Ranking the Big Ten’s incoming recruiting classes

  • 07/25/2016 12:49 pm in

The Big Ten will welcome plenty of new talent into the league for the 2016-17 season in the form of incoming freshmen, transfers who will become eligible, redshirted players from last season and graduate transfers.

Here’s a ranking, from 14 to 1, of the incoming classes heading into the 2016-17 season. All players are freshmen or junior college signees unless otherwise noted:

14. Rutgers
Additions: Issa Thiam (247Composite rank: 238), Matt Bullock (247Composite rank: 363), Candido Sa
Why they’re here: It’s going to be a long road for Steve Pikiell to build Rutgers into a respectable program. This class is unlikely to help move the needle, which means the Scarlet Knights need to do major work in the 2017 class and beyond.

13. Wisconsin 
Additions: Aleem Ford (247Composite rank: 342), D’Mitrik Trice (247Composite rank: 357), Andy Van Vliet (redshirted last season)
Why they’re here: Ford and Trice (both from IMG Academy) were unknowns when they committed to the Badgers this spring, but the key piece here is Van Vliet. The Belgium native is the talltest player on the roster at 6-foot-11 and is reportedly a very good shooter from the perimeter.

12. Illinois
Additions: Tejon Lucas (247Composite rank: 142), Kipper Nichols (Tulane transfer who becomes eligible by midseason at the latest)
Why they’re here: Lucas figures to crack the rotation as a freshman, but Tracy Abrams is the starter if he can stay healthy. Nichols, a transfer from Tulane who plays on the wing, has drawn praise from John Groce in offseason workouts. However, it’s not known if he’ll be eligible at the start of the season or after the first semester.

11. Northwestern
Additions: Rapolas Ivanauskas (247Composite rank: 148) Barret Benson (247Composite rank: 154), Isiah Brown (247Composite rank: 237)
Why they’re here: This is a solid haul by Chris Collins and staff, who have continued to build a better base of talent in Evanston. Both Ivanauskas, who is 6-foot-8, and Benson, who is a solid 6-foot-9 post player, had heavy interest from other Big Ten programs.

10. Purdue
Additions: Carsen Edwards (247Composite rank: 118), Spike Albrecht (graduate transfer from Michigan)
Why they’re here: The Boilermakers are lower than this on many of the Big Ten team rankings, but Edwards is a steady point guard who can help fill a need. And Albrecht, if healthy, should also be a member of the rotation.

9. Nebraska
Additions: Isaiah Roby (247Composite rank: 136), Jeriah Horne (247Composite rank: 176), Jordy Tshimanga (247Composite rank: 163), Anton Gill (Louisville transfer becomes eligible)
Why they’re here: Andrew White’s departure should give both Roby and Gill, a former top 60 recruit at Louisville, an immediate opportunity to score. Three recruits in the top 176 of the 247Composite rankings is a very solid class for Tim Miles and his staff.

8. Ohio State
Additions: Derek Funderburk (247Composite rank: 74), Micah Potter (247Composite rank: 243), Andre Wesson (247Composite rank: 267), C.J. Jackson (247Composite JUCO ranking: 27)
Why they’re here: Funderburk should be able to help in Ohio State’s frontcourt right away and Jackson, a combo guard, could be in the backcourt rotation with the transfer of A.J. Harris.

7. Iowa
Additions: Tyler Cook (247Composite ranking: 73), Cordell Pemsl (247Composite ranking: 231), Ryan Kriener (247Composite ranking: 303), Jordan Bohannon (247Composite ranking: 298), Maishe Dailey (247Composite ranking: 354)
Why they’re here: Cook, a 6-foot-8 forward, is the headliner here. He should slide right into the frontcourt rotation, which lost Jarrod Uthoff and Adam Woodbury.

6. Michigan
Additions: Xavier Simpson (247Composite ranking: 66), Jon Teske (247Composite ranking: 145), Ibi Watson (247Composite ranking: 240), Austin Davis (247Composite ranking: 177)
Why they’re here: Could Simpson come right in and challenge Derrick Walton for minutes? The Michigan staff must believe that is the case or Spike Albrecht would have been back in Ann Arbor for a fifth year. Teske and Davis should help backup Mark Donnal. Watson could provide shooting from the wing.

5. Minnesota
Additions: Amir Coffey (247Composite ranking: 49), Eric Curry (247Composite ranking: 112), Michael Hurt (247Composite ranking: 217), Akeem Springs (graduate transfer from Milwaukee), Davonte Fitzgerald (Texas A&M transfer becomes eligible), Reggie Lynch (Illinois State transfer becomes eligible)
Why they’re here: Richard Pitino needed to upgrade his talent level and it appears he’s done that with Coffey and Curry in the freshman class to go along with several transfers who could also crack the rotation.

4. Penn State
Additions: Tony Carr (247Composite ranking: 51), Lamar Stevens (247Composite ranking: 99), Nazeer Bostick (247Composite ranking: 300), Joe Hampton (247Composite ranking: 257), Terrence Samuel (Connecticut transfer becomes eligible), Mike Watkins (sat out last season due to academic issues)
Why they’re here: Carr and Stevens should be rotation players right away as should Watkins, who was ranked the No. 102 player in the 2015 class in the final 247Composite rankings. With that trio, Pat Chambers has essentially netted three top 100 players, which is unheard of in State College.

3. Indiana
Additions: De’Ron Davis (247Composite ranking: 40), Curtis Jones (247Composite ranking: 85), Devonte Green (247Composite ranking: 198), Grant Gelon (247Composite ranking: 322), Freddie McSwain (247Composite JUCO ranking: 24), Josh Newkirk (Pittsburgh transfer becomes eligible)
Why they’re here: Davis and Jones are unlikely to start, but both should play key roles on a team that is expected to open the season in the preseason top 15. Newkirk, who is expected to challenge for the starting point guard spot, is also a key addition for the Hoosiers.

2. Maryland
Additions: Micah Thomas (247Composite ranking: 155), Anthony Cowan (247Composite ranking: 62), Kevin Huerter (247Composite ranking: 64), L.G. Gill (graduate transfer from Duquesne), Justin Jackson (247Composite ranking: 83), Joshua Tomaic
Why they’re here: Maryland lost a ton of talent and needed a very good recruiting haul. Mark Turgeon did his job. A trio of top 100 players are in the class along with Gill, who should help in the frontcourt immediately as he arrives from Duquesne.

1. Michigan State
Additions: Miles Bridges (247Composite ranking: 12), Cassius Winston (247Composite ranking: 33), Josh Langford (247Composite ranking: 20), Nick Ward (247Composite ranking: 41), Ben Carter (graduate transfer from UNLV)
Why they’re here: This wasn’t even close as Spartans reeled in four top 41 players along with Carter, who should be a nice role player. The gap could widen further if Andrew White, who is considering Michigan State after leaving Nebraska, chooses the Spartans.

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  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    so if i added it up correctly, there are a total of 15 top 100 recruits going to the b1g, which of course averages out to barely more than 1 per team. aside from the acc, which has 22, it’s comparable to the other major conferences (10 for big12, 8 for big east. 15 for sec. i’m sure pac10 is right around there).

  • adam

    yeah but how many of them were from indiana that we missed? we will never have a chance until we collect every indiana ball player every year.

  • Arch Puddington

    Wow, outside of MSU, not a single player ranked better than 40 going to any team in the B1G. In fact, the other thirteen teams combined only have three players ranked better than 62. Among the individual teams that have that many or more by themselves: UNC, Duke, Kentucky, Virginia, UCLA, NC State, and Auburn. It’s just one year’s data, I realize, but it does go along with a the uncomfortable sense that basketball, like football before it, is steadily moving south and west. Add in the schools that have 2 recruits ranked better than 62 — Arizona, Kansas, Miami, Oregon, Mississippi State, and Texas — and things only look more that way.

    I don’t have multiple years of data to draw on, but like I said, I have had the sinking feeling for some time that the B1G is losing its luster. It’s still a strong conference and will continue to attract good players, but it has only won 1 national championship in the last 26 years — and that one was almost before today’s recruits were born — and the list of schools that are able to regularly compete for top recruits seems to grow every year. I mean, Miami? Washington? Auburn? How does a school like NC State continue getting top players? It’s at best a middle of the pack ACC program, and has no great history of sending guys to the NBA. Heck, even teams like UNLV and Memphis have attracted top recruits in recent years, although they are both down at the moment. There are exceptions — Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky, MSU, IU, OSU, and others — but it sure seems like the old guard is losing ground to the south and west.

  • Jim Miller

    Why are you expecting us to do something we have NEVER done, ever? Not under a Top 2 coach of all time or even under Branch McCracken.

  • N71

    Getting top players has to be weighed with other things. Look at Ben Simmons at LSU for example, clearly a tremendous talent but because of that was never going to be around more than one year. I like the balanced approach that we, Wisconsin, and MSU are using and the culture it fosters. Once we can make it to the Final 4 again then we’ll start getting cracks at another championship. This could/should be one of those years, next year we’ll probably drop of due to departures by Bryant and OG…and Blackman if he’s back to normal. I like where we are considering where we’ve come from since our derailment at the hands of blue shirt guy.

  • Bill Graham

    Good post. I’d also add that super classes are skewing things. For example if Kentucky pays (I mean recruits) 5 kids in the top 100 that lessens the pool. If Duke and Kansas do the same…All of a sudden all national colleges are fighting for the remaining 80 or so.

  • inLinE6

    I’m less concerned about “from Indiana”. We reeled many top kids from other places too. If we play the “Indiana” card, we’d lose more top tier talents from across the nation. And kids don’t necessarily want to stay close home these days.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    i’m with you, we gotta take care of our backyard. had a lengthy discussion about that the other day.

  • Arch Puddington

    Your point about Ben Simmons is quite right, but I didn’t include any one hit wonders on my list. Most of the schools I named have had multiple top players over multiple years.

    I used to belong to the Forum, and got into a debate on this same topic.I don’t have the data any more, but essentially what I found was this:

    Prior to 2000, the last national title won by the B1G, the B1G was second only to the ACC in terms of the number of McDonald’s All-Americans it recruited. And of course from 1976-2000, it won multiple national championships.

    Since then, however, the B1G has fallen off the pace. Every national title since then has been won by a team from a conference that has recruited more McDonald’s All-Americans and sent more guys to the pros than the B1G (well, that was before Villanova this year; not sure how you’d count the Big East now). Again, still lots of good players in the B1G, and there have been a number of Final Fours and even runners-up. Bu just one title in 26 years, and it seems pretty inarguable to me that the drop in elite talent is part of the reason. If nothing else, think about the teams that have almost won — Michigan with Burke, Stauskas, and Robinson III, OSU with Oden and Conley, Illinois with Deron Williams, even Wisconsin with Kaminsky and Dekker, who may or may not have been McDonald’s All-Americans, but who ended up as NBA players. I know what you mean about balance, and I am not saying we should (or even can) try to compete with Kentucky, Duke, and Kansas. Gotta have the horses, though.

  • b_side

    Kyle Guy. That’s it.

  • N71

    I see your point but the country’s population is different now, we should in theory see more competition from areas that have grown in recent decades (i.e. Florida, Texas, etc.). I’d love to have more Thomas Bryant level players for sure but considering where we were just a few years ago I’m somewhat happy to no longer suck.

  • I am Baby Cakes

    2017 class is huge for Indiana.. if it bombs.. it is an epic failure.

  • Tcuomo

    I think you need to focus more on the coaches at those universities and not so much the universities and perceived tradition. I commented last week about the SEC and how I think it is going to become very strong conference in the next couple years because of the coaching hires. Oregon, Mississippi State, Texas, Miami, Virginia, and Auburn all have very good coaches with proven track records. I just think recruits are going to consider the coach first, and then facilities, tradition, and atmosphere are tie breakers/secondary in consideration. The name on the front of the jersey won’t get you into the NBA, but coaching and development can.

    In the case of Washington and Memphis, recruits fathers were hired in both those instances. Michael Porters dad was hired in some kind of coaching capacity at Washington. Same goes for the Lawson bros at Memphis. Other examples of this would include Isiah Whitehead and to some degree Ben Simmons. It something that seems slimy, but the NCAA has no problem with it.

    Arch, regarding your reply post, what do you make of Uconn over the last decade? I’m not going to pretend I know where their recruiting classes stood, but I never remember them being highly touted.

    NC State is a head scratcher. I have no idea how they keep getting high caliber recruits and continue to do nothing. They should change their name from the Wolfpack to Middle-of-the-pack

  • Bill Graham

    So if I had to pick a first team of all freshman I’d take:

    PG: Carr (sure some may say Winston but Carr is 3 inches taller and Winston avg’d 3.5 turnovers per game in EYBL…not exactly ideal for a PG – Carr only avg’d 1.5. Carr is strong and physical and should be able to guard any PG or SG in the BIG)

    SG: Coffey (again many might argue Langford…but Draft Express noted that Langford doesn’t have a left hand, isn’t a great shooter, and is ranked highly because of his athleticism and potential) Coffey on the other hand is extremely polished. He has the ball handling skills of a PG, he’s a great shooter, and at 6’7 he has the length and slashing ability of 3’s and 4’s

    SF: Bridges (some may argue that he is more of a PF but at 6’6 I like him as a SF… he’s freakishly athletic, a good defender, and has a great bball iq…this one doesn’t need much of an explanation)

    PF: Davis (this one was tricky because Ward’s game is so similar…but Ward is a 6-9 undersized center really…and although his highlights are impressive his range is only 15ft and even then he relies on bullying his way in rather than solid moves…he’ll struggle against athletic or strong PF’s or C guys like Spellman an Tshimanga will eat him alive) Davis on the other hand is a good all around shooter, can put it on the floor, and also is a polished post man) -sidenote why Horne is ranked 176 is beyond me..he’s almost identical to DD

    C: Tshimanga (this one was easy…although Wisconsin’s skinny 7 foot Kaminsky wannabe will be slightly annoying to deal with in 2 years right now he’s unpolished, underweight, and mainly just a perimeter floater…Tshimanga on the other hand is 6’11 270lbs…not only that but he’s a classic center who is great at establishing position and has a huge array of post moves)

  • Bill Graham

    So analyzing these recruits was a ton of fun. I’d love to see Alex and the ITH staff break down their top 5 players at each position for the BIG (would make for some great articles and good forum discussions)

  • Outoftheloop


  • Bill Graham

    Its interesting you mentioned the father-coach thing. That is usually only a temporary fix…I don’t expect Washington to keep landing 5 stars with any regularity…I think the only reason Fultz went there last year was because he knew Porter would eventually join him…The BIG has a coaching problem right now (with Izzo as the exception- even though I despise that rat faced hooligan)… CTC hasn’t proven himself to be an elite coach (yet) so he’s been stuck on landing mostly 30-80 ranked guys with a high ranked kid every now and then…Beilein and Matta have both proven they can recruit great classes but they haven’t done it consistently lately…Pitino and Gross are gone…Rutgers will continue to hire and fire coaches until they finally realize their horrible at life and decide not to blame their basketball coach for it….and leaves guys like Painter, Turgeon, Collinsworth, Gard, Miles, and Fran…all of these guys have proven that they are capable of bringing in a good recruiting class but none of them have ever brought in a truly elite class (Turgeon might be the exception and might be the next to make it to the Beilein, Matta, and Crean tier)

    ….when you break it down by the coaches its obvious why the ACC gets elite classes with coaches like Williams, K, Bennett, and Pitino….elite coaches = elite classes…we don’t have elite coaches…

  • Bill Graham

    Ya I don’t think this argument is necessary again…I think I can speak for the majority in saying, “Yes Indiana kids take priority but only if they fit into our system…If there is a recruit elsewhere who is going to be more beneficial then we obviously pursue the better option”
    *and of course there is the unspoken rule about not letting guys like Langford leave the state

  • Tcuomo

    I agree with you on the temporary fix. I put father-coach thing in there more for clarification than anything else. It was meant to provide context for when people see that Washington has a 5 star recruit and IU doesn’t.

    Tell me how you really feel about Izzo. Usually rat face blasts are reserved for Coach K. I would argue against you about the “coaching problem” in the BIG. I think its a pretty solid collection of coaches. Not great, but not terribly bad either. Matta, Beilein, and Izzo all have Final 4’s under their belt. CTC, Turgeon, and Painter have proven that they can make it to the 2nd weekend. I like what Chambers and Collinsworth are doing at their respective schools. Its going to take time. Myles definitely has lost momentum at Nebraska. I will wait and see with Gard, but i think Wisco will ultimately decline with him as head coach. Pitino is on his last leg. I don’t think John Wooden’s ghost could save Rutgers.

    If Tubby Smith and Bo Ryan were still coaching in the BIG it would be one hell of a meat grinder.

  • Ole Man

    Really like the way you analyzed and stated this.
    There is one “nitpick”.
    Not sure you can include IU in the “exceptions.”
    This year’s recruits will tell the tale.
    Right now IU isn’t favored to get any of the loaded Indiana ’17 class.

  • Ole Man

    N71, although most of us would like the “balanced” roster approach to winning championships, I think what Arch is pointing out is becoming more of the norm.
    Not sure, except for the occasional fluke, that a National Title can be won the old fashioned way anymore.
    Closest team to maybe doing it was a Wisc team from two years ago and they were loaded. Yet, they couldn’t break through.

  • Arch Puddington

    A couple of points:

    1. I noted LSU as a one-hit wonder, but Washington is no such thing. Lorenzo Romar has been landing top talent for years. A total of 8 Washington players were in the NBA last year, which was 10th best among all schools. Throw in the two first round picks they had this year, plus Nigel Wiliams-Goss, a 5-star who went to Washington but has since transferred to Gonazga, and Washington trails only the Big Boys in producing that level of talent (Kentucky, Duke, UNC,UCLA, Kansas, and Arizona). With or without Porter, Washington is a major player.

    2. UConn is right behind Washington, with 7 NBA players as of the beginning of last season, and that is with two of its best teams having come as long ago as ’99 and ’04. Overall, JIm Calhoun had 31 players drafted, including a bunch of lottery picks — Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Ray Allen, Rudy Gay, Donyell Marshall, Richard Hamilton, and Kemba Walker just to name a few.

    3. Memphis is not a one-hit wonder either. The reason Josh Pastner got fired is because he landed so many top players without doing much in the tournament. Don’t have any stats to give you, but there was a string of years there when Memphis was routinely landing 5-star and high 4-star players. The city of Memphis alone produces a lot of that level of talent, and many of them stayed there.

    4. As for your comment about coaches, I am not suggesting that there is only one metric that determines success, but with the exception of Maryland in 2002 and possibly Villanova this year, every team that has won a national championship since 1979 has had at least one McDonald’s All-American. As Washington, Memphis, Texas, and other teams show raw talent isn’t enough by itself, but when 35 or 36 of the last 37 champions have had at least one 5 star player, it’s pretty clear that that is an important element of success.

  • Arch Puddington

    Going forward, you may be right. Indiana did go five consecutive years with a McDonald’s All-American, and has produced three lottery picks over the last few years, so it made sense to include them on my list. But we’ve struck out quite a bit the last couple of years, and if we were to completely whiff on Scruggs, Wilkes, Jackson, and Williams this year, and then Langford next year, the only way we could still be listed as an exception is if we get some 5 stars from out of state. These things do come and go in cycles for all teams not named Kentucky and Duke, so hopefully this is just the bottom of cycle that will soon turn back up.

  • IULore

    it ain’t 1975 anymore

  • RDD#76

    This might be a long shot but if Thomas and OG stay to be juniors would fans be still angry if we did not get any Indiana kids? I think as of now having no scholarships hurts us in recruiting 2017 kids feels like all spring signees.

  • Bricklayer

    It’s really not something that’s possible nor should it be expected.

  • IUBizmark

    So if IU has 3 highly ranked SFs on the rosterand there’s a highly ranked SF from Indiana choosing a college, he should choose IU? I wish, but that’s just not going to happen at any school.

  • Ole Man

    OG might be here. I’d say TB is gone.
    Yeah; never like not having any schollys.
    And this class is definitely a spring class.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Arch, that would be a bummer of a whiff. That really would be awful if it happens.

  • adam

    i was being sarcastic people

  • Outoftheloop

    I predict that Devonte Green will be the most surprising freshman in the B1G! He will dribble penetrate with acceptable TO’s, and finish at the rim, he will hit some 3’s at 35%, he will make assists, again with acceptable TO’s, but his defense and ball pressure will be outstanding! Just my opinion!

  • Outoftheloop

    Auburn, MS St, LSU had better start winning and making the Sweet 16 now! They have lots of talent and a medium conference. It is time to produce or see the decline.

  • Outoftheloop

    IU will get at least 2!

  • Outoftheloop

    IU has Collin (Sr), Tim (finishing 3 full years and probably his degree), and then 3 early NBA departures: Thomas, OG, and James. That = 5, with only 1 taken so far. There are plenty of openings! What IU needs is one top 50 kid to start the ball rolling and work to build his class to greatness!

  • Outoftheloop

    You forgot UNC and KS. Those 4 are dominate now, but Villanova and Louisville and U Conn have won as many titles in the last 4 years!

  • Outoftheloop

    Louisville, Villanova and U Conn each won with a balanced approach!

  • millzy32

    Ben Simmons was playing at LSU with a bunch of nobodys. He got his exposure but without other talent around they didn’t really do much. Put Ben Simmons on Kentucky last year and they probably go to the Final Four again.

  • millzy32

    I doubt JBJ goes pro after this year. If so he’ll be looking to go undrafted just like TW and YF and that’s really not the preferred route for those with remaining eligibility. TB is likely gone after this year but OG may return depending on his season. TP will have to be forced out or he’s not going anywhere. We could end up with only 1 or 2 open spots.

  • millzy32

    You’re assuming this based on who his brother is for sure. Hope you are right.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Lol, I’m sensing some sarcasm…

  • Outoftheloop

    I try never to ass-u-me anything! No, I liked the way that he came on strong in his final year of HS. Also his comments and those of his coach(s) show a tough minded, determined, kid willing to pay the price. But growing up playing against an NBA starter for San Antonio brother can’t hurt!