Villanova's incoming class is a major reason why the Big East is making a big jump. Incoming backcourt players Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes earned five-star status after strong senior seasons. Fisher, a dynamic point guard, is the fifth best floor general in the nation. Stokes checks in as the No. 28 prospect in the nation. Prep school point guard Malcolm Grant gives the Wildcats added versatility in an already-strong backcourt. Villanova went from unranked to No. 12 in the spring signing period.
Cincinnati's recruiting class had a lot to do with the increase of talent coming into the conference as well. Mick Cronin and his staff reeled in three Rivals150 players - Jason Henry (No. 52 overall in the country), Anthony McClain (the nation's seventh best center) and Alvin Mitchell - in the late period. The Bearcats went from unranked to No. 15 overall in the final class rankings.
Syracuse remained strong in the national rankings. The Orange inked a top-five class. Led by four players inside the top 100 individual rankings, the Big East power locked up players early. Wing forward Donte Green, the nation's ninth best player overall, is the gem of the class. He's joined by fellow McDonald's All-American guard Jonny Flynn from nearby Niagara Falls.
DePaul (No. 16 nationally) will rely on the 1-2 punch of Nayal Koshwal and Darquavis Tucker, prospects ranked in the top 50. Georgetown (No. 23 nationally) added immediate help in the backcourt in local prospects Austin Freeman and Chris Wright, both McDonald's All-Americans.
Pittsburgh and St. John's both cracked into the top 30 classes nationally. The Panthers check in at No. 26 while the Red Storm closes out the list at 30.
Jerry Meyer's take: Both Georgetown and Villanova are bringing in high powered scoring combos in the backcourt with Austin Freeman and Chris Wright staying in D.C. and Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher headed to Philadelphia … Syracuse brings in a load of talent. Coach Jim Boeheim faces a challenge in distributing playing time in what will be a deep and talented backcourt. Donte Green should step right into the vacated small forward position for the Orange … Cincinnati will look like a different team this year with its large and talented recruiting class … DePaul is hoping that five-star prospect Nayal Koshwal can pick up the slack in the frontcourt … Look for Seton Hall's group of freshmen to make some noise next season.
Top five incoming freshmen
Syracuse stakes claim to two of the five best incoming freshmen in Green and Flynn. Green, a 6-foot-8 forward, will be the closest thing to Carmelo Anthony that the Orange has seen inside the Carrier Dome since the Big East program won the National Championship. Green has great inside-out skills. Flynn, an athletic speedster at the point, has star written all over him. Flynn and sophomore wing Paul Harris were high school and AAU teammates.
Georgetown will lean heavily on Freeman, a five-star product from the famed DeMatha program in Maryland. The Hoyas are in need of a scoring upgrade at the two spot. Freeman provides that.
DePaul will likely look to Koshwal early and often. DePaul loses its top three rebounders and its top two scorers - Wilson Chandler and Sammy Meija – from last season. Koshwal is a strong candidate to lead the team on the glass.
Villanova's backcourt should be one of the youngest, and best, in the conference next year. Joining Scottie Reynolds, the Big East Rookie of the Year last season, is Fisher. The point guard from St. Patrick (N.J.) should allow Reynolds, a 14.6 point per game scorer last year, to return to his best position at the two. Fisher could be an assist leader in the conference next season.
Filling the void
Pittsburgh needs help inside. Gone are senior big men Aaron Gray and Levon Kendall. The two combined for 72 starts, nearly 20 points and 15 rebounds. Enter Dejuan Blair. The Pittsburgh native posted amazing stats on the AAU trail and in his senior season. The 6-foot-8, 265-pounder will be inserted into the starting lineup and will be asked to anchor the frontline from the outset.
Inside the numbers
Seven incoming players to the Big East are five-star players. Syracuse bound Donte Green is the top ranked player coming into the conference. The conference has 18 players coming into the conference inside the top 100 rankings and 27 players are ranked in the final Rivals150 rankings. Syracuse, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh each have four players coming to college from the Rivals150. Thirteen of the 16 schools in the conference signed a top-150 prospect.