he will be flanked by Kyle Ahrens who is also a high level shooter from deep. Ahrens missed most of his junior year with a leg injury, and that also limited him during the spring, but now he is back and his athleticism and shot making are evident. After a short lived commitment to SMU, McQuaid picked the Spartans and should be someone who finds his way on the court in a hurry.

Who Will Help The Most As A Freshman?

Top Big Ten Prospects
Top Prospect:Deyonta Davis, Michigan State
Best Scorer:Jalen Coleman-Lands, Illinois
Best Passer:Mickey Mitchell, Ohio State
Best Shot Blocker:Daniel Giddens, Ohio State
Best Floor General: Glynn Watson, Nebraska
Most Versatile: D.J. Williams, Illinois
Best Motor: Ed Morrow, Nebraska
Best Shooter:Brevin Pritzl, Wisconsin
This will surprise some, but my pick for this is Wisconsin signee Brevin Pritzl. Pritzl is one of the elite shooters in the country, but he is more than just that. He is also a tough kid who really competes and has some ability to score in the lane and beat his man off the dribble, especially when defenders close out to him out of control.

Also Pritzl is coming in to an advantageous roster situation. Both Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser are going to graduate and exhaust their eligibility this season meaning there will be a lot of open minutes in the backcourt. Pritzl will have to compete, but he should be able to get either a starting spot or a prime backup position.

With an opportunity and a college ready skill in being able to shoot combined with a good IQ and a lot of competitiveness, look for Pritzl to have a major impact from day one on the Wisconsin roster, and he should fit what head coach Bo Ryan loves to do with his backcourt players.

How They Stacked Up

This has been a solid, yet unspectacular year on the recruiting trail for the Big Ten. The league brought in a lot of quality players, but didn’t secure the commitment from a five-star prospect. Michigan State, Michigan, and Purdue are firmly in the mix with Caleb Swanigan who will decide in the spring and could change the lack of a five-star talent, but for now none are entering the league.

Still the league is loaded with big time shooters coming in. It is no surprise since players in the Midwest growing up tend to be excellent shooters, and the Big Ten recruiting base is populated with those players. With the influx of shot makers, the Big Ten should see some definite high scoring games in the future.

Overall by Big Ten standards this was a very solid recruiting cycle, but not a great one. Time will tell if teams can make a move with some highly touted uncommitted prospects during the spring such as Swanigan, Carlton Bragg, and Jaylen Brown, but for now it is a class long on quantity but short on the quality elite potential pros.

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