Though the Wildcats suffered a blow in August when forward
Stephen Jackson was declared academically ineligible for at
least the first semester, coach Lute Olson's class is still the
best in the country. The main reason? Guard Mike Bibby (page
178) from Shadow Mountain High in Phoenix is considered to be
the finest point guard prospect out of the West since Jason Kidd
emerged from Oakland. With Bibby and forwards Eugene Edgerson
from Augustine High in New Orleans and Bennett Davidson from
West Valley (Calif.) Junior College, the Wildcats have
transformed themselves into contenders for the Pac-10 title this
year--and the national championship next season.
The Orangemen lost three seniors from the team that was defeated
in last season's NCAA final, and two other players transferred,
so there were plenty of holes to fill. But coach Jim Boeheim has
signed his biggest--and best--class since 1988. Headlining the
group is 6'2" Jason Hart from Inglewood, Calif., who will
replace Lazarus Sims at the point, and Winfred Walton, a 6'10"
defensive wonder who will take over for John Wallace at power
Despite the loss of All-America guard Kerry Kittles and
sharpshooting forward Eric Eberz, the Wildcats are favored to
win the Big East title because, in part, coach Steve Lappas
landed the big prize of the freshman class: 6'10" forward Tim
Thomas (page 36). Four other blue-chip recruits, led by 6'7"
forward Brian Lynch from Lincroft, N.J., will make an impact.
When New York City's Willie Dersch, one of the nation's top wing
players, picked Virginia over Duke and North Carolina, it marked
one of the biggest recruiting coups in coach Jeff Jones's six
years with the Cavs. Dersch is a real catch, and Kris Hunter, a
6'10" center from Tallahassee, Fla., has drawn comparisons to
November 15, 1996
What coach Pete Gillen's recruiting class lacks in quantity (the
Friars signed only two freshmen) is made up for in quality.
Ndongo N'Diaye, a 7'1" center who speaks five languages,
averaged 21 points and 14 rebounds per game at Suffield (Conn.)
Academy. Kofi Pointer, a 6'8" forward, averaged 15 points and 16
rebounds his senior year at Southern High in Baltimore.
6. MIAMI (FLA.)
Johnny Hemsley, a 6'6" forward from Baltimore who averaged 18
points per game last season, shocked Georgetown coach John
Thompson when he announced he would attend Miami. With Hemsley
and the Sunshine State's top two players--forward Jermaine
Walker (who has yet to qualify) and guard Lucas
Barnes--Hurricanes coach Leonard Hamilton has the best class of
his seven years at Miami.
Ruben Patterson, a 6'7" swingman who averaged 27 points per game
last year at Independence (Kans.) Community College, will
provide a nice complement to the inside game of Danny Fortson.
And D'Juan Baker, a 6'5" guard who averaged 22 points per game
at Midland (Texas) College, is a three-point gunner.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski hauled in another stellar class for the
Blue Devils. Guard Nate James from Frederick, Md., who won the
three-point contest at the McDonald's All-America weekend, and
forward Mike Chappell from Southfield, Mich., could be starting
by season's end.
The Blue Demons signed five players, including forwards Ayinde
Avery and Ridcardo Crumble. At 6'7", Avery is a silky slasher
who averaged almost as many rebounds (14) as points (16) in his
senior year at Prosser High in Chicago. The 6'8", 235-pound
Crumble should provide help on the boards.
"I was at Marquette when we had Jeffrey Dahmer eating people
three blocks away," said Vols coach Kevin O'Neill. "If I can
recruit with that hanging over me, I can recruit anywhere." He
sure can. Two-time all-state center Charles Hathaway from
Nashville and forward C.J. Black from Chattanooga were sought by
nearly every school in the nation but chose to stay in-state and
play at Knoxville.
Six-foot-six forward Mike Robinson from Peoria, Ill., and 6'3"
guard Jaraan Cornell from South Bend, Ind., both consensus Top
25 players, will see plenty of action for the defending Big Ten
champs this season. However, the Boilermakers were spurned by
Kentucky-bound center Jamal Magloire.
Point guard Julius (Doc) Robinson, who scored 20 points per game
last season at Selma (Ala.) High, and Daymeon Fishback, a 6'5"
guard who was Mr. Basketball in Kentucky, will form a talented
backcourt for seasons to come.
Coach Tubby Smith had only five players on scholarship after
last season, so he went out and brought in eight bodies. To
bolster the inside, Smith signed two 7-footers plus 6'9" Lorenzo
Hall. Smith added a scoring weapon in 6'8" Devin Baker, who
averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds per game last season at
Hagerstown (Md.) Community College.
With the loss of four starters and 71% of their scoring, the
Huskies signed seven players, three of whom could start this
season. The gems are juco All-America Monquencio Hardnett, a
6'4" off-guard who averaged 24 points per game at Middle Georgia
College; 6'6" swingman Richard Hamilton from Coatesville, Pa.;
and 6'6" forward Kevin Freeman from Paterson, N.J.
15. GEORGIA TECH
Kevin Morris, a point guard from New York City's Martin Luther
King Jr. High, may have arrived in Atlanta without the fanfare
of Kenny Anderson or Stephon Marbury--former Yellow Jacket point
guards from the Big Apple--but he could end up in the same
place: the NBA. Morris averaged 25 points per game last season
and is just as quick as his predecessors. Pablo Machado, a 6'11"
center, was Georgia's player of the year.
It's not that coach Dale Brown's job was in jeopardy after three
straight losing seasons, but it didn't hurt his future when he
signed Lester Earl, a 6'9" forward who averaged 20 points and 11
rebounds per game at Glen Oaks High in Baton Rouge.
The Crimson Tide signed four juco transfers, including 6'8"
forward Demetrius Alexander from Hutchinson (Kans.) Junior
College. Alexander, who averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds per
game, has a nice shooting touch, is a deft passer and excels at
beating his man off the dribble.
18. FLORIDA STATE
Kerry Thompson, who averaged 19 points and four steals per game
at Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College, can dazzle at the
point. Another Thompson, this one a 6'8" forward named Ronald,
could find his way into the starting lineup by midseason.
Off-guard Devonaire Deas, who averaged seven rebounds and nine
assists a game at St. Thomas More High in Oakdale, Conn., was
the backcourt mate of North Carolina recruit Ed Cota.
Three junior college transfers will contribute right away: guard
Corky Ausborne, center Keon Clark and forward Tyrone Nesby.
Second-year coach Bill Bayno's class could become even better if
Issiah Epps, a 6'9" center from Kingstree, S.C., who has yet to
qualify, becomes academically eligible.
20. NORTH CAROLINA
Still trying to fill the voids left by the early departures of
Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse in 1995, the Tar Heels
signed 6'9" forward Vassil Evtimov and 6'6" swingman Michael
Brooker. Ed Cota could become the first true freshman to start
at point guard in Chapel Hill since Kenny Smith in 1983-84.
The pillars of new coach Bruiser Flint's six-player class are
small forwards Mike Babul and Winston Smith. Babul, at 6'6",
scored 20 points per game at North Attleboro (Mass.) High. The
6'7" Smith, who hails from Elizabeth, N.J., can play every
position on the floor except center.
22. MICHIGAN STATE
David Thomas, who can play both off-guard and small forward,
averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds per game at Notre Dame High
in Brampton, Ont. Center DuJuan Wiley is a 6'9" rebounding force
from Wabash Valley (Ill.) Junior College, and point guard Mateen
Cleaves averaged 27 points per game at Flint (Mich.) Northern
23. OKLAHOMA STATE
The Cowboys signed two superior guards from Oklahoma City in Joe
Adkins (21 ppg) and Estell Laster (23 ppg) and a forward,
Desmond Mason, who averaged 22 points per game at Waxahachie
Woni Mohamed, a 6'9" center from the Ivory Coast, and 6'6"
swingman Vincent Whitt from Greensboro, N.C., should keep things
lively down in Death Valley.
25. SETON HALL
Shaheen Holloway, a 5'10" point guard, was a three-time
all-state selection at St. Patrick's High in Elizabeth, N.J.
"It's great to know that I have my starting point guard for the
next four years," said Seton Hall coach George Blaney. Alas,
Coach, Holloway is so good he'll never stick around for four