|Tuesday, July 10
Updated: December 8, 11:16 AM ET
Duke committed to No. 1 class
By David Benezra and Mark Mayemura
Special to ESPN.com
The deck gets shuffled quite often in the fall with respect to teams rising and falling in recruiting. New commitments, not to mention more reflection and analysis, make for constant change.
Just as we once joked about Duke only having the sixth-rated class at the time, another commitment bumps them to the top of the list. Georgia Tech, Indiana, Memphis and Iowa State are also new renters on the top 10 floors.
Today is the first day recruits can sign letters of intent to schools for the 2002 class. The signing period continues through Nov. 21. Here are the top classes based on oral commitments given by recruits to schools.
Comment: The sum of these parts adds up to the best recruiting class thus far. Having said that, in our opinion, there is not a dominating player in this class, which is very "un-Duke." Williams, a hard-working power player whose skills have shown improvement over the last year is the top recruit. Dockery, a point guard who can handle is a close second. Thompson has really started to develop physically over the last year and will be the low post presence. Melchionni, who will walk-on next season, is underrated and only figures to get better. He has the best feel for the game out of this group. Redick is a great standstill shooter and a good athlete. Randolph is the most intriguing. He is skilled and has a world of potential. But he hasn't shown a lot of toughness or desire/competitiveness when viewed against physically aggressive players. He is a tall, athletic combo-forward who should be able to draw a big man away from the basket. He will definitely be a good player. The jury is out on how good. Individually, no one player grabs you, but these guys are "Dukies," if you know what we mean.
P.S.: A great coup for Mike Krzyzewski, especially in this era of the 5/8 scholarship rule (a maximum of five scholarships in one year, and maximum combination of eight scholarships in any consecutive two-year period), was to get Melchionni, a lifelong Duke fan, to agree to walk-on his freshman year. Melchionni, a crafty lefty, showed improved footspeed and conditioning this summer competing for the Tim Thomas Playaz.
Comment: Paul Davis is a great player, period. Davis knows how to play and can be effective from anywhere -- he's no stiff. He's dangerous going strong to the bucket and he's also got an outside stroke. Ager is a pure scorer. Athletic, above the rim and with a deadly mid-range game. We may be giving Rowley an inch, but he will do all the dirty work, a perfect role player up front. And Rowley showed off an improved outside stroke this summer for the Indy Warriors. All three are very competitive, self-motivated players who will have no adjustment problem in that area.
Comment: The only problem with Anthony is how long can the 'Cuse keep him? This kid is really talented. He is a tall perimeter player who will impact in a big way. McNamara will add his name to that long list of talented point guards to play for Syracuse. Gorman has upside and should be a nice complementary player.
Comment: A talented point guard always increases the value of a particular class. The Class of 2002 is loaded with quality point guards. Jarrett Jack is in that category. He has good size and strength and goes strong and effectively to the basket. He will step in and elevate Tech's program. Bosh's best basketball is years ahead, but Bosh is one of the nation's best frontcourt prospects right now, which tells you about his talent. Tarver is a developing player with a nice frame.
Comment: Others may question Strickland's ability to play the point position, but we are not among the doubters. He is a powerful guard who can enforce his will on others. Wright has always had the ability to drill it from outside and is now starting to become more effective at creating a shot for himself. This is a conference title-contending backcourt for Indiana.
Comment: Felton is an aggressive, athletic lead guard. McCant's is a great athlete whose skills are improving. In a role reversal, with these two, UNC has the type of athlete that has been killing them at Duke over the past several years. Can the Tar Heels now show deep sea fishing prowess and land a trophy tuna?
Comment: We have to be fair and give Memphis its due, although it is a one in a million shot that Stoudamire will ever put on the Memphis colors. NBA green is a better bet. This is a very athletic group with a potential impact player if Stoudamire plays in college. Hunt is an exciting athlete who should provide fans with lots of highlights over the years. Bodies, bodies, and more bodies. The Tigers will be coming at people in waves of stripes.
Comment: Quality point guard in Horton -- will the Texas connection be resurrected? Quality wing in Abram -- a quality in-state player. Size? Behind door No. 3 is Graham Brown who will have to rebound the ball if he ever wants to touch it and will provide depth. Behind door No. 2 is Ba, another role player. Michigan hopes it can come on down and claim the prize that could be waiting behind door No. 1. Chris Hunter has the athleticism and skill level. Does he have the heart and the work ethic? He is a Top 100 prospect. He could be all Big Ten or all Big Bust.
Comment: Admittedly, for you gin players, we may be "betting on spec" a little more here than on the other teams. However, we viewed Dartez as a raw shot-blocker in high school and he can only be better. Dean is a steady shooter and pretty mature physically. "Ichabod" Garcia has tremendous upside as a multiple position player, athletic and skilled, just lacking strength.
Comment: Ooh boy! Very difficult to predict with much accuracy how most of the junior college transfers will do. Barnes is a quality point guard who looks like the premier impact player in this class. Haluska is underrated. An athletic jump shooter who can also take it to the rack. When last seen, Alexander was a project, but a good looking one. He's all of 7-1, coordinated, but doesn't always come to play. If motivated, watch out Big 12. Vroman's father Bret played for UCLA. This Vroman is supposed to be a more skilled version of pops.
Top 10 Waiting List (Other Prominent Recruiting Classes): Florida , Illinois, Iowa, LSU, Maryland, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Purdue, St. John's, Texas A&M, UNC-Charlotte, UCLA, Utah, Vanderbilt, Villanova, Wake Forest, Wisconsin, and Xavier.
David Benezra and Mark Mayemura cover the national college basketball recruiting scene, both high school and junior college recruiting, at their Recruiting USA (www.recruitingusa.com) website. Call (818)783-2244 for subscription information or e-mail them at email@example.com.