Mid-Major Recruiting: Top College Basketball Classes and Players of 2009

Will MossContributor IMay 13, 2009

Top 25 Mid-Major Recruiting Classes:


1.   San Diego State

2.   UNLV

3.   Western Kentucky

4.   George Mason

5.   UCF

6.   Gonzaga

7.   Utah

8.   Loyola Marymount

9.   Saint Louis

10. La Salle

11. Akron

12. Delaware

13. Ohio

14. Illinois State

15. New Mexico

16. George Washington

17. Georgia State                        

18. Santa Clara

19. Tulsa

20. VCU

21. Miami (Oh)     

22. Harvard

23. UNC Greensboro

24. Drake

25. San Diego


Top Scorer                                Eric Lawton (San Diego State)

Lock Down Defender               Christian Salecich (Saint Louis)

Best Rebounder                        Malcolm Thomas (San Diego State)

Top Shooter                              Ben Simons (Drake)

Best Passer                               Ray Taylor (Florida Atlantic)

Best Pro Prospect                     Anthony Marshall (UNLV)

Fastest                                      Devon Saddler (Delaware)

Best Low Post Defender          Rashanti Harris (Georgia State)

Best Upside                              Aaric Murray (La Salle)

Best Athlete                              Mangisto Arop (Gonzaga)


Supreme Starters

Top PG—Donte Medder (Tulsa)

Top SG—Anthony Marshall (UNLV)

Top SF—Kelly Olynyk (Gonzaga)  

Top PF—Rashanti Harris (Georgia State)

Top C—Zeke Marshall (Akron)



Breakdown of Top Five Classes

San Diego State:

With six players graduating, including their top two scorers, San Diego had to restock to try and get another 20-win season. They did that and more, putting together the best recruiting class outside the Big Six conferences. 

With their top five scorers last year being forwards, clearly coach Steve Fisher has a talent at bringing the best out of every player and making tweeners look like giants. That is why Kawhi Leonard is such a perfect fit for the Aztecs. An ESPNU Top 100 player, Kawhi, a versatile big who plays bigger than he is thanks to a large wingspan, finishes strong and is a dominant rebounder, a lost trait these days outside of centers.

Throw in the scoring machine that is Eric Lawton, who averaged 23 points per game at West Valley this past season, and you get a nice combination of scoring and rebounding. If Eric adds some mass to himself he could dominate the Mountain West.

I know if you look at their signings it would be easy to forget about Chase Tapley and Alec Williams, but they could end up thriving in Fisher’s game plan.

Chase Tapley is a good scorer who has a good understanding of the game. Alec Williams will have fun in his new home. Another undersized forward at 6'5", 230 lbs, Williams will and can make open shots from about anywhere and will work hard on defense.

Lastly, Malcolm Thomas. He spent one season at Pepperdine before transferring to San Diego City College. Malcolm will bring size and will rack up rebounds.  

This is a class built for San Diego’s system and should bring an immediate impact and could be the future starting five if it all works out right.



Soon-to-be big-man-on-campus Anthony Marshall leads the Rebels recruiting class. He can score, rebound, defend multiple positions, and enjoys doing it. He is a born winner.

He will make guys around him better and he could become the heart and soul of the team. With UNLV’s leading scorer, Wink Adams, graduating, that leaves a hole to fill and Anthony will fill.

UNLV has a small team, which forced the guards to try and create for themselves leading to some bad shots. Carlos Lopez is a 6'9" finesse forward who has many offensive skills and can be utilized in the pick-and-pop.

They are a match made in heaven and Lopez should thrive in the Sin City.

Justin Hawkins is a defensive specialist who can put his man on lockdown and chip in 8-10 points a game. He will play a key role in Lon Krueger's strategy and along with Anthony should make a scary backcourt.


Western Kentucky

Western Kentucky had another great season and was two points away from the Sweet Sixteen for the second time in a row.  They lose their second leading scorer in Valdez but keep all the other key components.

Their top recruit looks a lot like a player they have now. Terrence Boyd has the same build at 6'5", 230 lbs as Junior Steffphon Pettigrew, who is 6'5", 225 lbs. They are both strong and athletic undersized forwards who can knock down shots and make in impact on the glass.

Add to that Jordan Swing, who has been praised for his ability to play every position and not having any weakness in his game and ultralete (extremely athletic) William Green and their class gets depth. Green, who can hit open shots, blocks shots, and if he grows over the summer and adds some weight to his 6'6", 190 lb frame, could turn out to be a big steal.

Caden Dickerson is an outstanding defender and a good team player. He could develop into their go-to defender and will help make the offense run smoothly. 

This class does not bring a lot of scoring, but they did bring in some hand workers and good defense. Look out for Western Kentucky to compete again next season and make it back to the Big Dance.


George Mason

George Mason could end up being really in scary in a year or two thanks to this class.

From Sherrod Williams and Rashad Whack they will get a lot of scoring from easy jumpers and slashing and attacking the basket. They will also play sound defense and are tough kids. If you let them grow alongside of point guard Vertial Vaughns, who attacks the basket which will suck in the defense creating more shots for the guards, you will have a strong backcourt who will put up points and shut down opponents.

Their front court will blend nicely together. Johnnie Williams can run, jump, and score in the half court, score in an uptempo offense, rebound, and loves to play the game. Put the junkyard dog that is Paris Bennett down there and Patriot fans will giggle over their big man’s play.

Paris is undersized but will out-hustle anyone in the country and plays fundamental basketball. He is not a scorer but that will not be his job. Instead, he will have to get rebounds, play defense, and he will make practice better going all out every time.

Coach Larranaga brought in a very solid class that should only become better as they grow and will get George Mason back to the tournament, and who knows what can happen once they get there.


As Jermaine Taylor graduates, he takes with him his team-leading 26 ppg game and five rebounds per game. He was the only player to average double figures and the team's second leading rebounder creating nightmares for coach Kirk Speraw, but that only motivated the 16-year head coach.

Keith Clanton (6'8", 210 lbs) is an immediate impact player. Keith has grown a lot as player throughout this last year and now SEC teams are kicking themselves for not going after him earlier. He is a good scorer, a solid rebounder, sees the floor well and will find the open man, a hard worker, and will be a matchup terror in Conference USA.

Add Nik Garcia, who is dangerous from deep, along with RJ Scott, and you bring in scoring and a tough defender. They are both athletic players who will spread the court, creating room for Clanton to work. If Nik hits the weight room and adds some strength and if Scott can get a good hold of his handle and become more under control, then these two players can be big time in years to come.

And now. The one. The Only:  Marcus Jordan.

Marcus takes a different path then his father, Air Jordan, but by going to a college without a rich history, Marcus might make some of his own. A strong-willed player who makes good decisions, a tenacious defender, and an extreme athlete who can attack the basket, Marcus is a winner.

In this class, three of the four players made it to or won State. UCF is bringing in winners who love to play on both ends of the floor. They will make immediate impacts and will make UCF a contender in Conference USA in time.


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