The crystal ball of college basketball recruiting comes into focus a bit more during July.
There likely won’t be many commitments the rest of the month. But with the first of three five-day evaluation periods set to begin on Wednesday, it will become more clear which prospects coaches are seriously targeting as the clock ticks on the 2016 graduating class.
Roughly one-third (52 of 150) of the Rivals150 for 2016 is currently committed. The Big Ten is off to a good start, securing 10 of those recruits. Michigan State plucked the cream of the Big Ten crop, so far, with a pledge from 6-6 Alabama guard Josh Langford (No. 16 by Rivals, No. 14 by Scout).
Unlike football, where there is strength in numbers, it only takes one or two big commitments to make a basketball class. The Big Ten typically doesn’t pull in classes that “wow” the experts. The league’s lone class ranked in the top-five nationally since 2010 by Rivals or Scout was Indiana’s star-crossed 2012 group (No. 5 by Rivals) that yielded Yogi Ferrell and little else.
Here’s a closer look at the Big Ten recruiting classes heading into July:
247Sports Composite national rank: 4
247Sports Big Ten rank: 1
Overview: Tom Izzo is in the process of potentially compiling the Big Ten’s highest-ranked class since Ohio State’s haul in 2010 (ranked third nationally) yielded six Rivals150 prospects, including Jared Sulliger, DeShaun Thomas and Aaron Craft. The Spartans have commitments from Langford and 6-9 Ohio forward Nick Ward (No. 48 by Rivals) so far and are solidly in the mix for Detroit guard Cassius Winston (No. 28 by Rivals) and 6-6 Michigan native Miles Bridges (No. 24 by Rivals). No. 1 overall prospect Josh Jackson is also originally from Michigan and is considering the Spartans.
247Sports Composite national rank: 7
247Sports Big Ten rank: 2
Overview: The only Big Ten program with two Rivals 150 commits other than Michigan State is — surprise — Northwestern. The Wildcats locked up 6-9 Barret Benson (No. 108 by Rivals) on Monday to go with 6-8 Rapolas Ivanauskas (No. 146 by Rivals) of Barrington, Ill. Chris Collins also plucked three-star point guard Isiah Brown out of Seattle. Northwestern is building momentum on the recruiting trail.
247Sports Composite national rank: 11
247Sports Big Ten rank: 3
Overview: Ohio State had the Big Ten’s top-ranked classes by Rivals and Scout in 2014 and ’15 and the Buckeyes are off to another good start with 6-9 in-state forward Derek Funderburk (No. 56 by Rivals) and three-star 6-10 in-state center Micah Potter. Ohio State is also after 6-5 Georgia guard Kobi Simmons (No. 8 by Rivals) and 6-7 forward Mario Kegler (No. 29 by Rivals), among others.
247Sports Composite national rank: 14
247Sports Big Ten rank: 4
Overview: Penn State ranks pretty high for now after 6-8 forward Joe Hampton (No. 126 by Rivals) committed — again — to the Nittany Lions. Hampton first committed last summer, reopened his recruitment and nearly picked Georgetown, then recommitted to Penn State. He’s a three-star prospect from Maryland. Three-star Philadelphia guard Nazeer Bostick is also committed. If Penn State can get in-state guard Tony Carr (No. 53 by Rivals) and/or in-state 6-6 forward Lamar Stevens (No. 96 by Rivals) it could be a great class.
247Sports Composite national rank: 15
247Sports Big Ten rank: 5
Overview: Michigan scored a big commitment from 6-10 Ohio center John Teske (No. 104 by Rivals) after last July’s evaluation period and added another big man in April with 6-11 in-state center Austin Davis. Michigan is battling Michigan State for Winston, the in-state guard, and is in the mix for several other guards, including Kentucky’s Quentin Goodin (No. 71 by Rivals).
247Sports Composite national rank: 26
247Sports Big Ten rank: 6
Overview: The Terps have just one commit so far but it’s a big one as 5-10 guard Anthony Cowan (No. 58 by Rivals) picked Maryland over Georgetown, Illinois and others in January. Maryland is in the mix for several others, including 6-5 Georgia guard Brandon Robinson (No. 82 by Rivals).
247Sports Composite national rank: 30
247Sports Big Ten rank: 7
Overview: Nebraska seems to have improved its recruiting profile in the Big Ten and notched a win with a commitment from 6-7 Illinois forward Isaiah Roby (No. 130 by Rivals). Keanu Pinder, a 6-8 junior college forward, reopened his recruitment after committing to the Cornhuskers last year.
247Sports Composite national rank: 43
247Sports Big Ten rank: 8
Overview: The Gophers were able to keep in-state 6-6 forward Michael Hurt (No. 144 by Rivals) at home, securing a commitment in January. Now it’s on to another in-state battle. Amir Coffey (No. 50 by Rivals) is a 6-6 forward and has offers from several others, including Arizona, Indiana, Michigan State and Wisconsin. Minnesota is also solidly in the mix for Brooklyn guard Shamorie Ponds (No. 45 by Rivals).
247Sports Composite national rank: 44
247Sports Big Ten rank: 9
Overview: Iowa received a commitment from in-state 6-8 forward Cordell Pemsl (No. 139 by Rivals) last spring. The Hawkeyes are also after 6-5 guard Kevin Huerter (No. 80 by Rivals), 6-7 Illinois forward K.J. Santos, 6-9 Illinois forward Nick Rakocevic and others.
Purdue: Purdue is looking to build off its momentum from the 2015 class with Caleb Swanigan and Ryan Cline. The Boilermakers are in the mix for Ohio guard Xavier Simpson (No. 88 by Rivals) and three-star Texas guard Carsen Edwards. Purdue lost a tough battle for 6-4 Ohio guard Jarron Cumberland (No. 66 by Rivals), who committed to Cincinnati last week.
Indiana: Indiana has cast a wide net in the class and New York guard Rawle Alkins (No. 15 by Rivals) is near the top of the list. Others on the list include 7-foot Thon Maker, 6-9 Colorado forward De’Ron Davis (No. 31 by Rivals), Carr and Stevens (see Penn State overview) from Pennsylvania, 6-3 guard Bruce Brown (No. 53 by Rivals), Cathedral’s Eron Gordon (No. 81 by Rivals) and several others.
Wisconsin: Interesting to note that Wisconsin has not had a nationally-ranked recruiting class since the 2006 group was ranked No. 23 by Scout. The Badgers are in the mix for 6-6 three-star Ohio guard Willie Jackson and 6-4 three-star Chicago guard Skyler Nash, among others.
Illinois: Illinois’ class was ranked No. 16 last year, led by former Cathedral standout Jalen Coleman-Lands. Chicago guard Zach Norvell (No. 92 by Rivals) is a target, along with Chicago point guard Charlie Moore (No. 131 by Rivals) and more.
Rutgers: Rutgers has received an official visit from North Carolina guard Kwe Parker (No. 90 by Rivals) and is in the mix for Connecticut guard Myles Powell (No. 142 by Rivals), as well as three-star New York guard Rashond Salnave. This class could end up looking very good.
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.