Trendspotting: Team Needs in Recruiting

With just one month left in the season, it’s time to take stock of what we’ve seen from each team – the strengths and weaknesses, the graduation-induced gaps, etc. – to discern what each should be looking for on the recruiting trail.

As a whole, the league will lose 19 seniors who are using more than four possessions per game and playing more than 30 percent of their team’s minutes. Those players will take roughly 36 percent of the possessions and 38 percent of the point production out the door with them, leaving behind several question marks for a variety of the league’s teams.

In this piece, we’ll briefly touch upon each team’s in-house answers for its areas of concern, but we’ll primarily be focused on what needs can be addressed through recruiting and how well each team has done in doing so thus far in the 2010 recruiting cycle.


Returning Position Strengths: PF, WF

Returning Position Weaknesses: PG, C

Expected Four-Factor Weaknesses: Defensive Rebounding, Defensive Turnover Rate, Offensive Rebounding

Specific Needs:
Only Matt Mullery will be departing Providence after this season, but that’s a big only. When healthy, Mullery is quite possibly the most offensively dominant big man in the league. Brown has answers for his departure in Tucker Halpern and Andrew McCarthy, but only the lightly used Chris Taylor as depth behind those two.

The Bears have decent options on the wings with the strong Sullivan brothers Peter and Matt and sharpshooter Garrett Leffelman, but point guard Adrian Williams is having his worst season for Brown as a junior, so there is a strong need for a player to run the point. Williams is fifth on the team in assist rate and second-to-last in EFG percent, and while he’s never been a team leader in the former, the drop in the latter has been quite shocking.

Potential Recruiting Help:
If point guard is the major need for the Bears, consider that answered with former Columbia commit and current Blair Academy combo-guard Hakeem Harris. Combined with true point guard Sean McGonagill, Brown should be prepared to enter next season with at least one, if not more, player that can handle the offensive quarterbacking duties.

The Bears also addressed the depth issue at the forward spot with 6-8 forward Dockery Walker. Walker isn’t necessarily expected to be an impact freshman, but at least will give Coach Jesse Agel another big body to throw into the frontcourt if Halpern and McCarthy have to take to the bench.

Recruiting Grade: B+


Returning Position Strengths: SG

Returning Position Weaknesses: PG, WF, PF

Expected Four-Factor Weaknesses: Offensive Shooting Percentage, Offensive Turnover Rate, Defensive Shooting Percentage, Free Throws Allowed

Specific Needs:
Three serviceable guards (Kevin Bulger, Patrick Foley and Niko Scott) will graduate, leaving Noruwa Agho as the team’s only seasoned option in the backcourt. In limited playing time, Brian Barbour has shown flashes of potential as a decent guard, but the swingman spot and guard depth all likely need to come from the recruiting trail.

The Lions have also struggled this season with getting consistent offensive production from the frontcourt. Brian Grimes, Asenso Ampim and reserve forward John Daniels have offensive ratings hovering in the 80s. While Grimes and Ampim are defensive forces, Columbia might be looking for a little bit more point production from its starting posts.

Potential Recruiting Help:
Despite the loss of Harris to Brown, the Lions have done well to address the backcourt concerns. Dyami Starks is a quick, athletic guard that can also connect from deep, while Steve Frankoski is a three-point specialist, potentially in the mold of a K.J. Matsui.

Columbia recently received a commitment from Danny Feldman, a little known forward from Missouri. Partisans really need to hope that Feldman can help provide the reliable offensive production that will be needed from the Lions frontcourt next season.

Recruiting Grade: C


Returning Position Strengths: PG, PF

Returning Position Weaknesses: SG, WF, C

Expected Four-Factor Weaknesses: Offensive Rebounding, Offensive Free-Throw Rate, Defensive Free-Throw Rate

Specific Needs:
It’s incredibly difficult to tell what Cornell will or won’t need next season.

Conceptually, the Big Red has a returning starting lineup with Division I experience in Chris Wroblewski, Max Groebe, Adam Wire, Anthony Gatlin and Mark Coury. But only Wroblewski has proven to be effective in extended time, and even if all five of those players perform, depth could still be an issue. Cornell seems slightly deeper at the guard position than the forward position, but again, it’s incredibly hard to tell when five of the top six guys in minutes played will all be departing Ithaca at the season’s end.

Potential Recruiting Help:
Cornell has focused on the wings during the 2010 recruiting season, snapping up two under-the-radar shooting guards in Jake Matthews and Dominic Scelfo, as well as an under-the-radar Canadian wing forward in Manny Sahota.

None of those three players is expected to be an impact freshman, but the Big Red really only needs rotation depth at this point, which one or more of those players could turn out to be. Cornell will likely look to land at least one quality power forward before the 2010 class is closed.

Recruiting Grade: C+


Returning Position Strengths:

Returning Position Weaknesses: All

Expected Four-Factor Weaknesses: Everything except Defensive Turnover Rate

Specific Needs:
Quite plainly, Dartmouth lacks Division I talent at this point. It only loses senior guard Robby Pride next year, but it’s hard to identify too many of the returning pieces that have much value. The Big Green has some decent defensive pieces in forwards Matt LaBove, Clive Weeden and Josh Riddle as well as guard David Rufful, but only Ronnie Dixon and R.J. Griffin have offensive efficiency that could even remotely be labeled acceptable for the D-I level.

Dartmouth just needs to find recruits that can score. It’s all about putting the ball in the basket efficiently. That’s all that matters. The Big Green has plenty of complimentary defensive pieces to sprinkle around any scorers it might find, so it really should be focused on offense only.

Potential Recruiting Help:
The only public recruit that Dartmouth has booked thus far is James Herring, a shooting guard from Phillips Exeter. While he’s not a highly touted recruit, his description on the New England Recruiting Report as a scoring wing with talent but a limited understanding of the team concept of basketball seems like exactly what the Big Green needs.

For the rest of the recruiting period, Dartmouth should merely focus on getting the best talent it can at any position.

Recruiting Grade: D


Returning Position Strengths: PG, PF

Returning Position Weaknesses: SG, WF, C

Expected Four-Factor Weaknesses: Shooting Percentage Offense, Turnover Rate, Offensive Rebounding

Specific Needs:
For the second consecutive year, Harvard has had a rash of frontcourt injuries which has severely weakened its ability to defend the paint and score on the interior. This is merely a portent of the future, as forwards Doug Miller and Pat Magnarelli are in their final year at Harvard. While the Crimson has ROY candidate Kyle Casey and All-Ivy caliber Keith Wright returning, its only other somewhat seasoned frontcourt option is Andrew Van Nest, who is more of a European five.

The other Harvard loss to graduation will be even more difficult to replace. POY candidate and media sensation Jeremy Lin walks out the door at the end of the year, taking with him the league’s leading offensive rating among players using 24 percent or more of the possessions when on the floor. Of the Crimson’s in-house answers at the two or three position (Christian Webster, Dee Giger or Max Kenyi), none is remotely as efficient as Lin, though Lin only broke out during his junior season and the aforementioned three are all currently freshmen and sophomores.

Potential Recruiting Help:
The Crimson has needed players all year that can knock down open shots on the perimeter with some level of consistency. Only PG Oliver McNally and PF Casey have been able to hit at higher than a 35 percent clip, making shooting from distance a need in recruiting. The two guards that Harvard has brought in that will attempt to address that problem are NMH teammates Matt Brown and Laurent Rivard.

Harvard also will need help on the glass next season, specifically on the defensive end. The Crimson has garnered commitments from a face-up four man in James Moore and large center presence in Ugo Okam. Expect Harvard to continue looking for help in the post either during this recruiting cycle or the next.

Recruiting Grade: B


Returning Position Strengths: PG, PF

Returning Position Weaknesses: SG, WF

Expected Four-Factor Weaknesses: Everything but rebounding

Specific Needs:
Other than Darren Smith, the Quakers don’t lose anything to graduation that has seen a decent amount of floor time this year (Andreas Schreiber and Justin Reilly being other losses). They also return some key pieces that they haven’t seen all that much this year – former all-Ivy WF Tyler Bernardini and PF Mike Howlett.

The spate of injuries has allowed Penn to discover what it has in terms of depth for next season and the results have been a grab bag. None of the reserves-turned-starters has shown much in terms of offensive efficiency, but Dan Monckton and Conor Turley have staked their claim as rotation players on next year’s entirely different Quakers team.

If Penn needs anything, it’s really depth at the forward position and tons of shooters that can complement Rosen by hitting open threes. Smith and shooting guard Rob Belcore have not been able to get that done this season.

Potential Recruiting Help:
The Quakers recruiting class is loaded with guards who could make an impact from day one. Even with the defection of Austin Kelly, Penn has pulled together four guards who can all flat out shoot the basketball. Steve Rennard, Dau Jok, Miles Cartwright and Casey James all have “shooter” written all over their profiles, so what’s clear to us is clear to the Penn coaching staff as well – this team needs to find guys who can knock down open threes.

The Quakers have a decent number of posts ranging from competent to above average, so the need for help on the blocks wasn’t as great as the need for lights-out shooters. Needless to say, Penn did a decent job filling the forward spot anyway, hanging on to Cameron Gunter and getting Fran Dougherty after losing one of the better power forwards in the West in Kevin Panzer.

Recruiting Grade: A-


Returning Position Strengths: PG, SG, WF, PF

Returning Position Weaknesses: General Depth

Expected Four-Factor Weaknesses: All Offensive Categories

Specific Needs:
The Tigers should return a very experienced starting lineup next year, but with the loss of four seniors, will likely need some contributions from the incoming freshman class. With the loss of Marcus Schroeder, there is certainly room for another guard to hop into the rotation, though Patrick Saunders, Douglas Davis and Dan Mavraides will likely be the starting backcourt.

Pawel Buczak and Zach Finley will graduate after the season, but freshmen Ian Hummer and Will Barrett will join Kareem Maddox to forge a very solid frontcourt for the Tigers.

If anything, Princeton is likely recruiting for two years down the road, as Mavraides and Maddox will graduate after next season, leaving significant holes at the shooting guard and power forward positions.

Potential Recruiting Help:
The Tigers didn’t really need too much help in this recruiting cycle, which afforded them the ability to get exactly the type of players that would fit their system without worrying about instant impact. Shooting guards T.J. Bray and Ben Hazel look like great fits for the Princeton offense as each have deadly accuracy from long range.

Coach Sydney Johnson filled out his class with a couple under-the-radar forwards – Tom Noonan and Daniel Edwards – and a point guard Chris Clement.

Recruiting Grade: B


Returning Position Strengths: PF, C

Returning Position Weaknesses: Backcourt, General Depth

Expected Four-Factor Weaknesses: Shooting Percentage Offense, Shooting Percentage Defense

Specific Needs:
Yale has done an excellent job over the decade of keeping its frontcourt stocked with capable bodies both offensively and defensively and that will continue even after the loss of Paul Nelson, as Michael Sands and Greg Mangano will form another quality pair of Bulldogs forwards.

The backcourt, however, could be in a great deal of trouble. Offensive workhorse Alex Zampier and efficient wing Jordan Gibson both graduate, leaving Porter Braswell, Austin Morgan and Reggie Willhite as the only quality offensive options at the guard positions.

While Yale might be able to fill out a starting lineup with those five players, the Bulldogs will need a lot of help with depth next season, as the graduating seniors have logged over 40 percent of the team’s minutes this year.

Potential Recruiting Help:
The pipeline of 6’8 to 6’10 strong posts continues to flow to New Haven as Jeremiah Kreisberg and Greg Kelley each chose Yale and both have the ability to crack the rotation as early as next season. Kelley may need to put on a little weight to become the prototypical Yale frontcourt man, but he comes with high praise from the New England Recruiting Report, while Kreisberg has been heralded as one of the better big men in the West.

The three guards/wings that the Bulldogs picked up are all intriguing, but none of them scream D-I ready at this point. That being said, all three will be given plenty of opportunity to compete for a spot in a weak Yale backcourt.

Recruiting Grade: C+

Michael James

Michael James wrote 98 posts

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