For Memphis and UNC, 2010 Recruits Should Bring a Return To Elite Level

Kevin StanleyContributor IFebruary 17, 2010

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 16:  Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts during their game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at the Dean Smith Center on January 16, 2010 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

It's been an odd 2009-2010 season for both the Memphis Tigers and UNC Tar Heels thus far. For two teams that have consistently been in the top 10 throughout the past few years, neither is having a season to write home about.

Memphis was expected by analysts and experts alike to have a down year after losing their head coach. While the Tigers have dropped out of the top 25, they still have a shot to make the NCAA tournament and win Conference USA this season.

The departure of John Calipari has brought about a change in style, players leaving, and a drop in rankings, but head coach Josh Pastner has certainly kept the Tigers' recruiting at the same level, possibly better.

Billed as one of the best recruiters in college basketball for awhile, Pastner has not taken long to prove his worth to the rest of the country on the recruiting trail as a head coach.

Following this season, Pastner will bring in a recruiting class consisting of three players ranked in the top 15 in the nation and two more players that are ranked in the top 70. The class has consistently been rated as first or second in America alongside Ohio State's.

Joe Jackson, Will Barton, and Jelan Kendrick will be the three main additions to the Tigers' roster next year. If Elliot Williams stays with the Tigers for his junior campaign, the rest of the country should prepare.

Barton will bring a ton of athleticism to the two spot coming from basketball-rich Baltimore. Jackson was a local pickup from Memphis that has been consistently rated as one of the top PGs in the country alongside Josh Selby and Brandon Knight, who have yet to commit.

Kendrick will be the crown jewel of the class, rated as the number eight player in America. He should step in and start at the swing position for Pastner right away.

Alongside these three five star recruits, Memphis will bring in two four star players in shooting guard Chris Crawford and Center Tarik Black.

With all the work done off the court, Memphis should have the team on paper to propel themselves back to the elite in college basketball. However it will take great efforts from Josh Pastner on the court to make this team come together and succeed in 2011.

UNC, unlike Memphis, was still a top 10 team coming in to this year's college basketball season. Hampered by injuries and inconsistent play, the Tar Heels have under performed this year.

While they do have an outside shot to still make their season a success by pulling some upsets, the Heels' woes should come to an end soon.

With a class anchored by a player commonly regarded as the best in the nation in 2010, UNC will be dangerous in 2010-2011. Three players ranked in the nation's top 30 will come to Chapel Hill, including two ranked in the top 10.

Harrison Barnes, of Iowa, spurned just about every big name program in the nation, including Duke, when committing to UNC. He will bring a wealth of skill to the swing position for the Tar Heels.

The program has been led by point guards, power forwards, and centers for the past decade. Barnes' arrival on campus should see a return to the athletic, score-first swingman that's been absent in Chapel Hill since players like Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, and Jerry Stackhouse dominated the ACC.

Joining Barnes in UNC's class will be two high profile guards in Reggie Bullock and Kendall Marshall. Both players should bring speed and skill to the Tar Heels backcourt and make fans forget about Ty Lawson. One of them will likely be the starting point guard for UNC next season.

I can't speak for Marshall, but I was able to see Bullock play in person this past summer at the AAU National Championships here in Orlando. He will bring a ton of speed and athleticism to the Tar Heels and was one of the most impressive players I've seen in person.

Along with Ohio State, Memphis and UNC will bring some dynamic talent to their respective campuses in 2010. Sure, John Calipari is probably not done in Kentucky and will likely end up with a heralded class to help reload in Lexington, but look for Memphis and UNC to return to prominence with the arrival of their new recruits.