With the November 14-21 fall national signing period behind us, it’s time for our annual fall recruiting report cards for 16 present or future ACC members. Remember that our final ACC recruiting report cards won’t be issued until after the conclusion of the April-May spring signing period. Note that 85 of our top 100 high school seniors (class of 2013) have already made their college decisions.
At this juncture, arguably the best recruiting classes nationally belong to Kentucky (a clear-cut number one), Florida, Memphis, Indiana and Kansas. However, five ACC schools (among its current and future members) have recruiting crops that rank among our top twelve. Unsurprisingly, given basketball traditions, those five are Duke, North Carolina, Louisville (which joins the ACC in two years), Syracuse (an ACC member next year) and N.C. State.
None of this quintet, however, has a solid A grade on its recruiting report card, primarily because, unlike many previous years, none has signed a consensus top 10 prospect from the prep class of 2013. That, of course, may change in the spring, since UNC and Florida State are among finalists for 6-7 Huntington (Va.) Prep super WF Andrew Wiggins (number one in the class), N.C. State is in the final six of 6-9 Dallas (Texas) Prestonwood BF Julius Randle (number two and currently out for three months due to a broken foot), and Duke is strongly in the picture for 6-8 Chicago (Ill.) Simeon WF Jabari Parker (number three).
We've split this into two parts and will go in alphabetical order. Today we tackle Boston College through Miami.
BOSTON COLLEGE: C-
The Eagles of Steve Donahue had a large recruiting class last year but just one signee this November, and he has little national repute. We’re referring to 6-5 Woodstock (Va.) Massanutten WF Garland Owens (top 200), who reportedly is a very good athlete but who needs to upgrade his overall ball skills. The recent decision by sophomore PG Jordan Daniels to transfer back to the West Coast leaves BC with three available scholarships that could be used in the spring.
Joining Brad Brownell’s program next season are 6-3 Charlotte (N.C.) Christian WG Patrick Rooks (top 150), a left-hander with downtown range on his jump shot, and 6-5 Columbia (S.C.) Cardinal Newman WG/WF Austin Ajukwa (top 200), who chose the Tigers over the hometown Gamecocks. Rooks doesn’t quite handle the ball well enough for point guard and, while his three-point stroke certainly must be respected, his shot selection isn’t always ideal. Ajukwa posted impressive numbers (24 points per game) last season in Columbia but didn’t play in Nike summer events and thus lacks a national reputation. Note that current Clemson freshman Jaron Blossomgame, a talented 6-7 WF from Georgia, is presently recovering from a broken leg and will redshirt this season. We considered him the Tigers’ best recruit from the class of 2012.
The always loaded Blue Devils will jump to number two in our national recruiting rankings should they corral versatile Parker in the spring. Already signed are 6-4 Desoto (Texas) High WG Matt Jones (top 25), who is among the premier three-point marksmen in the senior class, and physical 6-6 Ottawa (Kan.) High WF Semi Ojeleye (top 50), potentially an outstanding defender. Perhaps even more important next season will be the addition of 6-8 lefty WF Rodney Hood, an athletic, sharp-shooting transfer from Mississippi State who made the SEC All-Freshman team last season. All three of Duke’s new players are good enough to provide immediate help to Mike Krzyzewski’s deep and talented aggregation.
FLORIDA STATE: B
Both of the Noles’ fall signees have the talent to get significant playing time as freshmen, as 6-4 Huntington (W.V.) Prep WG Xavier Rathan-Mayes (top 50) is a long-range bomber whose father played for FSU, while rangy 6-9 Gray (Ga.) Jones County WF/BF Jarquez Smith (top 75) is both skilled and highly athletic. Wiggins would be a fabulous spring addition, if only for one year. His father, Mitchell Wiggins, also played for the Seminoles, and Andrew is Rathan-Mayes’ close friend and teammate at Huntington.
GEORGIA TECH: B
The most heralded of the Yellow Jackets’ two fall recruits is hard-driving 6-1 Jacksonville (Fla.) Parker PG/WG Solomon Poole (top 40), whose older brother Stacey is playing this season for Brian Gregory’s program after transferring last year from Kentucky. Solomon is an excellent one-on-one operator who could become the Ramblin’ Wreck’s go-to guy in the future. Also opting for Georgia Tech is 6-8 Atlanta (Ga.) Marist WF/BF Quinton Stephens (top 125), whose skills are good, while aggressive 6-1 current freshman PG Corey Heyward is sitting out this season while recovering from a torn ACL. Like the November signees, Heyward will have four seasons of college eligibility, starting in 2013-2014. His father, the late Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, played in the NFL.
Rick Pitino’s excellent program prepared for its upcoming 2014 entry into the ACC by landing four big-time prospects this fall in 5-10 Marianna (Fla.) Chipola J.C. PG Chris Jones, 6-1 Chatham (Va.) Hargrave PG Terry Rozier (top 50), 6-3 Chatham (Va.) Hargrave WG Anton Gill (top 60) and 6-9 Omaha (Neb.) Central BF/C Akoy Agau (top 125). Jones, who hails from Memphis, is widely viewed as the best junior college point guard in the nation, while fifth-year prep Rozier is off to an outstanding start this season at Hargrave Military Academy. Gill, a southpaw who hails from Raleigh (NC), is a natural scorer with fine shot range and accuracy. Athletic insider Agau isn’t polished on offense but possesses ample potential as a rebounder/shot blocker.
Mark Turgeon finished second to Kentucky for the fabled Harrison twins from Texas, but Maryland did ink 6-4 District Heights (Md.) Suitland PG/WG Roddy Peters (top 75) and 6-9, 240-pound Woodstock (Va.) Massanutten BF/C Damonte Dodd (top 200). Peters didn’t excel when we eyeballed him, but others were intrigued by his improved play and overall court leadership at the end of the summer. Dodd, meanwhile, is a fifth-year prep and physical specimen who posted impressive statistics last season versus somewhat questionable competition.
Jim Larranaga focused this fall on guards and wound up snaring high-scoring 6-1 Woodstock (Va.) Massanutten PG DeAndre Burnett (top 150) and 6-4 Princeton (N.J.) Day WG Davon Reed (top 80). On paper, this doesn’t appear to be an especially eye-catching haul, but Burnett averaged nearly 35 points per game last season in the Miami area, and Larranaga has a good track record of finding sleepers and developing them, so it’s probably not a wise move to downgrade the Hurricanes’ talent. In fact, this could turn out to be the Canes’ backcourt of the future.
Brick Oettinger, the basketball recruiting analyst for ACCSports.com, has covered the recruiting scene for more than 35 years. His work appears exclusively here and in the ACC Sports Journal.