College Basketball Recruiting: Ranking the 25 Best 2014 Classes

Kerry MillerCollege Basketball National AnalystDecember 31, 2013

College Basketball Recruiting: Ranking the 25 Best 2014 Classes

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    USA TODAY Sports

    We may be elbows-deep in the 2013-14 college basketball season, but there's no time like the present to look ahead to the rankings of next year's incoming classes.

    It should be an exciting year for freshmen in the ACC, as Duke, North Carolina and Louisville all rank in the Top 6. North Carolina State, Miami (FL) and Syracuse also made it into the Top 25.

    Kansas and Kentucky both figure to lose a lot of players as early entrants to the 2014 NBA Draft, but incoming classes that rank in the Top 10 will keep them both strong, as always.

    Three highly-rated recruits (Myles Turner, Rashad Vaughn and Jaquan Lyle) have yet to commit, and could single-handedly turn a middling class into one of the best in the country in next month's rankings.

    On the following slides, we utilized team rankings and individual scouting reports from 247sports.com, ScoutHoops.com and ESPN.com. Teams are ordered based on their composite rankings from those three sources. Each team's listed 5-star and 4-star recruits are according to 247sports.

Remaining Undeclared Players

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    There are three big names still on the board that haven't yet committed to a school. Signing one of these players could propel a team from honorable mention to top 10.

     

    Myles Turner (6'11" C)

    No. 4 in 247Sports; No. 2 in ScoutHoops; No. 2 in ESPN

    The pain of missing out on Jahlil Okafor will vanish in a hurry for whichever team is able to land Turner. The big man excels on both ends of the court and runs like a gazelle. Kansas is the current favorite to acquire his services, but don't sleep on Southern Methodist. Pairing Turner with Emmanuel Mudiay would give SMU one of the five or six best classes in the nation.

     

    Rashad Vaughn (6'5" SG)

    No. 13 in 247Sports; No. 13 in ScoutHoops; No. 17 in ESPN

    Vaughn is a prolific scorer and could potentially become the cream of this year's shooting guard crop if he gets a little more consistent with his shot. UNLV is the "hometown" favorite, as he is attending Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev. He would certainly fill the scoring void in the Rebels' current class.

     

    Jaquan Lyle (6'5" PG/SG)

    No. 22 in 247Sports; No. 22 in ScoutHoops; No. 38 in ESPN

    Lyle is a combo guard who's a bit too big to be a pure point guard, but not enough of a three-point threat to be a pure shooting guard. However, he has great ball-handling skills and court awareness. If Kansas isn't already the favorite to add Lyle, it likely will be after his visit to Phog Allen Fieldhouse on January 11.

Honorable Mentions

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    Southern Methodist

    Emmanuel Mudiay might just be the best player in the entire 2014 class, but the stand-out point guard is the only player that the Mustangs have signed thus far.

     

    Missouri

    If Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson come back for their senior seasons, Namon Wright and JaKeenan Gant could help propel Missouri to an SEC title.

     

    Purdue

    Seven-footers are pretty hit or miss, but Purdue could return to relevance in the Big Ten if Isaac Haas is a hit.

     

    Tennessee

    The Volunteers have a lot of incoming freshmen, but it's a quantity over quality approach.

25. Miami (FL) Hurricanes

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    Rankings: No. 27 in 247Sports; No. 24 in ScoutHoops; No. 32 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Ja'Quan Newton (6'1" PG/SG)

     

    Strength: Interior scoring

    In addition to Newton—who is much more of a slashing guard than a perimeter shooterthe Hurricanes have a trio of 3-star recruits that includes 6'8" Omar Sherman and 6'10" Ivan Uceda. If incoming shooting guard James Palmer can develop into a legitimate three-point threat, Miami could have one of the best offenses in the ACC.

     

    Weakness: Defense

    These guys should score, but can they defend? Hailing from Spain, Uceda plays like more of a Euro big than a traditional center. Palmer can shoot it well from time to time, but he doesn't provide much of anything on the other end of the court.

24. Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Rankings: No. 23 in 247Sports; Not ranked in ScoutHoops; No. 26 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Justin Coleman (5'10" PG), Devin Mitchell (6'3" SG), Riley Norris (6'7" SF)

     

    Strength: Three-point shooting

    Coleman, Mitchell and Norris are each talented three-point shooters. Norris is probably the best of the bunch, which is for the best for Alabama. He'll have the easiest time finding space for perimeter shots as the tallest of the three recruits.

     

    Weakness: Strength

    All three of Alabama's recruits are very small. Norris is relatively tall at 6'7", but he only weighs 180 pounds. Mitchell checks in at 170 pounds, and Coleman might be 150 pounds when wearing enough layers. They'll find it difficult to finish anywhere near the rim if they don't pack on a few pounds of muscle.

23. Virginia Commonwealth Rams

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    Rankings: No. 28 in 247Sports; Not ranked in ScoutHoops; No. 16 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Terry Larrier (6'7" SF)

     

    Strength: Athleticism

    Larrier can practically jump out of the gym. Mike Gilmore, a 3-star power forward recruit, runs the floor about as well as any big man. Point guard Jonathan Williams is incredibly quick on both ends of the court.

     

    Weakness: Perimeter shooting

    Shaka Smart knows his wheelhouse. This incoming class isn't particularly gifted in regard to long-range shooting, but they will fit swimmingly into VCU's fast-paced and defensive-minded system.

22. Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    Rankings: No. 17 in 247Sports; No. 19 in ScoutHoops; No. 27 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Jared Terrell (6'3" SG), Joe Burton (6'5" SF), Mitch Solomon (6'9" PF)

    JuCo transfer: Jeff Newberry (6'2" PG)

     

    Strength: Athleticism

    Despite being a little undersized, both Terrell and Burton are capable of finishing above the rim. Burton needs to improve his on-ball defending, but Terrell figures to be a terrific two-way guard capable of playing both guard positions.

     

    Weakness: Jump shooting

    At 6'3" and 220 pounds, Terrell is built more like a fullback than a shooting guard. He plays a bit like Virginia's recently graduated point guard, Jontel Evans. He's also built very similarly to the man he'll likely be replacing in the lineup, but let's not go comparing him to Marcus Smart just yet.

    Because of his stocky build, Terrell seems most comfortable getting to the rim as often as possible. Burton doesn't appear to have much of a perimeter game, either. As far as the incoming class is concerned, it's likely Newberry or bust when the Cowboys need to score from more than 10 feet away from the hoop.

21. Providence Friars

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    Rankings: No. 18 in 247Sports; No. 21 in ScoutHoops; No. 23 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Paschal Chukwu (7'2" C), Jalen Lindsey (6'6" SF), Ben Bentil (6'8" PF)

     

    Strength: Size

    With these three guys on the court, Providence will have something of a lite version of the frontcourt that makes Arizona so difficult to beat this year. Chukwu and Bentil will make it nearly impossible for opponents to score in the paint, while Lindsey has the stroke and height to step out to the wing and shoot it over most small forwards.

     

    Weakness: Go-to scorer

    Don't be surprised to see Providence play a lot of games in the low 60s next season. Bentil and Chukwu are great defenders and rebounders, but neither has much of a killer instinct on the offensive end of the court. 

20. Syracuse Orange

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    Rankings: No. 22 in 247Sports; No. 17 in ScoutHoops; No. 20 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: Chris McCullough (6'8" PF)

    4-star recruits: Kaleb Joseph (6'2" PG)

     

    Strength: Defense

    Both McCullough and Joseph have been described by scouts as long, lanky and athletic. For McCullough, that means shot-blocking ability and a nose for rebounds. For Joseph, it results in quick hands and above-average perimeter defense. These two guys also have speed for days.

     

    Weakness: Strength

    The downside of being described as long and lanky is that it's just a nice way of saying that someone hasn't yet grown into his frame. In the open court, Joseph and McCullough will excel, but there's concern about how each will do when it comes time to flex those muscles to fight through contact for a bucket or stand their ground on defense.

19. UNLV Rebels

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    Rankings: No. 21 in 247Sports; No. 16 in ScoutHoops; No. 21 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: Dwayne Morgan (6'8" SF)

    4-star recruits: Goodluck Okonoboh (6'9" C)

     

    Strength: Defense

    Okonoboh is probably the best shot-blocker in this year's recruiting class, possessing an incredible vertical leap and an ability to contest shots without fouling. Morgan is also great at blocking shots and has the size and athleticism to defend just about every position. If Khem Birch (3.8 blocks per game through the end of December) stays for his senior season, UNLV just might lead the nation in scoring defense next year.

     

    Weakness: Scoring

    Okonoboh is a force in the defensive paint, but he's very unpolished on the other end of the court. Most of his points will likely come on tip-ins and put-backs. Morgan's offensive game is much more developed, but he has a tendency to settle for jumpers even though he's exponentially better finishing at the rim.

18. Marquette Golden Eagles

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    Rankings: No. 20 in 247Sports; No. 20 in ScoutHoops; No. 18 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Ahmed Hill (6'5" SG), Sandy Cohen (6'5" SG/SF), Malik Harris (6'7" SF)

     

    Strength: Three-point shooting

    Each of the Golden Eagles' 4-star recruits has range out to the three-point line. Hill, in particular, possesses the skills to evolve into the player that Vander Blue was for this team last season.

     

    Weakness: Size

    They do have an incoming 3-star seven-footer in the form of Satchel Pierce, but the highly rated recruits aren't going to do much to help fill the void formed in the paint by the graduation of Davante Gardner, Chris Otule and Jamil Wilson.

17. Indiana Hoosiers

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    Rankings: No. 19 in 247Sports; No. 22 in ScoutHoops; No. 17 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: James Blackmon Jr. (6'3" SG), Robert Johnson (6'3" SG)

     

    Strength: Three-point shooting

    Blackmon Jr. might be the deadliest three-point shooter in the 2014 class. Johnson isn't too shabby from distance, either, though he profiles as more of a volume shooter who will get his points but often needs a lot of shots to get them.

     

    Weakness: Diversity

    I can appreciate the fact that Indiana is a very young team and doesn't figure to lose much after this season other than Evan Gordon and Will Sheehey to graduation, but what's the point in adding two 6'3" shooting guardsparticularly when you already have a 6'0" combo guard who averages more than 12 field-goal attempts per game?

16. North Carolina State Wolfpack

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    Rankings: No. 14 in 247Sports; No. 18 in ScoutHoops; No. 22 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Abdul Malik Abu (6'8" PF), Caleb Martin (6'7" SF), Cody Martin (6'7" SF)

     

    Strength: Attacking the rim

    The Martin twins are at their best when slashing to the rim and either finishing or kicking it out to an open man on the wing. Abu is a big man with great footwork and a nose for crashing the glass.

     

    Weakness: Ball-handling

    Caleb Martin has a good jumper, but none of these guys has a particularly strong face-up game. To be fair, though, none of them are guards, so it's unlikely that they would be asked to run the offense at any point in time.

15. San Diego State Aztecs

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    Rankings: No. 12 in 247Sports; No. 13 in ScoutHoops; No. 15 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Malik Pope (6'8" SF), Zylan Cheatham (6'7" PF), Trey Kell (6'4" SG)

     

    Strength: Vision

    Kell is a prolific long-range shooter, but this is a very raw incoming class aside from his three-point stroke. However, all three guys have incredible court vision. ESPN describes Pope as having "nifty handle and astute court vision" while ScoutHoops says Kell "possesses a keen sense for spacing and utilizes screens." They'll fit in quite nicely in Steve Fisher's system.

     

    Weakness: Mid-range shooting

    Vision and explosiveness are wonderful intangibles, but someone needs to actually be able to score inside the three-point arc.

14. Stanford Cardinal

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    Rankings: No. 13 in 247Sports; No. 15 in ScoutHoops; No. 9 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Reid Travis (6'7" PF), Michael Humphrey (6'9" PF), Robert Cartwright (6'2" PG), Dorian Pickens (6'4" SG)

     

    Strength: Intangibles

    ScoutHoops praises Travis and Cartwright for their intangibles. ESPN says the same about Pickens while Humphrey is full of potential as a big man who is still very new to playing basketball. None of the four guys will blow us away with athleticism but will rather grow on us as they make intelligent plays throughout the season.

     

    Weakness: Strength

    Travis is quite strong, but the other three players are painfully undersized. Humphrey especially will need to bulk up, or he'll have no hope of competing in the paint with Arizona or UCLA in PAC-12 play.

13. Xavier Musketeers

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    Rankings: No. 16 in 247Sports; No. 14 in ScoutHoops; No. 6 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruitsTrevon Bluiett (6'6" SF), Makinde London (6'10" PF), J.P. Macura (6'4" SG), Edmond Sumner (6'4" PG)

     

    Strength: Depth

    Add in 3-star center Sean O'Mara and Xavier has an entire traditional five-man lineup joining the team next season. Save for Bluiett, though, they are all very raw with tremendous upside serving as their primary strength, so this may be a case of quantity over quality.

     

    Weakness: Defense

    Bluiett, Macura and Sumner each have on-ball defense listed as the primary thing he needs to improve. It will be very difficult to win in the Big East when the guards and small forward can't stay in front of their men on the defensive end of the floor.

12. Georgetown Hoyas

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    Rankings: No. 11 in 247Sports; No. 10 in ScoutHoops; No. 14 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Isaac Copeland (6'9" SF), Paul White (6'9" SF), L.J. Peak (6'5" SG)

     

    Strength: Versatility

    Peak can play either guard position and could even slide over to small forward, if necessary. Copeland will oscillate between shooting guard and small forward while White will suffice at either forward spot. Put these three guys in a lineup with combo guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and guard/forward Reggie Cameron, and this team will be shape shifting all over the court.

     

    Weakness: Ball-handling

    Each of Georgetown's 4-star recruits gets dinged for ball-handling on his scouting report. Though they're all talented scorersCopeland in particular is a fantastic spot-shooter from three-point rangethey may have difficulty creating their own shots.

11. Seton Hall Pirates

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    Rankings: No. 10 in 247Sports; No. 12 in ScoutHoops; No. 13 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: Isaiah Whitehead (6'4" SG)

    4-star recruits: Angel Delgado (6'9" PF)

     

    Strength: Strength

    Both Whitehead and Delgado are beasts. Whitehead almost seems to seek out contact as he's driving to the rim, getting to the free-throw line on an extremely regular basis. Delgado doesn't have much of an offensive game, but he'll remind you of Dennis Rodman in the way that he fights for every rebound.

     

    Weakness: Shooting

    Whitehead is more of a slasher than a shooter, but he's improving. On the other hand, if Delgado is shooting anything other than put-back layups, something has probably gone wrong.

10. Florida Gators

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    Rankings: No. 6 in 247Sports; No. 11 in ScoutHoops; No. 12 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: Devin Robinson (6'8" SF/PF)

    4-star recruits: Brandone Francis (6'5" SG), Chris Chiozza (5'10" PG)

     

    Strength: Speed and three-point shooting

    Oddly enough, it's the shooting guard who isn't receiving great marks in perimeter shooting, but Francis will do just fine as the team's designated slasher. This class is going to run, run and run some more. When Florida does decide to slow things down, Chiozza has good court vision and Robinson can oscillate between the wing and the post, depending on the type of defender he's facing.

     

    Weakness: Strength

    Both Chiozza and Robinson will need to bulk up a bit. At 6'8" and 190 pounds, Robinson is built much like UNC's John Henson was when he first arrived at Chapel Hill. And at just 155 pounds, Chiozza might get broken in half if he ventures into the paint too often.

9. Maryland Terrapins

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    Rankings: No. 9 in 247Sports; No. 9 in ScoutHoops; No. 10 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Melo Trimble (6'2" PG), Dion Wiley (6'3" SG), Jared Nickens (6'6" SF), Trayvon Reed (7'1" C)

     

    Strength: Three-point shooting

    Reed certainly won't be taking many 21-foot jumpers, but Nickens, Trimble and Wiley are each regarded as prolific perimeter shooters. Along with Jake Layman and Evan Smotrycz, Maryland will have at least three or four long-range shooters on the court at all times.

     

    Weakness: Speed/athleticism

    The Terrapins are bringing in a great shot-blocker and a trio of quality perimeter scorers, but they aren't a run-and-gun type of class. They'll likely be setting a lot of screens in the half-court offense and frequently playing zone on the defensive end.

8. Kansas Jayhawks

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    Rankings: No. 15 in 247Sports; No. 5 in ScoutHoops; No. 7 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: Cliff Alexander (6'9" PF), Kelly Oubre (6'7" SG/SF)

    4-star recruits: None

     

    Strength: Size

    Depending on the recruiting site that you prefer, Alexander's weight ranges from 225 to 260 pounds, but they unanimously agree that he is tough as nails and a beast in the low post. Meanwhile, Oubre is almost tall enough to be a center and excels beyond the three-point line. Both players pose matchup nightmares for most teams.

     

    Weakness: Depth and mid-range shooting

    We're not concerning ourselves much at all with the "Will they or won't they leave?" game in regard to players already on the roster, but it's worth noting that there is a lot of potential turnover on Kansas' roster after this season and these are the Jayhawks' only incoming freshmen at the moment—and neither has much of a mid-range game.

7. UCLA Bruins

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    Rankings: No. 7 in 247Sports; No. 7 in ScoutHoops; No. 11 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: Kevon Looney (6'9" PF)

    4-star recruits: Jonah Bolden (6'9" PF), Thomas Welsh (7'0" C)

     

    Strength: Height

    Holy big men, Batman! Do you suppose UCLA is worried about the fact that Tony Parker will be the only big man left on the roster after the Wear brothers graduate? The Bruins should be pretty solid in the paint over the next several seasons.

    Here's hoping there's at least one early-season game in which Steve Alford sends in the "Rebounding Squad"—which is what I'm calling these three recruits, 6'9" Parker and 6'9" point-forward Kyle Anderson.

     

    Weakness: Strength

    Height is great, but there isn't a ton of muscle on those tall frames. All three guysBolden in particularwill need to bulk up, lest they run the risk of simply getting pushed out of the lane over and over again.

6. Louisville Cardinals

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    Rankings: No. 8 in 247Sports; No. 8 in ScoutHoops; No. 5 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: None

    4-star recruits: Shaqquan Aaron (6'8" SG/SF), Quentin Snider (6'1" PG), Jaylen Johnson (6'9" PF), Chinanu Onuaku (6'10" C)

     

    Strength: Balance

    They don't collectively excel at any one thing, but their skills overlap beautifully.

    Snider is a traditional point guard with great court awareness and a respectable mid-range game. Aaron is a quality three-point shooter and slasher. Johnson runs the floor and defends about as well as any power forward in this year's class. Onuaku will become the latest on a list of Louisville centers who can change the game with his shot-blocking ability and rebounding.

     

    Weakness: Interior scoring

    Johnson isn't much of a low-post scorer, and Onuaku doesn't have anything resembling a go-to move in the paint. Snider will need to get stronger in order to be able to penetrate and score among the trees.

5. Arizona Wildcats

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    Rankings: No. 4 in 247Sports; No. 3 in ScoutHoops; No. 8 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: Stanley Johnson (6'7" SG/SF)

    4-star recruits: Craig Victor (6'8" PF), Parker Jackson-Cartwright (5'10" PG), Kadeem Allen (6'3" PG/SG)

     

    Strength: Competitiveness

    Each of Arizona's incoming players possesses that proverbial motor that never quits. Jackson-Cartwright has an incredible basketball IQ, and Johnson and Victor might be the toughest players in this year's class at their respective positions.

     

    Weakness: Size

    The 2013-14 Wildcats have a size advantage over just about every opponent they face. That isn't a trend that they are continuing with this class.

    Victor is a force in the paint at the prep school level, but will 6'8" and 205 pounds without much shooting range cut the mustard at the college level? Johnson is built like a bull, but does he have the lateral quickness to defend against an opponent's drive? Jackson-Cartwright has found success as a driving guard thus far, but will he be strong enough to finish in the paint against bigger opponents?

4. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Rankings: No. 5 in 247Sports; No. 6 in ScoutHoops; No. 3 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: D'Angelo Russell (6'5" SG)

    4-star recruits: Keita Bates-Diop (6'6" SF), Jae'Sean Tate (6'4" SF)

     

    Strength: Rebounding

    Even though this is a smaller class than most, Bates-Diop and Tate have an incredible nose for rebounds on both ends of the floor. Both guys have a high basketball IQ and will frequently out-perform bigger and stronger players at their position simply by outsmarting them and knowing when to be where.

     

    Weakness: Perimeter defense

    The Buckeyes certainly won't be replacing Aaron Craft's hard-nosed defense with any of these players. Russell is incredible on the offensive end of the court, but his defense is a bit hit or miss. Bates-Diop will most likely be defending in the paint, and Tate will eventually be a power forward if he ever has the growth spurt many are expecting.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels

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    Rankings: No. 3 in 247Sports; No. 4 in ScoutHoops; No. 4 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: Justin Jackson (6'8" SF), Joel Berry (6'0" PG), Theo Pinson (6'6" SF)

    4-star recruits: None

     

    Strength: Basketball IQ

    Just about any scouting report on a 4- or 5-star recruit is going to gush about his athleticism, length and potential. North Carolina's three recruits have both the physical and mental prowess. All the scouting reports rave about their feel for the game, their court vision and their unselfishness. If they are as good as advertised, there will be moments when all three guys are on the court together and it will look like the Harlem Globetrotters scoring at will against the Washington Generals.

     

    Weakness: Positional confusion

    The best long-range shooter of the bunch is 6'8" Jackson. The best penetrator is 6'0" Berry. Will they stick to what they're best at or give in to the temptation to let their height dictate their role on the team? Pinson's biggest weakness is three-point shooting and Jackson's biggest weakness is penetration. Putting the bigger guy at shooting guard goes against conventional wisdom, but would give the Tar Heels the best chance at winning.

2. Kentucky Wildcats

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    Rankings: No. 2 in 247Sports; No. 2 in ScoutHoops; No. 2 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: Karl Towns Jr. (7'1" C), Trey Lyles (6'9" PF)

    4-star recruits: Devin Booker (6'6" SG), Tyler Ulis (5'8" PG)

     

    Strength: Three-point shooting

    Towns Jr. has range out to 25 feet, which is nothing short of terrifying since he is a seven-footer and then some. If he keeps shooting from distance, he will inevitably draw comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki. If he can develop a shot-blocking presence, there will also be Anthony Davis comparisons. Booker has incredible three-point range as well, and Ulis can certainly hit jumpers from behind the arc if left open.

     

    Weakness: Youth

    Most teams have the luxury of coupling their 4- and 5-star recruits with veteran leadership, but that's rarely the case at Kentucky. These four players will be expected to contribute in a huge way from day one. As we've seen over the past three seasons at Big Blue Nation, there's no way to know whether freshmen are up to that challenge.

1. Duke Blue Devils

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    Rankings: No. 1 in 247Sports; No. 1 in ScoutHoops; No. 1 in ESPN

    5-star recruits: Jahlil Okafor (6'10" C), Tyus Jones (6'2" PG), Justise Winslow (6'6" SF)

    4-star recruits: Grayson Allen (6'4" SG)

     

    Strength: Quality depth

    Will Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood and/or Quinn Cook be back next season? Will it matter? All four of Duke's incoming freshmen are good enough to start from day one. It's highly unlikely that any one freshman will make the type of impact that Parker has had this season, but the group as a whole should be the best in the country.

     

    Weakness: Perimeter defense

    Okafor will give Duke the shot-blocking presence in the paint that it hasn't had since the days of Shelden Williams and Josh McRoberts, but Allen and Jones leave something to be desired when it comes to defending opposing guards.