Pack, Deacs come up strong in hoops recruits

N.C. State, Wake Forest land key basketball talent

ktysiac@charlotteobserver.comNovember 9, 2011 

The beginning of the fall college basketball signing period today will mark a big day for ACC schools in North Carolina that don't wear blue in their uniforms.

That's not to say the recruiting powerhouses of North Carolina under Roy Williams and Duke under Mike Krzyzewski have failed to attract top talent.

The Tar Heels are filling their needs with a four-player class that will include highly regarded point guard Marcus Paige of Linn-Mar High in Marion, Iowa. Duke has a commitment from Houston's Rasheed Sulaimon, who is considered by many to be the best shooting guard in the 2012 Class.

But first-year N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried and second-year Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik in particular have made a strong impression with this class. Gottfried secured a commitment from a player North Carolina had recruited in 6-foot-8 forward T.J. Warren. Gottfried also landed a potential McDonald's All-America shooting guard in Rodney Purvis and held on to the commitment that crafty point guard Tyler Lewis had given Sidney Lowe, the previous N.C. State coach.

All three players are from North Carolina.

"I don't know how it could have gone any better," said ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep. "To me, Mark Gottfried ripped a page right out of (the late Wake Forest coach) Skip Prosser's book and just started laying exceptional ground work within the state."

Bzdelik overcame an 8-24 opening season at Wake Forest to land a six-player class with plenty of size and skill. Three Deacons commitments - 6-6 forward Arnaud Moto of Alexandria, Va., 6-7 forward Aaron Rountree of Wilson and 6-2 guard Codi Miller-McIntyre of Concord - are generally considered top-100 players.

Telep said Wake Forest is adding a lot of important pieces but said one of those recruits needs to become a standout and a leader. All-Star Sports recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons said Miller-McIntyre, a point guard at Concord's First Assembly, has that ability.

"They really haven't had a floor leader last year, and I'm not sure if one is going to emerge this year of the quality of Codi Miller-McIntyre, who I think is their top recruit," Gibbons said. "... He's athletic. He can make shots. He makes plays."

North Carolina class

North Carolina has its own commitment from one of the best point guards in the class in Paige. The Tar Heels also will add a defensive stopper in small forward J.P. Tokoto, a physically strong center in 6-10 Joel James and a player with tremendous athletic ability in 6-9 Brice Johnson.

Telep said Paige will have a big impact because of his leadership ability and said Johnson could develop into a special player.

"Brice Johnson is a guy with a ceiling very, very high, where he is going to struggle with the physicality of it right off the bat, but he has a real chance," Telep said. "There is a lot of material to work with there."

Telep also is high on Duke commitment Sulaimon, comparing him to former Blue Devils guard Nolan Smith. Sulaimon has a better perimeter shot than Smith but doesn't penetrate as well, but both players are excellent defenders.

Duke class

Duke's class could add more punch in the spring, as 6-8 center Tony Parker of Lithonia, Ga., and highly coveted 6-5 forward Shabazz Muhammad of Las Vegas remain as primary targets.

"They've got a couple irons in the fire," Telep said. "Tony Parker is a legitimate possibility for them, and they have decided to dance all the way through with Shabazz Muhammad. And that's going to take a while."

Still it's Deacs, Pack

But the biggest news in North Carolina this signing period appears to be Bzdelik's solid footing after a shaky start and Gottfried's ability to quickly make his presence felt.

"He's done an outstanding job," Gibbons said. "I think they hired him to bring a higher profile to the program than Sidney Lowe was able to bring. And starting out now in recruiting in his first class, he's got three kids that will be ranked nationally in the top 40."

Tysiac: 919-829-8942

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