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June 13, 2011
Best of the Big Ten newcomers
MORE: Team Rankings | Conf. | No. 1 SEC | No. 2 Big East | No. 3 ACC | No. 4 Big 12 | No. 5 Pac-12
At No. 10 nationally, Ohio State leads the way for the Big Ten's four nationally ranked recruiting classes. The Buckeyes feature four four-star prospects, including LaQuinton Ross, Sam Thompson, Shannon Scott and Amir Williams.
Bruce Weber and his staff at Illinois continue to do a fine job of protecting the home turf by landing a class in which four players - Tracy Abrams, Mycheal Henry, Mike Shaw and Nnanna Egwu - are from the state and ranked as four-star prospects.
In East Lansing, Tom Izzo has landed a five-star prospect in Branden Dawson and has his team in the national rankings. Indiana is the other nationally ranked team from the Big Ten and has the highest ranked prospect entering the conference with in-state native Cody Zeller.
Best recruiting battle
The race for Branden Dawson was easily the most hard-fought recruiting battle within the conference. For the longest time it looked as if Purdue would emerge as the victor thanks to proximity and an early start in recruiting him. Marquette came in from the Big East to muddy things up a bit before Tom Izzo and Michigan State sold Dawson on their tradition.
While it wasn't an inter-conference recruiting battle, the single most important recruiting victory was scored by Indiana when they secured Cody Zeller over a stiff challenge from North Carolina and Butler.
Where's the beef?
Outside of Zeller, who should arrive at Indiana as a polished low-post scorer, there doesn't appear to be many college-ready big men headed to the Big Ten. Illinois signee Mike Shaw is probably the next closest to being ready but he fancies himself more of a perimeter guy than a low post scorer. Ohio State's Amir Williams and Illinois' Nnanna Egwu are both shot-blockers who can run the floor, but they each need to add muscle and are still raw on the offensive side