The Big 12 has had an outstanding recruiting year across the board. The conference is loaded at the wing position; two of the nation's top three players -- SGs Avery Bradley (No. 1; bound for Texas) and Xavier Henry (No. 3; bound for Kansas) -- are heading to the Big 12. A few Big 12 programs, including Texas Tech and Nebraska, did a really nice job of recruiting the junior college ranks. These schools depend on junior college recruiting more than other conference members because they are located in areas without a consistently strong recruiting base, although they are members of a BCS conference. States like Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, just to name a few, are loaded with junior college programs. The Big 12 has also added players from around the world. Baylor landed 7-foot Croatian center Dragan Sekelja, Colorado tapped into Australia for 6-11 center Shane Harris-Tunks and Nebraska went to Germany to obtain the services of 6-8 forward Christian Standhardinger.
Top class: Texas Longhorns
The Longhorns edge Oklahoma and Kansas, which added Henry (Oklahoma City/Putnam City) in the late signing period, largely because of Bradley's presence. Bradley (Tacoma, Wash./Findlay Prep) is the most complete wing in the class, with his ability to dominate the game on both ends of the floor. Rick Barnes also went to the West Coast to add SF Jordan Hamilton (Compton, Calif./Dominguez). At 6-7, Hamilton has great size, and he can flat-out score from anywhere on the floor. That dynamic duo will be joined by Shawn Williams (Duncanville, Texas), a smooth scoring wing. Add the experience of Florida transfer Jai Lucas, and the Horns have immediate impact players on the perimeter who can hurt opponents in a variety of ways.
Surprise class: Nebraska Cornhuskers
Doc Sadler has made steady progress in Lincoln by earning postseason berths in consecutive years for the first time in a decade. He has continued to upgrade the talent. Nebraska's 2009 class is junior college-heavy, so they are experienced and talented.
If these players buy into the system early in the season, the Huskers could be knocking on the NCAA door. Sadler has added size and skill with 6-10 post Vander Joaquim (Price, Utah/College of Southern Utah) and 6-8 power forward Quincy Hankins (Long Island, N.Y./Polk Community College (Fla.)), both of whom should be a factor on the glass. Powerful Lance Jeter (Beaver Falls, Pa./Polk Community College (Fla.)) is a tough matchup on the perimeter with his ability to attack the lane and defend. Myles Holley (Norfolk, Va./Heat Academy) can score consistently inside the arc and is an excellent perimeter rebounder. The high schoolers include 6-9 PF Brandon Ubel (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West), 6-2 SG Rayes Gallegos (West Jordan, Utah) and Standhardinger, from Germany. Each of them has excellent size and skill with scoring reputations. Coach Doc Sadler is a former junior college coach at Arkansas-Fort Smith; he is accustomed to huge personnel changes and turning them into competitive teams. Keep an eye on the Huskers.
Top recruit: Avery Bradley, Texas
Bradley is the No. 1 player in the ESPNU 100. Bradley is strong and athletic and plays with great energy and passion. He is a terror in transition, a slasher with a good midrange game and an improved 3-point shooter. On defense, he simply locks up opponents with his on-ball pressure. His active hands and great lateral foot speed match his effort and make him the best perimeter defender in the 2009 class. I have seen Bradley play at least ten times, and never saw him play with anything other than his A-game. The Longhorns fans are in for a treat this season when this kid takes the floor.
Top newcomer (transfer): SF Marquis Gilstrap
Gilstrap (Covington, Ga./Palm Beach Community College) comes to Ames with reportedly only one year of eligibility left. Gilstrap is a 6-6 wing scorer that can knock down the open 3 and create off the dribble. His experience from junior college and a sense of urgency because of having only one year to play should have him hungry from Day 1. The Cyclones have some very good returning talent, and Gilstrap should join that solid nucleus to be productive right away.
Sleeper recruit: Aaron-Mike Davis
Davis (Houston/Wheatley) is a 6-2 shooting guard who is strong and physical. He should adjust to the college game and Tech's system rather quickly because he plays with urgency on both ends of the floor. He can get to the rim and finish through contact or slide to the open area and knock down the open 3; he's best from the deep corners. He is a good ball handler and passer with the ability to help at the point. Defensively, Davis applies great ball pressure and has a good basketball IQ.