Welcome to another weekly edition of Recruiting Round-Up. The fourth of July was six days ago, but the fireworks continued to explode along the recruiting trail. This week features two verbal committments, more offers, a preview of Illinois' Class of 2015, player profiles, interviews, video mixtapes, and recruiting updates.
Meet the Big Ten's newest shout outs in "Big Giant" Kaleb Wesson (Ohio State) and "Gentle Giant" Barret Benson (Northwestern). There has been a pipeline of dominant Big Ten centers, the likes of Mychal Thompson, Kent Benson, Roy Tarpley, Herb Williams, and Walt Bellamy, to name a few.
Imagine the post wars between these two BIGS down the road. I don't know about some folks, but I miss watching when the point guard would lob it inside, everybody clear out, and let the big fellows do battle.
2017 4-Star Kaleb Wesson 6-9/260 Center
Kaleb Wesson accepted an offer to follow in his dad's (Keith) footsteps, who played for the Buckeyes in the 1980s, and play college basketball for Ohio State. Kaleb is a tremendous athlete who played both football and basketball for Westerville South (OH) for two seasons. He plans to focus on basketball his junior and senior years.
As a sophomore, the 15-year-old helped lead South to a 27-2 record and a berth in the Division I state championship game. The Wildcats lost to Huber Heights Wayne 65-57, but Wesson had a team-high 15 points and seven rebounds.
Wesson had 17 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocked shots in a semifinal victory over Garfield Heights, 60-57. On the year, he averaged 11.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per game.
Catch a glimpse of what Kaleb Wesson will bring to the Buckeye Nation.
Wesson reminds me of a 6' 7" Wes Unseld (Louisville, 1965-1968) type of center, the way he uses his body to create separation for both scoring and rebounding. He has a nifty spin move and great footwork in the paint.
He does a nice job of keeping the ball above his head and finishing strong. He demonstrates the ability to shoot with his right or left hand. He can post on either block. He can create for other teammates with excellent interior passing.
He is a true post presence on offense and defense with his shot-blocking capabilities. The only concern may be his stamina and/or fitness level. His size and strength should open the floor for more inside-outside action for Ohio State. Read more.
2016 4-Star Barret Benson 6-9/240 Center
There's plenty of optimism surrounding Wildcat Nation. The Class of 2016 delivered a guard, a forward, and now, they've received their old-school post player in Benson. He hails from Hinsdale South (IL) where he averaged 19.5 points and 10.6 rebounds his junior season. 247/Sports Player Composite ranks him as the #12 center in the nation.
This interview was from a year ago when the offers started rolling in. Little did anybody know, Northwestern would be his pledge.
He shows great footwork in the paint, has developed a mid-range jumper to add to his repertoire, and is a strong contributor on the glass. His frame has plenty of room for added muscle weight..
Benson is at his best with his back to the basket where he displays an impressive array of jump hooks and up-and-unders. He sees the floor and does a nice job with cross-court passing to open perimeter players before the double-team happens. Once again, like Wesson for OSU, Northwestern will be able to establish more inside-outside stuff in the half-court offense.
On defense, he is an imposing figure in the paint with a solid skill set. Benson can block and/or alter shots and clog the middle. Overall, he is dominant on the boards and provides the role of a traditional center's game with his size, strength, and a nice set of moves.
Benson faces the same issue as Wesson in that he needs to improve his conditioning so as to keep pace with Chris Collins' up-tempo style. Read more.
Breaking Down Illinois' 2015 Class
Over the next several weeks, BT Powerhouse will break down each Big Ten school in order of their rankings. Last week was #1 Ohio State, this week it's #2 Illinois, and #3 Michigan State is on deck next Friday.
John Groce's coaching career at Illinois has been a whirlwind experience. His first year the Illini finished 23-13, losing in the third round of the NCAA tournament. His second season Illinois dropped to a 20-15 record with a NIT appearance. This past season the Blue and Orange slipped to 19-14, losing in the first round of the NIT to Alabama.
Conversely, his 2013 recruiting class was ranked #21 nationally and #3 in the Big Ten with five commits. Groce was able to muster only two commits in the 2014 class for a #6 ranking in the conference. This 2015 class is arguably his best effort to date with three 4-Stars and one 3-Star and a ranking of #16 nationally and second in the Big Ten.
In between, as many as six players have transferred out. Groce may or may not be on the "hot seat", but with the edition of Jalen Coleman, Aaron Jordan, DJ Williams, and Darius Paul, Illinois is poised for a 20 plus win total.
Illinois lost their leading scorer (16.5 ppg) and rebounder (6.5 rpg) in Rayvonte Rice to graduation, but the backcourt is solidified with Kendrick Nunn (11.1 ppg) and Malcolm Hill (14.4 ppg). The remaining three positions are up for grabs and that's why it's so important for this 2015 class to step up immediately.
If you have about 30 minutes, Groce talks about each of the four new recruits in detail.
DJ Williams can anchor the small forward position at 6' 6". He comes from historic Simeon (IL) High School. He can score from the perimeter as well as a nifty pull-up jumper from mid-range. And he is long enough to crash the offensive glass.
Darius Paul is a transfer from Lamar State (TX) and quite a cinderella story. If you want more details about it, read more. Anyway, Paul is a 6' 8" junior who should start immediately at power forward or center if Maverick Morgan can't produce his junior year. Morgan saw limited action last season.
At Lamar State he averaged 17.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. He is a threat to score inside or outside, very versatile, agile, and hostile.
Aaron Jordan is a pure shooter who drained an amazing 50 percent from 3-point-land at Plainfield East (IL) his senior season. In addition, the 6' 4" shooting guard converted 80 percent of his free throws. He has a quick trigger and can definitely light it up. He averaged over 20 points per game his final two seasons.
Check out his video. He shows tremendous leaping ability and athleticism. Perhaps the new "Air Jordan."
Jalen Coleman can play the point or shooting guard positions. He hails from La Lumiere School (IN). He has improved his play-making ability throughout his high school career. His final season with AAU All-Ohio Red the 6' 3" Coleman averaged 14.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and shot 46.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Jordan and Coleman should allow Groce to play some three-guard lineups and create mismatches on the perimeter. All four guards should compliment each other in strategic situations.
One thing is certain about Groce, he has been doing a great job of taking advantage of the in-state talent. Illinois is loaded with basketball players. Now the key is to translate top-notch recruiting classes with wins.
Big Ten, Big Offers, Big Names, Big News
7/9/2015: 2018 SG Tim Finke receives offer from Illinois
Finke is not yet rated, but has received two offers. He plays for Centennial in Champaign, IL, and is listed at 6' 4" and 180 lbs.
7/9/2015: 2017 SG Terrell Turner receives offer from Minnesota
Turner is a 3-Star from Miami, FL, where he plays for McArthur HS. He is ranked #122 nationally, #26 at shooting guard, and # 11 in Florida per 247/Sports. He has received seven offers, including Rutgers, Northern Arizona, and Memphis.
7/9/2015: 2018 PG Jahvon Quinerly receives offer from Penn State
Quinerly has received six offers, among them Cincinnati, St. John's, Seton Hall, and Villanova. The 6-footer hails from Hackensack, NJ, and attends Hudson Catholic. He already has a reputation as an excellent outside shooter with great handles. Check out his mixtape.
7/7/2015: 2016 C Barret Benson commits to Northwestern
7/7/2015: 2017 C Ikechukwu Obiagu receives offer from Purdue
Obiagu is a 5-Star 7-footer originally from Nigeria, but now lives in Decatur, GA. He is ranked #18 in the nation, #4 at center, and #2 in Georgia per 247/Sports. He has received 12 offers and counting, among them Kansas, Auburn, Virginia, Georgia, and Georgia Tech.
7/7/2015: 2016 PF Kassoum Yakwe receives offer from Maryland
Yakwe is a 4-Star ranked #6 in New York per 247/Sports. He attends Our Savior New American School and has received 19 offers, including Indiana, Rutgers, Oregon, Kansas, and Syracuse.
7/4/2015: 2018 SG Antwann Jones receives offer from Rutgers
Rutgers continues its Florida pipeline with Jones from Sickles HS in Tampa, FL. He is listed at 6' 5" and 190 lbs. He has received two offers, Rutgers and South Carolina.
7/3/2015: 2017 PF Kaleb Wesson commits to Ohio State
It was a pretty quiet week on the Big Ten front with only six offers. But there was plenty of bottle rockets when Kaleb Wesson and Barret Benson committed to their respective schools. Next Friday BT Powerhouse will break down Michigan State's incoming 2015 class plus more future Big Ten impact players.
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