Hoops: Ranking the Big Six

The "Big Six" conferences each have a Top 25 signee but there are differences. See which league won the arms race and who still has room for improvement.


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Historical Breakdown of Conferences

#1.  ACC

The ACC continues to load up.

After scoring the top class in the country last year, North Carolina is backing it up with two five-star prospects and the top recruiting class in the ACC.

Top 5 Classes
1.  North Carolina
2.  NC State
3.  Duke
4.  Wake Forest
5.  Virginia

The Heels added Kinston (N.C.) High standout Reggie Bullock and Arlington (Va.) Bishop O'Connell product Kendall Marshall. Bullock checks in at No. 11, while Marshall is ranked No. 21 in Scout.com's top 100.

Although UNC signed the top class, it was a close call. Sidney Lowe and North Carolina State have put together quite a class, especially when you add prep school standout Lorenzo Brown to the fold.

Kyrie Irving
ACC Top prospect: PG Kyrie Irving committed to Duke

Brown is joined by a five-star prospect -- Ryan Harrow and four-starLuke Cothron. Harrow, of Walton (Ga.) High, is an electric lead guard ranked in Scout.com's top 25. Cothron, a 6-foot-8 post prospect, is a top 60 recruit but indicated he won't sign this period.

While we currently have Duke as the third best class in the conference, they have the potential to move to the very top. Already they have Kyrie Irving, Scout.com's 2nd rated point guard, Josh Hairston and Tyler Thornton in the mix. If they were to snag their top target, Harrison Barnes, they would move right to the top of the class.

Wake Forest and Virginia both put together solid classes as well and close out the top five list.

The Demon Deacons scored a rapidly rising big man in Carson Desrosiers, as well as a trio of four-star prospects – Travis McKie, J.T. Terrell and Melvin Tabb -- that will be effective in Wake Forest's system.

Top ACC Prospects
Top Prospect:Kyrie Irving
Point Guard:Kyrie Irving, Duke
Shooting Guard:Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
Small Forward:Okaro White, Florida State
Power Forward:Josh Hairston, Duke
Center:James Johnson, Virginia

In just his first recruiting season at Virginia, Tony Bennett secured a top five class in the conference. His group consists of two four-star prospects – James Johnson and K.T. Harrell – as well as three-star standouts Will Regan and Joe Harris. Akil Mitchell is also a signee.

Both Florida State and Maryland are the sleeper classes of the conference. FSU has dynamic scorer Ian Miller signed up as well as Okaro White, a hybrid wing, while Maryland has talented scorers Mychal Parker, Terrence Ross and lead guard Terrell Stoglin headed to campus.

 

Big Ten

#2.  Big Ten

Four top 25 prospect pace Big Ten.

Checking in just behind the ACC was the Big Ten conference.

Top 5 Classes
1.  Ohio State
2.  Illinois
3.  Michigan State
4.  Purdue
5.  Michigan

The 11-team league managed to snag four top 25 prospects and 10 other prospects within Scout.com's top 100, as well as 14 three-star players.

Leading the way for the Big Ten is Ohio State, who has six prospects expected to sign on signing day. OSU's biggest pull is the nation's top big man – Jared Sullinger. A load inside, the 6-foot-8 massive post prospect is virtually unstoppable in the post and has an impressive winning resume.

Jared Sullinger
Big Sully brings a winning resume to Ohio State

Joining "Sully" is a trio of All-Ohio AAU teammates – Jordan Sibert, Aaron Craft and JD Weatherspoon – as well as five-star prospect DeShaun Thomas and Chicago native Lenzelle Smith.

Bruce Weber and his staff at Illinois did a great job putting together a three-man class of Jereme Richmond, Meyers Leonard and Crandall Head. Richmond is a dynamic wing prospect ranked in Scout.com's top 10, while Leonard and Head, both four-star prospects, are ranked in Scout.com's top 40 prospects.

Michigan State bolstered their class recently when Dayton (Ohio) Jefferson product Adreian Payne picked the Spartans. But he's far from their only piece. Keith Appling is a terrific scoring guard, Russell Byrd is an impressive long-range shooter and Alex Guana is a good-looking big with range to the 20-feet.

Top Big Ten Prospects
Top Prospect:Jared Sullinger
Point Guard:Keith Appling, Michigan State
Shooting Guard:Jordan Sibert, Ohio State
Small Forward:Jereme Richmond, Illinois
Power Forward:DeShaun Thomas, Ohio State
Center:Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

Purdue's four-man class of Terone Johnson, Anthony Johnson, Travis Carroll and Donnie Hale is solid and provides them depth in both the frontcourt and backcourt. Terone is their highest rated prospect and checks in at No. 61 overall.

As he always does, John Beilein did a great job picking up guys that fit well into his system. Evan Smotrycz, a 6-foot-8 late developing hybrid forward, is a terrific shooter, as is 6-foot-3 guard Tim Hardaway Jr.

 

Big Easy

#3.  Big East

Big East continues to reel in talent.

There hasn't been a shortage of talent in the Big East lately.

Top 5 Classes
1.  Syracuse
2.  Georgetown
3.  Marquette
4.  Connecticut
5.  Villanova

In fact in the 2009 NBA Draft four prospects from the Big East were drafted among the first 14 picks.

Although this year's crop of prospects only includes one top 25 player the 2010 group is a deep class that consists of 14 of the 81 committed top 100 prospects and 10 more three-star players.

Fab Melo
Fab Melo is the class of the Big East

Fab Melo is the best player set to head to the Big East and he'll play for the school that currently has the best class – Syracuse.

Top 30 scoring guard Dion Waiters and three-star frontcourt prospects C.J. Fair and Baye Moussa-Keita also join Melo, who chose Syracuse over Louisville and Florida State, to make up Jim Boeheim's 2010 class.

The top class in the Big East was an easy pick. From here there are four schools with two top 100 prospects.

Georgetown's two-man class checks in at No. 2. They'll gain toughness from top 50 post prospect Nate Lubick and their point guard duties are in safe hands with Georgetown (Md.) Prep standout Markel Starks.

Top Big East Prospects
Top Prospect:Fab Melo
Point Guard:Vander Blue, Marquette
Shooting Guard:Dion Waiters, Syracuse
Small Forward:James Bell, Villanova
Power Forward:Nate Lubick, Georgetown
Center:Fab Melo, Syracuse

It should be no surprise that Connecticut's class is at the top of the conference. Coming off a top 10 class last year, the Huskies currently have top 100 prospects Jeremy Lamb and Michael Bradley on board. While they are currently third, they are still heavily involved with four uncommitted prospects in the top 100.

Jay Wright's squad secured commitments from athletic and ever improving wing James Bell and 6-foot-8 big man Markus Kennedy. While Marquette adds the second highest commitment to the conference with Vander Blue. The Golden Eagles will bring in Jamail Jones and JUCO standout Monterale Clark as well.

 

SEC

#4.  SEC

SEC not on same pace as 2009.

Last year, the SEC was responsible for the nation's best conference. John Calipari quickly assembled the kind of recruiting class that Kentucky fans craved. UK's warning shot over the bow in the SEC was answered by Florida and Mississippi State who also signed elite players in 2009.

Top 5 Classes
1.  South Carolina
2.  Florida
3.  Tennessee
4.  Alabama
5.  LSU

In 2010, the league hasn't been nearly as hot. The Gators own the league's lone commitment from a Top 25 player though a handful of teams are in the running to land high caliber players, many of which will sign in the spring.

The SEC signed its highest number of Top 100 players last season when it inked 20. This time around the league owns a dozen Top 100 players. On average, the SEC has been the third most productive of the Big Six conferences, signing an average of 16 Top 100 players per season.

Patric Young
Patric Young will man the post for the Gators

Carry the banner for the league with 2010 prospects is Darrin Horn's South Carolina Gamecocks. The second year coach inked a remarkably balanced class that has a big ceiling. Top 50 Damontre Harris will slide right into USC's mold of athletic frontline players. Point guard Bruce Ellington ditched a football offer in favor of hoops and he may be the league's biggest national sleeper.

The next three classes in the SEC are tandems. Florida, Tennessee and Alabama follow in the rankings and none of them have more than two pledges to date. However, it's quality over quantity, especially at Florida.

Billy Donovan will love Patric Young. Dubbed "Dwight" as in Dwight Howard, by his crew at the NBA Top 100 Camp, Young is a physical specimen and natural inside force. Mix in Casey Prather and you've got two guys Donovan will love coaching.

Alabama won a recruiting battle for Trevor Releford and since Anthony Grant won't get to coach Eric Maynor in Tuscaloosa, he was in need of a general he could trust. Releford is exactly that kind of player who has one of the nation's best handles.

Tennessee nabbed AAU teammates Jordan McRae (athletic specimen) and Trae Golden (shooter) from the Atlanta Celtics.

Top SEC Prospects
Top Prospect:Patric Young
Point Guard:Trevor Releford, Alabama
Shooting Guard:Jordan McRae, Tennessee
Small Forward:Casey Prather, Florida
Power Forward:Patric Young, Florida
Center:Damontre Harris, South Carolina

Trent Johnson may have the second best class (behind South Carolina) in terms of fit for his program. Clearly Johnson put a premium on guys who could stroke it and Matt Derenbecker, Andre Stringer and Ralston Turner are big perimeter guns.

Overall, the league will welcome three bigs – R.J. Slawson, Josh Henderson and Cady Lalanne – who have upside. Slawson fits Horn's attack in Columbia while Henderson cast his lot with Vanderbilt and Lalanne is Mark Fox's answer inside for the Georgia Bulldogs.

 

Pac-10

#5.  Pac-10

In need of an elite infusion of stars

In 2007, the Pac-10 was chock full of star signings. That year, O.J. Mayo, Kevin Love, Jerryd Bayless and James Harden signed on for brief tours of duty. Combined they played five seasons in the Pac-10 but each was a lottery pick in the NBA draft.

Top 5 Classes
1.  UCLA
2.  Stanford
3.  California
4.  USC
5.  Arizona State

This year, the league will welcome only one early Top 25 signee. Center Josh Smith picked UCLA over Washington, guaranteeing the league its lone Top 25 representative.

In the last six years, the Pac-10 has signed the fewest Top 100 prospects of any of the "Big Six" leagues. In 2008, 17 Top 100 prospects signed early. This year, Devon Collier's commitment to Oregon State made it 10 (Smith made it 11 Tuesday night).

Josh Smith
Center Josh Smith leads the way for UCLA in the Pac-10

Since 2004, the Pac-10 averaged 11.2 Top 100 signees during the early period. The Big Ten (11.8) was a shade better. By comparison, the ACC accounted for 18.2 signees per year.

The standard bearer (so far) in the Pac-10 this year is Stanford. Johnny Dawkins needed a big recruiting class in Palo Alto and the Cardinal delivered. The five-man group contains a pair of Top 50 players, a developing big in John Gage, a point in Aaron Bright and sleeper wing Josh Huestis.

Dawkins will rely heavily on frontcourt standout Dwight Powell. Wing Anthony Brown, who exploded at the NBA Top 100 camp, will have a chance to earn tons of early playing time.

Stanford's fierce Bay Area rival, California, fared well too. Mike Montgomery will welcome three Scout.com Top 100 players and Alex Rossi, who was in the Top 100 early last spring.

Between Allen Crabbe and Gary Franklin, Cal has a pair of snipers in the backcourt. Big man Richard Solomon is the late-blooming type and lone frontcourt signee.

The Trojans of USC had a productive early period. Scorer Bryce Jones and athletic Dwayne Polee headline Kevin O'Neill's first-year effort.

Top Pac-10 Prospects
Top Prospect:Josh Smith
Point Guard:Gary Franklin, California
Shooting Guard:Daniel Bejarano, Arizona
Small Forward:Anthony Brown, Stanford
Power Forward:Dwight Powell, Stanford
Center:Josh Smith, UCLA

Both Arizona and UCLA are involved with national level prospects that could force a reshuffling of the league rankings before the early signing period concludes.

The Pac-10 has been a haven for sub-six-foot point guards. Tyjuan Porter and Jerome Randle enjoyed tremendous careers in the league. The next guy to follow in their footsteps will be Oregon State's Ahmad Starks. He's as tough as both, an excellent shooter and brings a winning resume to Corvallis.

 

Big12

#6.  Big 12

Big 12 early numbers are down

Obviously with nearly a fifth of the prospects in Scout.com's top 100 still available there is quite a bit to still play out, however the Big 12 conference is in the midst of a down recruiting year.

Top 5 Classes
1.  Oklahoma State
2.  Baylor
3.  Texas
4.  Texas A&M
T-5.  Missouri
T-5.  Oklahoma

The conference will snag a pair of top 10 prospects in Perry Jones and Tristan Thompson, but just adds five other players in Scout.com's Top 100.

Oklahoma State's class of Michael Cobbins, Markel Brown, Brian Williams and JUCO standout J.P. Olukemi is the best of the conference, as it consists of two four-star prospects in Cobbins and Brown.

Perry Jones
Perry Jones will bring athleticism and star power to Waco

Jeff Capel's program will get a boost from 6-foot-6 wing Cameron Clark as well as tough guard T.J. Taylor. Clark is ranked No. 30, while Taylor is a three-star prospect.

Phil Pressey, a four-star lead guard, is Missouri's top committed prospect and is a great fit for Mike Anderson's fast paced brand of ball. Talented shooter Ricky Kreklow and big man Kadeem Green round our their 2010 group.

A pair of Texas schools -- Baylor and Texas -- close out the top five with the top two players headed to the league. In fact, the tandem has a strong chance of keeping the league's lottery pick tradition alive.

Top Big 12 Prospects
Top Prospect:Perry Jones
Point Guard:Phil Pressey, Missouri
Shooting Guard:Markel Brown, Oklahoma State
Small Forward:Cameron Clark, Oklahoma
Power Forward:Tristan Thompson, Texas
Center:Perry Jones, Baylor

Scott Drew has super athletic Perry Jones, who checks in at No. 4 overall, and three-star guard Bakari Turner headed to Waco (Tex.). Jones is arguably the best recruit to ever pick the Bears.

Meanwhile, the Longhorns have the No. 6 prospect in Tristan Thompson signed up. Thompson was once dubbed by Scout.com as the top prospect in the nation (summer of 2008).

Although Texas A&M's class of Tobi Oyedeji, Keith Davis and Daniel Alexander is outside of the leagues top five it's certainly our sleeper pick. Oyedeji is No. 68 overall, while Davis and Alexander aren't in the top 100, but are rated as four-star prospects.

 

Others

Other Top Classes
1.  Memphis
2.  Xavier
3.  Dayton

Memphis leads way.

Everyone knew that Josh Pastner could recruit. So it should come as no surprise that Memphis was able to secure two five prospects in his first recruiting class.

Will Barton
Will Barton helps form one of the best recruiting back court classes in the country

Will Barton is their highest rated prospect at No. 8, but Memphis native Joe Jackson is firmly in the top 25 at No. 17 and has the look of a future McDonald's All-American. Sharp shooter and AAU teammate of Jackson -- Chris Crawford -- and brother of Barton – Antonio -- close out their four-man class.

Atlantic-10 powers – Xavier and Dayton – both put together strong classes as well. Although they lack the star power that the Tigers have, they certainly have good groups that will help them secure their places at the top of the league.

Xavier scored high marks by picking up top 100 big man Jordan Latham. But first year head coach Chris Mack managed to snag plenty of other talent.

Other Top Prospects
Top Prospect:Will Barton
Point Guard:Joe Jackson, Memphis
Shooting Guard:Will Barton, Memphis
Small Forward:Kyle Collinsworth, Utah
Power Forward:Dominique Ferguson, FIU
Center:Alex Kirk, New Mexico

Former top 100 prospect Justin Martin and scrappy wing Jay Canty will provide plenty of talent on the wing, and skilled post prospect Griffin McKenzie gives the Musketeers a different type of big man.

Like Xavier, Dayton managed to pick up a top 100 player in Juwan Staten. The speedy floor general ranks No. 86 overall. Brandon Spearman, Jesse Berry, Ralph Hill and Dean Oliver are also on board with the Flyers.


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