Incoming! The Big Ten's 2014 Class So Far In Review

Maryland's 2014 haul must be comforting for Mark Turgeon, whose Terrapins have struggled - David Banks-US PRESSWIRE

Recruiting isn't everything in college sports - it's the only thing. Which program is bringing in the strongest collection of prospects next year?

2014's early national signing period for basketball has long since come and gone and although the big Ten may earn a few more commits in the late signing period, we already know quite a bit about the talent that will be coming to the Big Ten conference next year. Ohio State appears to be entrenched in pole position with a class that could still add a player more highly regarded than even D'Angelo Russell. For now at least, the Buckeyes look almost certain to ultimately land the league's top class.

1. Ohio State

Name Position Height/Weight 247sports Composite Rankings
D'Angelo Russell SG 6'5", 176 lbs 18
Keita Bates-Diop SF 6'6", 180 lbs 27
Jae'Sean Tate SF 6'4", 214 lbs 57
Dave Bell PF 6'9", 225 lbs 178
Crown Jewel of the Class

D'Angelo Russell, SG - Ohio State's lead recruit, and potential lead guard down the line, is D'Angelo Russell, an offensively minded scoring guard that's strong with the ball and is developing a better eye for passing lanes. Shannon Scott will keep Russell from having to man the point right away, but Thad Matta is most likely planning to use D'Angelo to run his offense eventually. Early on though, Matta will depend on the young guard to help the Buckeyes score - which Russell can provide as a driver, a mid range shooter, or from behind the arc.

Overview

This class reminds me of Ohio State's 2011 class, which was comprised of a couple of very athletic kids who needed to refine their skills at the college level. This group will be similar. Defensively, their athleticism and Thad's refusal to accept less will help them be effective in that regard right away. Offensively, this group may struggle with a lack of perimeter shooting but the Buckeyes can reliably count on their defense to put points on the board.

Biggest Miss

Elbert Robinson, C, LSU - Projecting Ohio State's lineup next year, it's tough to identify any weaknesses. The Buckeyes will be every strong in the back court, with a number of explosive athletes to rotate between. The wings will be long, tall, and willing to guard on the inside and the perimeter. The only area that seems uncertain is the interior, where Robinson could've helped the Buckeyes defend the post in his first collegiate season. But if Thad Matta can convince Myles Turner to come to Columbus, Bucknuts will forget all about Elbert.

Remaining Targets

Thad Matta is all in for Myles Turner, one of the best players in the 2014 class. Amir Williams would be Turner's most talented competition for playing time, and all indications are that Myles would likely jump Amir and land in the Buckeye's starting line. If he doesn't choose Duke, Texas, SMU, or Kentucky instead that is.

2. Maryland

Name Position Height/Weight 247sports Composite Rankings
Romelo Trimble
SG 6'2", 190 lbs 33
Dion Wiley
SG 6'3", 210 lbs 46
Trayvon Reed
C 7'1", 218 lbs 75
Jared Nickens
SF 6'6", 180 lbs 97
Crown Jewel of the Class

Dion Wiley, SG - Romelo Trimble may be more popular with scouts, but I think Dion's game will translate to the collegiate level more quickly. Wiley is a big guard whose size helps him finish through contact. A superb shooter, Wiley's strength will also be an asset for him as he curls around screens and moves without the ball to find openings against defenses.

Overview

Dion Wiley and Romelo Trimble will get an opportunity to be dynamic players for the Terrapins right away. Defensively, especially, Maryland could use Trimble and Wiley's speed to slow down opposing teams. Reed and Nickens will also play early on, but are more likely to be contributors off the bench.

Biggest Miss

Dwayne Morgan, PF, UNLV - While Morgan is a bit of a raw, athletic post, his shotblocking would've fit in right away next to Shaquille Cleare and Jake Layman. Considering the quality the class that Maryland did pull in this is a small quibble but Cleare, Layman, and Morgan could've been an incredible defensive front court.

Remaining Targets

None. Mark Turgeon did his work early and can now shift his focus to recruiting for future classes.

3. Indiana

Name Position Height/Weight 247sports Composite Rankings
James Blackmon Jr. SG 6'4", 180 lbs 31
Robert Johnson SG 6'3", 180 lbs 47
Max Hoetzel SF 6'7", 210 lbs 316

Crown Jewel of the Class

James Blackmon Jr., SG - That James Blackmon Jr has been signed, sealed and delivered is probably still surreal for many Hoosier fans. For nearly a year, rumors swirled that James would make like his friend Trey Lyles and drop his Indiana commitment in favor of the Kentucky Wildcats. When James did eventually decommit earlier this year, and the Wildcats quickly surged to the top of his list, it seemed like a prophecy was playing out. In the end, Blackmon was one of the rare decommits that returned to the school he decommitted from and again pledged to play for the Indiana Hoosiers. James will be a key player for Indiana immediately, where his phenomenal shooting ability will quickly add an important dimension to the Hoosier offense.

Overview

In what is shaping up to be one of Tom Crean's smallest recruiting classes since he arrived at Indiana, his efforts were clearly focused on adding long range shooting and players that could help handle the rock. To that end he was effective, signing two combo guards that will be able to stretch the floor and play behind Yogi Ferrell in Robert Johnson and the aforementioned James Blackmon Jr. Max Hoetzel will have a chance to grow into a role player over the coming years.

Biggest Miss

Goodluck Okonoboh, C, UNLV - The Hoosiers were the favorites to land the talented post defender until the 11th hour, when UNLV won Okonoboh over on his official visit. Goodluck would've added post depth to what could be a thin front court for the Hoosiers if the bouncy Noah Vonleh declares for the NBA draft.

Remaining Targets

Indiana is still after JaQuan Lyle and Dante Exum, two of the top guards remaining in the 2014 class. Indiana's involvement with Lyle has been hot and cold for years, and according to JaQuan the Hoosiers have again cooled on his recruitment. Exum took his first official visit, to Indiana, back in January of 2013 for Indiana's home win over the Golden Gophers. Though there is reason to believe Exum really likes the Hoosiers, no one expects him to play college basketball because he is projected near the top of the NBA draft lottery and he is eligible to declare for the draft.

4. Michigan

Name Position Height/Weight 247sports Composite Rankings
Kameron Chatman
SF 6'6", 197 lbs 32
D.J. Wilson
SF 6'8", 200 lbs 161
Ricky Doyle PF 6'9", 235 lbs 197
Austin Hatch SG 6'9", 214 lbs N/A
Crown Jewel of the Class

Kameron Chatman, SF - Chatman's commitment was a welcome relief for the Wolverines, who had recently missed out on Vincent Edwards and would go on to fail to land Donte Grantham, Trevon Bluiett, Devon Booker, and Kevon Looney. Kameron isn't a bad consolation prize at all though. Chatman has excellent length and dribbles very well for his size. His soft touch will expand with time, but he should be effective offensively early on in his career.

Overview

Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III could potentially leave Ann Arbor to seek their fortunes in the NBA after the conclusion of this season, so John Beilein needed to bring in some high-caliber offensive players with this group. Chatman fits the bill there, but Wilson and Doyle will likely take more time than Kameron to impact Michigan's outcomes. This class should be good in time, but it's not the sort of impact that will enable Beilein to replace Robinson and McGary seamlessly.

Biggest Miss

Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky - Long thought to be deciding between Michigan and Missouri, Booker's defection to Kentucky was somewhat surprising. It's tough to be too surprised when John Calipari pulls a top recruit, but Booker's father played at Missouri and Michigan had been recruiting Booker for nearly Beilein's entire tenure. Booker wasn't an essential piece for the Wolverines, who should return Stauskas next season, but Devin would've helped open up the floor for Chatman and Derrick Walton Jr. even more.

Remaining Targets

None. John Beilein didn't get everything he wanted out of this class, but Michigan avoided the sort of major strikeout that could've left a young Wolverines club in danger of missing the NCAA tournament next year. This group should give the Maize and Blue enough punch to get over that hump, even if only barely.

5. Purdue

Name Position Height/Weight 247sports Composite Rankings
Isaac Haas
C 7'1", 285 lbs 83
Vincent Edwards
SF 6'7", 198 lbs 115
Dakota Mathias SG 6'5", 190 lbs 199
Jacquil Taylor PF 6'9", 205 lbs 240
Crown Jewel of the Class

Dakota Mathias, SG - Mathias isn't the highest rated prospect Painter pulled to West Lafayette in this class, but his shooting should help the Boilermakers continue to address their biggest need - perimeter shooting. Kendall Stephens has already helped open things up some for the Black and Gold, but Purdue still needs more help there and Dakota will help provide it.

Overview

Isaac Haas, the last player Painter signed in this class, was a huge pickup. Though Purdue could retain the services of variable big man AJ Hammons next season, Haas will give Matt Painter another viable option when Hammons' head isn't in the game. Edwards is another athletic player that is skilled around the basket and Dakota Mathias's shooting should work well when playing beside Ronnie Johnson and Kendall Stephens.

Biggest Miss

Trevon Bluiett, SG, Xavier - Though Bluiett played in high school with Indiana lead guard Yogi Ferrell, he always seemed more partial to Notre Dame and Purdue. Bluiett's height and scoring ability would help him to fit in anywhere, but on a Purdue roster in need of consistent outside shooting he could've found plenty of early minutes despite the presence of Dakota Mathias and Kendall Stephens. Stephens and Mathias should lead Purdue to the best shooting numbers they've posted in years, but you can never have too many guys that can make threes.

Remaining Targets

None. Matt Painter needed to continue to build off of the positive momentum he has reestablished on the recruiting trail lately and he was able to do that with this group of commitments.

6. Illinois

Name Position Height/Weight 247sports Composite Rankings
Leron Black
PF 6'7", 215 lbs 42
Michael Finke PF 6'9", 210 lbs 186
Crown Jewel of the Class

Leron Black, PF - Black plays with tenacity and is at his best running the floor in transition, where he displays an intuitive understanding of spacing and passing lanes. His size may be something of an impairment defensively, but his willingness to outwork his opponents will mute that deficiency somewhat.

Overview

This class didn't turn out to be what John Groce had hoped for. Cliff Alexander faked out Illini fans before choosing to become a Kansas Jayhawk. Quentin Snider gave the Illini a verbal commitment a few weeks before pledging, and signing, to Louisville on the first day of the early signing period. Illinois did bring in some talent with this class though. Black and Michael Finke will work in the post together for the next four years most likely.

Biggest Miss

Quentin Snider, PG, Louisville - Unlike James Blackmon Jr.'s decommitment, no one was predicting that Snider would change his mind. Then, on signing day no less, Quentin quickly decided that he'd rather play for the school he originally committed to and again chose to play his college basketball for the Louisville Cardinals. Tracy Abrams will be back for the Illini next season, and he may be settling in a bit after an erratic and uneven start to the season, Illinois will need another point guard and soon. Jaylon Tate is and will continue to be a nice change of pace player as compared to Abrams, but I'm not certain he's athletic enough to be an ideal lead guard for John Groce.

Remaining Targets

Malik Yarbourough still has an Illini offer, but I haven't seen anything to indicate that the Illini are still after him. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Illinois make some noise in the late signing period, but I don't think they're likely to sign Malik.

7. Northwestern

Name Position Height/Weight 247sports Composite Rankings
Victor Law
SF 6'7", 195 lbs 71
Bryant McIntosh PG 6'2", 180 lbs 203
Scott Lindsey SF 6'5", 175 lbs 299
Gavin Skelly PF 6'8", 200 lbs 314
Crown Jewel of the Class

Victor Law, SF - Victor Law may be the most talented recruit that Northwestern has ever drawn to Evanston. As the only "BCS" program to have never made the NCAA tournament, the early returns on Doug Collins, as a recruiter at least, are very positive. Law's strength in the transition game and his ability to push the ball on the fast break will aid Collins in installing the offense he wants to run for his Wildcats.

Overview

Chris Collins is starting to revamp the level of athleticism at Northwestern and it starts with this class. Victor Law is the centerpiece, but Bryant McIntosh will also be an important player for Collins right away. Dave Sobolewski has not played well under Collins and recently lost his starting spot to JerShon Cobb, who is more of a combo guard but is a better fit for Collins' system than Sobolewski. Ideally, Chris would probably rather see Cobb work off the ball so McIntosh should have a chance to step in and compete for the starting point guard spot. Gavin Skelly may be pressed into early service, out of necessity, but that's not preferable for any of the involved parties.

Biggest Miss

None. Sure, the wildcats missed out on a couple players that could've helped them, but Collins really did a good job to get the guys he did get and all of the players he missed on were long shots.

Remaining Targets

None. Collins is looking forward to the future after pumping a bit more talent and athleticism into his lineup.

8. Michigan State

Name Position Height/Weight 247sports Composite Rankings
Lourawls Nairn Jr.
PG 5'10", 165 lbs 102
Javon Bess SF 6'5", 185 lbs 208
Crown Jewel of the Class

Lourawls Nairn Jr., PG - Nairn is an explosive point guard with excellent speed on the floor and a pass-first mentality. Lourawls Nairn Jr. will need to be effective for Tom Izzo right away, as Keith Appling will have exhausted his eligibility at the end of the season. Lourawls should be fine distributing the ball but I'd be surprised if his offensive game, which is predicated on driving the lane, is something that he'll be able to rely on early in his collegiate career.

Overview

Though it's more important that Nairn finds a way to contribute right away, Michigan State will probably lose Gary Harris after this season in addition to Adreian Payne and Appling. Izzo will need to replace a lot of scoring and will need as many hands on deck as he can find. Javon Bess is a strong forward that can handle the ball a bit, but will probably contribute off of the bench in his first few seasons. Izzo can't be pleased about the talent level of this group when he compares them to the players that will be leaving his program.

Biggest Miss

Cliff Alexander, PF, Kansas - Tom Izzo was the first major player to get after Cliff Alexander, and was long presumed to be the favorite to land him. As his recruitment drew to a close, however, Izzo and the Spartans were dropped from consideration. With as much playing time as Izzo will have to offer in his front court after Payne graduates from the program, it's puzzling that Izzo wasn't an option for Alexander by the time Cliff was ready to commit.

Remaining Targets

Michigan State has thrown their hat in the ring for the tall and talented JaQuan Lyle, but JaQuan seems to be leaning towards Kansas at this point. Lyle isn't likely to make his decision until late in the spring, so MSU has time to win him over if they press for him.

9. Minnesota

Name Position Height/Weight 247sports Composite Rankings
Nate Mason Jr.
PG
6'1", 180 lbs 172
Josh Martin PF
6'9", 225 lbs 220
Carlos Morris SG
6'5", 175 lbs 15(Juco)
Crown Jewel of the Class

Josh Martin, PF - Josh Martin is a big, versatile power forward that will be able to help Minnesota both on the block and with shooting inside the arc. An underrated athlete, Martin runs the floor well and is aggressive on the boards. He may not start as a freshman, but he will play.

Overview

Like Collins at Northwestern, Rich Pitino will need to overhaul his roster and increase the athleticism he has on hand if he wants to press as often as he'd like to. Nate Mason Jr. has terrific speed and should be able to focus on his scoring in his first season as he is likely to be brought off the bench behind Deandre Mathieu.

Biggest Miss

Josh Perkins, PG, Gonzaga - Josh Perkins may be talented enough to supplant Deandre Mathieu instead of supporting him like Nate Mason probably will. Perkins runs an uptempo system in high school, which could mean a smoother transition to the collegiate level for him. Nate certainly isn't a bad player, but he's not Perkins' equal as an athlete or as a passer.

Remaining Targets

Minnesota has made the list of 7 schools that the extremely explosive Rashad Vaughn is considering. If Vaughn did commit to Minnesota, he'd be a star right away and would have an opportunity to be the focal point of their offense from day one. Reportedly, Vaughn is more interested in UNLV and Iowa State, but Kentucky has recently attempted to reengage Rashad and he's been open to their overtures so far.

10. Rutgers

Name Position Height/Weight 247sports Composite Rankings
D.J. Foreman
PF
6'8", 215 lbs 123
Mike Williams SG 6'2", 180 lbs 216
Crown Jewel of the Class

D.J. Foreman, PF - If Rutgers wants to compete in the Big Ten, their best bet is to pick up highly athletic but raw players like D.J. Foreman and hope to develop their skills over the course of four or five years. Foreman will not be a major scorer for Rutgers for a while, but he will be a factor defensively and will get the time to work out his offensive game as long as he's willing to work hard.

Overview

Mike Williams and Foreman aren't the sort of players that will have Rutgers competing for an NCAA bid next year and maybe not the year afterwards either. Eddie Jordan will have to work with these guys and make sure they're putting in plenty of extra work if he expects either of these guys to become upper echelon Big Ten talents.

Biggest Miss

Isaiah Whitehead, SG, Seton Hall - Before Isaiah Whitehead signed on to become a Seton Hall pirate, rumors swirled that he would select Rutgers, and then Saint John's. Allegedly, Whitehead was steered towards Seton Hall because the Pirates' head honcho, Kevin Willard, was willing to offer Isaiah's high school coach Tiny Morton an assistant coaching position. If that's the case, you can hardly blame Jordan for missing on Whitehead, but that doesn't change the fact that a scorer as gifted and prolific as Whitehead could've instantly changed Eddie Jordan's program.

Remaining Targets

None. Rutgers missed out on some high level prospects in this class, but they're hoping to gain their footing with their next recruiting class.

11. Wisconsin

Name Position Height/Weight 247sports Composite Rankings
Ethan Happ
SF 6'7", 175 lbs 143
Crown Jewel of the Class

Ethan Happ, SF - Bo Ryan made my work easy here. Ethan Happ is Wisconsin's only recruit.

Overview

Happ isn't going to play for the Badgers in his first season. In fact, he may redshirt. Ultra-smooth scoring machine Sam Dekker is a good bet to return to Madison for his junior season, which will leave Wisconsin very deep in the wings.

Biggest Miss

Kevon Looney, SF, UCLA - There's no shame in losing a recruit to a program with a pedigree like UCLA's, even if Kevon Looney is from Wisconsin. Though Looney is from the area, the Badgers were never favored to secure his commitment. Defensively, Looney would've taken Wisconsin to an even higher level and he would've been impossible to keep out of the lane when working off of Sam Dekker.

Remaining Targets

None. Wisconsin was after Rashad Vaughn, like many programs, but he was dropped them from his list in recent months.

12. Nebraska

Name Position Height/Weight 247sports Composite Rankings
Jacob Hammond
PF
6'10", 235 lbs 145
Crown Jewel of the Class

Jacob Hammond, PF - Hammond was a major coup for the Cornhuskers, who have struggled mightily on the recruiting trail despite several recent major facilities investments. Jacob Hammond was once committed to the Oklahoma Sooners.

Overview

Jacob is a large, physical forward whose game is predicated on his athleticism moreso than his skill level. Though his shot is a work in process to say the least, he does seem to have some touch around the rim which suggests he'll be able to develop at least a short range jumper over time.

Biggest Miss

Elbert Robinson, C, LSU - Elbert was one of the few high level players that paid attention when Tim Miles and the Nebraska Cornhuskers called. His big body would've anchored Nebraska's defense from the moment he set foot on campus to the moment he left, but Robinson opted to stay a bit closer to home and play for the Tigers.

Remaining Targets

13. Penn State

Name Position Height/Weight 247sports Composite Rankings
Shep Garner
PG 6'2", 180 lbs 173
Isaiah Washington
SG 6'4", 180 lbs 308
Crown Jewel of the Class

Shep Garner, PG - Ready or not, Shep Garner may get tossed into the fire next year under Pat Chambers, who is losing one of the most talented point guards Penn State has even had after this season.

Overview

In a perfect world, Pat Chambers would like a year or two to let Shep Garner and Isaiah Washington acclimate to the level of speed, strength, and size involved in the college game, but he may not have that luxury once next season arrives. This isn't the sort of class that is likely to be able to contribute right away.

Biggest Miss

Ja'Quan Newton, PG, Miami - Most prospects as promising as Ja'Quan Newton wouldn't even briefly consider the Nittany Lions, but the prodigal son of Pittsburgh did just that before eventually declaring for Miami. Ja'Quan would've been able to slide right into the space vacated by Tim Frazier and he would've gotten a chance to shoot the ball to his heart's content.

Remaining Targets

Penn State would still love to land Melvin Swift, but Swift is thought to prefer the Connecticut Huskies.

14. Iowa

Name Position Height/Weight 247sports Composite Rankings
Brady Ellingson
SG 6'3", 176 lbs 236
Dominique Uhl PF 6'8", 180 lbs 243
Crown Jewel of the Class

Dominique Uhl, PF - The rangy forward will need to put on weight before he has a chance to be effective at the college level. Until then, he'll be able to bring energy to the game off the bench and he'll be able to use his length to contest shots when he isn't being pushed under the basket. Thankfully Adam Woodbury will still be around to protect the paint and limit Uhl's opportunities to be posterized.

Overview

Iowa's fans should make sure they fully appreciate everything Roy Devyn Marble, Zach McCabe, and Melsahn Basabe have done for their program, because I know Fran McCaffery will miss them dearly. Iowa is going to lose a good bit of production and these two won't be ready to fill in for their graduating class. Luckily for Iowa, they will have a few seniors next year as well and their rising juniors will be talented enough to keep Brady Ellingson and Dominique Uhl glued to the bench where they belong for their first year or two.

Biggest Miss

Tyler Ullis, PG, Kentucky - Kentucky has been a thorn in the side of more than just Indiana lately. Fran McCaffery had been recruiting Ullis for longer than anyone else. He knew the Ullis family personally. After years of trying to pull Tyler to Iowa City, the race appeared to be coming down to Michigan State and Iowa. Then Emmanuel Mudiay chose Southern Methodist University over Kentucky and forced John Calipari to scramble for a plan B. After John recruited Tyler for just a few weeks, Ullis spurned Tom Izzo and McCaffery in favor of the Kentucky Wildcats. At Iowa, Ullis would've been the speedy point that Fran had always wanted, most likely supplanting Gessell as the lead guard. Instead, Ullis will run the show at Kentucky and provide Calipari's program with some stability over the coming years.

Remaining Targets

Like many others, Iowa has extended an offer to the mercurial JaQuan Lyle. For what it's worth, Cliff Alexander is convinced that Lyle will join forces with him at Kansas.

Next year's crop of freshman is very promising, and could be the best collection of talent the Big ten has welcomed since the 2012 class, which looks like it will produce a handful of NBA players. Rutgers will struggle in their first few years of Big Ten play, but Maryland is bringing in enough talent to compete for the conference title as soon as next year. If a few NBA quality players like Noah Vonleh and Sam Dekker stick around, next year's conference race would be even tighter than it was in 2011-12 and 2012-13, if possible.

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