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November 23, 2010

Big East adds power in the post

MORE: Team Recruiting Rankings | Conference breakdown | VOTE: Big East's top class?

BEST OF THE BIG EAST
Ranking the classes (national rank)
1. St. John's (2)
2. Syracuse (6)
3. Louisville (7)
4. Rutgers (15)
5. Pitt*
6. West Virginia (26)
7. Georgetown (28)
8. Villanova
9. DePaul
10. Cincinnati
11. Marquette
12. Connecticut
13. Providence
14. Notre Dame
15. Seton Hall
16. USF
* The move of Khem Birch into the 2011 class will place Pittsburgh in the top 20 when the national team recruiting rankings are officially updated.
Best by category
Best perimeter scorer: Nurideen Lindsey, St. John's
Best low post scorer: Chane Behanan, Louisville
Best passer: Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
Best shooter: D'Angelo Harrison, St. John's
Best rebounder: Khem Birch, Pittsburgh
Best shot blocker: Norvel Pelle, St. John's
Best defender: Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse
Most versatile: Maurice Harkless, St. John's
Best in the clutch: Nurideen Lindsey, St. John's
Best pro prospect: Khem Birch, Pittsburgh
Best speed: Ryan Boatright, Connecticut
Best motor: Kadeem Jack, Rutgers
Impact player: Chane Behanan, Louisville
Biggest sleeper: Tommie McCune, West Virginia
Best at each position (top overall player in bold)
PG Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
SG D'Angelo Harrison, St. John's
SF Wayne Blackshear, Louisville
PF Norvel Pelle, St. John's
C Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse
Inside the Numbers
7 - Teams ranked in the top 30 nationally
29 - Rivals150 prospects coming to the Big East
5 - Five-star prospects coming to the Big East
14 - Four-star prospects coming to the Big East
16 - Three-star ranked prospects coming to the Big East
18 - Number of states represented by Rivals150 Big East recruits
4 - Recruits from New York coming to the Big East, the most of any state
The 2011 recruiting story in the Big East, as well as nationally, is the powerful eight-man class reeled into St. John's by new coach Steve Lavin. California center Norvel Pelle is the highest-ranked prospect of the bunch. Shooting guard Nurideen Lindsey is arguably the top junior college prospect in the country. And D'Angelo Harrison, Jakarr Sampson, Maurice Harkless, Amir Garrett and Dominique Pointer are all four-star prospects.

Syracuse has a couple five-stars: Rakeem Christmas and Michael Carter-Williams. Also in the top 10, Louisville has a five-star in Chane Behanan and three four-star prospects in its five-man class. The fifth five-star entering the conference is ultra-athletic post player Khem Birch, who moved up from Pittsburgh's 2012 recruiting class to its 2011 class.

Despite being overshadowed by St. John's, Rutgers has a nationally ranked class with five ranked prospects out of its seven-man haul. Georgetown and West Virginia are the final Big East schools in the national rankings. Villanova, DePaul, Marquette and Connecticut landed outside the national top 25 but each will bring four-star prospects into the conference.

Best recruiting battle

Post player Norvel Pelle impressed coaches in July with his immense athleticism and enticing potential. Schools from coast to coast began to pursue the Southern California product. Kansas, which has a history of success with athletic bigs like Pelle, quickly became a contender as did Washington with its fast style of play suited for Pelle's talents. But Lavin, with his strong West Coast ties, convinced Pelle to be his first California recruit to come to New York City.

Chane Behanan is another prospect whose stock rose, although his rise as a coveted prospect occurred earlier in the summer. North Carolina and Kentucky pursued this powerful athlete with an inside/outside game, but it was Rick Pitino who locked him down as a Louisville recruit.

Changes

The biggest post-early signing period recruiting news in the country has been the reclassification of Khem Birch. The Pittsburgh commitment was a top five prospect in the 2012 class but is now a member of the 2011 class, catapulting the Panthers into the national top 20.

For much of the recruiting season, Connecticut was without a commitment but looked to be on the verge of landing Rivals150 point guard Jabarie Hinds. When Hinds instead opted for West Virginia on the heels of point guard Ryan Boatright's commitment to the Mountaineers, Boatright quickly decommitted and eventually signed with Connecticut instead. Connecticut didn't get its top point guard target, but in an ironic twist wound up with a top 50 prospect instead.

Athletic big men

Out of the five five-star prospects entering the Big East next year, four are post players, and all four of them are known for their impressive athleticism. Birch, Christmas and Pelle are pogo-stick athletes who run the court and block shots at an elite level. Behanan is a wide-bodied bruiser, but has great feet and hands, with a surprising burst of athleticism.



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