We cover the majority of the power house programs in college basketball but today I want to talk a few programs on the rise. These programs will be contenders in their conference in the near future and NCAA tournament teams as well. Be sure to keep an eye on these programs over the next few years.
Mississippi State hired Ben Howland as coach and he immediately restored the program. He was able to get Malik Newman to commit to the Bulldogs, giving the program some credibility of a McDonald’s All-American on the roster. Howland hasn’t stopped with Newman as he has Mario Kegler, Schnider Herard, and a number of other highly rated recruits coming in next season.
Although Newman’s draft stock has fallen for the 2016 NBA, he could go back to school and join the incoming freshman to be one of the most talented teams in the SEC. If Newman returns to school, Mississippi State will have the second best team in the SEC below Kentucky.
Momentum is crucial in college basketball, especially when it comes to recruiting. If Howland can churn out wins and NBA lottery picks, he will continue to have great success recruiting to MSU.
Just like Mississippi State, Arizona State made a fantastic hire and it has paid off already. Although Bobby Hurley may not have a resume full of coaching experience, he worked miracles with a Buffalo program that had been a bottom feeder of the MAC for years. In his two years at Buffalo, he filled the roster with players of great potential and took the program to its first NCAA tournament appearance.
Now at Arizona State, Hurley’s name is recognizable enough to bring talented players into ASU. Hurley transformed the team from a roster full of players he did not recruit into a very respectable team that has won some impressive non-conference games.
Hurley has also used his time at Arizona State to go after a big fish in the recruiting circuit. He hired Thon Maker’s former trainer and has made the Sun Devils into the favorites for the top recruit. If Hurley can get Thon Maker, he will likely bring his little brother Matur Maker to ASU. He already has two 4-star recruits signed for next year with Sam Cunliffe and Jethro Tshisumpa both headed to Tempe, AZ. This is all on top of the quality players that he has signed and transfers that have followed him from Buffalo. Watch out for the Sun Devils in the next couple seasons. I like to call them the “Fighting Bobby Hurleys” because of the grit and style of play Hurley impresses on his team.
I understand that Butler is on the rise when they are ranked in the top 10, but I couldn’t resist putting them on this list because of their recruiting class. Butler has never been known as a major recruiting destination. They have found players in state and filled a roster full of four-year guys who play as a team. Butler has two big recruits coming in that will keep the program in the top 15 for years to come. Howard Washington and Joey Brunk will be the pick and roll pairing that will lead Butler to many wins. Washington took the reins from D’Angelo Russell at Monte Verde Academy and has played with Ben Simmons and many others while in Florida. He can play off the ball and shoot the deep ball or he can distribute and go into a pick and roll. Brunk is a big guy who will demand attention down low while he’s on the court; he has a nice scoring touch as well. Butler will be a powerhouse for years to come.
Miami had one spectacular season back when Shane Larkin was leading the Hurricanes to a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament. Soon after, that core group left Miami and returned to the lower tier of the ACC. Miami has a great recruiting class coming in with Bruce Brown and Dewan Huellboth, likely McDonald’s All-Americans. Miami entered this season with relatively low expectations but have made a lot of noise and have crept into the top 15 of the AP poll. They will lose leading scorer Sheldon McClellan but they will retain the rest of the core from this year’s team and those two top recruits will form a solid team that will fly under the radar in the ACC for years to come.
Washington’s team is similar to Miami’s. They will lose one main player from this year, Andrew Andrews, but have a number of freshmen and sophomores with potential. Dejounte Murray is a freshman that is second on the team in scoring. They have 12 players on their roster that are either freshmen or sophomores. Add 5-star recruit Markelle Fultz to the roster and Washington will be a quality team in the Pac-12. Watch out for the Huskies in the next couple of seasons. You may not stay up late enough to watch them play but be sure to keep them in mind when looking at your tournament brackets.
All of these programs are looking up and their future is very bright. It is great to see some of these programs be successful in college basketball. Everyone wins when there are more successful college basketball teams and it leads to more entertaining NCAA tournaments as well.