Bossi's Best: Top players who moved up in class
Heading to college a year earlier than expected has really picked up steam over the last couple of years, and it's really taken off with the class of 2018.
The No. 1 player in the class, R.J. Barrett, was listed as a 2019 prospect earlier in his high school career before moving to 2018. Fellow Duke commit Joey Baker just moved from 2019 to 2018, and others like five-stars Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans, along with four-star big man Francis Okoro, are considering it.
In this week's edition of Bossi's Best, National Basketball Analyst Eric Bossi looks back at some of the most successful examples of moving up a class.
The situation: Not all "reclass" situations are the same. In some cases a player truly skips his senior season, while in others he elects to skip out on a planned (fifth) prep school year. Napier was headed to prep school, but after a huge winter and spring in 2010, it became clear that an extra year was unnecessary for him.
The result: Nobody has skipped out on a year of high school with more style than Napier has. He won national championships at UConn in 2011 and 2014 (winning the MOP that year), was a first team All-American, won the AAC player of the year and was taken in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft. He's still in the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers.
The situation: Pegged as the clear No. 1 player in the class of 2012, Drummond was rumored throughout most of his career to be a guy who would end up enrolling early. What made Drummond's move so strange was that he put out a press release at the end of the 2011 summer saying he would be in prep school for the 2011-12 season. Two weeks later, he committed to UConn and enrolled as a 2011 prospect.
The result: Drummond had a good, but not great, season at UConn, as the defending champions lost in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. With questions about his motor, Drummond slipped to No. 9 in the NBA Draft, where he was taken by the Detroit Pistons. As an NBA player, Drummond has made two All-Star Games and twice won the league's rebounding title.
The situation: After starring at Memphis (Tenn.) Central, Stokes transferred to Southwind for his senior year and was ruled ineligible due to transfer rules. Rather than sit out his senior year, Stokes picked Tennessee over others like Memphis and Arkansas, giving Cuonzo Martin his first major recruiting win.
The result: Stokes enrolled early and played the second half of the 2011-12 season for the Volunteers and earned all-freshman team honors in the SEC. Stokes played two more seasons in Knoxville and made first-team All-SEC as a junior before being taken in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft. He's been in and out of the NBA since then, and played the 2017-18 season in China.
The situation: Wiggins is one of several Canadians who have moved to the United States as part of one class and then moved up due to a difference in school calendars between Canada and the U.S. Wiggins made the jump from 2014 to 2013 in August of 2012. He ended up picking Kansas in the spring of 2013 and was part of a class that was heavy on reclass players as fellow five-stars Noah Vonleh, Wayne Selden and Dakari Johnson had all originally been in the class of 2014.
The result: Wiggins played one season at Kansas and put up big numbers. Kansas was bounced from the 2014 NCAA Tournament during the first weekend, but Wiggins was the Big 12's freshman of the year, all-conference and a second-team All-American. Taken first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014 NBA Draft, Wiggins was traded to Minnesota, where he was named Rookie of the Year in 2015.
The situation: Initially a member of the class of 2015, Towns made big waves when he was named to the Dominican Republic's national team early in his high school career. It just so happened that Kentucky's John Calipari coaches the DR national team and Towns committed to Calipari in December of 2012 and announced he would only attend three years of high school.
The result: Towns was part of a 2014-15 Kentucky team that was infamous for utilizing a "platoon" system that allowed the Wildcats to make it all the way to the Final Four before losing a game. Towns was the SEC freshman of the year, all-conference and the No. 1 NBA Draft pick by Minnesota. One of the NBA's brightest young stars, Towns followed in Wiggins' footsteps, giving the Timberwolves back-to-back Rookie of the Year winners. He made the All-Star Game in 2018.
The situation: A top 50 prospect in the class of 2015, Brooks was challenging for five-star status after a monster summer in 2014. However, what many didn't realize was that he had actually graduated from Findlay Prep and could enroll early. Oregon hired Mike Mennenga away from Canisius and he used his deep Canadian ties to land Brooks shortly after an August campus visit.
The result: With his all-around game and ability to play both inside and out, Brooks' impact at Oregon was immediate and he made the Pac 12's All-Freshman team. As a sophomore and junior he was a first-team All Pac-12 performer and won the conference player of the year award as a junior in 2017. Brooks helped Oregon to the 2017 Final Four and averaged 11 points per game as a rookie this season in Memphis after being selected early in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft.
The situation: Listed as a 2016 prospect for most of his high school career, Murray had many options. Among those he was considering was staying in 2016 and going directly to the NBA. Instead, a strong run by John Calipari and Kentucky convinced him to go with the Wildcats instead of Oregon.
The result: Murray joined a loaded recruiting class and was the top dog of the group, putting up 20 points a game and earning All-SEC honors during his lone season in Lexington. Murray was taken No. 7 overall by Denver in the 2016 NBA Draft and is emerging as one of best young guards in the game after averaging nearly 17 points per game during the 2017-18 season.
The situation: The No. 1-ranked player in the class of 2018, Bagley III's move to 2017 was one of the more eye-raising moves. Not only did Bagley III have to graduate a year early, he had to make up for basically missing a semester at the beginning of his sophomore year because of transfers. After playing out the summer of 2017, Bagley visited Durham and picked Duke over USC and others late in the summer.
The result: Bagley III arrived at Duke with considerable hype and he backed all of it up. He was a first team All-American, the ACC's player of the year and he helped the Blue Devils to an Elite Eight appearance. The 2018 NBA Draft is still a bit over a month away, but he projects as a top 3 pick and an impact rookie.