In all fairness, it's hard to be a recruiting evaluator. WIthout the inside information that the division 1 coaches have, you're supposed to evaluate raw high school talent and assign them a value. Stars, usually, but ESPN gives them a little "grade" number and fun things like that. So it's unfair to expect perfection from them on every recruit. It's also hard to evaluate tens of thousands of kids, so the under the radar type players that Tony loves to go after remain, for the most part, under the radar.
Still, I think we've seen surprising results from this year's freshman class. Going in, here's how the three big recruiting services ranked our class:
|Klay Thompson||95||4 stars||4 stars|
|Mike Harthun||91||3 stars||3 stars|
|James Watson||40||3 stars||3 stars|
|Nick Witherill||76||2 stars||3 stars|
|DeAngelo Casto||40||2 stars||3 stars|
|Marcus Capers||40||2 stars||3 stars|
Klay Thompson was a no-brainer. You have the NBA pedigree, the magnifying glass that is prep sports in California, and most importantly, when you watch Klay you just know he's going to be good. It's no longer a shock that he may lead the team in scoring this year. The only thing the recruiting guys might change in retrospect is upping him to a five-star player. Which would be a fair evaluation, in my opinion.
The rest of the class, well, this is where there was considerable disagreement. ESPN gave three of our recruits a "40", also known as "we didn't evaluate these guys". Surprisingly, the worldwide leader evaluated one of our less highly-touted recruits, Nick WItherill, and liked what they saw. 76. They didn't get a good look at Capers, Watson or Casto.
Rivals.com took a more conservative approach, and probably ends up looking the most accurate because of it. Everyone got 3 stars except for Klay. Scout made an interesting decision to give 3 stars to the one guy out of this class who may actually redshirt, James Watson. 2 stars for Witherill, Casto and Capers.
If you had to rank the recruiting class 1-6 in terms of actual value to the team so far, this is how it would look:
Mike Harthun was highly rated in large part because he got some of the spotlight from the Kyle Singler sweepstakes (they were on the same high school team). He was also, as our FSN guys pointed out last night, the MVP of a state championship game that featured Singler and Kevin freaking Love. That's pretty good. He may yet live up to that 91, but it has been a relative surprise how little he's done this year considering the recruiting hype. Part of that is just the adjustment to college, and part of it is the suspension that set him back 3 games. But don't write him off yet - he's still incredibly talented.
Now, how everyone missed out on Casto is beyond me. I said before the Zag game that I had the chance to see Adam Morrison, Josh Heytvelt and Sean Mallon live in high school. All three turned out great. But here's the thing: Casto looked better in high school than all of them. Maybe not a pure scorer like Morrison, but Casto's play screamed high-major recruit. He looked like a men among boys in the strongest league of Washington basketball (4A). I have him ranked second in value to us so far, because of the importance of the position he plays, and the good minutes he's been logging so far. Casto rules.
The big surprise of the class is Marcus Capers. ACC schools are going to kick themselves when they look at the roster and see that a kid from Florida is backing up Taylor Rochestie, and looking pretty good doing it. He's already a fixture of this year's rotation. Not bad for a 2-star, not really evaluated player. Then again, not a lot of people traveled to Beloit, WI to watch Kyle Weaver play either.
Witherill is about what we expected, although I had been higher on him than a lot of people were coming in. It's surprising, but not shocking, that he had his redshirt burned. I am worried that he could've benefited from the extra year - but Tony knows more than I do. Still, you have to wonder why we burned it when he doesn't seem to be in the "fourth guard" competition that Lodwick and Harthun are in right now. Nevertheless, I like Nick. He's a heady, skilled guard who should benefit us in a couple years, if not right now.
James Watson may have been a little overvalued, but I think those ratings were based on potential. Watson has loads of it, but is too raw to play right away. He'll benefit from the redshirt (unless of course Tony burns it, which seems entirely possitble), but it's a bit of surprise he isn't battling with Casto for a rotation spot. That says more about how good DeAngelo has turned out than it does about Watson. James will turn out fine, and heaven knows we'll need him with Baynes on the way out next fall.