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Sweet 16: Mid-Major Madness recruiting rankings

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The future is soon.

NCAA Basketball: Western Kentucky at UAB Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

We are just over a week away from the start of the late signing period and the recruiting news continues to heat up. Here are the Mid-Major Madness Sweet 16 recruiting rankings. These take into account high school seniors, JUCO players and transfers that will be eligible immediately. We will continue to update our rankings as the offseason progresses.

1. Western Kentucky

There are four in the class but only two that matter: Mitchell Robinson and Josh Anderson. The Louisiana natives both turned down SEC offers to sign with Rick Stansbury. The seven foot Robinson is the first ESPN five-star recruit to ever sign with a program outside the Power Five, and is a strong candidate to be a one-and-done player. Anderson is a smooth scorer that will give the Hilltoppers an instant punch. This is a top-25 class nationally because of the talent at the top.

2. Saint Louis

Travis Ford wasted no time making a splash at SLU. You can make a case that no mid-major has recruited as well as the Bills have in the last year. Everyone is looking at the 2018 class with five-star big Carte’Are Gordon, but Ford has a special 2017 group as well. Jordan Goodwin (No. 55 in ESPN’s rankings) is a smooth scoring wing that turned down Illinois, Mizzou and Northwestern. Hasahn French has a college-ready frame and is also a four-star recruit. They will both make an immediate impact.

3. BYU

As the saying goes, quality over quantity, and this class has two REALLY quality players in Kolby Lee and Christian PoPoola. Lee is a four-star 6’9 wide body from Idaho. Great hands and feet will make him an opponent's nightmare. PoPoola has elite athleticism in his 6’4 frame. He played at Bishop Gorman, which has produced its fair share of freshman sensations including Gonzaga’s Zach Collins. PoPoola turned down Oklahoma, USC and Washington State. Both are college ready.

4. New Mexico State

The Aggies were able to pry L.J. Figueroa away from Louisville and Florida, getting the 6’6 wing to enroll for the Spring semester. The four-star Florida native should be able to step in and score immediately. NMSU also brings in 6’3 Aussie Gabe Hadley, who has been described as the best shooter in Australia. These two could form a lethal back court tandem in Las Cruces. Tyree Robinson and Jachai Simmons were two of the nation’s top JUCO guys, adding depth to the class.

5. Dayton

Archie Miller didn’t leave Dayton empty handed as the Flyers have a nice class coming in. It goes five deep for Anthony Grant and has no shortage of raw talent. Nahziah Carter is the jewel of the class because of his 6’6 frame and potential. There was talk of him reclassifying, but for now it seems like he’ll be in Dayton. Point guard McKinley Wright had offers from Illinois, Kansas State, Iowa State and Nebraska before picking Dayton. Future backcourt mate and big-time scorer Jordan Davis turned down Virginia Tech, Pitt and Georgia Tech. The lone big of the group is 6’10 Jordan Pierce, who is raw with upside. Matej Svoboda, a 6’7 20-year old, could be the sleeper of the group. The Czech wing averaged 19 PPG in the U-20 European Championships - only Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen scored more points - and he knocked down 50 percent of his three-point attempts. Assuming the class remains intact, this has the makings of a special group.

6. Gonzaga

The Zags have just one player in the class, but they beat out Notre Dame and Virginia to get him. Corey Kispert is a 6’8 wing and Washington native with great basketball IQ and versatility. He’s basically a kid that was made to play at Gonzaga, and another Mark Few steal.

7. Princeton

After a great run that nearly saw them knock off Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament, the Tigers will welcome a solid 2017 class headlined by a pair of three-star forwards. Sebastian Much turned down Arizona State, Washington State and Utah, which makes sense because his versatility and ability to shoot the basketball make him a perfect fit in this offense. French Canadian Jerome Desrosiers is in the same boat, passing on offers from BC, Illinois and Baylor. Their respective games will make them matchup nightmares in the Ivy League.

8. San Diego State

Just a two-man class here, but I expect both to contribute immediately. The big name is Jordan Schakel. The 6’5 wing is a four-star prospect that can shoot the crap out of it. USC and Cal both offered. The other could be a major sleeper in the class. Sierra Canyon guard Adam Seiko profiles as the ultimate glue guy. His jumper needs work, but he is a great defender and plays with tremendous effort high IQ. Playing next to Marvin Bagley, Cody Riley and Remy Martin make it easy to overlook Seiko, but he constantly plays winning basketball.

9. Loyola Marymount

The Lions have quietly put together a solid class headlined by a trio of three-star recruits. Combo guard Ryse Williams is the highest-graded by ESPN. Long Beach Poly’s Zafir Williams might end up being the best college player as an undersized four-man with the ability to stretch the floor. The wildcard is Eli Scott. Have you ever wondered about some of the ‘other guys’ in these Chino Hills highlight tapes featuring Melo Ball? Well, one of them is the 6’4 Scott (usually the only one attempting to play defense). He’s raw, but his athleticism makes him intriguing.

10. UTEP

Everything's bigger in Texas - including UTEP’s six-man recruiting class. The Miners hit Chicago hard and it paid off in the form of two three-star guys. Evan Gilyard is a typical Chi-Town point guard with tremendous heart and playmaking ability; his 5’9 frame is the only reason high-majors didn’t come calling. He’s yet another really good Chicago Simeon product. Joey St. Pierre is from outside Chicago, but the 6’10 big received high-major interest. JUCO forward Roderick Williams averaged nearly 20 PPG, shooting 60 percent from the floor. He was a top 15 JUCO prospect and will provide immediate scoring help.

11. Santa Clara

Two three-star guards that turned down Power Five’s could make an instant impact for the Broncos in Matt Turner (offered by Seton Hall, Pitt, Virginia Tech) and Shaquille Walters (offered by Arizona State). Turner is a combo guard that can shoot it with the best of them, while Walters is a 6’6 English wing that is still growing into his game. Canadian Josip Vrankic started for the U18 FIBA Americas runner-up team. The 6’9 combo forward has a ton of upside to his game.

12. VCU

I originally had this class ranked second, but the decommitment of ESPN top-100 recruits Mayan Kiir and Lavar Batts obviously hurts. With that being said, the cupboard is hardly bare. I love Sean Mobley and feel like he could end up being a steal in this class. Mobley has a frame that’s college ready, and playing with national power Montverde Academy means he’s no stranger to elite talent. The class is rounded out by Marcus Santos-Silva, who turned down Kansas State and Boston College.

13. Grand Canyon

Thunder Dan Majerle hit it out of the park with this class. It was impressive when he beat several Pac-12 programs for three-star guard Damari Milstead. Milstead is a savvy point guard that can create for himself and others. Majerle added the perfect complement in the form of 6’10 Latvian Roberts Blumbergs. He’s been sensational in international competition, putting up 16.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game in the FIBA U18 European Championships. He can also step out and stretch the floor.

14. Charleston

The class stands at just two right now, but they’re both quality three-star players. Big Kymani Dunham has been rising and his 6’8, 240 pound frame will allow him to compete immediately. The Cougars also have their point guard of the future in Zep Jasper. He’s a scoring guard with a lot of go that puts a ton of pressure on opposing defenses.

15. Buffalo

The Bulls will lose its top two scorers from this season, but have reloaded behind a pair of transfers. Former Mizzou guard Wes Clark is eligible after sitting out this season. Clark averaged 10 PPG and 3 APG for the Tigers in his final two seasons. He’s also a guy that can shoot the three. JUCO transfer Jeremy Harris is considered the No. 2 prospect in the nation by JUCO Nation. The 6’7 wing was inconsistent at times, but had some monster scoring outputs. I also love Jayvon Graves. The St. Vincent-St. Mary’s product is an explosive scorer and athlete in a 6’3 frame. He will prove that he was slightly underrecruited.

16. Wichita State

Gregg Marshall returns nearly everyone from this year’s team, but the pieces he added could be enough to get the Shockers to the Final Four. JUCO standout and Wichita native Samajae Jones gives WSU point guard depth and someone else to run the show besides Landry Shamet. Then there’s Danish big Asbjorn Midtgaard. He’s a solid seven footer with a 270 pond frame and a motor. That may remind you of a spry Przemek Karnowski. This is just the rich getting richer…

Other Notables

Ball State

  • Three-star G Ishmael El-Amin (offered by Texas Tech and Nevada; son of former UConn great Khalid El-Amin)

Columbia

  • ESPN four-star C Jaron Faulds and G Tai Bibbs

Davidson

  • Consensus four-star G Kellan Grady (offered Northwestern and Rhode Island)

Green Bay

  • Three-star F Manny Patterson

Loyola

  • Four-star F Christian Negron (offered by Iowa, Illinois, Oregon State and Butler) and three-star C Cameron Krutwig

New Mexico

  • Four-star C Chris Sodom (offered by Kansas, Florida, Purdue and Texas A&M)

North Texas

  • Top-100 JUCO recruits Roosevelt Smart and Tope Arikawe. Russian C Mark Tikhonenko (offered by Iowa State)

Northeastern

  • Four-star C Tomas Murphy (offered by Florida, Iowa, Maryland and Northwestern)

Old Dominion

  • Three-star wings Marquis Godwin and Michael Hueitt Jr. (offered by Missouri), as well as Wake Forest graduate transfer Greg McClinton

UAB

  • 4Fourstar C Makhtar Gueye (Offered by UConn, Florida, Creighton)