By: Mike O’Brien
1. Shabazz Muhammad, coming off of his recent signing to UCLA with its star studded freshman class will be right in the conversation along with his teammate Kyle Anderson for key impact freshman. Muhammad, regarded as the No. 2 player in the class behind Nerlens Noel, is a complete scorer as he can shoot and is very physical getting to the lane, using his entire 6’6 frame. At 6 foot 6 inches, Muhammad can rebound the ball very well and is a good ball handler, creating for others, showing us a classic example of the new type of players that develop into the position many are referring to now as the “Point-Forward.”
2. Kyle Anderson may have been the key to Ben Howland’s top recruiting class of 2012, with the signing of Tony Parker, the Bruins seem ready to make a splash next season. With Muhammad and Parker playing upfront, Kyle Anderson will be the creator of the offense, standing as a 6’8 point guard you can not help but think of the last 6’8 point guard to come through Los Angeles (Magic Johnson) as Anderson also has the capability to play all five positions. Being a great rebounder and defender with his length, Anderson should fit perfect into coach Howland’s system, and I am sure it will not hurt to have two other blue chip prospects along side him.
3. Nerlens Noel, the No.1 overall player in the 2012 recruiting class according to ESPN, and recent signee to Kentucky will be expected to take over right where Anthony Davis left off. Of course these are lofty expectations for a guy right out of high school, but that is what committing to the National Champions will do. Being a great shot blocker the Davis comparisons naturally, however Noel may need a little bit more time to get coached up by Calipari reports are saying. To have a big man in college basketball control the paint is huge, it’ll be interesting to see the development of his offensive game as well.
4. Exit Perry Jones III and Quincy Acy, enter Isaiah Austin. Coming off Elite Eight appearances in two of the last three seasons, Scott Drew has kept it going on the recruiting trail picking up this big 7-footer. Unlike most big men, Austin can dribble and create his own shot and is also a good passer, which will be key for a team looking for new leaders after losing a few key players.
5. Steven Adams, originally from New Zealand, was a huge signing by Pittsburgh coming off a disappointing season of not making the NCAA tournament even though they were a preseason top 25 team. Adams will provide a huge lift upfront for the Panthers next season as he is a great rebounder, who can get boards well outside of his reach, contests and alters shots and has a good touch to finish around the basket.
6. Ricardo Ledo, widely considered by many to be the top perimeter scorer in the 2012 class, will have plenty of opportunities to show off his abilities in helping rebuild the Providence Friars. The key issue with Ledo is his attitude as his biggest problem is between his ears with attention and attitude, Having chose to go to a team in the bottom of the Big East, Ledo seems ready for the challenge to show off his skills.
7. Anthony Bennett, one of the only top players still without a place to play for next season, will be a huge prize for the schools who are in on him such as Washington, UNLV, Oregon, Florida and Kentucky. Bennett’s athleticism is what separates him as he can get to the bucket at will with his slashing abilities as he is also a great rebounder and can also stretch the floor and hit the three. It will be interesting to see where Anthony Bennett ends up, as we are sure to hear his name next season.
8. Alex Poythress, another McDonald’s All-American headed to Kentucky ready to make noise on the college basketball landscape. At 6’8, Poythress has great length and can get up and down the floor very well. His strength is to attack the basket and finish at the rim, even though he can hit the open three, he is most effective when getting to the bucket as the people in Lexington salivate over his arrival on campus.
9. Mitch McGary, one of the biggest surprises to many aas McGary ending up at Michigan, as he was recruited by the countries top programs, he saw Michgan as the place for him. Coming off a season where they won a share of the Big Ten Title for the first time since 1986 and return of top player Trey Burke, McGary is looking to give the Wolverines the boost upfront to get them back to the Final Four. At 6 foot 10 inches, McGary can shoot the ball pretty well having a good mid range game, but his most known for his play in the post as he seems to love contact and banging bodies as he is an outstanding rebounder and scorer inside, something that is definitely needed to compete in the Big Ten.
10. Rodney Purvis, the 6’4 guard from Raleigh, North Carolina surprised many when he decided to stay in state and not only by doing that, but choosing to go to North Carolina State. The former Louisville commit, re-opened his recruiting last year and in doing so, may have found the perfect fit for him to excel. Purvis is a combo-guard with a complete set of his skills, but his best asset happens to be scoring. Watching NC State make a run to the Sweet 16, may just have been the beginning for a team with an All-American point guard on his way, who can score, distribute and defend, do not be surprised to see Purvis and NC State in the mix for the ACC next year.