WCC Recruiting Heats Up

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The end of the WCC tournament marks the beginning of the off-season, which, for colleges, is the time to sign recruits and adjust the roster. Although the WCC is not a major conference, there are a handful of solid to great recruits that enter the conference every season. Recruiting is how teams go from bad to good or good to great. Since there is no free agency in college sports, recruits are the only way for a team to improve. That said, here’s a look at the key recruits that every WCC team has signed so far.

Before I delve into which players each team has harvested, I will explain the rankings system that ESPN.com uses for recruits. Every recruit is assigned a number that explains how good a prospect is. If a player is assigned a 70-72, that means he is a low-major minus player. A low-major minus player is a player who could contribute to a low-major team (a team that plays in a very small conference that is not well known) for three or four years with the potential to eventually start. A player ranked 73-76 is someone who will be a solid contributor and a two or three-year starter at a low-major program. Someone ranked 77-79 is considered a player who will be a significant contributor as a freshman to a low-major team and has the talent to play for a mid-major team (a team that plays in a small conference but is well known enough to compete against powerhouse conferences, like USF).

A player ranked 80-82 is considered a mid-major minus prospect, which means that he could be a contributor for three or four years and may eventually start. An 83-86 ranked player is a mid-major prospect, meaning he will be a solid contributor and a two or three-year starter at a mid-major school. Someone ranked 87-89 is a mid-major plus prospect, which means he could be a three or four-year contributor at a high-major program (a prestigious program that competes in the major conferences) or have a significant impact as a freshman on a mid-major program.

A player ranked 90-93 is a high-major minus prospect, which means he has the potential to significantly contribute to a national program as a freshman and may eventually start during his college career. A 94-97 rank means the player is a high-major prospect; someone who has the potential to significantly contribute as a freshman to most national programs. This person is also capable of starting for three or four years with all-league talent. Someone ranked 98-100 is a high-major plus prospect, meaning he possesses rare abilities, with the potential to go pro early and will have an immediate impact at any national program. Basically the higher ranked prospects are the ones that you see in the McDonald’s All-American game and the players that play for powerhouses like North Carolina and Louisville.

Now that the rankings system has been explained, here are the players that the WCC has signed so far.

West Coast Conference powerhouse Gonzaga has already signed two mid-major plus prospects. Their highest ranked prospect is Samuel Dower who is a 5-foot-9-inch, 210-pound center out of Osseo Senior High School in Minnesota. He is the 20th ranked center overall and received a grade of 89 by ESPN. Gonzaga has also signed Mangisto Arop, a shooting guard out of Canada. Arop went to the National Elite Development Program in Canada and he is the 54th ranked shooting guard prospect in the nation. He received a grade of 88. Although Gonzaga will lose some key players, including Jeremy Pargo, Josh Heytvelt and Micah Downs, adding these two prospects will help make up for these losses. Look for Gonzaga to add at least one more top recruit.

The St. Mary’s Gaels have been great the past two seasons and they hope to continue their success with their recruits. So far they have signed three mid-major level prospects. They have signed two guards from Australia, where star point guard Patty Mills is from. The players they have signed from Australia are 6-foot-1-inch point guard Jorden Page and 6-foot-3-inch shooting guard Matthew Dellavedova. Both players are ranked 74th at their positions. They have also signed shooting guard Tim Harris from Valley Christian High School in San Jose, who is ranked 111th at his position. Harris and Page have both received an 84 ranking and Dellavedova received an 86 ranking. These three solid contributions will help keep St.Mary’s near the top of the WCC. With five players leaving, this solid recruiting class should fill in nicely. Look for them to sign one more big prospect.

Third place finisher Portland has yet to sign a recruit according to ESPN. If you are interested in who they will sign, check back on ESPN in the next few months.

Fourth place finisher Santa Clara has perhaps the most solid recruiting class so far in the WCC. Niyi Harrison, who is a 6-foot-7-inch power forward out of Bellarmine College Prep in San Jose, headlines their recruiting class. Harrison is an 89th-ranked prospect who has improved significantly every season at Bellarmine. I saw Harrison play as a freshman and I must say that he has developed a nice game since then. The Broncos have also signed three more solid prospects, including two mid-major level prospects. With four recruits ranked 80 and higher, look for Santa Clara to surprise some teams next year as they compete for a top three standing in the WCC.

San Diego also has a solid recruiting class. They have signed three mid-major level prospects so far. Including 57th ranked point guard Cameron Miles out of Skyline High School in Texas. San Diego’s solid recruiting class will help them fight in the WCC. Expect them to finish about the same or better than last season.

USF has signed only one recruit so far. Perris Blackwell out of Etiwanda High School in California has signed with the Dons. Last week I wrote about him signing at USF, so check out that article for details. But besides Blackwell, USF has failed to sign a recruit so far. In order to continue to rebuild the program they need at least one or two more mid-major level recruits. Hopefully the Dons will sign at least a few more solid prospects so that they continue to revitalize the program.

Pepperdine has signed only one recruit so far. They signed Josh Lowery, a 6-foot-3-inch shooting guard out of Desert Vista High School in Arizona. Lowery has received a 76 rating from ESPN. Pepperdine will need to sign some more higher ranked recruits if they hope to improve upon last season.

Loyola Marymount has perhaps signed the best recruit in the WCC this season. They have already signed Given Kalipende, a 6-foot-3-inch shooting guard out of Episcopal High School in Virginia. Kalipende received a rating of 90 by ESPN, so far the highest out of any WCC recruit, he is also the 26th-ranked shooting guard. LMU has also signed 6-foot-10-inch center Edgar Garibay from the Impact Basketball Academy in Nevada. He has received an 84 ranking. Signing two solid prospects will help LMU better upon last season. Kalipende could help this program tremendously and he will be exciting to watch.

So pretty much nothing has changed in the WCC; Gonzaga continues to get a great recruiting class and everyone else tries to compete. That said, Santa Clara, Loyola Marymount and St. Mary’s have done a great job of recruiting so far. Each program has signed a few impact players that will improve their team immediately. Hopefully USF will sign a few more solid prospects so that they can compete for a top seed in the WCC. But so far, so good for coach Walters, as he has gotten a solid prospect; keep it up and maybe we’ll be back to the glory days.

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