Arizona, N.C. State early leaders for 2012's top class

by | College Basketball Recruiting Blogger
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Coach Tom Crean is putting together a top-5 group, hoping to return the Hoosiers to glory. (Getty Images)  
Coach Tom Crean is putting together a top-5 group, hoping to return the Hoosiers to glory. (Getty Images)  

The early signing period is just starting, but it will be tough for any team to catch Arizona in the class of 2012.

The Wildcats have three five-star frontcourt players, including two top-five prospects, as well as another top-40 guard who can score the ball with the best of them. Sean Miller has quickly restocked his cupboard with this recruiting class, a group that could put Arizona in the thick of the national title hunt by next season.

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The usual suspects are in the top 10 of the rankings, with North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas, Syracuse and UCLA getting recognition. Indiana is hoping to make a return to glory with its top-five group, while John Beilein now gets tremendous talent to insert into his system.

What makes the class of 2012 interesting are the newcomers to the cream of the crop. Mark Gottfried has made a huge impact during his first offseason at North Carolina State, getting two top-25 recruits and remaining in the hunt for several more. The biggest question facing Ed Cooley when he took over at Providence centered on his ability to get the top New England players to play for the Friars. He answered those concerned by nabbing arguably the most explosive backcourt tandem in the high school ranks.

These rankings are nowhere close to a finished product. Unlike in previous years, when most of the top talent had already made a decision on their future destination, nine CBSSports.com five-star prospects are still up in the air. By the time December rolls around, Kentucky or Memphis could make a run at the No. 1 spot. Indiana is still in the hunt for the top spot if they nab Gary Harris. North Carolina State has a shot if it can get a commitment from Amile Jefferson.

For the foreseeable future, though, it's Arizona with a sizeable lead on the rest of the competition.

(CBSSports.com player rankings in parenthesis.)

1. Arizona
Commitments: Brandon Ashley (3), Kaleb Tarczewski (5), Grant Jerrett (23), Gabe York (35)

The only team with three top-25 recruits, Arizona should end the season atop the rankings barring major moves from another program.

2. North Carolina State
Commitments: Rodney Purvis (18), T.J. Warren (25), Tyler Lewis (55)

Mark Gottfried has done a dynamite job in his first offseason in Raleigh. All three players are in-state kids that he needed to keep home.

3. North Carolina
Commitments: Marcus Paige (28), Brice Johnson (32), Joel James (54), J.P. Tokoto (59)

No five-star prospects, but the Tar Heels bring in several impact players, including Johnson, who could be an absolute star one day.

4. Indiana
Commitments: Yogi Ferrell (27), Hanner Perea (29), Jeremy Hollowell (36), Peter Jurkin, Ron Patterson

This is the group that Tom Crean is banking on to bring glory back to the Hoosiers. They're on the same AAU team, so chemistry is there.

5. Providence
Commitments: Ricardo Ledo (17), Kris Dunn (24), Josh Fortune

Ed Cooley will welcome arguably the most potent backcourt duo in the nation, with the emotional Ledo and explosive Dunn.

6. Michigan
Commitments: Mitch McGary (2), Glenn Robinson Jr. (63), Nik Stauskas (98)

McGary's commitment in early November put this group over the top. No one can question John Beilein's ability to get top-notch talent now.

7. Texas
Commitments: Cameron Ridley (8), Prince Ibeh (61), Javan Felix (83), Iaonnis Papapetrou, Connor Lammert

The Longhorns have one of the best inside tandems in the country in Ridley and Ibeh, while Felix is a rising point guard.

8. Kentucky
Commitments: Archie Goodwin (6), Willie Cauley (37)

Expect this ranking to rise in the next few weeks, as we still think John Calipari has at least one or two more five-star guys up his sleeve.

9. Syracuse
Commitments: DaJuan Coleman (10), Jerami Grant (48)

Getting Coleman to stay home was huge for Jim Boeheim, who also dipped into the D.C. area for the younger son of Harvey Grant.

10. UCLA
Commitments: Kyle Anderson (4), Jordan Adams (72)

Prior to Dominic Artis' decommitment, this was a top-five class. It can get back there if No. 1 recruit Shabazz Muhammad heads to Westwood.

11. Baylor
Commitments: Isaiah Austin (7), L.J. Rose (60), Chad Rykhoek

Scott Drew continues to make an impact on the recruiting trail, getting top-100s Austin and Rose. Austin will fit in perfectly in Baylor's frontcourt.

12. Pittsburgh
Commitments: James Robinson (79), Steven Adams

We haven't seen Adams in person yet, but from everything we've heard, he's a top-10 recruit in the class. Robinson is the typical Pitt guard.

13. Maryland
Commitments: Shaq Cleare (26), Jake Layman (57), Seth Allen

Mark Turgeon is already bringing in more stud recruits than Gary Williams. Cleare is a beast down low, while Layman is versatile.

14. Virginia
Commitments: Justin Anderson (44), Evan Nolte (75), Mike Tobey (77), Teven Jones

A nice trio of top-100 recruits for Tony Bennett. Anderson is a born leader, while Nolte and Tobey fit nicely into Bennett's system.

15. Memphis
Commitments: Shaq Goodwin (21), Damien Wilson (91)

The last major pre-signing period commitment was a huge gift for Memphis, which nabbed Goodwin over UCLA. Wilson is an active defensive player.

16. Villanova
Commitments: Ryan Arcidiacono (46), Daniel Ochefu (47)

Before Savon Goodman decommitted from 'Nova, this was a group of three top-50 recruits. Arch and Ochefu are both talented workers.

17. Michigan State
Commitments: Matt Costello (64), Kenny Kaminski (85), Denzel Valentine

This class is filled with versatile players that Tom Izzo will love. Costello and Kaminski are bigs that can shoot, while Valentine can do a little of everything.

18. Wake Forest
Commitments: Arnaud Moto (56), Codi Miller-McIntyre (89), Aaron Rountree, Tyler Cavanaugh, Andre Washington, Devin Thomas

One of the deeper classes in the country, Jeff Bzdelik will be counting on Moto, Miller-McIntyre and the rest to turn around the Deacons.

19. Iowa
Commitments: Adam Woodbury (39), Mike Gesell (94), Patrick Ingram, Anthony Clemmons, Kyle Meyer

Not a flashy class, but Woodbury proved himself as one of the better bigs around, while Gesell is a very solid guard in the backcourt.

20. Houston
Commitments: Danuel House (30), Danrad Knowles (78), Valentine Izundu

James Dickey is getting it done at Houston. House and Knowles both shot up the rankings in the spring and summer. He's not done either.

21. Colorado
Commitments: Xavier Johnson (73), Josh Scott (82), Wesley Gordon, Chris Jenkins

A very solid class so far. Scott and Gordon should form a good inside tandem down low, while Johnson is talented when healthy.

22. Purdue
Commitments: Ronnie Johnson (86), A.J. Hammons (97), Raphael Davis, Jay Simpson

If this group plays to its collective potential, this ranking will seem low in retrospect. Hammons and Simpson have plenty of talent.

23. Florida
Commitments: Braxton Ogbueze (45), Michael Frazier (95), Dillon Graham

Billy Donovan has a nice group of perimeter players on his hands. Frazier and Graham can gun, while Ogbueze is quick and explosive.

24. Texas A&M
Commitments: J-Mychal Reese (50), Alex Caruso (68)

Here is the Aggies' backcourt of the future. Reese is an effective combo guard that can score; Caruso is an unorthodox perimeter scorer.

25. Stanford
Commitments: Rosco Allen (70), Grant Verhoeven (88), Christian Sanders

Johnny Dawkins really developed this class in the last couple of months. Verhoeven and Allen could end up being very good Pac-12 players.
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