Texas has more than 20 Division I basketball programs within its borders, and consistently produces successful collegiate teams.
Like any other NCAA sport, winning starts with recruiting. With the abundance of talent in the state, it is imperative for coaches of every caliber to solidify their teams’ future by out-hustling all of the other programs bidding for the top prospects and making their institution appear the most appealing to potential signees.
As more mid-major programs continue to ascend, traditional powers must fight to retain their position as the place to play. Meanwhile, smaller institutions have to get creative to impress recruits using far fewer resources.
Below are the top Texas classes of 2015 – the teams who won the first of many battles in pursuit of a national championship, the battle of recruiting.
1. Texas A&M – I don’t know how he did it, but Billy Kennedy landed four of the top-six prospects in the state. Elijah Thomas, who received offers from just about every university that ever existed, heads this decorated class at the power forward position. He will be joined by talented guards D.J. Hogg and Admon Gilder, who can put up points in bunches as well as distribute the ball effectively. Tyler Davis will anchor down the center position, and the Aggies will immediately become relevant in the basketball world again the moment this class steps foot on campus.
2. Baylor – With two of the best scorers in the state and perhaps the country, the Bears are absolutely loaded at the guard position for the foreseeable future. Remember the names King McClure and Wendell Mitchell, because they will be big-time shot creators in the Big 12 Conference. Collecting their rare misses and finishing with authoritative put-backs will be the 7-foot power forward Joseph Asuil, a Kansas junior college product who turned down offers from two other prestigious Big 12 programs in Iowa State and Kansas State. Facilitating the offense will be Jake Lindsey, a 6’4 point guard out of Salt Lake City, UT, whose dad starred for Baylor during the late ’80s and early ’90s. This class is offensively lethal and should contend for conference titles throughout the duration of their careers in Waco.
3. SMU – Well, Larry Brown just keeps on rolling, doesn’t he? The former NBA coach has reeled in some of the state’s top classes since his arrival to SMU, and 2015 is no different. Shake Milton is one of the most coveted point guards in the midwest, and Jarrey Foster is one of Houston’s top shooting guards. Newly-committed power forward Simeon Carter is a beast on the boards, and California product Sedrick Barefield turned down other programs like Baylor and UNLV to play for Coach Brown. The Mustangs consistently inch closer to the Final Four every year, and after reloading with another dominant class, this could be the year they make it all the way.
4. Texas – While not as large in quantity as some of the above-mentioned teams, this Longhorn class of three is studded with talent. Kerwin Roach is a gifted guard who can do just about anything he wants with the ball in his hands, and Eric Davis was runner-up in the Michigan “Mr. Basketball” award race. Rick Barnes was always able to recruit a talented backcourt, and Shaka Smart will be eager to work with these two supremely-talented guards.
5. Texas Tech – Tubby Smith can’t seem to catch a break in the Big 12, but maybe these two incoming guards will elevate his backcourt enough to bring this program from the depths of basketball’s deepest conference. Jordan Jackson is an elite scorer out of Houston, and C.J. Williamson is a combo guard with good size and mobility. The fans in Lubbock are as loyal as they come, but they would certainly appreciate it if they went to United Spirit Arena and didn’t watch a blowout in the opponent’s favor. Both incoming freshman will instantly improve the overall talent level on this squad, but it’ll take a heck of a coaching performance to bring this team back to the Bobby Knight days.
Honorable mentions: TCU, Rice, UTEP.