SportsProf

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Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Big 10 Is In Trouble

Basketball-wise, that is.

At least, according to the latest dope on recruiting that I've been able to pick up from The Sporting News, via ScoutHoops.com.

There are several undecided players among the Top 100, but among those who committed, here's the breakdown:

ACC -- 19 players.
SEC -- 15.
Big East -- 13.
C-USA (or Memphis, Louisville, Marquette and Cincinnati combined) -- 13.
Big 12 -- 12.
Pac 10 -- 9.
Big 10 -- 5.
Atlantic 10 -- 2.
Mountain West -- 2.
Missouri Valley -- 1.

If you cruise this list, you'll note the following:

1. If you're a University of Washington fan, be very happy. Coach Lorenzo Romar has landed 2 of the Top 15 recruits, and now U Dub, as the locals call it, will be part of the annual conversation as to which Pac-10 teams will go to the Big Dance. Yes, Arizona still will be there, but Ben Howland at UCLA hasn't made much of a dent on recruiting yet, and Stanford and Cal seem to be slipping.

2. If you're a Louisville fan, be very happy. Rick Pitino has the old recruiting mojo back, and I counted at least 3 and perhaps 4 of the Top 100 headed to the "other" major hoops school in the Bluegrass State. If you're a Kentucky fan, you should be a little worried and hope that some of the remaining holdouts commit to Lexington.

3. Bill Self and Kansas landed 3 of the top 20 kids, and Mississippi State has landed two of the top 21. They should be excited in Lawrence and Starkville. Forget about football, you have serious hoops there.

4. The most highly touted prospect who is uncommitted is Andray Blatche, a 6'10" PF from the South Kent School in South Kent, CT, who is considering two powers (Syracuse and North Carolina), one school with a great reputation (Georgetown), one hoop pretender (West Virginia) and one hoop doormat (Penn State). That's a wide range of choices. If Blatche goes to Penn State, he'll be the guy, get double-teamed every night, and after two years end up wondering why he choose to play his college hoops in Happy Valley. It will be interesting to see where he ends up. Carolina is tempting, but since Roy Williams is a great recruiter, the battle for minutes in Chapel Hill will be fierce.

5. Also re-loading: Duke, NC State, OK State, UConn and Notre Dame and loading, period, UNLV, Marquette and a few others.

There are so many things to write about and conclusions to draw that I could write endlessly on this topic, but the best things for you to do are to read the list and draw your own conclusions. Remember, some of these schools are boarding schools, which means that the name of the town is not necessarily where the kid is from, which makes it harder to figure out why a kid is choosing what school (so chalk it up to AAU team connections and the hard work of assistant coaches everywhere). For example, the 21st recruit, Vernon Goodridge, from Philadelphia Lutheran Academy, is not from Philadelphia, and thus the curious connection to Mississippi State may not be so curious after all (as up until 2 years ago, when Germantown Academy's Matt Walsh matriculated at Florida and his teammate Ted Skuchas inked with Vanderbilt, Phila-area kids were not wont to sign with SEC schools). Still, it isn't that there is a direct route from Philadelphia to Starkville, Mississippi.

By the way, note that St. Joe's landed one of the Top 100 and three other highly rated prospects in what Coach Phil Martelli is saying is his best recruiting year ever. Which means, of course, that the magical season that was 2003-2004 with the best backcourt in America (Jameer Nelson and Delonte West, for those who forget) has paid major dividends for the little school that definitely could play.

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