Early Signing Period 2023 - Five bracket-busting classes we love
The talent gap in college basketball isn’t as wide as you think it is. Just take a look at the NCAA tournament and who is playing in the Final Four these days.
As conference landscapes shift like tectonic plates, there are a number of
Let’s take a look at the five best non Power 5 classes here on the opening day of the early signing period.
*A non Power 5 conference includes all schools outside of the following conferences: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and the remnants of the Pac-12.
With two guys from our HoopSeen 150 rankings in tow, it is hard to not put the Racers into this category. And the two guys that committed the week before the week of the early signing period came from two guys that we really like.
Point guard DJ Shine fits the mold of the kind of guard who has had success in Murray, Kentucky. He's gritty, big-game experienced and widely under-recruited nationally. Shine should make the transition to a storied pedigree of point guards smoothly.
Jordan McCollum, a long and rangy 6-foot-7 forward, is just like the kind of wing forward (we're looking at you Tevin Brown) that has been great at Murray State. He has a high major ceiling and should be a major rotation guy during his career.
Kudos to this Murray State staff for elite player evaluation and recruitment.
Within the last several years—call it a decade or so—Old Dominion has had stretches in which they were a reliable, formidable mid-major program. Top 100 KenPom finishes, NCAA Tournament appearances, 25-plus win seasons, they’ve had their share of success.
I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the program has been in an ebb in recent years, but this recruiting class could change the tide.
Big man Ethan Lathan highlights Jeff Jones’ recruiting haul. The top-150 center gives the Monarchs size down low that can be an immediate impact with a ceiling to keep progressing as well.
Also, 6-foot-7 wing Caden Diggs spurned some high major offers in favor of ODU, adding more top-150-caliber flavor to their class.
Elsewhere on the perimeter, Deion Ware adds sustainable depth to a solid class. - Josh Tec
In a year where you have to Google search “which basketball conference is XYZ school in for the 2024-25 season”, Saint Mary’s just kept in their lane and recruited like the West Coast Conference power that they are.
A 1-2 punch of Mikey Lewis and Zion Sensley sure feels like a formidable pair for the Gaels. Both guys have played for nearby national powerhouse Prolific Prep. Lewis, a Colorado native, picked Randy Bennett’s program over Illinois and Ole Miss.
With Lewis, this is the third straight recruiting class with an elite backcourt addition. He follows up Aidan Mahaney and Jordan Ross in the previous two classes. You could make an argument that trio is the best run of point guard commitments in the West, and perhaps even nationally.
After one season at Prolific Prep, Sensley transferred back to his home school of Archbishop Riordan in San Fransisco. He had a number of other high-majors intrigued with his long and rangy athletic ability as a combo forward.
This 1-2 punch sure feels like a pair that is worthy of a top 25 national ranking as we open things up for the early signing period. - Justin Young
SAN DIEGO STATE
Just take a look at what San Diego State has done with this 2024 class. The Aztecs went to Las Vegas and landed a pair of high-level, perfect-fit players for their program. Taj Degourville will bring a Jae Crowder value to the San Diego State rotation. Now at Wasatch Academy in Utah, the Vegas native is big, strong and founded on elite competitiveness.
Big man Pharaoh Compton could lead the conference in field goal percentage during his career. He finishes everything around the cup and thrives on lobs. Compton will make his way to San Diego in the best shape of his life and trending in a direction that gets you excited if you’re about that Aztec life.
Put these two guys together and you have custom-built guys for the way Brian Dutcher likes to play. They’re big, strong and love to grind it out. What a pair. - Justin Young
Don’t look now but James Madison is climbing up the ladder in the Sun Belt Conference. The Dukes are building a roster to be a sustainable contender in the league. Mark Byington is one of the best coaches in non Power 5 basketball and he’s coming off a 22-2 last season. The winning on the hardwood is being parlayed into winning in the recruiting world. This two-man class is worth noting.
The state of Georgia has been good to Byington throughout his career and he returned back to the Peach State and landed a significant player in Micah Smith, a top 200 player nationally. The 6-foot-8 wing forward is a high-ceiling player who had a very active and aggressive recruitment, even visiting Clemson officially in the process.
Richmond point guard Redd Thompson is a super steal in the backcourt. He’s logged big minutes as the floor general at John Marshall High School, one of the best public school programs in the nation. Thompson has big-game experience and, with that, big expectations. He’s primed for a heavy workload.
This is a two-man class that can do some damage in the Sun Belt Conference. And, to be honest, both guys have potential for All-League awards before they finish up their time at JMU. - Justin Young