Ranking The Big East Recruiting Classes

Every year the Big East seems to have a monster recruiting haul - classes that continue to keep the superleague at the forefront of college basketball. This year's haul features a number of McDonald's All-Americans and Top 100 players that should keep the conference near the top of the hoop world.

Annually Friar Insider presents the best and most accurate rankings of the Big East's recruiting classes. For one, we pay attention to schools like Providence, which typically don't get as much respect from the other services, and they get a fair shake here.

So what makes FI's ratings different? How to go about ranking so many classes in a 16-team superconference?

Some recruiting services take a look at individual player rankings, and compute their classes that way. That might work, except for the fact that we know from experience that some guys are going to be universally ranked too high, while others are ranked far too low. Depending on Top 100 lists or Top 200 lists alone is a very inaccurate way to rank recruiting classes as a whole.

Certainly, the Top 100 or 200 lists play a part; it's tough not to take notice of a class filled with Top 50 players. But Friar Insider's method of ranking classes also takes into consideration which school's have best filled needs, and which players, highly ranked or not, have the best chance to step into the lineup and make an impact next season. With the unpredictable player movement of the last decade, it's too difficult to forecast long-range project-type players; FI is more concerned with the here and now in its rankings… who is going to step in and be a factor next season.

We look at a large number of recruiting rankings and average those together… factor in who best filled needs… factor in who has landed sure-fire immediate contributors… to determine which class has recruits that are likely to play right away next season. What we don't do: Big name schools with big-time reputations get no extra credit from us… nor do they get penalized. Everyone is on a level playing field… or court, in this case.

Now that some of the method to our madness has been explained, here is Friar Insider's recruiting class rankings:

1. SYRACUSE
Johnny Flynn, G, 5-11, 170, Niagara Falls, N.Y./Niagara Falls
Donte Greene, F, 6-9, 217, Baltimore, Md./Towson Catholic
Rick Jackson, F, 6-9, 235, Philadelphia, Pa./Neumann-Goretti
Antonio "Scoop" Jardine, G, 6-2, 180, Philadelphia, Pa./Neumann-Goretti
Kristof Ongenaet, Jr., F, 6-8, 220, Ghent, Belgium/Cuesta Junior College (Calif.)
Sean Williams, C, 6-11, 200, VillaPark, Calif./Notre Dame Prep (Mass.)
Jim Boeheim has assembled the top class in the Big East and one that should help extend his impressive record for 20 win seasons and NCAA appearances. Greene and Flynn were both McDonald's All-Americans, and although Greene needs to bulk up, his skills are undeniable. Reminding some of Kevin Durant, Greene can shoot, handle and pass, has soft hands and is ultra-aggressive. Flynn can leap, is very strong for his size, attacks the gaps and is a scoring point. Jardine has a rep for jacking a lot of shots up, but when his flat jumper is hitting, he's unstoppable. Jackson is a lefty who is more of a blue collar worker, a tough inside player with a nice jump hook. Williams is more of a developmental player, an athlete whose offense is lagging at this point. In the spring, the Orange snagged Ongenaet, a JUCO who had played for the Belgium National Team. All in all, Greene and Flynn are more than enough to vault this class to the top.

2. GEORGETOWN
Austin Freeman, G, 6-4, 210, Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha
Nikita Mescheriakov, G/F, 6-8, Frederick, Md./St. John's Catholic Prep (Md.)
Omar Wattad, G/F, 6-5, 185, Johnson City, Tenn./ Science Hill
Chris Wright, G, 6-1, 190, Washington, D.C./ St. John's College
The Hoyas received an early gift when Roy Hibbert pulled out of the NBA draft, but John Thompson III continues to stockpile talent, and this class will help keep Georgetown near the top. Wright and Freeman were both McDonald's All-Americans. Wright is strong and very smart with the ball. He can score from every spot on the court, passes very well and will be a great leader for the Hoyas. Freeman can create his own shot, has great range, can surprise with quickness and handles solidly. Wattad is a walk-on despite garnering several mid-major offers. Hoyas edge Nova – barely – for the second spot.

3. VILLANOVA
Corey Fisher, G, 6-1, 185, Bronx, N.Y./St. Patrick's (N.J.)
Malcolm Grant, PG, 6-0, 190, Brooklyn, N.Y./ Winchendon School (Mass.)
Corey Stokes, G, 6-5, 205, Newark, N.J./St. Benedict's
Jay Wright went back to his metropolitan New York recruiting roots and inked an excellent three man class. Stokes was a McDonald's All-American and is a silky midrange and long range jump shooter, with solid ballhandling skills. Fisher is another Top 25 type guard with speed to burn, shooting skills, toughness and the ability to penetrate and dish. He's a point with a mind to score. Grant will surprise some people, as he can play out of control, yet his positives include the ability to get to the rack and hit the midrange jumper. He was originally a Seton Hall recruit.

4. PITTSBURGH
DeJuan Blair, F, 6-7, 250, Pittsburgh, Pa./Schenley
Cassin Diggs, Jr., C, 6-10, 270, Williamsport, Pa./Cloud County Community College
Darnell Dodson, F, 6-7, 210, Greenbelt, Md./Eleanor Roosevelt
Gary McGhee, C, 6-10, 245, Anderson, Ind./Highland Senior
Bradley Wanamaker, G, 6-4, 200, Philadelphia, Pa./Roman Catholic
Jaime Dixon always seems to replace what he loses, and after losing Aaron Gray, he needed inside bulk… so he nabbed Blair, a tough, hardnosed inside player who uses his weight well to grab position for points and rebounds. Dodson is an undervalued player who can run, shoot and play defense and is a solid all around player, while Diggs is a lefty with the size and experience to provide instant help in the paint. McGhee isn't overly athletic, and needs to be in better shape, and is likely more of a developmental player for now. Wannamaker is an excellent defender, tough, competitive and will surprise some with his shooting ability.

5. CINCINNATI
Kenny Belton, F, 6-7, 245, Greensboro, N.C./Dudley
Rashad Bishop, F, 6-5, 215, Newark, N.J./Kennedy
Larry Davis, G, 6-3, 175, Houston, Texas/Alief-Hastings
Jason Henry, F/G, 6-7, 190, Cincinnati, Ohio/Harmony Community
Anthony McClain, C, 6-11, 230, Fort Washington, Md./National Christian Academy
Alvin Mitchell, F, 6-5, 210, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons
With the comings and goings at Cincinnati, Mick Cronin was busy, signing three players early and three late. McClain may be the best of the bunch, a decent scorer but his strength lies in defense and shotblocking. Henry is a big scorer and can really run the court and handle the ball. Mitchell also scored big in high school, shoots well from deep and can create his own shot. Very athletic, and hits the boards. Davis has a rep as a big-time defender and can also put up points by the barrel-full. Bishop is athletic, a lefty, has a nice midrange game and can board. Belton is very aggressive and physical on the boards and is very strong on the offensive end around the basket.

6. DEPAUL
Michael Bizoukas, F, 6-1 170, Muster, Ind./Muster
Nayal "Mac" Koshwal, F, 6-9, 235, Chicago, Ill./Boys to Men Academy
Matija Poscic, Jr., F, 6-9, 240, Opatija, Croatia/Highland Community College
Mario Stula, F, 6-7, 210, Zagreb, Croatia/Decatur Christian
Darquavis Tucker, G/F, 6-5, 205, Saginaw, Mich./Arthur Hill Academy
Jerry Wainwright has often uncovered players that others have overlooked, and this class has been underrated by some. Koshwal is a tough, intimidating post player who goes to the offensive glass well, drives to the basket and uses his strength on defense. Tucker is a lefty who has improved his shooting, hits the O-boards well also, and is a big-time athlete. Bizoukas will likely be a bench player to begin with, while Poscic brings size and experience to help upfront. Stula was a late signee who played on a strong team in Croatia.

7. ST. JOHN'S
Malik Boothe, G, 5-9, 185, Queens, N.Y./Christ The King
Justin Burrell, F, 6-8, 220, Bronx, N.Y./Bridgton Academy (Maine)
Mike Cavataio, G/F, 6-4, 180, Forest Hills, N.Y./St. Francis
Dele Coker, C, 6-10, 270, South Kent, Conn./South Kent
Sean Evans, F, 6-8, 230, Philadelphia, Pa./Northeast
Paris Horne, G/F, 6-3, 180, Middletown, Del./Bridgton Academy (Maine)
D.J. Kennedy, G/F, 6-6, Pittsburgh, Pa./Schenley
Norm Roberts had open roster spots and wasted no time in filling them with some talented players. Burrell and Coker are two guys who should toughen St. John's up immediately. Burrell is a strong leaper and a tough inside player, who can score at the rim and reject shots. Coker gives the Johnnies size in the middle and is another tough player who thrives on dunks, defense and rebounding. Boothe is an ultra-quick point who is at his best driving and dishing. Horne played with Burrell and is very athletic. Kennedy was underrecruited because of academics but this lefty handles well, attacks the hoop and hits the glass. Evans received some D-1 football offers and is big enough to play some early sub minutes.

8. SETON HALL
Mike Davis, F, 6-11, 255, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Michael Glover, F, 6-6, 200, Bronx, N.Y./Boys To Men Academy (Ill.)
Jeremy Hazell, G, 6-5, 185, Bronx, N.Y./Patterson
Augustine Okosun, Jr., C, 6-10, 240, Benin City, Nigeria/Harcum College
Chris Smith, G, 6-3, 200, Millstone, N.J./St. Benedict's
Brandon Walters, F, 6-9, 225, Brooklyn, N.Y./Abraham Lincoln
Bobby Gonzalez needed frontcourt help, and he filled this class with potential helpers. Glover is a bit undersized for a power player, but he's tough as nails, always plays hard and can be intimidating. Davis played for four high schools and was one of the best big men in New York City. Walters needs some more bulk and polish on offense, but is a high potential player. Okosun adds some quick experience and has great size. Hazell may be the top rated Hall signee, and he makes up for lackluster handling and passing with exceptional three point range. Smith is a great athlete and can finish, but needs to improve both his shooting and ballhandling.

9. RUTGERS
Corey Chandler, PG, 6-1, 180, Newark, N.J./Eastside
Mike Coburn, PG, 6-0, 185, Mt. Vernon, N.Y./Mt. Vernon
Earl Pettis, G, 6-5, 215, Philadelphia, Pa./Patterson
Justin Sofman, G, 6-4, 210, West Milford, N.J./St. Thomas More Prep
With a reputation as a top recruiter, you knew it wouldn't take Fred Hill long to make an impact, landing two points and two wings. Pettis was a major get for Hill; a strong rebounder and tough attacker of the rim. He'll need to improve his jump shot to be a star at the Big East level. Sofman is more of a spot up three point shooter. Coburn is a physical player who likes to push the ball, drive to the basket and control the tempo, while Chandler is very quick, and although his shot is inconsistent, he's more of a scoring point. He can bail you out with late drives to the hoop.

10. PROVIDENCE
Marshon Brooks, G, 6-5, 175, Tucker, Ga./Tucker
Alex Kellogg, F, 6-7, 225, Columbus, Ohio/St. Francis DeSales
Jamine "Greedy" Peterson, F, 6-6, 215, Brooklyn, N.Y./Notre Dame Prep (Fitchburg, Mass.)
Providence has made its living in the late signing period over the past few years, and this year was no different. The Friars went head-to-head with Cincinnati for Peterson, a rugged long-armed jumping jack and secured his commitment in late January. Peterson is a bit undersized for an inside player but has a ton of energy and plays very physically. When he develops more of a midrange game, he'll be a keeper. PC plucked Brooks out of basketball-rich Georgia, and he's an extremely undervalued player; another long-limbed athlete who can really shoot and handle the ball. He will be a key towards determining if we've slightly overrated this class. Kellogg will add depth to the frontcourt, and provide PC with a developmental player who can be valuable down the road, but he needs to polish his game to contribute.

11. MARQUETTE
Scott Christopherson, G, 6-3, 180, LaCrosse, Wis./Aquinas
Patrick Hazel, F, 6-7, 215, Blairstown, N.J./Blair Academy
Trevor Mbakwe, F, 6-7, 225, St. Paul, Minn./St. Bernard's
All season long, Tom Crean had to wait to see what Dominic James would do, because Marquette was one over the scholarship limit. Well, James announced that he was returning, but Crean's problems were solved in other ways. Mbakwe is the top recruit, a player who rebounds, scores in a variety of ways, is very athletic and is very strong, but has academic issues. He should be cleared and set to go. Christopherson is a good passer and a deep shooting threat. Hazel has been called a reach by many recruiting experts. The class had also included forward Damien Saunders, but Saunders was involved in a drug related situation in his hometown over the summer. With James' return, and Saunders' problems, Marquette's scholarship problem was neatly resolved, as Saunders is gone. This class has been rated as though Mbakwe will be present in September.

12. LOUISVILLE
George Goode, F, 6-8, 205, Rayton, Mo./South
Clarence Holloway, C, 7-1, 270, Chicago, Ill./Boys to Men Academy
Preston Knowles, G, 6-1, 170, Winchester, Ky./George Rogers Clark
While Louisville will probably have a banner recruiting class in 2008, Rick Pitino did not ink an impact class in '07. Goode is a top flight recruit who can hit from the perimeter and fills the lane well on breaks. He's got the best chance of playing early. Knowles is a project and Pitino has mentioned redshirting him as a possibility. Holloway is a sixth year, lefty prep. Over the years, he has slowly improved, but his offense still needs work. On the plus side, he's huge and if he's in shape and healthy, can alter shots.

13. NOTRE DAME
Tim Abromaitis, F, 6-7, 210, Farmington, Conn./Farmington
Tyrone Nash, G, 6-7, 215, Queens, N.Y./Lawrence Woodmere
Ty Proffitt, G, 6-4, 193, London, Ky./South Laurel
Carleton Scott, F, 6-8, 205, San Antonio, Texas/James Madison
Mike Brey quietly put together a solid, if unspectacular four man class. Nash is probably the plum recruit, a player who considered Kentucky. A good athlete, Nash is a hard worker and has a nice short game offensively. He can play defense and rebounds well. Abromaitis is limited athletically and might be a reach for the Irish. Scott, on the other hand, is a long athlete, and can leap and block shots. Proffitt is known mostly for his shooting ability. Scott and Proffitt will be given the opportunity to show what they can do, and will slowly be worked into the rotation based on that.

14. WEST VIRGINIA
John Flowers, F, 6-7, 195, Leonardtown, Md./St. Mary's
Will Thomas, G, 6-5, 200, East Cleveland, Ohio/Shaw
The recruiting landscape in the Big East changed in a major way when John Beilein left West Virginia for Michigan and Bob Huggins took the reins. Huggins had assembled one of the nation's top recruiting classes at Kansas State before leaving, and his presence will surely be felt at WVU. Flowers, a Beilein recruit, is a tough but athletic kid, and was perfectly suited for Beilein's system. Huggins grabbed Thomas late, and got a wing guard who had a big senior season and came on late. Expect West Virginia to be a major player in future recruiting battles.

15. SOUTH FLORIDA
Mobolaji Ajayi, Jr., F, 6-9, 225, Kano, Nigeria/Palm Beach Junior College (Fla.)
Orane Chin, F, 6-7, 195, Clarendon, Jamaica/Miramar (Fla.)
The Bulls continue to bring in players who fly under the national radar. This year, USF filled two frontcourt spots, and the hope is that Ajayi can step right in and man the middle. A strong defender, Ajayi's rebounding and post presence is ahead of his offense at this point. Meanwhile, Chin is a slender wing forward who slashes better than he shoots. At some point, USF will have to up the ante on the recruiting front to escape the Big East's lower division.

16. CONNECTICUT
Donnell Beverly, G, 6-4, 195, Lawndale, Calif./Leuzinger
It isn't often that you'll see UConn at the bottom of the heap in recruiting, so take a good look because its unlikely to happen again. It's not that Jim Calhoun and company have lost their recruiting touch. They already have commitments from supers in the Classes of 2008 and 2009. Its just that they had no scholarships to work with, and several of their young studs didn't develop quickly enough to leave early. When a spot opened late, they grabbed Beverly, an underrated guard, but he plays the same position as A.J. Price, so how much time will he see?

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