Earlier this week I wrote that Valparaiso's 2013 recruiting class was shaping up to be "one of the most anticipated freshmen classes in Valparaiso history." It didn't take long for the Valparaiso faithful (message board posters) to analyze the statement and perhaps infer that I like to dabble in hyperbole. Well of course I do, I'm a sportswriter! Fellow NWI Times VU writer Paul Jankowski even joked that I shouldn't be able to make such claims unless I was 50 or 60 years old.
All joking aside, here is where I stand with this class: The 2013 Valparaiso recruits absolutely represent one of the most anticipated freshmen classes in Valparaiso history.
There hasn't been a class this full of freshmen since Broekhoff/Kenney/Kurth/Halvorsen in 2009-10. While that class has been very solid, that was the same year that Cory Johnson became eligible and Brandon Wood transferred in. The first game of the year was at Ball State and I can remember thinking that Johnson and Wood were the players I was most eager to see, not the young freshmen who weren't expected to be stars (or even starters) in their first year. (Kurth was the only consistent starter in his first year)
The recruiting class that takes the cake as the most anticipated, at least in modern era of recruiting services and class rankings, was in 2003-04 when Kenny Harris, Oumar Sylla, Jimmie Miles and Moussa Mbaye came to town. (Of course, Harris suffered a career-ending stroke, Sylla transferred after one year, Miles was involved with stolen cell phones, leaving Mbaye to be the only player to graduate from VU).
There have been plenty of important recruiting classes for Valpo, but I believe this 2013 group represents the next era in Valparaiso basketball. It's a complete lifestyle change for what Crusader fans have become used to. Look at this class: a local kid (haven't had one since Kenny Harris), two Chicago kids in one class (haven't had that since Loyd/Humphrey), a 6-foot-6 player from a US High School (Halvorsen was 6-9, but never played. Urule Igbavboa was the last tall US player on the roster. Finally, these newcomers all know each other. Adekoya and Williams have known each other since fourth grade, Davidson has known them both since sixth grade. Yeo and Davidson have spent a ton of time together since committing. This group already has a bond through AAU and locality. Instead of Valparaiso filling the roster with players from all over the world (which is surely not bad thing), you could drive to each players' house on a combined one tank of gas.
So what am I anticipating? Well, for this year it's simple. I want to see how Broekhoff goes out as a senior. I want to see if Van Wijk's back holds up. I want to see if Alex Rossi is in fact eligible and then see if he breaks the school record for 3-pointers in a game. I want to see how a backcourt with Erik Buggs and Lavonte Dority.
As for the year after, then it's all about the freshmen.