The summer of 2010 turned out to be a summer of change. Nike unveiled its EYBL concept to success, the Big Time/Reebok Summer Championships were gone and replaced by Dinos Trigonis' Fab 48 and so on. So maybe it shouldn't be a surprise that a new name has risen to the top of the Rivals150 for the class of 2011 as Austin Rivers has seized control of the top spot.
Each time we've updated our rankings for the class of 2011 we've written about how close a group the first seven or eight guys are. The situation has made it extremely difficult to pick a guy for the top and that remains the case.
"This was such a difficult year to determine the No. 1 prospect and then figure out the proper order for the top eight or so prospects," said Rivals.com's director of basketball recruiting Jerry Meyer. "All of these top prospects have appealing aspects to their game. As the game of basketball gets both faster and more physical, explosiveness in the open court and in traffic was highly valued in formulating this ranking."
A 6-foot-3 scoring guard from Winter Park (Fla.) High, Rivers ability to play either spot in the backcourt, put points on the board and underrated defensive ability allowed him to rise to the top.
"Rivers has the size and athleticism you love to see in a combo guard," says Meyer of the top-ranked player in the class. "He is one of those guys who is guaranteed to produce offensively and also has the tools to be a high level defender. Once he gets into college and the NBA, I expect him to refine and focus his game and become a much more efficient player. At the end of the day, I expect him to be the top player out of this class."
Coming in just behind Rivers in the second slot is the nation's top point guard, 6-foot-2 Indianapolis (Ind.) Pike product and Kentucky-bound Marquis Teague.
"The point guard position becomes more and more important in today's game," said Meyer. "There is no real substitute for a player with the ability to consistently create offense for his team. Teague is by far the premier playmaker in the 2011 class.
Coming in at No. 3 is another Kentucky commitment and the nation's former No. 1 player, small forward Mike Gilchrist of Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick.
"There is so much to love about Gilchrist's game," said Meyer of the 6-foot-6 swingman. "No prospect competes at a higher level and no one wants to be guarded by him. The question on Gilchrist, however, is what type of scorer he will be at the next levels. If he irons out that hitch in his shot and becomes a consistent long-range shooter, he very well might have us wishing we had kept him at No. 1."
For the nation's fourth-ranked prospect, we leave the East Coast and head down to the state of Texas to find physical wing LeBryan Nash of Dallas (Texas) Lincoln.
"Nash is as physically imposing a player as there is in the class," says Meyer of the Texan. "He has all the tools to be a big-time wing scorer at the highest level. His physicality in traffic always affords him the ability to generate points in the lane as well."
Checking in at number five for the class of 2011 is Chicago native Quincy Miller who is completing his high school career at High Point (N.C.) Westchester.
"Miller is a high upside prospect with an impressive skill level for a player with his length," said Meyer. "If he maxes out in developing his strength and explosiveness, his number five ranking might end up being too low in retrospect."
Rounding out the post-summer top 10 are another Kentucky commitment in 6-foot-9 power forward Anthony Davis who has climbed all the way to the sixth spot after not even being on anybody's radar as recently as April. The MVP of USA Basketball's gold medal 17-and-under team, Florida-bound shooting guard Bradley Beal, checks in at No. 7. Quick, North Carolina-bound power forward James McAdoo comes in at No. 8 while versatile wing DeAndre Daniels and California-bred point guard Josiah Turner round out our top 10.
Rivals150 by the numbers
In total, there are five new five-star players, P.J. Hairston, B.J. Young, Norvel Pelle, Cody Zeller and Rodney Hood. Of that group, Pelle made the biggest jump climbing 25 spots. Hairston, Young and Zeller each rose 15 spots while Hood rose 13 spots to attain five-star status.
In total, there were 18 prospects who made their way from an unranked position into the Rivals150. Of the newcomers, California wing Juan Anderson ranks as the highest newcomer checking in at No. 68 overall. Joining him as four-star newcomers are Damarcus Harrison, Wesley Saunders, Dominique Pointer, Jonathan Holmes and Robert Brown.
The honor for biggest leap in the rankings is a tie between four-star Kadeem Jack who rose 49 big spots all the way from No. 82 to No. 33. Also rising 49 spots was recent West Virginia pledge Tommie McCune who rose from No. 149 to No. 100 and earned a fourth star. Right on their heals is Auburn pledge Willy Kouassi who rose 48 spots from No. 135 all the way up to No. 87 while earning his fourth star.
Two other prospects made jumps of over 40 spots. Cincinnati wing Aaron Thomas moves up 46 spots all the way from No. 95 to No. 49. New Yorker Maurice Harkless is also in the 40-plus club going from No. 86 all the way up to No. 45.
Other prospects making double digit jumps in the rankings are Ryan Boatright (+16), Amir Garrett (+14), Kevin Ware (+13), Mike Shaw (+10), Cezar Guerrero (+26), Shane Larkin (+28), Nick Jacobs (+18), Malcolm Brogdon (+13), Naadir Tharpe (+18), Jordan Williams (+16), Durand Johnson (+10) and Paul Jesperson (+11).