VCU Leads Mid-Major Recruiting Classes with 3 Top Stars, BYU, Gonzaga Right There

Terry Larrier will be a big force for VCU starting in 2014. - USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Commonwealth scored a top spot in recruiting class rankings thanks to its ability to secure commitments from three rising stars that will make an impact in 2014. BYU and Gonzaga also continue to make waves out West with their incoming talents.

If the rich just get richer, then there is no place where you can see that more than in college basketball recruiting. Each year, the top recruits are ranked in some way by the folks who do the yeoman's job of deciding how 17- and 18-year-olds are going to perform at the next level and beyond, and the majority end up at the top programs in the country.

Well, we don't cover the top programs in the country. We do, however, cover some programs that from time to time touch that top tier of college basketball and make us dream that the unthinkable might actually happen.

This year, that program is Wichita State, but the Shockers don't have any of the top recruits in the country. The last time they had one of those, it was Fred Van Vleet, and he has worked out pretty well.

But other programs that can be counted among the best of the rest have a little bit of a haul coming in.

VCU Rams

We can start with VCU, who continually needs to reload given some of the churn in the program. That doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing depending on who you fill the gaps with.

The Rams have three players coming in for 2014 that could be considered at that impact level and that has landed VCU at No. 15 in the ESPN rankings of recruiting classes.

Top Recruits:

Terry Larrier, No. 42 ESPN, No. 39 Rivals
6-7, SF, Bronx, N.Y.

Larrier is an explosive jumper out of New York that should fit right into VCU's uptempo style. According to scouts, he has the ability to stretch the floor out to the 3-point line and make good shots over the smaller players he will likely be matched against. He rebounding grades out well, which should be an asset for the Rams, who lose Juvonte Reddic, and he could still grow into the power forward position.

The downside on him seem to center around his need to grow a little more and gain some strength, but there is also a worry about attitude and academics. The latter is nothing that Shaka Smart can't turn around while the former is just a matter of time.

Mike Gilmore, No. 77 ESPN
6-9, PF, Tallahassee, Fla.

Gilmore made a late entry into recruiting circles, as most big men do during high school. That probably has kept him from being ranked by Rivals, and maybe helped land him with the Rams. He can run and that will certainly be a bonus for the VCU style of play. The biggest bonus that he will give VCU is a presence inside. At times, the Rams have suffered from lack of quality interior defense and Gilmore has the ability to change shot directions in a hurry, according to scouts. As he continues to grow, he could team with Larrier inside to be an impressive duo.

Obviously his biggest downside is getting comfortable inside quickly, especially given that he weighs just 205 pounds. Playing for Smart, he won't ever get huge, but he might need a little more muscle to body with some of the A-10's best, and the nonconference foes that VCU will see at the upper levels.

Justin Tillman, No. 97 ESPN, No. 137 Rivals
6-7, PF, Detroit, Mich.

Justin Tillman provides some additional depth inside, and will combine to make a strong trio. That combination of rotating interior players has worked well for a certain team that VCU refuses to play. Perhaps the same thing will happen for the Rams.

BYU

BYU is always a wildcard when it comes to recruiting because the Mormon missions make it hard to maintain the level of play from year to year. That hasn't stopped Dave Rose from building quite the machine in Utah.

The Cougars have two of the best recruits in the 2014 class, and that should help alleviate any issues with players leaving for a year.

Top Recruits:

T.J. Haws, No. 50 ESPN, No. 70 Rivals
6-4, SG, Highland, Utah

Have you met the Haws family? There should be no doubt that T.J. will continue the success seen by his older brother and father at BYU. T.J. is another strong shooter in the mold of Tyler. Together they will be a formidable outside duo that should combine to stretch defenses even further. T.J.'s biggest asset is that he is not just a shooter but can be a real facilitator on the floor for his teammates.

His biggest drawbacks are his size, as he will never be too much bigger than the guy guarding him, and his ability to get inside. He probably won't have to worry too much about the second one with his brother in the house, and the BYU ability to get some strong forwards.

Payton Dastrup, No. 95 ESPN, No. 100 Rivals
6-9, C, Mesa, Ariz.

Speaking of strong interior players for BYU, the Cougars scored a good one in Dastrup. He decommitted from Ohio State, which makes this a really good steal for BYU. He is a great rebounder, and doesn't shy away from contact. He adds in shooting ability all the way out to the 3-point line, which makes him similar to Green Bay's Alec Brown.

The downside for Dastrup is that he is not a jumper, and he will be going up against some guys with some real ups. His style of play will help him here, but it is something he will have to keep in mind when BYU steps out of conference. He will also need some better moves against strong shot blockers.

Gonzaga

The Zags have the ability to bring in high class talent from across the country thanks to oh, a plane, and some success like 16 years running, and just the fact that they have a name that kids know at this point.

And that has helped Gonzaga get one really good player for 2014 in Josh Perkins.

Top Recruit:

Josh Perkins, No. 56 ESPN, No. 46 Rivals
6-2, PG, Denver, Colo.

It seems like the last thing that Gonzaga needs is another point guard in the fold, but Perkins is a special talent. He is more of a passer than a shooter, but he will have plenty of help around him to take care of that. Together with his backcourt mates Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell, Gonzaga will have a trio of players that will give any team in the country trouble, in terms of speed and accuracy. Perkins had some interest from bigger programs and chose the Zags over them. That speaks a lot about his desire to contribute here and continue the winning.

The downside to Perkins is that he is small and will be a little slower than his opponents to start. He will need help creating space for himself, but the high ball screen should help him tremendously in the Zags offense.

Also for Gonzaga: Silas Melson, SG, No. 150 Rivals

Who else scored big?

  • Loyola Marymount landed on ESPN's top 100 list with the landing of Elijah Stewart. The 6-5 shooting guard from Los Angeles should help to fill some of the scoring void left by the departure of point guard Anthony Ireland.
  • UTEP has signed 6-6 shooting guard Chris Sandifer, also out of L.A. He landed at No. 95 on the Rivals Top 150, and has the ability to score deep, but might need to improve quite a bit to be a major impact.
  • Dayton has a verbal from Rivals No. 102 Darrell Davis from Detroit. The 6-3 point guard has a decent shot and won't shy from contact despite his slim frame. A little bulk could make him an all-conference player in the Atlantic 10.
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