Big Ten mailbag: Signing Day queries & hoops

Keep those cards and letters coming, America. Lots of good questions each week as we head into the home stretch of the hoop season and put a bow on the 2013 recruiting season.

Want to get in touch? Drop me a note. But first, let’s get started with this week’s answers.

Which school surprised you the most on Signing Day? – Mike L.

I was surprised that Penn State was able to finish seventh in the Big Ten despite signing the smallest class—just 17 players—in the Big Ten. QB Christian Hackenberg and TE Adam Breneman will lead the Nittany Lions out of the NCAA probation jungle. Indiana also caught my eye with some of the in-state talent Kevin Wilson was able to reel in, including DE David Kenney, S Antonio Allen and DT Darius Latham, who may be the gem of the class. He had offers from the likes of Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame and Auburn, among others.

***

Do you think Wisconsin was hurt at all by the coaching change going from Bret Bielema to Gary Andersen? – Phil

If you believe the Scout.com rankings, the coaching change had no impact. Despite not taking the job until late-December, Andersen still assembled a class that ranks No. 5 in the Big Ten. Anderson received a big commitment late in the process from JC QB Tanner McEvoy. Wisconsin also signed a nice group of running backs, led by Corey Clement. WR Rob Wheelwright comes as touted as Clement.

***

What did you think of the end of the Ohio State-Michigan game? Was Aaron Craft fouled? – Pete

It was a great game with a furious finish. Yes, I do think Craft was fouled on his last shot. I think if that happens in the first half, it’s called a foul. But, we often see officials let players play at the end of games. Before that, some felt Craft committed a flagrant foul on Glenn Robinson III. The more I look at the play, the more I think it was a flagrant foul. Remember, intent plays no part in determining a flagrant foul. So, using that criterion, I do think Craft committed a flagrant foul on GR3. Despite that ending, this still was a classic Big Ten game—maybe the best so far this season.

But you can watch the clip below.

***

I see in your preseason Big Ten hoop predictions that you picked Nebraska last. Unless something miraculous happens, I see Penn State finishing last–and the Huskers possibly getting as high as ninth. Stranger things have happened. And in a couple of years, I see the Huskers being very competitive in the conference, possibly even being near the top. – Dan

Yes, I underestimated the impact that Tim Miles would have on Nebraska. He has done a nice job in his first season in Lincoln. Shavon Shields is a nice-looking freshman who has a bright future. But Miles will need to sign some big men to fortify a roster that is losing Andre Almeida and Brandon Ubel. No doubt, Miles’ recruiting pitch is helped by a sparkling practice facility and new arena that will open next season.

***

It looks like Ohio State and Michigan cleaned up in recruiting. Your thoughts? – Joey

Yes, and it’s the second season in a row that the Buckeyes and Wolverines have netted impressive hauls of recruits. Last year, Ohio State was No. 3 in the nation, while Michigan was No. 4. No doubt, Urban Meyer and Brady Hoke are taking Big Ten recruiting to another level. Nebraska and Penn State also had classes ranked among the 25 best in the nation by various recruiting sites. The other coaches will need to work hard, and we saw that reflected on Signing Day when the conference ranked No. 2 in the nation—behind only the SEC—in Scout.com’s league rankings.

***

Who are the top recruits? – Bill

According to Scout.com, here the top players at each position signed by Big Ten teams.

Top QB: Christian Hackenberg, Fork Union, Va.—Penn State
Top RB: Derrick Green, Richmond, Va.—Michigan
Top FB: Wyatt Shallman, Novi, Mich.–Michigan
Top WR: Jalin Marshall, Middletown, Ohio—Ohio State
Top TE: Adam Breneman, Camp Hill, Pa.—Penn State
Top G: Patrick Kugler, Wexford, Pa.—Michigan
Top OT: Kyle Bosch, Wheaton, Ill.—Michigan
Top DE: Joey Bosa, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.—Ohio State
Top linebacker: Mike Mitchell, Plano, Texas—Ohio State
Top S: Dymonte Thomas, Alliance, Ohio—Michigan
Top CB: Jourdan Lewis, Detroit–Michigan
Top K: Ryan Santoso, Pace, Fla.—Minnesota
Top P: Johnny Townsend, Orlando, Fla.—Ohio State

***

I think the Big Ten’s toughest player is Aaron Craft, but Victor Oladipo has a more complete game. On another note, how much do you think being a physical conference will hurt Big Ten teams come tournament time, if any? – Kay Freiburger

I don’t think the physical nature of the league will hurt it in March. If anything, it will make it better prepared for the battles. But this isn’t just a conference of tough, physical players. There also is a strong collection of athletes. And the guard play is good, too, which is key in March. Without it, your team has no shot. Oh, and you are spot-on with your comparison between Craft and Oladipo, who is the more complete player. And, it isn’t even close.

***

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.

Find out more about: ,

0 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (No Comments)

Comments are closed.