With the deep and talented 2016 high school class set to hit the college scene in a few months, we take a look at which schools have the best sets of recruits coming in. These rankings factor in NBA potential to a degree, but mainly how they figure to impact their repective schools.
1. Duke Blue Devils
Duke holds the top spot with six commits. While the majority of the recruits may just be around for their underclassman season(s), their projected impact has a chance to be among the all time classes. Additionally they should be able to withstand the loss of the second pick of the draft, Brandon Ingram. It’s been awhile since Harry Giles has seen the court after sitting nearly all of his senior season with an ACL tear. His second severe knee injury in three years. Assuming he makes a full recovery, Giles will be a top name for the upcoming season with his combination of size, athleticism, and skill set. Jayson Tatum is coming off of winning a state championship and Gatorade Player of the Year. For most teams, he would be the top recruit. He brings a smooth skillset and a midrange scoring arsenal to give Duke versatility. 6-foot-2 guard Frank Jackson has been one of the highest risers over the past year. Once considered a probable four year college player, he now has the chance to be among the freshmen hearing their name called next June. Jackson is a natural scorer with elite athleticism who is currently transitioning into running the point. Marques Bolden brings his super long (7-foot-5 wingspan) body along with solid athleticism to Duke’s frontcourt. He had a strong senior year and gives depth to an already talented roster. His low post scoring and ambidexterity highlight his attributes and provides a solid anchor on defense. Javin DeLaurier isn’t quite as big of a name as some of his future teammates but brings depth to their class. His college offers increased as he showed improvement in the summer going into his senior season. DeLaurier is a solid athlete who plays in the post and will block shots on defense. Jack White rounds out Duke’s top recruiting class. Coming from prestigious Australian Institute of Sport. White provides Duke with shooting ability and a multiple position defender.
2. Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky comes in at two with six quality recruits. Bringing in four McDonald’s All Americans and high expectations to deliver for Big Blue Nation. After losing multiple players to the draft and transferring to other schools, this class has some difficult shoes to fill and whether they will remains to be seen, but one thing we do know is that the class is very athletic. De'Aaron Fox gives Kentucky the length and athleticism at the point they’re accustomed to. He’s very good in transition with the ability to break a press by himself and provides crafty scoring ability. With quick hands and quick feet, Fox has great defensive potential to pair with his offensive gifts. High flying Malik Monk brings perimeter scoring and a tendency to produce highlight dunks to Lexington. He’s best as a scorer and some feel he can contribute as a combo guard. Although undersized as a two guard, Monk should be able to step in and make an impact early. Wenyen Gabriel is a late blooming, athletic forward. He faces up and slashes to the basket more often than playing in the post. His motor separates himself from his peers and he’s positioned himself from a three star recruit to a legitimate one and done candidate. Bam Adebayo provides a combination of size, strength, and athleticism. He consistently attacks the basket and tries to tear the rim off in the process. Beginning to show some development in his mid-range game, Adebayo is more than a one dimensional athlete and can rebound in and out of his area. Sacha Killeya-Jones has an opportunity to compliment Adebayo in the frontcourt. He’s a good face up and mid-range scorer. Not quite as physically imposing as Bam but provides depth and could develop into a very good player down the road as he probably will not enter the draft after his freshman year. The son of Coach John Calipari, Brad Calipari will walk on next season. He is a solid three point shooter and brings assurance that a coaching change isn’t likely to take place within the next four years.
3. Kansas Jayhawks
It’s no surprise that Kansas has a top three class given their strong recruiting history. They have a few departures but a solid number of quality players returning. Of all the talented incoming freshman, Josh Jackson projects to stand above the rest. A tremendous athlete, high basketball IQ, and potential on both ends of the floor. The McDonald’s All American MVP draws comparisons to former Kansas Jayhawk and #1 draft pick, Andrew Wiggins, only with a higher skill level entering college. Possibly the most physically imposing incoming freshman, Udoka Azubuike has a big, strong body and is very young, though might be a tad overrated nationally. He wears down opponents who try to bang with him and is nearly impossible to stop when he’s able to establish low post position. Azubuike will be at Kansas for a minimum of two years due to his listed age, and will need to focus on his conditioning. Mitch Lightfoot was the Gatorade Arizona Boys Player of the Year and provides depth. His immediate impact isn’t necessary but should be a solid contributor over the years. Lightfoot brings rebounding ability, a good motor, and outside shooting. Malik Newman is a shooter/scorer but will sit out the 2016-17 season due to transfer rules.
4. Arizona Wildcats
Although Terrance Ferguson opted to play professionally in Australia, Arizona is bringing in two elite level guards who can score and Lauri Markkanen a sweet shooting 7-foot face up big man from Finland. It is also worth noting that 5-star redshirt Ray Smith will be suiting up after a season ending knee injury. Rawle Alkins is probably the top player to not be named to either the McDonald’s All American Game or Jordan Brand Classic. He brings athleticism and scoring ability to the backcourt. Kobi Simmons is a long, athletic point guard can get to the rim, shoot, and facilitate. While he needs to become more disciplined, Simmons has good ambidexterity and body control, projecting to make an impact early on. A year younger than much of the competition, Markkanen is currently dominating the U20 European Championships in Helsinki, and could be an impact performer from day one, if he adapts to the speed and athleticism of the American game quickly. He provides size along with the ability to run the floor and can knock down shots from outside.
5. UCLA Bruins
UCLA is bringing in a strong recruiting class, regardless of Kobe Paras decision to attend Creighton. The class includes two McDonald’s All Americans and a big man who played himself onto the scene. There are a lot of elite incoming freshman point guards but Lonzo Ball trumps all in making those around him better and passing ability. He was nominated as our High School Player of the Year, going undefeated while averaging a triple double. Ball’s brothers are also committed to UCLA but it’s likely Lonzo will be in the NBA by the time they arrive on campus. Ike Anigbogu had a big senior year, giving him serious consideration as an NBA prospect. He brings shot blocking and rebounding to the team. Still raw but Anigbogu is only scratching the surface of what he can become. TJ Leaf is a versatile forward can play inside and out. He has a finesse game, with good touch and footwork. Leaf has the opportunity to contribute early in his career and figures to be around for a few seasons.
6. Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State’s class consists of four strong commits. Not full of probable one year players like some schools but has a lot of talent plus the potential to be together for a few years. Miles Bridges is Michigan State’s top commit and one of the most explosive players in the freshman class. He brings strength, aggression, and highlight finishing ability. He decided to stay in state to play his collegiate ball. Josh Langford has shooting and scoring ability. The McDonald’s All American defends well and can serve as a facilitator. Cassius Winston brings depth at the point, and will give Lourawls Nairn relief. Winston scores well but is known for his basketball IQ, court vision, and leadership. Nick Ward isn’t the tallest or most explosive player but is effective in the paint with his rebounding and touch. He knows how to play to his strengths and has good mobility.
7. Mississippi State Bulldogs
With Malik Newman’s departure, Mississippi State has seven commits, bringing in multiple positions. Schnider Herard is a physical big man that brings strength in the post. He impacts as a presence defensively and will serve as an anchor. Mario Kegler plays on the perimeter but can score inside and out, with the ability to post up and shoot from three. Though he didn’t play to his ability as a senior, he’s naturally athletic and has strong lower body strength. Tyson Carter comes in at the point, bringing scoring ability, advanced ball handling, and court vision. Lamar Peters also runs the point but is known for his scoring. His instant offense comes from creating and attacking off the dribble. Eli Wright is coming off of a surprising senior year. He gets to the rim and can get off a shot against some of the toughest defenders thanks to his speed. Abdulhakim Ado’s offensive skills still have a way to go but he brings good size and athleticism. He will contribute as a rebounder and shot blocker early in his college career. EJ Datcher isn’t as big of a name as Mississippi State’s other commits but brings a finesse game to the post with the ability to step out and shoot.
8. Florida State Seminoles
Florida State with four commits; including a potential top five pick, three solid recruits, and plenty of perimeter scoring. Jonathan Isaac is among college basketball’s most intriguing prospects. Hitting a growth spurt and modeling his game after Kevin Durant, he may not be ready to fully showcase his ability in his freshman year but could be a tremendous player if he successfully taps into some of his potential. Trent Forrest will bring his scoring ability and defense. He’s not afraid of physical defenders and his strength allows him to finish through contact. CJ Walker has a competitive edge and combo skills on the offensive end. Mfiondu Kabengele has good length and is a strong rebounder and defender.
9. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Gonzaga brings in a mix of national and international talent. None of which are expected to leave after one season but could produce some future draft picks. Rui Hachimura is a bit of a mystery to the casual fan but he has good size for a wing combined with athleticism and scoring ability. There is a good chance that he will red shirt this season as he adjusts to the American game and learns English. Zach Collins is a skilled post player. He rebounds well and has the size to defend the basket. Zach Norvell brings scoring, whether it’s from perimeter shooting or attacking the rim. Killian Tillie is a French big man who comes from the prestigious INSEP academy. He possesses good athleticism, a high motor, and is a relentless offensive rebounder. Denmark’s 6-10 forward Jacob Larsen is the brother of the late Rasmus Larsen, providing good size, hands, and footwork. He’s a skilled post player who shows a good deal of long term potential.
10. North Carolina Tar Heels
Coming off of a heartbreaking loss in the NCAA National Championship, North Carolina brings in four new faces. Despite losing Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige, they still bring back a very good core group of returning talent. Tony Bradley is skilled in the post and has good hands. He has a solid face up jumper from mid-range and defends well with his length and timing. Seventh Woods is a high flyer who made a name for himself early in his prep career. He still has tremendous potential and is an asset to the recruiting class. Woods will contribute as a scorer and will have highlight reel plays throughout his career. Brandon Robinson’s strengths are in his defense, shooting, and scoring off the dribble. Shea Rush is the brother of Kareem and Brandon Rush will walk on. Rush is athletic, and brings value with his defense and energy.