Texas Tech basketball has rarely brought in a larger or more talented recruiting class than Billy Clyde Gillispie's latest nine-player haul. Aaron Ross, Wanaah Bail and Josh Gray, all national-level recruits, headline the bumper crop. But Daylen Robinson and Trency Jackson are not far behind in terms of notoriety.
And in fact, there's not a bum in the lot. Every single player, at least on paper, brings something of value to the table for the Red Raiders. Michael Carey, Dusty Hannahs, Jamal Williams and Rodrigo Silva may never be superstars in Lubbock, but all are capable of becoming critical role players.
All of the above is predicated, however, on these players obtaining academic eligibility, sustaining eligibility, and steering clear of trouble while at Tech. There's simply no escaping the fact that several members of this class have a past blemished by academic and legal difficulties. Coach Gillispie is more aware of this fact than anybody, and that may be why he apparently "oversigned" with this recruiting class. He may suspect that attrition will cull the group.
There is no doubting, however, that Gillispie's 2012 recruits have the potential to transform Red Raider basketball immediately. This is an extremely high-talent group. But it may also be high-maintenance. And that should not be forgotten.
Aaron Ross, 6' 7" 220, PF, Little Rock, Arkansas: This former Arkansas signee never gained eligibility owing to issues with his ACT score. But if he's eligible, he's a premiere talent. Ross has tremendous hands, runs the court well, elevates off the court quickly, handles the ball nicely for a player his size, is a good shot-blocker, plays under control, and can knock down the jumper from 21 feet with consistency. Ross must improve his effort on the defensive end of the court.
Michael Carey, 6' 5" 205, PG, Rosenberg, Texas: There are rumors that Michael Carey will not qualify academically, but nothing has been confirmed. If Carey does qualify, he could develop into a valuable player. He has superior size and physicality for a guard, and may actually be a better one than two guard. Carey's forte is defense, and there is little more valuable on a basketball team than a guard who can negate the opposing point guard. Lenny Holly was the last Tech guard who could do this. Carey may be the next.
Wannah Bail, 6' 8" 205, SF, Rosenberg, Texas: Carey's teammate Wannah Bail is another player beset by academic question marks. He has attended numerous schools, and there is concern that his transcripts could trip him up. Little disturbs Bail on the court, however. He is an acrobatic sky-walker with a lightning first step. (Bail does not separate on his drives into the paint, however.) Bail can catch and fire, and can create his own shot with jab steps on the perimeter. He is extremely athletic, and has the uncanny ability to hang in the air and create. Bail looks like he could develop into a nice offensive rebounder. He is listed at 6' 8", but actually plays taller.
Dusty Hannahs, 6' 3" 200, SG, Little Rock, Arkansas: There were few pure shooters any better than Dusty Hannahs in the high school ranks last season. He scored 43 points in the state title game and earned Arkansas Player of the Year honors. Hannahs not only has a marksman's eye, but has enough size to see over most guards and is built strongly enough to shrug off contact. His size will only enhance his zone-busing ability. Hannahs also has deceptive acceleration and quickness.
Jamal Williams, 6' 3" 185, PG, New York, New York: No player in this class is more obscure than Williams. He will be Tech's first New Yorker since Charlie Burgess in the Bob Knight years. Williams is reputed to be a physical player and a very good defender. He likes to attack the rim and the middle of the defense, but is not a shooter.
Daylen Robinson, 6' 0" 170, PG, Kansas City, Missouri: Robinson emerged from the Kansas City prep ranks as the city's premiere college prospect. Concerns about his grades and background, which included an arrest, being shot multiple times and losing a brother to a shooting, put Robinson's recruitment on ice. He instead went the JUCO route and is again a highly regarded prospect. Robinson was a prolific scorer in high school, but has developed a strong floor game since entering junior college. Robinson dunks with ease and shoots the rock effortlessly.
Trency Jackson, 6' 2" 185, SG, Jackson, Mississippi: Trency Jackson originally signed with Southern Mississippi but did not meet eligibility requirements. Jackson is an extremely athletic player who can play the point or off guard positions. Jackson's shooting ability is reputedly on the up-swing, and consequently, he may ultimately wind up as a shooting guard. At any rate, he is known as a stopper who can guard both guard positions.
Rodrigo Silva, 6' 10" 225, PF, Sao Paolo, Brazil: Rodrigo Silva is a face-up shooter who can play on the perimeter on offense and guard the paint on defense. He's a polished player who should get minutes early on. Silva is also a tremendous shot blocker, having swatted 13 in a single junior college game, while averaging close to five blocks per game during his second season in the JUCO ranks.
Josh Gray, 6' 1" 175, PG, Houston, Texas: Gillispie's final signee may also be his most talented. Gray is a hyper-quick point guard with an incredibly deft handle. He can get his shot anytime, anywhere, but is such a magician as a distributor, that he intrigues more as a passer than a scorer. Gray is gifted with tremendous court vision and the ability to put the ball exactly where it needs to be at the drop of a dime. As a scorer, Gray gets excellent arc on his shot and shoots an extremely high percentage from the outside. His defensive prowess is somewhat unknown, but he averaged nearly three steals per game for Houston Wheatley. Gray has also had a run-in with the law that included AK-47s in the trunk of his friends' car. Ultimately, Gray was never charged with a crime.