Part of the joy of landing a top-50 point guard is the knowingness that no matter what happens in the rest of the recruiting class, Penn State will have a guy who can compete with the best in the Big Ten. For once, we might not have to be utterly terrified of the D'Angelo Russells and Melo Trimbles. So it's been more interesting this commitment season to follow along with the rest of Big Ten hoops recruiting. Mostly because Penn State isn't sitting alone in the corner of the bar anymore.
A lot of Big Ten programs are in need of a point guard this cycle. Typically coaches want to bring in a lead guard every 2-3 years. Maryland needs one to replace Melo Trimble, who could be in the NBA this time next year. Michigan's Derrick Walton Jr. will be a junior, so John Beilein is in the market. Indiana needs to replace Yogi Ferrell. MSU needs one to come up behind Tum Tum Nairn. Illinois just needs one immediately. Iowa has to replace Mike Gesell. So this is a key point guard cycle for most of the Big Ten.
I don't need to ramble on about the continued trend of the ball screen offense in college hoops. This is simply the next crop of lead guards that will be dominating the Big Ten in 2-4 years. Following the drama surrounding what color jersey they will be wearing in college has been fascinating. The table below is what we knew as of yesterday morning, before one of the Big Ten's most important dominoes in Xavier Simpson was about to commit. Shoutout to 247Sports.com for the player data in the linked profiles.
|Team||Priority Target||Schools In Consideration||Other Targets||Notes|
|Maryland, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Temple, Georgetown, Pitt, Florida State||Carr committed to Penn State (08/03/15)||Chose PSU over Maryland and Temple. Continues Team Final and Roman Catholic pipeline from Phildelphia to PSU.|
|Penn State, Illinois, Georgetown, Xavier, Florida State||Cowan committed to Maryland (01/26/15)||Local native chose Maryland early in January and has only gotten better since.|
|Vanderbilt, SMU, Baylor, Kansas State||Edwards committed to Purdue (08/11/15)||Purdue previously had CJ Walker's verbal committment before he backed out and pledged to Florida State. Edwards is a Texas native.|
|Washington, St. Mary's, Utah State||Brown committed to Northwestern (05/31/15)||Northwestern tried to get involved with better ranked PGs. Collins decided to go with Brown early after seeing him in April AAU.|
|DePaul, Northern Iowa, Drake,||Bohannon committed to Iowa (08/28/15)||Younger brother of former Wisconsin guard Jason Bohannon. Iowa native.|
|Possible transfer destinations unknown||Newkirk transferred to Indiana (08/23/15)||Crean will continue to recruit lead guards, including Curtis Jones and Bruce Brown. Newkirk comes from Pitt, averaged 5.9 PPG, 2.7 APG in 20.8 MPG as Soph. Three-star recruit and ranked #120 in 2013 247Composite.|
|Michigan, Pitt, Stanford||None||Michigan native in high profile Izzo-Beilein in-state battle. Doubts started to surround a Michigan official visit after recent postponement of Ann Arbor trip.|
|Michigan State, Pitt, Stanford||None||See above. Also read below to find out yesterday's Simpson saga. Keep in mind John Beilein is out of any more scholarships with three verbal commits, so it seems Winston or bust.|
|Wisconsin, Iowa State, Miami FL||
Charlie Moore /
|Illinois has had a terrible offseason. Groce cast a huge net with many PG offers in this class, but that seems to be backfiring. Read below for full Simpson saga.|
|Illinois, Iowa State, Miami FL||
JaQuori McLaughlin /
|Amazing Wisconsin can even recruit anybody with 11 underclassmen scholarships and an uncertain future for Bo Ryan. Read below for full Simpson saga.|
|St. John's, Providence, Creighton||Frankie Hughes||Pitino quietly has a chance at a top-25 class if he can land Ponds from under Chris Mullins' nose in NYC.|
As you can tell from the table, five Big Ten programs still need to fill their point guard need. Six, if you want to count Indiana. Two of them had been going head-to-head recently for Simpson out of Lima, Ohio. However, he committed to a third Big Ten program yesterday that was secretly recruiting him the whole time. Here's how all of that went down in this storify I threw together from Twitter.
College basketball recruiting in 2015 is tough out in these streets. It's even tougher for the unheralded programs trying to build from the ground up. Countless times before Penn State has been the Illinois in this story, where the first offer and most loyal program gets dumped in a heartbeat for whoever's better. This is why Tony Carr for Penn State is such a monumental deal. This is a script rarely seen in Happy Valley.
The 2016 Big Ten crop of guard commits will have a huge impact on the near future, since many will be expected to replace the shoes of Yogi Ferrell, Mike Gesell or Melo Trimble. While it's always been brutally difficult for PSU in the Big Ten, they finally won't be equipped with knives for gun fights every night. Tony Carr will have a size advantage over nearly every point guard in the league! As I tweeted yesterday:
LRT: Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan all fighting for a 2016 PG today that is ranked 20 spots lower than Tony Carr. What a time to be alive— Eric Gibson (@BSD_Eric) September 9, 2015