Ranking the top classes every year is never an easy task, and this was certainly the case for the 2004 signing period. Indiana and Texas recruited standout players in abundance, with the Hoosiers signing five members ranked among the top 75 prospects in the Rivals150. Texas added four in the top 25.
Arkansas, Louisville and North Carolina also had excellent classes, and if the Razorbacks manage to land uncommitted point guard Kyle Lowry, they will have a case for the No. 1 class.
With every player not planning to sign early and some who will undoubtedly change their minds, this list could likely change. Class rankings will be revisited as the late signing period nears and after the NBA Draft.
1. Indiana - Coach Mike Davis reeled in the nation’s top class with five signees led by 5-star forwards D.J. White and Josh Smith. Three four-star guards, Robert Vaden, A.J. Ratliff and James Hardy, give the Hoosiers five of the top 71 players in the Rivals150.
2. Texas - The Longhorns brought in five players with LaMarcus Aldridge, Daniel Gibson and Mike Williams all residing in the top 25 of the Rivals150 and earning 5-star rankings. The 43rd ranked player Dion Dowell adds this class among the nation’s elite.
3. Arkansas - Coach Stan Heath continues his impressive recruiting since arriving in Fayetteville. The jewel of this class is Rivals.com's seventh-ranked player, Al Jefferson, and four-star prospects Steven Hill and Charles Thomas give the Razorbacks plenty of options in the frontcourt. Also, football commitment Marcus Monk will walk-on and give valuable minutes.
4. Louisville - Coach Rick Pitino went to the East Coast to find his point guard of the future and landed Sebastian Telfair, the 13th ranked player in the Rivals150. In addition, four-star prospect Brian Johnson and JUCO All-American candidate Donta Smith give the Cardinals plenty of scoring options.
5. North Carolina - New Tar Heel head coach Roy Williams brought in two of Rivals.com's top 15 players in power forward Marvin Williams and small forward Earl Smith. The addition of shooting guard JamesOn Curry and point guard Quentin Thomas give the Heels added depth for the backcourt and two additional Rivals150 players.
6. Duke - While not plentiful in numbers the quality of each recruit is impressive and as a result Coach Mike Krzyewski reeled in another top 10 class. The late commitment of point guard Shaun Livingston, the second-best player in the Rivals150, along with the second-best shooting guard, DeMarcus Nelson, give the Blue Devils a formidable backcourt for the future. Small forward David McClure is another big pick-up.
7. Kansas - New coach Bill Self’s first recruiting class for the Jayhawks proved to be a successful one as he signed three players in the Rivals150, with the top recruit being Florida big man Alexander Kaun, ranked 23rd in the nation. New York shooting guard Russell Robinson and power forward Darnell Jackson round out the class.
8. Connecticut - Former ACC freshman of the year Ed Nelson transferred from Georgia Tech and was the final piece for Coach Jim Calhoun’s top 10 class. Throw in the ninth-ranked prospect in the Rivals150, 5-star small forward Rudy Gay, and one of the best point guards in the country A.J. Price, and the Huskies have three impact players for next season.
9. Memphis - Six players make up the 2004 class for Coach John Calipari, led by Rivals.com fifth-best player, small forward Shawne Williams, and one of the nation’s elite scorers, Darius Washington. Robert Dozier, Richard Dorsey and Duquene transfer Simplice Njoya give Memphis size in the frontcourt. Point guard Andre Allen plans to walk on.
10. Alabama - Coach Mark Gottfried managed to land three of the nation’s top guard prospects, led by 16th-ranked Ron Steele. Prep school standout Albert Weber and Glen Miles are both ranked among the top 80 prospects in the Rivals150. Junior college all-American candidate Jean Felix gives Alabama an athletic player who can fill the lanes.
11. UCLA - Coach Ben Howland’s first recruiting class at Westwood has to be deemed a success. The Bruins inked Jordan Farmar, the nation’s fifth-best point guard and 24th prospect on the Rivals150, in addition to landing shooting guard Arron Afflalo, power forward Lorenzo Mata and shooting guard Josh Shipp, giving UCLA a total of four signees ranked in the 150.
12. USC - The Trojans were able to land the top center prospect in the nation and Rivals.com's No. 4 overall prospect, Robert Swift. In addition, USC inked one of the top shooters on the west coast in Gabriel Pruitt. The other two signees, Emmanuel Willis and Nick Young, give the Trojans two scorers with size.
13. Missouri - Coach Quin Snyder’s early signing haul brought in four prospects rated in the Rivals150, with Texas point guard Jason Horton leading the way. Marshall Brown, Glen Dandridge and Kalen Grimes give the Tigers much needed size, and the trio will help control the boards for Missouri.
14. Georgia Tech - The Yellow Jackets brought in two big men who should provide immediate help in Texas small forward Jeremis Smith and South Carolina power forward RaSean Dickey, both of whom are ranked in among the top 60 prospects by Rivals.com. Zam Frederick and Anthony Morrow are guards who can fill it up.
15. Florida - Coach Billy Donovan reached into Tennessee to snag the nation’s 30th best prospect, Corey Brewer. The Gators also went into New York and landed Joakim Noah, one of the best power forwards on the east coast. Al Horford and Taurean Green round out the class. Each ranks among the Rivals150.
16. Michigan State - Coach Tom Izzo's class is highlighted by the nation’s No. 15 player, Marquise Gray, and Rivals.com's 81st top prospect, Drew Neitzel, who committed to the Spartans very early in the recruiting process. Michigan center Goran Sutton will provide Michigan State with a wide body who has a lot of potential.
17. Oregon - The Ducks dipped into Texas to land one of the fastest rising stars in the 2004 class in shooting guard Chamberlain Oguchi. In addition, they were able to pull one of the west coast’s top shooters, Bryce Taylor from California. In-state power forward Maarty Leunen decided to stay home, giving Oregon three scorers who can stroke it from the outside.
18. Florida State - While the Seminoles class isn’t big on numbers, it features a couple of high-flying athletes who can shoot. Committing to play for Florida State were Florida native Jason Rich, Rivals.com 28th ranked player, and prep school standout Isaiah Swann, ranked 25th.
19. N.C. State - Coach Herb Sendek reached into Ohio for small forward Andrew Brackman, who saw his stock rise considerably over the last three months. But the most notable signee is in-state small forward Cedric Simmons, ranked 67th nationally by Rivals.com. Former Georgetown point guard Tony Bethel and New York small forward Gavin Grant round out N.C. State’s class.
20. Mississippi State - In-state power forward Charles Rhodes, who is ranked the 57th prospect in the Rivals150, is the top prospect for Coach Rick Stansbury and the Bulldogs. Tennessee small forward Jerrell Houston has a nice upside, and point guard Charlie White is a quick guard with a good handle.
Please address media inquiries to Rivals.com Senior Basketball Recruiting Analyst Tim Watts, email: firstname.lastname@example.org>