Which teams need strong 2014 classes?
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Is it March yet? Hardly. With the NCAA tournament far in the rearview mirror and Midnight Madness several months away, USA TODAY Sports examines several story lines for the 2013-14 college basketball season.
One recruit can change everything. That’s been proven over and over again on the college basketball landscape — with Kansas winning the top prize in recruit Andrew Wiggins, a projected NBA lottery pick in 2014 and widely-suggested LeBron James clone.
For teams that don’t land the top recruit, like, say Michigan State — the Spartans finished second to Duke in landing Jabari Parker, the No. 2 recruit in the class of 2014 — sometimes Plan B becomes, Chicago Cubs fans’ favorite saying: next season.
While the class of 2014 is still in the infancy stages, with most of the top-rated players yet to commit, the most successful programs are still clamoring for players who can change their program. Two teams — Ohio State and North Carolina — have already gotten off to to a fast start in their reloading projects.
The country’s top two recruits, Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, suggested at the Nike Peach Jam that they’d be a two-for-one package deal for whichever school can lure them to their campus. Every team needs a strong recruiting class. But which elite teams need to reload the most based on players potentially graduating or making the leap to the NBA? It’s difficult to forecast, but here’s a look at five of the teams that need to capitalize on the 2014 class the most, and their recruiting outlook:
1. Michigan State: The Spartans enter the 2013-14 season as one of the top teams in the country, ranked No. 2 in USA TODAY Sports’ unofficial preseason top 25 rankings. That’s due to returning players Gary Harris and Adreian Payne, who decided to skip the NBA and return to East Lansing. But both of them will likely be gone after 2013-14, as will rising senior Keith Appling. A top-notch recruiting class is a must, even though the Spartans bring in two top-100 players in the ’13 class — center Gavin Schilling … [For more on Starting Five: Elite teams that need strong 2014 recruiting classes, click here.]