Instant impact in the Big Ten
[rl]The Big Ten is loading up with quality depth, and a certifiable superstar is coming to the conference.
As a whole, the conference checks in as the third best in the country for the recruiting class of 2007.
Buckeyes lead the charge
Ohio State continues to reel in the best of the best. Thad Matta and his staff signed the nation's sixth best class in 2007. The group features several versatile players.
Kosta Koufos, one of the two five-star players entering the conference, is no Greg Oden. We probably won't see a player of his caliber for some time. However, Koufos should be an instant impact player for the Buckeyes. More of a face up 7-footer with a jumper that extends past the 3-point line, the in-state star is a different kind of center than Oden.
Chicago area standout Evan Turner is the latest versatile wing to pick the Big Ten power. He will be a great addition to the lineup now, and even more so down the road. Guard Jon Diebler could be the team's top scorer of the class. He posted amazing numbers in high school.
Purdue is already ahead of the curve with its incoming class. Four of the five players are familiar with each other and shined with the SYF Players AAU program. E'Twaun Moore, Scott Martin, Robbie Hummel and Greg Hill have great chemistry. The quartet will be a well-oiled machine for Matt Painter. Throw four-star standout Jajuan Johnson - a skilled and versatile forward - into the mix, and the Boliermakers have a good-looking class coming to town. Don't be surprised to see this group make waves in the postseason soon.
Meet the next freshman superstar. His name is Eric Gordon. Indiana lured the in-state star away from Illinois in a well-documented and discussed recruitment. The Hoosiers now have a certifiable star coming to Bloomington, and he's not alone. Joining him is junior college star JaMarcus Ellis and his Chipola (Fla.) teammate DeAndre Thomas. California center Eli Holman could be a nice surprise in Kelvin Sampson's defensive schemes, while Chicago-area forward Brandon McGee can go inside and out.
Tom Izzo has a great foundation to build around in the backcourt. The Spartans inked three players en route to the 14th spot in the national team rankings. Chris Allen, Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers make matchups difficult for the opposition. The three standouts have athleticism, speed and scoring potential.
Jerry Meyer's take: Look for Jon Deibler to fit in well at Ohio State with his shooting ability and high basketball IQ ... Purdue is picking up a foursome from the SYF Players who have great winning chemistry. JuJuan Johnson is also a big man with big upside ... Look for Eric Gordon to wow the Big Ten with his athleticism and skill ... Michigan State is bringing in three perimeter players who should help speed up the tempo on offense ... Illinois and Wisconsin are bringing in post players who should develop nicely in their respective programs ... I love the much-needed competitive spirit that Corperryale Harris and Kelvin Grady will bring to the Michigan backcourt.
Top five incoming freshmen
Gordon could very well be the face of the conference, much like Kevin Durant was last season in the Big 12. The Indiana-bound Gordon is a scorer. His game is built for the physical play of the Big Ten. The big and strong guard from Indianapolis enters college as the second best player in the nation in this class. He could finish his college career as the best player in the conference, even as a freshman.
Don't expect Koufos to post huge numbers at Ohio State as a rookie. He'll contribute and see plenty of minutes, but his scoring and rebounding numbers won't reach Oden status. The Buckeyes have too much talent on the roster for any one player to dominate the stat sheet. Koufos might be a harder player to construct defensive game plans for because of his inside-outside capabilities.
Michigan State has a potential scoring star in Allen, who left SEC and ACC country for the Big Ten. The Atlanta native can score in bunches and convert at the foul line. Playing with a point guard that values scorers in Lucas, Allen should have plenty of opportunities to do what he does best.
Perhaps the most important player in the new brand of Michigan basketball is Corperryale Harris. The Detroit native is a do-everything type of player that should take a little time to get used to the structured approach of new coach John Beilein. Harris, a top-35 recruit, can play three positions and shines at every one of them.
Of the five players that inked with Purdue, Moore is the most polished of the bunch. The 6-foot-3 combo guard from East Chicago (Ind.) High School comes to college as the No. 35 ranked player in the country. He has played well against all of the incoming guards in the conference. Don't be surprised to see him make a big impact right away for Purdue.
Nearly all of the elite programs in the Big Ten have upgraded at the guard positions.
Indiana has Gordon, a potential all-conference player as a rookie. Michigan State has the good-looking three-headed monster of Allen, Lucas and Summers. Michigan locked up Corperryale Harris and Kelvin Grady.
Ohio State has a perimeter threat in Jon Diebler. Illinois will lean on power guard Demetri McCamey. Purdue has Moore. Penn State will put the ball in Talor Battle's hands.
The guards are strong in this incoming class. Expect the action to move a little further away from the basket compared to the recent success of the conference. There are a number of players that will make a difference on the wing. Every night in conference play should be exciting with the potential matchups.
Filling the void
Indiana is forming one of the best guard lineups in the country despite losing Early Calloway and Roderick Wilmont, two of the team's top three scorers from last season. Enter Gordon, the best pure scorer coming into college, and the NJCAA Player of the Year in Ellis.
Ellis, a 6-foot-4 combo guard from Florida's Chipola Junior College via Chicago, averaged 17.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and six assists a game. With Gordon, Ellis, A.J. Ratliff and Armon Bassett, the Hoosiers have firepower at the guards.
Bassett and Ratliff shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range last year.
Inside the numbers
As good as the conference is, only two players are ranked by Rivals.com as five-star prospects. Of the 23 nationally ranked prospects entering the Big Ten, 15 are four-star players and are within the top 100. Six are three-star prospects within the Rivals150.
Ohio State has five nationally ranked players coming to Columbus. Purdue has four joining the lineup next year. Indiana, Michigan State and Illinois are all adding three ranked high school prospects.
Only five of the 23 ranked players that inked with a Big Ten program hail from outside of the regional area that encompasses the conference schools. Chris Allen is leaving Georgia for Michigan State. California natives Eli Holman and Quinton Watkins are leaving the West Coast for the Big Ten. Holman is headed to Indiana while Watkins will play at Illinois.
North Carolina native Eric Wallace signed with Ohio State. Upstate New York point guard Talor Battle isn't making a big move. He signed with Penn State.