Originally Published: November 8, 2010

The 11 story lines for the Class of 2011

By Dave Telep, ESPN Recruiting

Over the next few days, we're going to inundate you with rankings, trends and analysis. We're going to spin signing day a thousand different ways. Before we overload you with information, this is a good time to break down the Class of 2011 from 11 different angles.

[+] Enlarge
ESPN RISEAustin Rivers is the right guy at the right time for Duke.

The Calipari effect
This season, the SEC added four top-10 recruits and eight players in the top 25 of the ESPNU 100. That's the most of any league in America and Kentucky is a driving force behind the numbers. The Wildcats have three of the top six players, and four of the top 16. In fact, in the two years prior to John Calipari's arrival, the league signed just four top-10 players and seven top-25 prospects. During the three years Calipari has been in the SEC, the league has 11 top-10 prospects and 19 top-25 players. Basically an entire league has stepped up its game in response to UK's recruiting success.

Who will finish No. 1?
Austin Rivers is the most lethal scorer in the senior class. Since his freshman season he has sported a scoring package that belies his age. So far, it has worked pretty well for him as he currently sits atop the ESPNU 100. The player in his rearview mirror is Anthony Davis. The fastest-rising late bloomer of the decade is every bit the prospect and he'd dazzle the NBA guys if they saw him. With Michael Gilchrist and Quincy Miller in the conversation, buckle up for a great year.

Gone, baby, gone
When Myck Kabongo recommitted to Texas last week, he helped the Horns beat the odds. Within the Class of 2011, 32 players reneged on verbal commitments. Only Kabongo and center Chris Coleman (committed to Florida International) made their way back to their original schools. If your favorite team loses a commitment, by our math, there's a mere 6 percent chance of getting him back. Ouch.

Team game
The Big East's reputation on the hardwood is well-earned. It's a league that sports Hall of Fame coaching and lots of tournament bids. It's also a league that doesn't need to do it with top-10 high school players. That's right, in the past five years the Big East signed three top-10 prospects, tying with the Big Ten for the fewest among the power conferences. By comparison, the SEC has 15, the Big 12 10 and the ACC nine. "I do think, in the Big East, more than star players, there are star teams," former St. John's coach Norm Roberts said. "In the Big 12, you might see more star players but not as many star teams. Villanova, Pittsburgh, those are star teams and there's more of that in the Big East."

Knights time
Rutgers coach Mike Rice didn't inherit a pretty situation. He had playing time to sell and needed a talent infusion, so Rice returned to his roots and now has a top-15 recruiting class coming in. Four of his signees are from the fertile New York/New Jersey region, two more are Washington, D.C., products. His D.C. corridor connection is associate head coach David Cox, a former D.C. Assault coach. Two of the seven recruits are in the ESPNU 100, but that's not important. The key here is that this class was needed and Rice delivered the goods a year ahead of schedule.

Arkansas spreads its Wings
The Hogs needed a big-time recruiting class and coach John Pelphrey and his staff got it done. Adding players and talent is one thing, but recruiting built-in chemistry with a penchant for winning is another. Three of Arkansas' signees played on the Arkansas Wings national championship AAU team. Another, point guard B.J. Young, led his squad to a fifth-place finish in the same event. Pelphrey capitalized on the local talent in a year he needed a big class and won't have to worry about the intangible of winning with this group.

Perfect fit
Regardless of whether Duke defends its national championship in April, Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils will undergo a makeover. Seniors Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler are gone, exiting after distinguished careers. Frankly, the idea of Kyrie Irving in Durham for more than a season looks like a pipe dream. Enter Rivers, the perfect guy for a bridge season from a chemistry standpoint. Next season Duke will need a dominant offensive personality and Rivers is just that, a dominant offensive personality.

Hitting the boards
Last year, picking the best rebounder was easy. Jared Sullinger, now at Ohio State, was hands down the guy who patrolled the paint with a passion for the glass. This time around, the task is tougher. In theory, the ESPNU 100 should include at least 40 bigs. This year, the senior class is shallow in the frontcourt and less than a third of our top 100 slots were reserved for guys with size. The class lacks a dominant power player in the paint. Right now, the best offensive rebounder is Branden Dawson, while the most instinctive board man in the class overall may be Dorian Finney-Smith. Dawson is 6-6 and Finney-Smith is 6-7; this isn't a good sign for college basketball. If you're looking for a Kevin Love or Emeka Okafor you're in the wrong class.

Going For The Gold
Kobe, LeBron and D-Wade are making an impact at the high school level. It's cool to play for USA. The junior and senior national teams were strongly supported by the Class of 2011. USA captured a pair of gold medals last summer and was powered by 11 of ESPN's top 25 seniors, including seven players from the top 10. Canada's program was bolstered by Kabongo and Kyle Wiltjer. The 6-foot-9 Wiltjer has dual citizenship and opted to play for Canada with the hopes of making its Olympic team one day.

Syracuse puts premium on size
The shortest player Syracuse signed in the past five years was Jonny Flynn (6 feet) and he blossomed into a lottery pick. Aside from Flynn, it's pretty clear that Jim Boeheim's preference is slanted toward size and length. Last year, he went all in for aircraft carrier Fab Melo. This time around, Boeheim added Rakeen Christmas, an above-the-rim shot-blocker with good length. The Cuse also added Michael Carter-Williams (6-5), who is right up its alley with his extendable wing span. A guy like 6-4 Trevor Cooney is going to get a complex.

Power outage?
When you add up the numbers, the ACC, SEC and Big 12 combined to sign 17 of the top 25 prospects in America this time around. The Big Ten, Big East and Pac-10 fell behind in the arms race this season and there's cause for long term concern. In the past five classes, the SEC has the most top-10 players with 15. The Big 12 has 10 and the ACC comes in with nine. Combined, the Big Ten, Pac-10 and Big East have just 11.

The Best Of The Best

ESPN Recruiting

While the majority of the players in the ESPNU 100 have already committed, that doesn't mean every one of them is a household name. ESPN Recruiting has been watching their development for years and offers in-depth evaluations of all the nation's top players.

Complete ESPNU 100 | Position Rankings: PG | SG | SF | PF | C

Top Classes

By ESPN Recruiting

Kentucky Wildcats
Let's see ... three of the top six players in the country and four of the top 16 have committed to play for Kentucky. Is that any good? A class that includes PF Anthony Davis, SF Michael Gilchrist, PG Marquis Teague and PF Kyle Wiltjer will be tough for anyone to top.

Duke Blue Devils
Landing the nation's best player will help any class ranking, but this class is more than just SG Austin Rivers. There's an elite PG in Quinn Cook and a familiar name at center in 6-foot-11 Marshall Plumlee, who will joins his brothers Miles and Mason at Durham. Also add in smooth-scoring 6-6 wing Michael Gbinije to this impressive class.

Arkansas Razorbacks
Perhaps the biggest surprises of the class rankings, but this is no fluke. The Hogs have five-star PG B.J. Young, plus three four-star players in SG Ky Madden, SF Aaron Ross and 6-10 PF Hunter Mickelson (Jonesboro, Ark./Westside). Don't forget Devonte Abron, a high three-star PF.

Complete Top 25 Class Rankings

Three to watch

ESPN Recruiting

Kansas Jayhawks
It wasn't a make-or-break year for the Jayhawks on the recruiting trail, but one has to think Bill Self is anxious to sign a big-timer. They're involved with ESPNU 100 power forward Angelo Chol (San Diego, Calif./Hoover), who he will sign late. The Jayhawks' lone chance for an early period splash is wing Ben McLemore (Mouth of Wilson, Va./Oak Hill), who has the Jayhawks and Missouri Tigers on his list.

Tennessee Vols
The Volunteers have a pair of players committed and both are expected to sign. There's a signing ceremony for Chris Jones (Oak Ridge, N.C./Oak Ridge Military) on Wednesday at his school. Guard Kevin Ware (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County) is committed to Bruce Pearl and was on campus two weeks ago. Both have national letters of intent in their possession and despite NCAA investigation, remain on board.

Butler Bulldogs
For those of you who guessed coach Brad Stevens would blow up his recruiting model following the Final Four, you guessed wrong. Stevens approached this year the "Butler Way" and signed another class that mimics what the program is all about. Butler is a finalist for Cody Zeller (Washington, Ind./Washington) and he's a top-20 prospect who will sign early with either the Bulldogs, Hoosiers or Tar Heels.

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?