Early Signing Period Review: Big Ten
The Big Ten has been right at the top of college basketball over the last few years. As we take a look at the early signing period signees across the major conferences, it doesn't look like the league will be letting up any time soon. Join me in taking a deep dive into the league's signees.
TOP OF THE CLASS
The Buckeyes loaded up during this cycle and filled out their class with high-level guys across the board. Chris Holtmann and company took a one-of-each approach on the recruiting trail this year and signed a top-100-caliber prospect at nearly every spot on the floor. In total, they have five signees, and four of them could likely see significant time on the floor a season from now. It’s the depth, talent and versatility of this class that has them as our top class in the B1G.
With three signees in our top-100, one just outside of the top-100, and a guy who will likely be a bit of a project for the future, the top of the class will be in Columbus this time next year.
There’s a grouping of Big 10 signees that are bunched together closely in our rankings, so we could reasonably name about five top dogs. At the end of the day, Michigan State signee Jaxon Kohler is the top of that group, so we’ll just focus on him here.
Kohler screams Big 10. He’s cut from a similar mold as the big men that have become synonymous with the conference. He plays with that physicality that defines the Big 10. As for his fit with Michigan State, we all know just how much Tom Izzo emphasizes rebounding, and Kohler is going to be a guy who pulls a lot of boards for Sparty. During his time in East Lansing, I expect Kohler to have his fair share of double-doubles.
What a perfect fit for @jaxonkohler and @MSU_Basketball on the hardwood. What is the Utah big man bringing with him to East Lansing? Dancing shoes, says @JustinDYoung. #NSD21 pic.twitter.com/Bu1YmAfg1q— HoopSeen (@hoopseen) November 10, 2021
THE OUTSIDE OF THE TOP 100 SLEEPER: Brice Sensabaugh, Ohio State
While we don’t have Sensabaugh in our top-100, he’s a big-time favorite at HoopSeen. The 6-foot-6, 240 lb small forward out of Florida looks like a Big 10 player, so when he committed to the Buckeyes, it felt like a match made in heaven.
We got to see Sensabaugh as much over the spring and summer as just about every Big 10 signee. What Sensabaugh is going to bring to the Buckeyes is a versatile, multi-level scorer. I imagine he’ll primarily slot in at the three spot, but at a strongly-built 6-foot-6, I could see him moving up or down a spot on the court in certain situations. He has guard skills to fit in as a shooting guard, but he’s got the frame to compete as a bit of an undersized four-man.
What may fly under the radar with this signing is that Sensabaugh has experience playing with Bruce Thornton–the Buckeyes’ point guard signing in this class. Their chemistry and familiarity with each other could prove to be beneficial for both when they arrive on campus in the summer.
If Ryan Day needs another body to put pads and a helmet on in Columbus, he should ask Chris Holtmann if he can borrow Sensabaugh.
BEST FRONTLINE: Michigan
Michigan has to take the cake for this superlative. Gregg Glenn and Tarris Reed are both top-100 caliber players, and they have Juwan Howard as their coach. Are we good here?
We’ve already seen how impactful it is to have Howard at the helm to impart his knowledge and experience on promising frontcourt prospects. Give him two guys with the talent and upside that Glenn and Reed have, and I’ll bet on that every time.
HEY, I HAVE A HOOPSEEN CHAPTER
I feel like half of these guys have HoopSeen chapters. It could be that the Big Ten is looking south for recruiting, or it could be that HoopSeen is all over the map. We could go a number of directions here, but let’s take a look at how one of the Hoosier’s signees has used our platform in the past.
Jalen Hood-Schifino is a guy who we’ve become very familiar with here at HoopSeen over the years. We’ve seen him emerge as a prospect from his days with Team Charlotte to his time with Team Thad this season. He’s a guard who has been a standout on our platform for quite some time. It’s not a surprise that he’s off to Indiana after we saw the entire Hoosier staff front-and-center watching Hood-Schifino and Team Thad at our Best of the South event back in July.
Let me take you back. Actually, let me take you way back. Just to show you how long we’ve been with Hood-Schifino, let's rewind to 2019 to see what Justin Byerly wrote about him after that year’s Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions. You can read that coverage here.
BEST BACKCOURT: Ohio State
Look, Ohio State has gotten a lot of shine here, but they signed the best class. They signed the best class in terms of depth and talent. You know where their depth really shows? The backcourt. Of its five signees, the Buckeyes signed four guards. Two of which are in our top-80 in the country, one more should probably be bumped up into our top-100 when we hit a rankings update, and the fourth of the stable is a guy who’s going to be a guy who develops into a staple in Columbus for years.
Not only did Chris Holtmann get a lot of talent in the backcourt, he got players who make sense in the league. We all know how physical and tough the Big Ten is. When you see some of the guards that Ohio State is bringing in, you’ll wonder whether or not they’re running backs that just are splitting time between the gridiron and the hardwood.
For all of the aforementioned reasons, Ohio State is bringing in the top backcourt.
THE THREE THINGS I LIKE THE MOST
1. I have been itching to get to these guys, so I have to give this top spot to Purdue’s class. The Boilermakers are bringing in Fletcher Loyer, Camden Heide and Braden Smith. This group epitomizes Purdue basketball. They’re high-level scorers who’ll likely be in West Lafayette all four years. To me, this means that by the time they’re upperclassmen, Matt Painter will have them molded into the hot-shooting, smart-minded guards he’s unleashed on the league more often than not.
I spent a few years in Indiana, so I know how important it is to that state to keep its talent at home. Purdue did just that by bringing in Loyer and Smith.
Give them a couple of years in the system and revisit this. You’ll see why I was so eager to give them the top spot in the three things I like the most.
2. Northwestern and Rowan Brumbaugh. Is Brumbaugh the highest-rated recruit to sign with the Wildcats? He certainly has to be in that discussion, right?
We all loved the Northwestern run to the tournament a few years ago. Seeing them make it for the first time ever in 2017 was great. Since then, they haven’t made it back, but Brumbaugh is the kind of talent that can take them dancing yet again.
He had offers from Texas and Kansas, but he chose Evanston over Lawrence or Austin. Wildcats fans should be elated over this get.
3. I need to use this space to show the Illini some love. Illinois’ signees could be pitched to me as the best backcourt, and I wouldn’t be in much of a place to argue. Jayden Epps and Sencire Harris make for a duo who I’m super high on. Both guys bring athleticism and versatility to Champaign. Brad Underwood has had great guards during his time at Illinois’ helm, and that lineage will continue with this pair.
TOP PG: Bruce Thornton, Ohio State
TOP SG: Jalen Hood-Schifino, Indiana (CG), Jett Howard, Michigan (SG)
TOP SF: Kaleb Banks, Indiana
TOP PF: Jaxon Kohler, Michigan State
TOP C: Felix Okpara, Ohio State
TOP CLASS: Ohio State
TOP SLEEPER: Denim Dawson, Nebraska
TOP SHOOTER: Jaxon Kohler, Michigan State
TOP SCORER: Jayden Epps, Illinois
TOP REBOUNDER: Jaxon Kohler, Michigan State
TOP PASSER: Dug McDaniel, Michigan
TOP DEFENDER: Felix Okpara, Ohio State