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December 2, 2005
In case you haven't noticed, the class of 2007 is quickly shrinking at the top and several schools are securing their classes for next year, making their summer plans a little more relaxed that usual.
2007 classes shaping up
You can't really fault Jim Boeheim for taking the job as Mike Krzyzewski's assistant coach for the USA men's basketball team. His work on the recruiting trail is already done for next season. The Hall of Famer already has four commitments in the class of 2007. He's locked up commitments from forwards Donte Green and Richard Jackson and guards Antonio Jardine and Johnny Flynn.
The Orange lead the way in 2007 with the most commitments, allowing his assistants to do more evaluating in the class of 2008. Besides, Boeheim is a rare sight come July. Ah, the benefits of being a Hall of Famer.
It's too bad Boeheim has a summer job now. Maryland's Gary Williams needs a golfing partner. Williams has been busy this fall as well in the class of 2007. He secured a pair of verbal commitments this week in Philly guard Jeff Jones and Baltimore forward Dino Gregory who followed his city mate Braxton Dupree to College Park.
Jones is a major coup, considering how quick the Terps jumped into the race for his services. He was looking hard at Georgia Tech, Villanova and Virginia but three straight trips to Maryland's campus helped him realize he wanted to stay close to home and play in the ACC. Mix this 2007 group with the 2006 signees (Eric Hayes, Greivis Vasquez, Landon Milbourne and Jerome Burney) and the Terps have their best back-to-back recruiting classes in years.
Billy Donovan beat everyone to the punch in the junior class. He secured a pair of commitments back in the spring from an in-staters Nick Calathes and Gary Clark, his future backcourt.
Arizona has the cornerstone of it's future locked up. Jerryd Bayless, the best in-state prospect since Mike Bibby said yes to Lute Olson just last month. The five-star guard picked the Wildcats shortly after California center Alex Jacobson did. Olson has been busy hosting juniors on campus already this season for unofficial visits.
Mike Beasley, one of the best prospects in the class of 2007, has been concrete in his pledge to the Charlotte 49ers despite pressure to go to a high-major conference school. Bobby Lutz also has a commitment from Kenyan Harmon, a South Carolina native.
Seton Hall has even joined in on a the fun. Quincy Owens, a reclassified forward from Milwaukee now at Cincy's Harmony Prep, picked the Pirates in the summer. Orlando Allen, another Cincy big man, committed to Seton Hall
So why the rush in decisions from the youngsters? There are a number of reasons. One, the process is expedited as more and more spring events pop up. April has become the new July. Coaches are evaluating kids earlier and asking for earlier pledges, particularly before school gets out in May or June. Two, the seniors are already gone. Three, the elite players are all playing up on the 17 and under circuit. Nearly all of the aforementioned prospects played up against the class of 2006 last summer.
Get your elite guards now
Derrick Rose can thank Eric Gordon for all of the new found attention he'll be getting this weekend at the Marshall County Hoopsfest. Gordon, the No. 5 ranked player in the nation, just gave a verbal pledge to the University of Illinois.
Gordon's pick was the most anticipated commitment in Bruce Weber's reign as the Illini head man. His misses, particularly with the homegrown talent, are well-documented so when Gordon announced he'd be headed to Champaign instead of Duke or Notre Dame, Iowa and Purdue, the attention shifted to Rose.
Not only is Rose is the best guard on the board, he's the best player in Chicago, according to the city's basketball mavens and Illinois can't let another Chicago kid leave the state. Sherron Collins did. He's going to suit up for Bill Self at Kansas and Jon Scheyer is the latest Illinois prospect to bolt for Duke.
What will Rose do? Hard to say, really. But rest assured he'll exhaust all of his resources before making his decision. Ironically, Rose matches up with Gordon this season but first he'll square off against UNC bound point guard Tywon Lawson in Kentucky on Friday night.
With Gordon, Bayless, Alex Legion (Michigan) Jardine and Calathes, all top 35 prospects, gone, their guard counterparts are dropping at a fervent pace.
Time to hand out the props
The high-majors get all of the love. But just in case you haven't noticed, the high-majors are getting beat on a regular pace by the mid and low-majors. Why? Some call it parody. But it's probably just good 'ole recruiting.
Nevada is a bracket buster because of the coaching staff's ability to land players that everyone else passed on. Point guard Ramon Sessions left the South Carolina coast for Reno. Nick Fazekas is an All-American but didn't have a national rep while in high school.
Neither does Chicago 6-foot-11 combo forward JaVale McGee, 6-foot-8 San Diego forward Matt Lagrone and 6-foot-3 Texas shooting guard Brandon Fields. Together, the trio has a chance to make a splash in Reno. Especially McGee, who can play on the wing and shoot from long range. There are few players in the WAC that can defend a player with his size on the wing.
Central Florida Memphis (Tenn.) Mitchell is headlined by Thaddeus Young and Brandon Powell but the team's success also hinges on forward Andre Thornton. He's a strong rebounder at 6-foot-6 and an even better student. He was waiting on Stanford to come around but Central Florida was able to sweep in and get the early signature.
The Golden Knights were able to snag a real sleeper from their own backyard. Tony Davis, a 6-foot-7 small forward from Riverview High School in Sarasota, may not be a national name but he's an incredibly versatile player. Over the summer, he showed that he can put it on the floor, score from the wing, rebound and even play the point.
UCF still has three spots to fill and they are looking at the JUCO level for some instant impact big men. Now Kirk Speraw and his staff are hoping they can take a page from George O'Leary and the football team in the win column and make it back to the NCAA tourney.
Rhode Island is putting together a team that will contend for the top spot in the Atlantic 10. Jim Baron and his staff have a stud coming to Kingston in 6-foot-7 small forward Delroy James. He's a do-everything player that teams have a difficult time trying to defend because of his ability to go in or out, ball-handling skills and overall feel for the game.
James has great bloodlines, too. His older brother Shawn led the nation in blocked shots as a freshman last year at Northeastern. James is just one of six players to commit to the A-10 school this year.