On the recruiting trail, closer usually means easier. Granted, there's nothing wrong with shocking the world and plucking a commit from 3 time zones away, but coaches and flight planners alike will tell you they prefer the former. And with a wealth of talent on the east coast in 2016, some Big Ten coaches need not look very far. Let's see what options are available early.
The Scarlet Knights project to have 3 scholarships open for 2016. While New Jersey's top junior prospect, Tyus Battle, will likely leave the state in favor of a blueblood program, there is still more than a handful of talent for Eddie Jordan to pick from. Rutgers hopes its pursuit of instate superstar Isaiah Briscoe in 2015 will be a boon for their efforts down the road.
Bryce Aiken (Elizabeth, NJ) - Aiken's ability to cut to the rim makes him both a scoring and a passing threat. That's why he's already earned offers from multiple major conference programs, including Rutgers, Maryland, Auburn, and Miami. His recruitment could pick up as more teams realize what he brings to the table, despite his 5'10" height.
Breein Tyree (Metuchen, NJ) - Rutgers is one of many programs that looked into Tyree over the summer, but not many schools have offered just yet. Nevertheless, Tyree is another point guard who looks comfortable dishing the ball all over the floor. The Scarlet Knights could be one of the next to offer.
Temple Gibbs (West Orange, NJ) - Out of the three prospects mentioned, Gibbs probably has the hottest recruiting trail so far. He already has offers nationwide, including Rutgers, Virginia, Oklahoma, Miami, and USC. Gibbs has already taken numerous visits during the summer, so don't be surprised if his recruitment narrows down soon. Rutgers has some work to do, but could likely make an initial cut.
Head coach Pat Chambers, already almost finished assembling his 2015 class, has the most time on his hands to concentrate on 2016. PSU has a 2015 instate commit in Mike Watkins (Philadelphia, PA), and 3 scholarships left for 2016, after their early commitment from Joe Hampton.
Tony Carr (Philadelphia, PA) - Carr is currently ranked as the no. 69 overall player in his class, per the 247Sports Composite. Penn State has offered, but Maryland is in pursuit as well. Also keep an eye out for Nazeer Bostick who will be playing for Roman Catholic with Carr this season.
Lamar Stevens (Jenkintown, PA) - Another wing from just outside of Philly, Stevens plays for Haverford School. If that school sounds familiar, it probably should - PSU was among the final schools in the running for Levan Alston, a 2015 guard from Haverford, before Alston committed to Temple last week. This, plus offers from other major programs such as Indiana, St. Joseph's, and Villanova will make Stevens tough to land, but PSU isn't out of it just yet.
DeAndre Hunter (Philadelphia, PA) - At this point, it should be clear that most of Pennsylvania's 2016 stars (at least the discovered ones) are coming from the Philadelphia area. After a leg injury kept him out during his sophomore school year, Hunter performed well enough on the AAU circuit for the offers to come pouring in. PSU and Maryland are just two of many programs that have taken notice.
Currently, the Terrapins probably have the most question marks here. If Maryland were to fill up all of its 2015 scholarships, that would only leave 1 opening for 2016. However, the Terps have 6 open spots and no commits for 2015, so filling up those spots may not be likely, if even desirable. I wouldn't be surprised at this point to see Maryland go aggressively after transfers in the next offseason, and/or bank a scholarship for 2016. Regardless, there are still names to watch in the Maryland/DC area in 2016.
Anthony Cowan (Washington, DC) - Close enough, right? The #1 prospect in DC has been a major focus for Maryland thus far, and it seems the interest has been mutual. At this rate, he could very well be the first commit in the Terps' 2016 class. Cowan also holds offers from Xavier, Georgetown, Penn State, and Florida State.
Kodye Pugh (Baltimore, MD) - Per the 247Sports Composite Rankings, Pugh is the top-rated prospect in Maryland for 2016. Maryland hasn't offered just yet, but with the team potentially bare in the frontcourt in 2016, the tall combo forward may be a good fit.
Randall Broddie (Oxon Hill, MD) - Broddie is another 2016 point guard who has seen some interest from Maryland. Maryland, however, has not offered Broddie, as they have been more focused on Cowan so far. This opens the door for Penn State, who had Broddie in for an unofficial visit in September.