A lot of the chatter about Darrin Horn's first recruiting class, which consisted of Ramon Galloway, Lakeem Jackson, Johndre Jefferson, and Stephen Spinella, has been negative. This group of freshmen was thrown into action early because of the loss of some upperclassmen and the ineffectiveness of others, and to many Gamecocks fans, they didn't do a great job. There's some truth to this assessment. That facts don't lie: this group had some flaws and they didn't help us win many games.
With these failures in view, how should we rate the job Horn did with his first recruiting class?
The question, I think, is too complex to answer by saying it was either a failure or a success. As said, the group has its shortcomings and failed to take us to the postseason, and in a sport where you have to be able to recruit young talent year in and year out to compete consistently, this group's inability to help us win more games signals that it wasn't as good as the classes you see coming in at other schools.
That said, I think we have to give Horn a pass here. This was his first class at South Carolina. A school that has enjoyed little success on the hardcourt in the past few decades. Many seem to judge Horn for not having recruited a more successful class under these circumstances, and I think that's unfair. South Carolina isn't Kentucky, and we shouldn't expect a new coach--as John Calipari did--to step in and bring in bluechippers before coaching a game. Horn will have to slowly build his and our reputation before he can do that, and under the circumstances, we should probably be happy that he was able to bring in one player who was relatively highly recruited in Jackson.
What is more, as I've noted elsewhere, this group isn't all bad. It may not have been the kind of instant impact group you saw at schools like Kentucky or Georgia Tech, but it could be quite good with some experience. Jackson will be a four-year starter for us, Galloway will likely start plenty of games and will always get some minutes, and Jefferson and Spinella could be decent role players with a little improvement in some areas. That's not a horrible class, particularly compared to some of what we saw under Dave Odom.
All of this said, Horn will have to start signing better talent if we're ever to compete at the higest level. He's begun to do that to some degree with the incoming class. If Horn can consistently get classes like that, we should start to see a little bit of longterm improvement. If he really wants to compete at the highest level, though, he's going to have to start going after and getting five-star recruits. What this team really needs is a couple of stars to build around, and I'd like to see Horn start going after them sooner or later. We're going to miss out on some here and there if we do, but if Bruce Pearl can do it at Tennessee and Scott Drew can do it at Baylor, it has to be possible.