This is an easy answer and an absolute runaway. The Michigan State Spartans clearly have the top class in the Big Ten and it is led by two five-star prospects as well as two very highly regarded four-star prospects.
Leading the way for the Spartans is Miles Bridges. The No. 11 overall prospect in the country, Bridges is one of the best athletes in the class and someone who can control a game from either forward position.
Bridges is joined by fellow five-star Josh Langford. Langford is a big and physical guard who can get into the lane and make plays for himself as well as being a good passer. With a unique game, Langford is one of the toughest players in the country to defend, and then on the defensive end can guard multiple positions.
Winston is the top ranked four-star prospect and a heck of a point guard. He can score and distribute and has a tremendous basketball IQ. Ward is one of the best low post scorers in the class and is a threat for a double-double every night. The two of them provide serious depth along with their five-star classmates.
As if that isn’t enough, Michigan State is considered a co-leader for No. 2 overall prospect Josh Jackson. Jackson won’t decide until the spring, but the Spartans could be in position for one of the best classes in the past few years if they land Jackson.
This is where things get surprising in the conference. Instead of schools such as Michigan or Ohio State in this category it is Penn State and Minnesota.
The Penn State Nittany Lions have brought in their best class in recent memory. Leading the way for Penn State is Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens. The high school and AAU teammates picked Penn State, and both rank in the top 75 in the country.
Carr is a big point guard with athleticism and the ability to score. Stevens is a junkyard dog power forward who is undersized, but competes as well as anybody in the country and knows how to get things done.
Minnesota also has two top 100 committed prospects led by No. 41 overall prospect Amir Coffey. The local product and Gopher legacy has long arms, good athleticism, and the ability to play multiple positions. His versatility and talent should make for instant impact for the Gophers.
Also Minnesota has top 100 prospect Eric Curry. Curry surprised some by leaving his home state of Arkansas and picking the Gophers. He is an athletic power forward with toughness and the ability to rebound. Beyond Curry, the Gophers also have in-state prospect Michael Hurt committed to the program.
Who Will Help the Most as a Freshman
This isn’t an easy answer, but I am going to go with Langford. Michigan State loses senior Denzel Valentine after the season and they will need another do everything player to replace him, and that is Langford.
Langford’s physique and athleticism allow him to translate immediately, and his skill set is also college ready. Combine those things with immediate playing time, and it is easy to see why Langford is expected to have a major impact from day one.
An under the radar player to watch in this category is Anthony Cowan. With Melo Trimble likely headed for the NBA Draft, Cowan could be asked to come in right away and play for Maryland. He also has the toughness and basketball IQ to be an immediate impact type of player.
Top to Bottom
Here is how the Big Ten stacks up from top to bottom
1). Michigan State
2). Penn State
8). Ohio State
How the league stacks up
So far this has been an excellent recruiting cycle for the Big Ten. Even inspite of Wisconsin not having a commitment due to uncertainty at the head coach spot, the league has been tremendous. They have a pair of five-star prospects, and five other four-star prospects who rank within the top 50.
Only the ACC has more top 100 commitments as a conference than the Big Ten, and it is the second best conference overall in terms of recruiting.
When you combine the influx of talent with plenty of high level coaches, this is a clear recipe for great success as a league, and Big Ten fans have a lot to look forward to.