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Early Signing Period: Breaking down the Big Ten

Xavier Booker
Xavier Booker (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

With most of the Early Signing Period action in the books, Rivals.com continues its conference-by-conference look at how things on the recruiting trail are shaping up.

Today, we take a look at the Big Ten, where Tom Izzo has landed his best class in a decade, Iowa has a sneaky good class and Rutgers might have the most under-appreciated signee in the country.

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RELATED: Big Ten recruiting rankings | Winners and losers of the Early Signing Period

THIS SERIES: Breaking down the ACC | Big 12 | SEC

2023 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2024 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team

2025 Rankings: Top 40

Transfer Portal: Latest news

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TOP CLASS: Michigan State  

Jeremy Fears Jr.
Jeremy Fears Jr. (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Tom Izzo put his head down and went to work in the recruitment of the 2023 class, and the Spartans landed their best class in a decade, good enough for third nationally.

Michigan State’s class is made up of four prospects – all ranking in the top 100 nationally – and is headlined by Xavier Booker, the current No. 1 overall player in the Rivals150. The five-star forward can play both inside and out, and is very mobile at 6-foot-10.

Booker is joined by four-star point guard Jeremy Fears Jr., Gehrig Normand and Coen Carr. Fears is a true floor general that always tries to get his teammates involved, and the pieces around him all make sense. Normand is a great outside and mid-range shooter that has undervalued athleticism. Carr is a fantastic athlete who jumps out of the gym and can guard multiple positions.

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TOP PROSPECT: Xavier Booker  

Xavier Booker is currently ranked No. 1 in the 2023 Rivals150, and it’s mostly due to his tremendous upside on the offensive end. The five-star forward moves extremely well and has solid shot mechanics for a player of his height.

At 6-foot-10, he can operate out of the dunker spot or on the perimeter. He’s at his best driving with his left hand and then reading the defense to determine whether to take it to the rim or shoot a pull-up jumper.

The next phase in his development process is to become a better paint defender and attack the glass more without floating on the perimeter the majority of the time. The fluidity and potential are there, but he will have to have a strong winter season to stay atop the rankings.

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SLEEPER CLASS: Iowa  

The Hawkeyes' class is headlined by four-star forwards Ladji Dembele and Pryce Sandfort, and they’re joined by three-star guard Brock Harding and three-star big man Owen Freeman. Fran McCaffrey’s recruiting class is one of the least talked about in the top 25 of the Rivals team rankings, mainly because there’s no headliner that jumps off the page. But it’s a good class nonetheless.

Dembele is a well-built prospect physically and can score inside, but is also very comfortable shooting from the outside. Speaking of shooters, Sandfort is one of the most elite shooting forwards in the country and should provide immediate scorers for the Hawkeyes.

Harding is a point guard with quickness and shiftiness that can score and distribute the ball. Lastly, Freeman is a big man that can score in a variety of ways and provide a low-post presence.

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UNDERAPPRECIATED SIGNEE: Gavin Griffiths  

Watching college basketball early into this season, it’s clear that a lot of teams don’t have enough shooters on their roster. Well, that’s exactly what four-star wing Gavin Griffiths provides. Griffiths is surely appreciated by the Rutgers fan base and the team's coaching staff, no doubt about that. But due to his lack of flashiness, he’s not talked about nearly enough on the national level.

Griffiths missed the first couple sessions of EYBL play this past spring, so the buzz didn’t start back until almost the summer. He’s a knockdown shooter with length that can guard multiple positions on the defensive end. Griffiths is also not afraid to stick his nose in the mix and do the dirty work on both ends while playing with an edge.

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WORK LEFT TO DO: Michigan  

Since Juwan Howard took over as the head man in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines have yet to have a class finish outside the top three in the Big Ten class rankings. Currently, they sit at eighth place in the conference after the Early Signing Period.

Michigan has two quality pieces coming into the program in Papa Kante and George Washington III, but the Wolverines will need more additions to this recruiting class or will need to add some studs from the transfer portal to keep up with the rest of the conference this cycle.

As of now, the Wolverines don’t seem to be trending for any remaining prospects that would move the needle in the 2023 class.

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