The Class of 2016 -- i.e., the recruiting class each school just enrolled -- wasn't great for the American Athletic Conference, the proof being that only one school secured a class that ranked in the top 50 nationally.
That one school was Connecticut.
And it's difficult to say whether things will get considerably better because the league did lose two accomplished recruiters this offseason -- first when Josh Pastner left Memphis for Georgia Tech, then when Larry Brown abruptly resigned from SMU. Sure, it's possible their replacements -- Tubby Smith and Tim Jankovich -- will recruit similarly or even at a higher level. But nobody can say for sure. And, either way, it's worth noting the AAC isn't off to a hot start with the Class of 2017 considering only one consensus top-100 prospect is currently committed to an AAC school.
All that said, some of the programs that are now in this still relatively new league that's basically a mashup of old Big East and C-USA schools have recruited well in the past. In the first installment of our Top Recruits Series, the following is a look at the 10 best prospects each AAC school has signed since the year 2000, according to 247Sports' database.
|1. Lance Stephenson||2009||.9963||9|
|2. Jermaine Lawrence||2013||.9900||24|
|3. Yancy Gates||2008||.9886||22|
|4. Devan Downey||2005||.9851||34|
|5. Jason Henry||2007||.9775||52|
|6. Jarron Cumberland||2016||.9774||55|
|7. Anthony McClain||2007||.9730||60|
|8. Tyree Evans||2005||.9691||62|
|9. Shaquille Thomas||2011||.9664||81|
|10. Vincent Banks||2004||.9618||56|
Lance Stephenson spent only one year in college and averaged 12.3 points for a team that finished 19-16. He then went on to the NBA, where he most famously blew air in LeBron James' ear during the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Jermaine Lawrence played one season at Cincinnati and then transferred to Manhattan. He averaged 4.8 points for the Jaspers in the 2014-15 season but didn't appear in any of the final six games because of a "violation of team rules." The 6-10 forward was suspended for half of the following season because of a failed drug test. He then withdrew from school.
Devan Downey spent only one year at Cincinnati before transferring to South Carolina. The point guard finished with 2,304 career points and 567 career assists. He was largely responsible for handing John Calipari his first loss at Kentucky.
|1. Jabari Craig||2016||.8800||12|
|2. Lance Tejada||2014||.8763||177|
|3. Chris Turner||2008||.8734||179|
|4. Paris Roberts-Campbell||2011||.8633||221|
|5. Raquan Wilkins||2016||.8590||244|
|T6. Marshall Guilmette||2012||.8556||233|
|T6. Christian Kabongo||2010||.8556||263|
|8. Brock Young||2007||.8546||261|
|9. Darius Morrow||2008||.8512||242|
|10. Deng Riak||2015||.8510||253|
Lance Tejada averaged 4.1 points as a freshman, 4.4 points as a sophomore and then transferred out of the ECU program. He's now at Lehigh, where he'll sit this season per normal transfer rules and be eligible for the 2017-18 season.
Christian Kabongo never actually played at East Carolina. But he did spend parts of two seasons at New Mexico State, where he averaged 14.6 points and 3.5 assists as a sophomore before being suspended indefinitely for making a lewd gesture at a UTEP fan. The Canadian point guard then transferred to Morgan State -- though he never actually played a game for Todd Bozeman's Bears.
Darrius Morrow played 123 games for the Pirates and scored 1,506 career points. But ECU only finished with a winning record in one of his four years on campus.
|1. Danuel House||2012||.9909||26|
|2. Danrad Knowles||2012||.9747||70|
|3. Lanny Smith||2003||.9641||75|
|4. Joseph Young||2010||.9620||89|
|5. TaShawn Thomas||2011||.9274||107|
|6. Torian Graham||2014||.9200||3|
|7. Rob Gray||2015||.8900||27|
|8. Fabian White||2017||.8746||230|
|9. Xavier Dupree||2015||.8700||38|
|10. Brockeith Pane||2007||.8616||192|
Danuel House spent two years at Houston but then transferred to Texas A&M. He averaged at least 12.4 points in all four years of college and led the Aggies to a first-place tie with Kentucky in the SEC last season, then to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
Joseph Young spent two seasons at Houston but then transferred to Oregon. The 2015 Pac-12 Player of the Year scored 2,304 points in his four-year college career. He appeared in 41 games for the Indiana Pacers last season.
Tashawn Thomas spent his first three years of college at Houston but closed his career at Oklahoma, where he averaged 11.6 points and 6.5 rebounds for a team that made the Sweet 16 of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. His best season, statistically speaking, was when he averaged 16.9 points and 9.8 rebounds as a sophomore at Houston.
|1. Derrick Rose||2007||.9987||5|
|2. Tyreke Evans||2008||.9985||5|
|3. Kendrick Perkins||2003||.9980||6|
|4. Adonis Thomas||2011||.9961||9|
|5. Will Barton||2010||.9949||13|
|6. Shawne Williams||2005||.9924||16|
|7. Joe Jackson||2010||.9921||20|
|8. Darius Washington Jr.||2004||.9912||18|
|9. Austin Nichols||2013||.9907||22|
|10. Jelan Kendrick||2010||.9898||24|
Derrick Rose spent one year at Memphis and led the Tigers to the title game of the 2008 NCAA Tournament. But that season was later vacated because of Rose's fraudulent standardized test score. He was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft and the NBA's Most Valuable Player in 2011.
Joe Jackson spent four seasons at Memphis and led the Tigers to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances. The Memphis native was twice named MVP of the Conference USA Tournament and was voted C-USA's Player of the Year in 2013. He's now playing professionally in Israel.
Darius Washington had two solid years at Memphis but is best remembered for missing two free throws with no time on the clock in the title game of the 2005 C-USA Tournament. The misses occurred on national television and cost Memphis a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Phish wrote a song about it.
|1. Keith Frazier||2013||.9878||27|
|2. Shake Milton||2015||.9670||79|
|3. Sterling Brown||2013||.9306||110|
|4. Harry Froling||2016||.9174||130|
|5. Tom Wilson||2016||.9100||136|
|6. Everett Ray||2017||.9080||157|
|7. Dez Willingham||2005||.9018||100|
|8. Sedrick Barefield||2015||.9005||153|
|9. Yanick Moreira||2013||.9000||5|
|10. Cannen Cunningham||2011||.8972||144|
Keith Frazier spent parts of three seasons at SMU but will ultimately be remembered as the player whose academic issues got the school banned from the 2016 NCAA Tournament. He averaged 11.9 points in 10 games last season before leaving the program for good.
Shake Milton averaged 10.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists for the Mustangs last season. The sophomore is expected to have a bigger role this season now that Nic Moore has exhausted his eligibility.
Yanick Moreira averaged 11.1 points and 6.4 rebounds in his final year of college while helping the Mustangs advance to the 2015 NCAA Tournament. He was famously called for goaltending in the final seconds of SMU's Round of 64 game with UCLA when he touched a 3-point shot launched by Bryce Alford. The Mustangs lost the game 60-59, after which Moreira said, "It's all my fault."
|1. Wayne Marshall||2003||.9259||96|
|2. Obi Enechionyia||2014||.9233||120|
|3. Levan Alston||2015||.9212||127|
|4. Daniel Dingle||2012||.9205||146|
|5. Lavoy Allen||2007||.9131||117|
|6. Trey Lowe||2015||.9029||147|
|7. Nate Pierre-Louis||2017||.8998||175|
|8. Josh Brown||2013||.8935||160|
|9. Alani Moore||2016||.8915||164|
|10. Dion Dacons||2003||.8876||126|
Wayne Marshall only played two seasons at Temple and averaged 6.9 points and 4.6 rebounds for Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame coach John Chaney. He spent much of the subsequent decade playing professionally in Japan.
Obi Enechionyia is now a junior at Temple and the team's leading returning scorer. He averaged 11.0 points and 3.8 rebounds last season.
Lavoy Allen helped Temple make four straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 2008 through 2011. He scored 1,421 career points and has spent the past five seasons in the NBA playing for the Sixers and Pacers.
|1. Keith Pinckney||2014||.9008||146|
|2. Kain Harris||2015||.8813||180|
|3. Melvin Frazier||2015||.8772||184|
|4. Colin Slater||2016||.8648||233|
|5. Charvon Julien||2015||.8538||245|
|6. Kris Richard||2007||.8484||273|
|T7. Vincent Camper||2003||.8444||215|
|T7. Aaron Holmes||2009||.8444||19*|
|T7. Johnny Mayhanne||2006||.8444||275|
|10. Jon Andersen||2007||.8262||344|
Keith Pinckney spent one season at Tulane and averaged just 2.4 points in 9.4 minutes per game. He then transferred to Old Dominion and sat out last season per normal NCAA transfer rules. He'll play for the Monarchs this season.
Melvin Frazier averaged 5.2 points in 19.5 minutes per game last season as a freshman. He had a career-high 15 points in a win over USF last January.
Vincent Camper played three years at Tulane. He averaged 6.8 points and 3.0 assists in his final season with the Green Wave.
|1. Yusuf Baker||2004||.8778||147|
|2. Jordan Clarkson||2010||.8755||211|
|3. Tim Peete||2010||.8692||230|
|4. Travis Atson||2016||.8661||223|
|5. Keondre Dew||2014||.8564||225|
|T6. Oswaldo Gonzalez||2003||.8556||143|
|T6. Bassel Bawji||2008||.8556||201|
|T6. Guilherme Teichmann||2003||.8556||29*|
|9. Blondy Baruti||2010||.8552||273|
|T10. Roderick Earls||2005||.8444||177|
|T10. Jamel McLean||2006||.8444||200|
|T10. Calvin Walls||2006||.8444||7*|
|T10. Antonio Hanson||2005||.8444||211|
|T10. Ben Uzoh||2006||.8444||252|
Jordan Clarkson averaged 11.5 points as a freshman at Tulsa and 16.5 as a sophomore. He then transferred to Missouri, where he averaged 17.5 points before entering the 2014 NBA Draft. The 6-5 guard was a second-round pick. But he's spent the past two seasons with the Lakers. He signed a $50 million contract with the franchise this past July.
Tim Peete played four years at Tulsa and never averaged more than 5.3 points in any season. But he did play 22.3 minutes per game for the Tulsa team that made the 2014 NCAA Tournament under Danny Manning.
Keondre Dew lasted only one season at Tulsa and played just 5.5 minutes per game. He spent last season in junior college. He's now at Oregon State.
|1. Michael Chandler||2011||.9787||50|
|2. Tacko Fall||2015||.9070||142|
|3. Adonys Henriquez||2014||.9013||144|
|4. Keith Clanton||2009||.8998||132|
|5. Chad Brown||2015||.8870||171|
|6. Myles Douglas||2017||.8776||219|
|T7. Nik Garcia||2009||.8775||164|
|T7. Isaiah Sykes||2010||.8775||202|
|9. Steven Haney||2013||.8760||173|
|10. Danny Lewis||2017||.8742||231|
Michael Chandler failed to meet minimum standards for freshman eligibility coming out of high school and thus never enrolled at UCF. He subsequently played in junior college and appeared in 19 games for Oregon during the 2014-15 season.
Keith Clanton scored 1,718 points in four seasons at UCF. The 6-9 forward was First Team All Conference USA in 2012. He's now playing professionally in Greece.
Isaiah Sykes scored 1,545 points in four seasons with the Knights. He averaged 17.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.7 steals as a senior.
|1. John Egbunu||2013||.9740||60|
|2. Konimba Diarra||2003||.9612||80|
|3. Luis Montero||2015||.9300||4*|
|4. Javontae Hawkins||2012||.8934||180|
|5. Eladio Espinosa||2008||.8903||139|
|6. Dante Curry||2006||.8902||130|
|7. Shawn Smith||2015||.8900||20*|
|8. Troy Holston||2014||.8869||159|
|9. Chris Perry||2013||.8814||169|
|10. Lavonte Dority||2010||.8796||181|
John Egbuno averaged 7.4 points and 6.2 rebounds as a freshman at USF, then transferred to Florida. The 6-11 forward averaged 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Gators last season and will be a redshirt junior this season.
Konimba Diarra never became a relevant college player. The 6-10 center spent two years at USF and two at Charleston. He averaged 1.3 points in 94 career games.
Luis Montero decided to enter the 2015 NBA Draft out of junior college rather than enroll at USF. He was not selected. But he ultimately signed with Portland and appeared in 12 games for the Blazers last season.
|1. Rudy Gay||2004||.9986||5|
|2. Charlie Villanueva||2003||.9980||7|
|3. Andrew Bynum||2005||.9974||6|
|4. Kemba Walker||2008||.9950||12|
|5. Stanley Robinson||2006||.9930||17|
|6. DeAndre Daniels||2011||.9928||16|
|T7. Alex Oriakhi||2009||.9922||19|
|T7. Ater Majok||2008||.9922||17|
|9. Daniel Hamilton||2014||.9921||17|
|10. Jalen Adams||2015||.9907||23|
Rudy Gay averaged 15.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in his second and final season at UConn. He's spent the past 10 seasons in the NBA and has averaged 18.4 points and 5.9 rebounds for his career.
Kemba Walker spent three years at UConn and averaged 23.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists as a junior while leading the Huskies to a national championship. The point guard from New York has spent the past five seasons playing for the Charlotte Hornets. He averaged 20.9 points and 5.2 assists last season.
Jalen Adams is now a sophomore at UConn. He averaged 7.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists last season while helping the Huskies win 25 games and advance to the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament.