We know all about Tubby Smith's 2008 and 2009 classes, but what I'm going to try and do in this column (when it's not football-centric) is keep you abreast of recruiting happenings in Dinkytown and across the Big Ten.
Two weeks ago I looked at newcomers you'll see this year for Ohio State and Michigan State, the two program's that various recruiting experts suggested had better 2008 classes than Tubby Smith's Gophers. Today, I look at Wisconsin and Indiana, two programs who came in just under Tubby's recriuting class in most 2008 rankings.
Wisconsin Class of '08: The prize of Bo Ryan's five-man 2008 recruiting class is Minnesota product Jared Berggren. A 6'10 4-star center from Princeton, Minnesota, Berggren appears to be the prototypical Wisconsin big man. And by that, I mean Berggren seems to be a big man that will excel in the half-court game and perhaps struggle when the tempo is pushed. From the 4-letter's analyisis.
He has good skills, just does not really run the floor. He's a strong skilled big man with good post skills. He plays hard and made a good college choice (might redshirt). Does not run the floor well, Rebounds more with position, not quick enough to get to the ball. He often gets beat by athletic big men right now, but he's a savvy player with a great work ethic.
The other name you know that will be wearing red and white is Jordan Taylor. The Benilde St. Margaret's prodduct is a 3-star point guard, who like Berggren, was recruited by the Gophers. For comparison purposes, Taylor is ranked by scouts in the same realm that 2009 Minnesota poing guard commit Justin Cobbs is ranked.
There's no reason you should have heard much about the rest of Bo Ryan's 2008 class. Three-star shooting guard Robert Wilson from Ohio, two star small forward Ryan Evans from Arizona and three-star center Ian Markolf of Texas round out the class. Of the three, Markolf is the one that intrigues on paper. The old axiom that you can't teach size fits here. Markolf stands at 7'0 and 260 pounds. That prompted attention and offers, according to Rivals, from Stanford, Kentucky, Indiana and Texas A&M, among others. Markolf is another prototypical Wisconsin center and could be the gem of Ryan's 2008 class. We'll see.
Indiana Class of '08: Tom Crean was put in a very unenviable position after taking over in Bloomington. His roster was in total upheaval and part of the job was to put together a relatively large recruiting class to see if IU can be competitive in 2008. With a short amount of time and IU in turmoil, Crean did a respectable job--and his 2009 class is looking way, way up.
The name you know in this class is point guard Verdell Jones from Champaign, Illinois. For some time, many thought Jones was going to come to Minneapolis and pick the Gophers over Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and others. The significant interest in Jones came in part because he waited to sign late and the pickings were slim at point guard. Rivals has him ranked as the #26 point guard in the 2008 class, just a couple spots behind Jordan Taylor.
The rest of Crean's stop-gap 2008 class is uninspiring. Three shooting guards--Nick Williams, Malik Story and Matt Roth--are three-star talent according to Rivals. Center Tom Pritchard, a 6'8, 240 pound big man was fancied by Penn State and Miami (Ohio). Those five freshman will be joined by two junior college transfers. Devan Dumes, another shooting guard, was coveted by quite a few schools, including Ohio State, Colorado and Arkansas. And because this class, and IU in general lacks size this year, Tijan Jobe, a 7'0, 265 pound JUCO transfer rounds out Crean's make-shift 2008 class. Jobe could be considered a reach by some. He hasn't put up big numbers and he was recruited by the likes of Georgia Southern, and few, if any, BCS level schools. Crean's taking a chance here that could turn out wonderfully or be forgotten.