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December 7, 2009

Ohio State reloads with top talent

MORE: Conference recruiting breakdown | VOTE: Big Ten's top class? | 1. ACC | 2. SEC | 3. Big East

Ranking the classes (national rank)
1. Ohio State (2)
2. Michigan State (6)
3. Illinois (10)
4. Purdue (19)
5. Michigan
6. Indiana
7. Iowa
8. Wisconsin
9. Minnesota
10. Northwestern
11. Penn State
Best by category
Best perimeter scorer: Keith Appling, Michigan State
Best low post scorer: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Best passer: Lenzelle Smith, Ohio State
Best shooter: Jordan Sibert, Ohio State
Best rebounder: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Best shot blocker: Adreian Payne, Michigan State
Best defender: Aaron Craft, Ohio State
Most versatile: Evan Smotrycz, Michigan
Best basketball IQ: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Best pro prospect: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Best speed: Crandall Head, Illinois
Best motor: Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
Impact player: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Biggest sleeper: Terone Johnson, Purdue
Best at each position (top overall player in bold)
PG: Keith Appling, Michigan State
SG: Jordan Sibert, Ohio State
SF: Jereme Richmond, Illinois
PF: Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
C: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Inside the Numbers
4- Teams ranked in the top 25
20- Rivals150 prospects coming to the Big Ten
3- Five-star prospects coming to the Big Ten
9- Four-star prospects coming to the Big Ten
8- Three-star ranked prospects coming to the Big Ten
12- Non-ranked prospects coming to the Big Ten
7- Recruits from Illinois coming to the Big Ten, the most of any state
13- Number of states represented by Big Ten recruits
The Big Ten has three teams in the top 10 nationally and another one in the bottom half of the top 25. Outside those four teams, however, there are only two four-star recruits coming to the conference. Ohio State boasts an impressive six-man class with every recruit ranked in the Rivals150. Only Memphis has a better recruiting class nationally. Five-star prospects Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas are Ohio State's top recruits. Michigan State landed five-star big man Adreian Payne and takes the No. 2 spot in the conference and a No. 6 ranking nationally. Illinois, which is ranked in the top 10 nationally, is third in the Big Ten with a solid class of three four-star prospects. Purdue is the fourth Big Ten team ranked nationally (No. 19) with four-star guard Terone Johnson as its top recruit.

Best recruiting battle

Other than five-star big man Adreian Payne, almost all of the top Big Ten recruits had committed to schools well in advance of the early signing period. Payne, however, waited until a week before the early signing period before committing to Michigan State. Coach Tom Izzo beat out some stiff competition to land this high-potential post player. Payne also closely considered and officially visited Arizona, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Five-star post trio

The Big Ten has an impressive trio of five-star big men coming to the league. The top player coming to the conference next year, Jared Sullinger could have a Kevin Love/Tyler Hansbrough impact for Ohio State as a freshman. Skilled, intelligent and powerful, Sullinger has an advanced and mature game that closely resembles that of Love.

Joining Sullinger at Ohio State is high-scoring forward Deshaun Thomas. Physically mature like Sullinger, Thomas will be ready to produce immediately. He and Sullinger will give Ohio State a lethal high/low combination.

Michigan State signee Adreian Payne is the type of player who can be the best player on the court in stretches. However, he can also fade away and not be a factor for stretches. An athlete who plays with as much length as any prospect in the 2010 class, Payne should steadily improve early in his career under the tutelage of Izzo.

Solid on the perimeter

There might not be a five-star guard headed to the Big Ten, but there are six four-star guards and five ranked three-star guards coming to the conference next season. Michigan State will add a heavy dose of perimeter scoring with Keith Appling, the highest ranked of the four-star guards.

Ohio State has wing scorer Jordan Sibert in addition to its five-star inside duo. Purdue landed a talented pair of guards in Terone Johnson and Anthony Johnson. Illinois' Crandall Head and Northwestern's Jershon Cobb are the other two four-star guards.

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