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Friday, May 18
2001's Pac of recruits leads the way




So, Memphis may have secured the top recruiting class of 2001, but how did the conferences stack up against each other? And what about the teams within each conference? Recruiting USA ranks the eight major conferences against each other and breaks down who signed who within each league.

Pac-10
1. UCLA
2. Arizona
3. California
4. Stanford
5. USC
6. Washington
7. Arizona State
8. Oregon State
9. Oregon
10. Washington State

Leaders of the Pac: Impact players determine the pecking order and the Pac-10 has more than their share of talented freshmen.

Cedric Bozeman should start for UCLA at the point, giving the Bruins a tall, athletic guard who can score. Rugged Dennis Latimore should step in quickly at power forward for Arizona. Julian Sensley is expected to impact as a wing forward at Cal. Sensley is a skilled, finesse player with a big body. Wing scorer Josh Childress will be opposite Casey Jacobsen on the "Farm" at Stanford.

Some transfers will also be expected to provide a spark. Washington will have the services of native son Doug Wrenn, an explosive athlete who sat out this past year. Off guard Curtis Millage from California State Junior College champion Los Angeles Southwest CC can put up points in a hurry.

Several other freshmen will also play key roles in the conference, including UCLA recruits Andre Patterson and multi-faceted Dijon Thompson. Patterson is the best athlete coming into the league and should be a star in time. Salim Stoudamire is a stone shooter, Will Bynum will be the next point guard and burly Isaiah Fox all are headed to Arizona. But the best center prospect in the league, Jamaal Sampson, is on his way to California.

The biggest low-post player on his way to the Pac-10 is the ironically named Robert Little. He will be joined by point guard Chris Hernandez at Stanford. Rory O'Neil, a willowy forward/center with a great shooting touch and athletic combo guard Errick Craven are both USC bound, while wing Erroll Knight (Washington) and point guard Jason Braxton is a very strong penetrator and defender (Arizona State).

Big 12
1. Kansas
2. Oklahoma
3. Baylor
4. Texas
5. Missouri
6. Texas Tech
7. Kansas State
8. Colorado
9. Nebraska
10. Oklahoma State
11. Iowa State
12. Texas A&M

Juco Prospects Make For Rich Recruiting Stew: With rare exception, Big 12 schools outside of Kansas, have usually not been able to land their most wanted recruits, losing out to Big Ten programs and other more "glamorous" desitnations in the past. But this year's class of recruits will really help make this league more competitive from top to bottom.

It's well known by now that the Big 12 relies on juco transfers more than other major conferences, and does a very good job of getting a lot of the top juco talent. And it's the juco prospects that really make this a strong class.

Center Uche Okafor should provide an immediate defensive presence for Missouri. The 6-foot-6 Tommie King is expected to provide scoring for Iowa State, while new Texas Tech head coach Bobby Knight hopes his "Turk," Ermal Kuqo, will keep his fez on straight and come to Lubbock instead of the NBA.

Baylor will have two transfers available who played for head coach Dave Bliss at New Mexico in shooting guard Kevin Henry and center R.T. Gunn, who is sitting out. Oklahoma probably got the richest juco haul with wing scorer Ebi Ere, solid point guard Quannas White, and center Jabahri Brown.

Freshmen to look for include Mercurial point guard T. J. Ford (Texas); point guard Aaron Miles and off guard Keith Langford and power forward Wayne Simien (Kansas); power forward Lawrence Roberts (Baylor); true center David Harrison (Colorado); athletic Canadian prospect Duane John and versatile swingman Najeeb Echols (Missouri).

SEC
1. Auburn
2. Florida
3. Alabama
4. Kentucky
5. Mississippi State
6. Mississippi
7. Tennessee
8. LSU
9. Georgia
10. Vanderbilt
11. Arkansas

South is Deep in Athletes: You can't get all of the best athletes all of the time and the SEC's class of recruits is good but not up to the standards of the classes that the conference has had of late.

Looking at the freshmen, ultra-athletic Brandon Robinson and his near twin, Marco Killingsworth, should establish themselves early at Auburn. Both play above the rim and can shoot the ball. Forwards James White and David Lee should have no trouble getting into the flow at Florida. Both are runners and jumpers who will thrive in Billy Donovan's frantic pace. Highly skilled Maurice Williams will step in at the point at Alabama. He is good to go with deep shooting range. Kentucky's Rashaad Carruth will be given the keys to the gym and be told to light it up as well.

LSU's Shawnson Johnson is the juco transfer most likely to impact. Other freshmen worth keeping an eye on include shooting guard Ernest Shelton (Alabama); Dwayne Mitchell (Auburn); Mississippi's incoming guard trio of Justin Johnson, Mario Jointer and Jonathan Loe; center Marcus Campbell and Winsome Frazier (Mississippi State); Derek Stribling and Elgrace Wilborn (Tennessee).

Conference USA
1. Memphis
2. Louisville
3. DePaul
4. Cincinnati
5. Marquette
6. Saint Louis
7. Charlotte
8. UAB
9. Southern Mississippi
10. Houston
11. South Florida
12. Tulane

What's This? ConUSA Sneaking Up On Their Peers: With Bob Huggins, John Calipari, and now Rick Pitino in the conference, recruiting is picking up from top to bottom.

Impact freshmen include the nation's best player, guard Dajuan Wagner, who is going to Memphis. Wagner is not the flashy player one would expect, after hearing about him scoring 100 points in a game. Instead, he is an efficient, cold-blooded offensive killing machine who really knows how to play.

Point guard Carlos Hurt, a lefty guard who can do it all and will at Louisville. While we shudder to say this, bruising Brandon Bender will be given every opportunity to impact as well.

Marquette gets perhaps the freshman most prepared to play college ball in point guard Travis Diener. Diener is a playmaker and a floor general, and the closest thing to a John Stockton (in style, not speed) that we will see for awhile. Athletic forward Jason Maxiell should assert himself as a frosh for Cincinnati. Other freshmen of note include power forward Duane Erwin and off guard Anthony Rice (Memphis); forward Quemont Greer (DePaul); swingman LeVar Seals (DePaul); underrated scoring wing Eddie Basden (Charlotte); combo guard James Pattman (Southern Mississippi); and forward Kelvin Brown (South Florida).

Prominent juco's figure into the mix as well. Power forward Sam Hoskin is expected to impact immediately for DePaul. Saint Louis got a commitment from athletic center Kenny Brown. Point guard Eric Bush will have to come ready to play for UAB, while Chris Massie is mature in age and skilled, but his work ethic is questionable. With his bulk, Memphis is counting on him to come in and bang alongside their slender athletes, providing enforcement.

Big East
1. Villanova
2. Syracuse
3. Georgetown
4. Providence
5. Connecticut
6. Notre Dame
7. Pittsburgh
8. West Virginia
9. St. John's
10. Boston College
11. Seton Hall
12. Virginia Tech
13. Miami-Florida
14. Rutgers

Something For Everybody: Every team got at least one recruit who should help them. And there are some very interesting future prospects among the freshmen.

Freshmen we expect to see impact sooner than later include combo guard Billy Edelin, who will be a good fit for Syracuse. Forward Harvey Thomas is vastly underrated and could be Georgetown's most complete frontline recruit offensively in years. Chris Thomas will provide steady leadership at the point for the Irish, while Carl Krauser can really get into the paint and will pump up Pitt's offense. Jonathan Hargett may not be 6-0, or 5-11, or 5-10, but he combines radar, rocketry and the speed of light in a high-tech offensive package that no freshman in America has and will draw fans out to see West Virginia play.

Can you say "upside?" The future looks bright when this talented group comes to fruition. Center Chris Charles is raw, but when he reneged on his commitment to Seton Hall and chose Villanova, the Wildcat program took a big leap forward into the future. Ben Gordon may be a little erratic but he's a talented lead guard and UConn's system should help him thrive. Hakim Warrick is a tremendous ballhandler for his size and just needs a jumper to become a star for Syracuse. Perhaps combo guard Jermaine Watson should be in the immediate impact group with his energy. His high-intensity will keep the Boston College Eagles flying. Underrated Eric Ferguson will eventually be the man at the point for Villanova. John Allen will score a lot from the wing for Seton Hall, and forward Rob Sanders could prove a steal for Providence.

St. John's brings in the best juco prospect in the conference in combo guard Marcus Hatten.

ACC
1. North Carolina State
2. North Carolina
3. Virginia
4. Clemson
5. Wake Forest
6. Georgia Tech
7. Duke
8. Florida State
9. Maryland

Fewer Premier Players Coming into the ACC: Once again, North Carolina State has brought in an outstanding class with impact wing Julius Hodge, the point man for what is supposed to be a more wide-open floor game. State needed a lot of frontcourt help and picked up some bodies, the most noticeable being combo forward Levi Watkins, an excellent prospect who somehow seemed to fly below the hype radar of most of the services. Watkins is athletic and skilled.

Jawad Williams is another talented combo forward who should become an outstanding wing forward for the Tar Heels. Clemson will need to have its young players produce quickly and guard Che' Christie seems the most likely to bust out. Other talented freshmen include wing Jackie Manuel and guard Melvin Scott (North Carolina); combo guards Keith Jenifer and Jermaine Harper (Virginia); strongly built forward Olu Bablola (Clemson); forwards Vytas Danelius and Jamaal Levy (Wake Forest); power forward Josh Powell (North Carolina State); and off guard Daniel Ewing (Duke).

Big Ten
1. Michigan State
2. Minnesota
3. Michigan
4. Ohio State
5. Indiana
6. Iowa
7. Purdue
8. Illinois
9. Wisconsin
10. Penn State
11. Northwestern

Big "11" Fills Key Needs: Michigan State continued to show its recent dominance regionally by getting possibly the best Flintstone in wing Kelvin Torbert. He's got the Big Ten body already and is at the top of the heap in athleticism.

The fact that Minnesota was able to keep highly skilled Rick Rickert at home (despite a previous verbal to Arizona) in the face of impending NCAA probation says a lot for Dan Monson's ability to close a recruit. Golden Gopher fans will also have an athletic swingman in another local, Maurice Hargrow, to keep them in their seats.

The key recruit for Ohio State is silky-smooth point guard Brandon Fuss-Cheatham. He's a true point guard who knows passing angles and sees the floor extremely well. Another future Buckeye who should contribute is the heady Matt Sylvester, a skilled forward with some toughness who is a bit of a sleeper.

New head coach Tommy Amaker did not exactly find the incoming recruit cupboard bare at Michigan. JaQuan Hart is a talented athlete with a sweet outside stroke. The wildcard of this class (and of the conference's recruits) is the extremely talented, but rather volatile, Dommanic Ingerson. Known for temper tantrums on and off-the court, this Oakland native has all kinds of game (e.g.: deep range, soft shooting touch, handle), but it's his game above the shoulders that draws the question marks.

Donald Perry is more proof of Indiana head coach Mike Davis' prowess in recruiting the South. Perry should also be part of the rotation from day one. The impact recruit for Purdue is Darmetreis Kilgore, a Hoosier native who is returning after a stint at a Texas junior college. He's physically ready to play with outstanding range on his jumper and will likely be the conference's impact juco recruit.

Other interesting freshmen arriving on Big Ten campus this fall include point guard Luther Head (Illinois); athletic wing Alan Anderson and shooter Chris Hill (Michigan State); big man Terrance Dials (Ohio State); hustling combo forward Sean Kline (Indiana); and guard Pierre Pierce (Iowa).

Atlantic 10

1. Temple
2. Xavier
3. St. Joseph's
4. George Washington
5. Massachusetts
6. Duquesne
7. Dayton
8. Rhode Island
9. St. Bonaventure
10. Richmond
11. LaSalle
12. Fordham

Not The A-10's Finest Recruiting Hour: What can you expect with all the coaching upheaval in the conference this year?

Impact freshmen include tall point guard Nile Murray, who may be good enough to move Lynn Greer over to the off guard for Temple. Murray is athletic and a leader who was a great get for the Owls out of Texas. Xavier had a very good class with local product Keith Jackson, a big wing who can score should get a good early look at major time. Athletic shooter Mike Gansey is a r Rex Chapman-type guard who should get big minutes for St. Bonaventure. With George Washington's program in complete turmoil, look for power forward Tamal Forchion and point guard T.J. Thompson to get good time. Simply put, Simplice Njoya will be in the pivot from day one for Duquesne.

As far as transfers and/or props (academic non-qualifiers from a year ago), juco power forward Mike Hayes is a very effective scorer in the paint and will impact for Xavier. Massachusetts has two props that will be counted on heavily in rebounding specialist Raheim Lamb and point guard Anthony Anderson. Other freshmen who should pan out down the road include Glen Elliott and Nehemiah Ingram, two bulls who will dance through every opponents china shop for Temple; guard Mark Jones (Dayton); power forward Will Caudle and combo guard Jaison Williams (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.

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