By: Charlie Sides
After a not so talented 2015 recruiting class, the 2016 class has a lot to prove. There are a lot of star players this year but there is a group of guys who aren’t well known that will make a name for themselves come November.
5. Markus Howard, Marquette, PG
After reclassifying to 2016 from 2017, Markus Howard chose to play his college ball at Marquette. It looked like he was going to go play at Central Arkansas with his brother, which would have been an interesting case for a top 100 player to go play at such a small school. Standing at 5’11”, Howard possesses so many skills to get to the basket and score. Howard really started to gain attention this summer after his showing in the 17u FIBA tournament, possibly gaining big time offers if he stayed in the 2017 class.
Howard will bring so much to Marquette’s basketball program offensively and defensively. He is so quick on and off the ball with his main strength being able to get down low and score as a guard. Not only can the kid shoot but he can bring so much to the table on defense. Marquette got a huge snag in him being able to get him early off the table. In a few years, Markus Howard could be the face of the Big East.
4. Tyler Cook, Iowa, PF
The Iowa Hawkeyes have never really been in the market for big name players, but they got one in St. Louis native Tyler Cook. Iowa always looked like the leader but Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri weren’t too far behind. Standing at 6’8″, Cook will bring his playmaking skills as a big to help out with Peter Jok and company. According to 247 sports, Cook was the 73rd ranked recruit. There’s no way he should be ranked that low. The big man has such a high IQ of the game.
Cook will bring a winning attitude to the Hawkeyes. Now I am not saying Iowa isn’t a winning team, but they sure need to know how to win in the tournament. Cook will bring that mentality. After being successful at Chaminade College Preparatory Academy in St. Louis with top recruit and Duke commit Jayson Tatum, he will know how to finish on top.
3. Zach Collins, Gonzaga, C
Gonzaga has also never been a team to rack in top recruits, but they just got their highest ranked player of all time in Zach Collins. The 7’0″ center was a McDonald’s All-American this year, which was shocking as no one expected this. Although Collins is very good, he did not get the attention he should have as a recruit being ranked number 32 according to 247 sports. The blue blood programs in Duke, Kansas, and Kentucky should have been in on him. With Domantas Sabonis gone, Collins will serve as the new big man down low, keeping the Zags on the map.
Collins was a huge get for the Zags not just because of his skills, but because he will most likely stay all four years in college. Like I said earlier, Collins will be a very important piece because of the loss of Sabonis. Having another big that can score will bolster their wins up. Zach Collins may be a household name in Spokane, Washington for the next four years.
2. Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s, PG/SG
Shamorie Ponds will come into the St. John’s basketball program this year as one of the most talented recruits they have ever had. Chris Mullin has done a great job at landing the right guys to put the Red Storm back on the map, and Ponds helps so much more. The New York City native did not have many big offers, but the 5’11” combo guard brings a lot to the table. Ponds finally got to showcase his talent to the world in the Jordan Brand Classic putting on an impressive show. The four-star prospect had all the key skills to be a five star, but the NYC competition he played against may have effected his rating.
Ponds will bring a lot to the Red Storm, possibly playing alongside Marcus LoVett if he is eligible. With St. John’s finally getting things figured out, Ponds will bring his high IQ and scoring to help them get back into the tournament. Coach Mullins did a great job at bringing in Ponds, but he sure is not done.
1. Jaylen Fisher, TCU, PG
Memphis, Tenn. native Jaylen Fisher has a lot to bring to the TCU Horned Frogs and new coach Jamie Dixon. The former UNLV commit backed out of his commitment with the Running Rebels after coaching changes. TCU is up-and-coming with a whole new identity including a new staff, players, and a beautiful new gym. Fisher will come to Fort Worth and try and bring his team to the top of the Big 12 for the first time since joining a few years ago.
In my opinion, Fisher is the most underrated freshman in this year’s class because he came in unknown. Personally, I love his game because it is all over. He can shoot the ball, drive in, play defense and run the floor — a coaches dream. He is a bit young and immature to the game, but in a couple years he could be a monster in the Big 12.