Bossi's Best: Seven programs doing surprisingly well in recruiting wars
The beginning of the early signing period for college basketball is just two weeks away, and there are still several important decisions to be made that will change the shape the 2018 team rankings. In this week’s Bossi’s Best, National Basketball Analyst Eric Bossi takes a look at seven programs that have put together surprisingly strong classes that currently rank in the top 20.
USC - Current ranking: No. 4
Bossi’s take on the class: Despite the loss of assistant coach Tony Bland, who was one of four assistant coaches arrested in the federal probe into corruption in college basketball, Andy Enfield and the Trojans have still put together a spectacular class. The headliner is combo forward Taeshon Cherry, who ranks No. 32 nationally, but combo guard Elijah Weaver (No. 35) and shooting guard Kevin Porter (No. 36) should also be ready to play immediately. All three have size, athleticism and skills that fit what the Trojans do. The loss of Bland did cost the Trojans a power forward when four-star player J’Raan Brooks decommitted. If Brooks was still in the fold, USC’s 2018 class would currently rank No. 1 overall.
LSU - Current ranking: No. 5
Bossi’s take on the class: You never know what to expect out of a first-year head coach, but Will Wade and his staff have absolutely crushed it. Landing local star guard Javonte Smart was step number one. Sources close to the program say that Smart – who ranks No. 30 nationally – has been hugely influential in helping to lure five-star big man Nazreon Reid and four-star combo forward Darius Days. Putting together this class - after swooping in late in the process to land top 40 point guard Tremont Waters in 2017 - suggests that Wade is going to be a force on the recruiting trail for years to come.
NOTRE DAME - Current ranking: No. 9
Bossi’s take on the class: The thing I’ve noticed about Mike Brey and Notre Dame over the years is that they don’t seem too worried about recruiting rankings. It’s all about guys who fit what they do. This year, the Irish have managed to marry both of those things together with a class of all four-star prospects who are going to make a core of “I can’t believe these guys are still in school” players. Nate Laszewski is a stretch four man with range and some athleticism, shooting guards Dane Goodwin and Robby Carmody both have toughness and shot-making ability, while point guard Prentiss Hubb could one day be an All-ACC caliber defender.
PROVIDENCE - Current ranking: No. 10
Bossi’s take on the class: Sometimes I shake my head and wonder why Ed Cooley doesn’t get more talk when jobs open up, but I’m sure the folks in Providence are happy that they haven’t had to fight to hold on to him just yet. In shooting guard A.J. Reeves and point guard David Duke, Cooley and his staff have landed a pair of top 45 prospects from New England who have All-Big East potential. Three-star wing Kris Monroe and three-star combo forward Jimmy Nichols are the type of sleepers that Cooley has proven to have a great eye for finding and developing.
ARKANSAS - Current ranking: No. 13
Bossi’s take on the class: Faced with losing six seniors after this season, it was a must that Mike Anderson and his staff put together a deep and talented class. That they’ve been able to put together a top 15 class, even after losing five-star forward Reggie Perry, is a testament to how seriously they’ve taken 2018 recruiting. Anderson and his staff were as visible as I can ever remember them being on the recruiting trail during the summer, and as a result they’ve landed four-star guards Keyshawn Embry and Isaiah Joe to go along with Rivals150 ranked three-star forwards Ethan Henderson and Jordan Phillips. Three-star scorer Desi Sills rounds out the class, and the Hogs are still in serious contention for Rivals150 big man Reggie Chaney.
NORTHWESTERN - Current ranking: No. 14
Bossi’s take on the class: The Wildcats have made sure to capitalize on their first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history. Chris Collins and his staff have reeled in a trio of four-star prospects who all add different dimensions. Forward Miller Kopp is a shooter who does his best work off the ball, Pete Nance is the son of an NBA player (Larry Nance) who has tremendous size and skill and upside once he adds strength, while Jordan Lathon is a big and athletic guard who can play multiple backcourt positions. The Wildcats class is rounded out by three-star big man Ryan Young, who will add depth.
WAKE FOREST - Current rank: No. 16
Bossi’s take on the class: Ideally, Danny Manning and his staff would like to round out Wake’s class with a point guard, but they’ve already got a tremendous foundation. Top 30 forward Jaylen Hoard is Manning’s signature recruit and a big-time athlete who should provide immediate help at the power forward spot. Isaiah Mucius is a long and lean athlete who could develop into a big-time transition defender and rebounder. Three-star player Sharone Wright Jr. could be the X-factor once he gets stronger, because of his size and versatility in the backcourt.