NCAA Basketball Teams Able to Replace Current Stars with 2014 Stud Recruits
Some college basketball programs make recruiting look so easy.
The elite programs are able to sustain themselves with a continuous stream of four- and five-star prospects, collecting McDonald's All-Americans like the rest of us consume McDonald's sandwiches.
Many of this season's potential contenders are no different.
While some will be losing superstars when the 2013-14 season ends, the sting will be lessened a bit when another top-75 recruit enrolls the following summer.
These nine teams—presented alphabetically—have great expectations of what a newcomer can do to replace one of this year's top producers.
All recruit rankings are their 247 Composite rankings as of the October 16 update.
THE STAR: Aaron Gordon
THE STUD: Craig Victor (No. 29)
One of the biggest questions swirling around Arizona's Final Four potential concerns the best position for rookie forward Aaron Gordon.
Whether he's playing the small or power forward spot, the excitement over Gordon is palpable in Tucson.
Gordon is currently projected as a 2014 NBA lottery pick, with DraftExpress listing him at No. 4 in its Sept. 17 mock draft update.
If Gordon goes pro after one season, New Orleans native Craig Victor will be a capable replacement.
Victor's not as stunning an athlete as Gordon, whose explosiveness has drawn comparisons to Blake Griffin. He's more of a mid-range power forward who succeeds through strong fundamental skills and a ceaseless motor.
The Wildcats frontcourt may blend more cohesively with Victor joining Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson next season. Neither Ashley nor Hollis-Jefferson are equipped to give Tarczewski the low-post support he needs.
Victor will be the kind of lunch-pail support player that Tarczewski needs, with potential to become a leading man in his own right.
THE STAR: Andrew Wiggins
THE STUD: Kelly Oubre (No. 7)
Kansas Jayhawks fans are sure to enjoy the Andrew Wiggins era despite its brevity.
When Wiggins most likely heads to the NBA lottery next season, the proverbial next man up is ready in the form of Texan swingman Kelly Oubre.
Oubre surged to the top of analysts' rankings after falling to Scout's No. 66 spot heading into his junior year.
He thrived on a Houston Hoops AAU team that also included blue chips Justin Jackson and Justise Winslow, eventually surpassing both of his teammates on most charts.
Wiggins has made notable improvements to his jump shot, as can be seen in the attached photo. His release has raised and quickened from when analysts first began evaluating him.
Oubre's lefty stroke is currently drawing similar critiques from scouts, particularly a lack of arc on his longer shots.
While Oubre's not quite the all-around game-changer that Wiggins appears to be, there's still a year for him to improve all facets of his game.
Currently listed at No. 13 in DraftExpress' 2015 mock draft, expect to hear his name a lot over the next two seasons.
Don't, however, expect the sheer tsunami of hype that has swirled around Wiggins.
THE STARS: Willie Cauley-Stein and Andrew Harrison
THE STUDS: Karl Towns (No. 8) and Tyler Ulis (No. 34)
Of course, you know John Calipari has replacements lined up for next season.
With four players listed in DraftExpress' 2014 mock and a few others very likely to test the waters, Coach Cal is eternally planning to reload.
New Jersey product Karl Towns could fit nicely next to this season's touted big man, Dakari Johnson.
Towns is a capable face-up player and able to shoot out to the arc. Those perimeter skills make him a nightmare for defenders, much more so than the simple offense of sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein.
Cauley-Stein is a wise player in that he knows his limitations on both ends. He's barely a threat in the mid-range, let alone at the three-point line. Towns will need some toughening up to be an adequate replacement for Cauley-Stein on the defensive end, as well.
When Andrew Harrison and his NBA-ready body (6'5", 205 pounds) go pro, opposing point guards may be tempted to breathe a sigh of relief at facing the 5'8", 145-pound Tyler Ulis.
While the scrawny Chicago native won't intimidate anyone when he gets off the bus, he's a difficult player for any defender to keep in front of him.
Whichever Wildcats are still on the roster next season will enjoy playing with Ulis, as he takes delight in getting into the lane and dishing to open teammates for easy dunks. He's not the matchup problem that Harrison is, but he'll make plays all the same.
THE STAR: Russ Smith
THE STUD: Shaqquan Aaron (No. 23)
As is appropriate in the Bluegrass State rivalry, whatever Kentucky does, Louisville does the exact opposite.
While the Wildcats prepare to replace massive point guard Andrew Harrison with the tiny Tyler Ulis, Louisville will slot lengthy wing Shaqquan Aaron in place of 6-foot-nothing star Russ Smith.
Some of the scouting services list Aaron as a shooting guard, although he'll likely project more as a small forward once he adds a few cheeseburgers to his 6'8", 175-pound frame.
Like Smith, he's a player who likes the ball in his hands and wants to make the play when he gets it.
While Aaron has the potential to make as many plays as Smith on offense, the defensive end may need work.
Smith takes pride in blowing up passing lanes and streaking in for easy layups. Aaron lacks the strength to play physical defense and the focus to make those instinct plays that are Russdiculous' bread and butter.
THE STAR: Glenn Robinson III
THE STUD: Kameron Chatman (No. 32)
Michigan fans could have watched four of their starters leave for the NBA in April, but Glenn Robinson III's decision to return gives them a go-to scorer to watch this season.
Robinson may only need to prove that he can hit his jumper consistently to cement his 2014 lottery status. Draft Express currently lists him 12th in its 2014 mock.
Portland native Kameron Chatman could get the first shot at filling Robinson's shoes if the sophomore does decide to go pro.
Like Robinson, Chatman is a lengthy player who could stand a little more muscle. He currently measures 6'7" and weighs 195 pounds, according to his Scout.com profile.
Chatman's a skilled rebounder who may gravitate more toward the interior than the three-point line unless he improves his jumper and becomes more aggressive about taking it.
He should fit in nicely next to shooters like Nik Stauskas and Zak Irvin in next season's lineup.
THE STAR: P.J. Hairston
THE STUDS: Justin Jackson (No. 9) and Theo Pinson (No. 19)
As of right now, North Carolina is the only school with multiple commits in the 247 top 20. Aside from wings Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson, point guard Joel Berry will also don Carolina blue in 2014.
Jackson and Pinson, however, will be the ones who get a shot at replacing swingman P.J. Hairston.
There's no guarantee that Hairston will be bolting for the NBA after this year, but after a difficult offseason, it's not unreasonable to think that he'd be counting the days until he can declare.
Pinson is known as a relentless defensive player with an inconsistent offensive game but with plenty of athletic ability to get to the rim.
Jackson is more likely to replace Hairston's ability to shoot the rock, as he excels from the mid-range area out.
Expect these two to play side-by-side, helping to remedy the problem this year's Tar Heels team has with perimeter depth.
Whether current sophomore Marcus Paige, freshman Nate Britt or the aforementioned Berry is running the offense, that point guard will enjoy playing next to a couple of talents like these.
THE STAR: LaQuinton Ross
THE STUDS: Keita Bates-Diop (No. 27) or Jae'Sean Tate (No. 57)
Of the talented wing players on Ohio State's roster—and there are several—no one will be happier to be out of Deshaun Thomas' sizable shadow than junior LaQuinton Ross.
When Ross hit the floor, he was every bit the aggressor that Thomas had been throughout his career. In fact, Ross' 26.6 percent usage rate was nearly even with Thomas' 27.0, according to StatSheet.com.
Expect Ross to put the pedal to the metal this season in an effort to impress the NBA scouts. It will be no surprise if he leaves next April. Coach Thad Matta will merely shrug his shoulders and slot in newcomers Keita Bates-Diop and Jae'Sean Tate.
Bates-Diop could be every bit the scorer Thomas was and Ross can be.
He's much skinnier than the 220-pound Ross, but he gets his points with superior length as opposed to bulk and strength.
If Bates-Diop puts on some muscle, he'll be a capable all-around threat with solid rebounding skills and the ability to block the occasional shot, especially on shorter forwards.
Tate is more of a banger, but at 6'5" and 215 pounds, he's a bit undersized for his game.
As the son of a 6'10" father, there's still a little room for growth, but otherwise, it's on Tate to improve his perimeter game. His shot doesn't quite extend to three-point range yet.
THE STAR: Markel Brown
THE STUD: Jared Terrell (No. 64)
Markel Brown is an undersized shooting guard who still gets his points usually through great body control in transition. He's not the strongest or fastest player; he's just productive.
When he leaves following his senior season, he'll be replaced by a player who's much more equipped to play a physical game.
Like Brown, Jared Terrell only stands about 6'3", but he outweighs Brown by nearly 30 pounds.
That size allows Terrell to play an aggressive game, using his bulk and strength to pound away on defenders. He also has no problem finishing through contact when he gets to the rim.
Defensively, Terrell will also be able to lock up taller players who can't match his girth.
Aside from being undersized for their positions, Brown and Terrell share another unfortunate similarity: their inconsistent jump shots.
Terrell can be stifled on the drive because defenders aren't forced to respect his jumper yet.
THE STAR: Joe Harris
THE STUD: B.J. Stith (No. 51)
B.J. Stith will be a popular guy when he gets to the University of Virginia's campus, owing largely to his legacy as the son of former Cavaliers great Bryant Stith. His arrival will be bittersweet, however, because it means saying goodbye to current Cavs star Joe Harris.
Like Harris, Stith is a silky shooter, capable of scoring from nearly any distance.
While not elite, Stith is a solid athlete, able to get to the basket off of either hand. Running track in high school has helped in that regard, even though he's told the Charlottesville (Va.) Daily Progress, "I actually hate track."
At 6'5" and 185 pounds, Stith has decent size, but will need a bit more muscle to handle wings from the elite ACC programs. A very capable ball-handler, it's also not out of the question to see him take an occasional turn at point guard when he gets to college.
Wahoos fans may get nostalgic for Harris immediately, especially if Virginia makes a solid NCAA tournament run as preseason expectations dictate.
Still, Stith will be embraced immediately because of his dad and loved later for his game.
For more from Scott on college basketball, check out The Back Iron. Now playing: the Conference Calling 2013-14 preview series.
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