Either Duke or Kentucky have finished with the nation's No. 1 recruiting class in the 247Sports final team rankings for 12 of the past 13 seasons. The Wildcats have eight No. 1 finishes in that time span while Duke has four. The lone outlier came in the 2018 recruiting cycle when Memphis landed the No. 1 class.
In short, Kentucky and Duke with their blue-blood pedigrees and Hall of Fame coaches have a firm hold on the title of college basketball's recruiting powers. So who will be the next program, other than the Wildcats or Blue Devils, to reel in a top-ranked class?
Our college basketball writers weigh in with their answers in the first installment of the "Dribble Handoff," a new CBS Sports feature that will debate pertinent topics in college basketball. The first installment comes as the sport grapples with the fallout of an NCAA investigation into corruption in recruiting that has already landed Oklahoma State a one-year . It is expected that other programs will be hit with similar penalties.
Perhaps that's why no members of this panel believe that Arizona, Kansas or Louisville are positioned to be the next team other than Duke or Kentucky to land a No. 1 class. So who is? Here are our best guesses:
Gary Parrish: North Carolina
The words I'm about to type are not meant to discount the talents of any coach who has ever recruited at North Carolina, but, I think, basically any competent coach could recruit well at North Carolina. It's a blue-blood program (with strong ties to the legend Michael Jordan) that's been great my entire lifetime and won three of the past 15 NCAA Tournaments. (FYI: no other school has won more than two NCAA Tournaments in that same stretch.) And though recruiting undeniably dipped while the Tar Heels were operating under an NCAA cloud that seemed to last forever, that NCAA case that went nowhere is now officially in the past. As a result, Roy Williams is back to securing commitments from five-star prospects just like the good old days.
More specifically, the Hall of Fame coach has signed a total of seven five-star prospects in the past three recruiting classes, including three from the Class of 2020. So UNC has clearly positioned itself to be the biggest consistent recruiting threat in the immediate future to Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils and John Calipari's Wildcats. And that's why North Carolina is the school not named Duke or Kentucky that is most likely to next sit atop the annual recruiting rankings.
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Matt Norlander: Michigan State
Come on. This is easy. The key is in one player: Emoni Bates. And things have changed significantly since we last checked in with Bates in the summer of 2019. Even at that point, when Bates was 15, the presumption from too many was that the NBPA and NBA would update the terms of its CBA to allow for the age minimum to change from 19 to 18 by the time Bates graduated high school in 2022. But that was never an automatic, and in fact reports from earlier this spring indicate that the NBA's not realistically looking at any kind of change to its age minimum rule until the end of the CBA in 2024. So with that in mind -- and keeping in mind the realistic chance Bates could nonetheless opt to take the G League Pathway Program route -- Michigan State is the obvious pick to overthrow Duke and Kentucky.
Bates alone wouldn't be enough to do it, but you get Bates and at least one more five-star (Michigan State has had six five-stars in the past 10 years) and it's a wrap. MSU's the only high-major school that's consistently been recruiting the family. Bates is from nearby Ypsilanti, Michigan. It's not automatic that he's going to college, but if he does, MSU is better positioned right now than any other school.
Kyle Boone: Texas
Never underestimate the power of momentum. That's what I'm banking on to continue in Austin, Texas. The Longhorns bring back every player from last season's team that won five of its final six games prior to the pandemic, and add to the mix five-star high-flying forward Greg Brown in 2020. Should the pieces fall in place -- and the momentum from last season carry over -- Shaka Smart may quickly find he can turn Texas into a power on the recruiting trail.
That shouldn't be a considerable leap, either; Smart's underperformed at Texas since his arrival in 2016 but he's still managed to piece together three top-10 recruiting classes in that span. And let's face it: whether Smart succeeds in capitalizing in 2020 or not, UT is a perennial recruiting presence in a state fertile with talent. So even if he can't reel in a top-ranked class, someone in the near future has a good chance at Texas to sweep the leg from Duke or Kentucky because of the school's stature.
David Cobb: Michigan
Juwan Howard reeled in the nation's No. 13 recruiting class in 2020. Pretty impressive considering it was his first full recruiting cycle as a college coach, eh? Well, actually, the class turned out to be a little disappointing. It would have been a top-five group if Joshua Christopher hadn't surprisingly committed to Arizona State over Michigan and if Isaiah Todd had signed with the Wolverines instead of choosing the G League's developmental program. But even without Christopher and Todd, who are five-star prospects ranked No. 11 and No. 19 in the class, Howard still brought in an impressive group that includes three top-100 players.
It all points toward Howard being a force on in recruiting for years to come as he gets established in the college game. With 25 years as an NBA player and assistant to his credit, he's got the professional pedigree to attract the one-and-done prospects. Combine that with his legacy as a Michigan player and he is well-suited to consistently outperform predecessor John Beilein in recruiting. The Wolverines have not landed a five-star prospect since Glenn Robinson III in the Class of 2012. They were close to getting two in the Class of 2020, and you can bet that Howard will get a couple soon and challenge Duke and Kentucky in recruiting supremacy.