Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Who'll end up with 2014's top class?
By RecruitingNation staff
With only eight of the top 20 prospects in the ESPN 100 currently committed and a number of high-profile national programs like Kentucky, Kansas and Duke all still looking to make their mark in the Class of 2014, there is still a huge amount of unpredictability with only five weeks before the early signing period.
With that in mind, we asked our team of experts to give their take on which team will end up on top when the smoke clears:
ESPN 100 recruits Reid Travis and Tyus Jones could both land at Duke.
Paul Biancardi: This should come down to a race between two programs currently not in our class rankings -- Kansas and the Duke, which are vying for a few of the same elite prospects.
I will give Duke the edge because if they land ESPN No. 1 Jahlil Okafor and No. 4 Tyus Jones it will give the Blue Devils two top-five prospects, which could attract more top players to join them. They already have No. 24 Grayson Allen, who had a strong spring and summer circuit. When you have the two most important pieces of your roster in place (center and point guard), it opens the door for others to follow. Duke is also involved with Turner, Kevon Looney, Justise Winslow and Reid Travis. And don’t forget that Okafor, Jones and Winslow all visit Duke together on Oct. 25.
Adam Finkelstein: While the subject of package deals has certainly become a hot topic within this 2014 class, I’ve long been a believer that Okafor and Jones were going to end up together and likely at Duke. The context is especially important here as these are two guys whose bond is based on their time together with USA Basketball, and there obviously isn’t a program more connected to USA Basketball than the Blue Devils. But it might not stop there. Okafor and Jones have been openly recruiting Winslow, and their upcoming visit to Duke seems to suggest that there is developing momentum on that front. Add those three to Allen and you likely have the best class in the country. Throw Looney or Travis on board and it’s a no-brainer. And if you were to add Turner to that initial core, all of a sudden we’re comparing this group to some of the best classes in recruiting history.
Joel Francisco: As Ohio State and North Carolina cling to the top of the rankings, Duke and Kentucky could eventually overtake the Buckeyes and Tar Heels. If Duke works magic when Okafor, Jones and Winslow visit and adda Looney to the class with Allen, this will provide Mike Krzyzewski a class that could reach yet another Final Four. That being said, you can never count out John Calipari when it comes to luring recruits to Lexington. With Tyler Ulis committed to Kentucky, that leads me to believe that the Wildcats are out of it for Okafor and Jones. However, I fully expect Trey Lyles to cast his lot with the Wildcats to go along with current commitment Karl Towns Jr. and Ulis. In addition, Kentucky is right there along with Arizona for Stanley Johnson, and it wouldn't shock me to see James Blackmon Jr. follow his father's footsteps and sign with Kentucky. But even if the Wildcats land all that star power, I still expect Duke to be the top class come April.
John Stovall: If Duke can pull off the trifecta, it might go all the way to No. 1. Kentucky and Kansas should finish strong, but I do not think it will be enough. If Ohio State can get a big, it could also hold on to the top spot. Give the Buckeyes Myles Turner and they are easily No. 1. If they get a different quality big, they could hold on by a thread. If they get neither and other teams like Duke, Kentucky or Kansas hit home runs, there could be a lot of change at the top. It would take a big rankings change for North Carolina to get back to the top since it is done with this class (unless there is an absolute shocker somewhere).
Reggie Rankin: When it's all said and done, I see Duke landing the two best players (Okafor and Jones) at the two most important positions in basketball -- center and point guard. With Allen and possibly Winslow, Duke would storm to the top of the rankings if that happens. The Kansas Jayhawks are worth mentioning because Bill Self is a terrific recruiter. They will make it tough and land a monster class as well that could include Turner and/or Alexander. The Jayhawks have a reputation of finishing strong like they did by landing Andrew Wiggins last spring during the late period, but right now I see Duke as the program to beat when the top players in the 2014 class start to make their decisions.