With the start of National Signing Day on Wednesday, many coaches will begin to feel a sigh of relief as their prospective athletes' Letter of Intent's will begin to flow in, ending a long, and often times stressful, recruiting process.
Here's a look at the schools that upgraded their talent and made a splash on the recruiting trail this year.
It's clear that North Carolina is the biggest winner in the 2009 class, that's why they sit atop our 2009 recruiting class rankings. Pulling in a five man class consisting of John Henson, Dexter Strickland, Leslie McDonald, David Wear and Travis Wear is a terrific pull and consists of five top 65 prospects, with the possibility of three McDonald's All-Americans.
Florida closes out the top three with their impressive three-man class of Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy and Deshawn Painter. Boynton, who is ranked No. 8 overall by Scout.com, is the biggest prize of the bunch. He has a unique ability to score and is a big game player. Murphy and Painter are both skilled big men and will help provide depth in the frontcourt.
The nation's top class also has the most impressive frontcourt. The trio of John Henson, David Wear and Travis Wear is a heck of a coup. Henson, who checks in at No. 3 overall in Scout.com's top 100, seems to improve every time out and should make an instant impact on team that will be full of talent. Travis and David are ranked No. 41 and No. 42 respectively and will help out on the interior.
North Carolina's rival scored a talented inside duo in Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee. Both prospects are in Scout.com's top 20 and are virtual locks for the McDonald's All-American game. Kelly emerged this past summer and can really score it facing the basket, while Plumlee is a guy that can run the floor, score inside and patrol the paint blocking shots.
A number of other schools orchestrated talented classes with big men. Villanova's class of Mouphtauo Yarou and Isaiah Armwood deserves some attention, as does Florida's group of Erik Murphy and Deshawn Painter. UCLA's and Indiana's classes are both deserving of mention as well. The Bruins scored a handful of low-end top 100 prospects in Anthony Stover, Brendan Lane and Reeves Nelson, while the Hoosiers picked up verbal commitments from Christian Watford, Derek Elston, Bobby Capobianco and Bawa Muniru.
There weren't as many impressive backcourt classes to choose from, but the top backcourt class was an easy choice. Texas' trio of guards are all in Scout.com's top 50, including a pair in the top 15. Bradley, Hamilton and Williams each bring a different type of game to the table and they should all be able to coexist and make a heck of a group once they get to Austin (Tex.).
North Carolina, Illinois and Indiana have accumulated a few talented guard prospects in their respective classes. Carolina snagged a pair of to 50 guards in Strickland and McDonald. Illinois' group of D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul and Joseph Bertrand will fill some pieces, while Indiana scored their future point guard Jordan Hulls and a heck of a shooter in Maurice Creek.
Best of the Mid-Majors
UNLV's and Georgia State's classes weren't too far behind. The Runnin' Rebels picked up top 75 prospect Anthony Marshall, as well as 6-foot-10 Carlos Lopez and lead guard Justin Hawkins. Georgia State locked up a future NBA player in Rashanti Harris and also scored another talented big man in James Vincent. Miami (OH), George Mason, Fordham, Loyola Marymount, Charlotte and Fresno State had impressed hauls as well.
Still A Lot Left
In past years we haven't seen this many highly touted prospects hold off and wait until the second signing period. This year it's become a trend. Scout.com's No. 1 prospect Derrick Favors is planning to hold off, but he's just one of five top 10 prospects that are expected to wait. Renardo Sidney, John Wall, Xavier Henry and Lance Stephenson will all be spring signees.
Reasons to wait vary from possible coaching vacancies to roster depth. Europe could also play a factor in some of these kids' decisions, depending on how Brandon Jennings does this season. Either way, there will still be plenty of guys available in the spring. Some other top guys waiting are Dominic Cheek, Terrence Boyd, Solomon Hill, Angus Brandt and Eric Bledsoe.
A quick peak at what the 2010 class has to offer and it's easy to see that there are two Big Ten squads at the top. Ohio State has a pair of top 10 recruits in Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas. But they also have No. 40 Jordan Sibert, No. 75 Lenzelle Smith and Cameron Wright. Breathing down their neck for the top class is Big Ten foe Illinois. Bruce Weber and his staff have compiled a group consisting of Jereme Richmond, Crandall Head and Meyers Leonard. All three prospects reside in Scout.com's top 30.
Just after OSU and Illinois are Texas, Louisville and Duke. Texas' class is headlined by 2010's top ranked player Tristan Thompson, but they also have Daniel Bejarano committed. The Cardinals have top 10 recruit Jeremy Tyler sealed up. In addition to Justin Martin and Josh Langford, both members of the 2010 top 75. Duke has commitments from three Virginia natives in Andre Dawkins, Josh Hairston and Tyler Thornton.