Rivals Rankings Week: Analysts discuss 2019 Rivals150 update
It's not for lack of effort, but as of yet nobody has been able to knock skilled big man Vernon Carey Jr. from the top spot of the 2019 Rivals150. However, No. 2 James Wiseman and No. 3 Cole Anthony continue to be in hot pursuit.
Kentucky-bound wing Kahlil Whitney achieved five-star status early in the summer. However, the wing from New Jersey is one of the biggest stories of this rankings cycle, because he went from fringe five-star to looking like an instant impact, nearly-no-doubt-about- it, one-and-done-type prospect while rising all the way up to No. 7 from No. 23.
Another big story is the emergence of five new five-star prospects. Skilled power forward Isaiah Mobley, who is headed to USC; animal rebounder Oscar Tshiebwe; silky scoring Florida-bound combo guard Tre Mann; athletic combo forward C.J. Walker; and skilled post Drew Timme all earned bumps to five-star status.
For the second time in a row, Texas wing Donovan Williams is among the biggest risers in the ranking, making his second straight leap of 45 or more spots up to No. 52 overall. However, making the biggest climb of all is California combo guard Boogie Ellis, whose deadly jump shooting allowed him to rise 67 spots - all the way to No. 41 overall. Others making significant climbs of 25 or more spots in the rankings are small forward Terrence Shannon, shooting guard Lester Quinones, power forward Kai Jones, shooting guard James Bouknight, small forward Chris Ledlum, Michigan-bound small forward Cole Bajema and Washington-bound shooting guard Raequan Battle.
Just over one third (55) of the updated Rivals150 have made their college decisions. One of them, Virginia-bound power forward Kadin Shedrick, makes the highest debut in the rankings at No. 78 overall. He's one of 14 newcomers to the rankings.
The toughest decision in the rankings for me was ...
Bossi: The No.1 spot. Everybody who has input had a different opinion, and I was the only one that felt we needed to move James Wiseman from No. 3 to No. 1. I understand that we all still want to see a little more consistency out of Wiseman, but at the end of the day I have a hard time taking anybody over Wiseman when he plays like I saw him play at the Peach Jam in July. He did everything you would want a modern center to do. He's not a finished product yet, but the skill is coming and he's still got a huge ceiling for improvement.
But, I'll settle for a move to No. 2. Although it wasn't easy for me to do that and end up moving Cole Anthony down a spot to No. 3 as a result. Anthony is a stud, always produces and continues to round out his game. At the end of the day, though, I'd have a hard time disagreeing too much with any order that somebody wanted to put No. 1 Vernon Carey, Wiseman and Anthony in, because they all have claims for the top spot and there is very little separation between the trio.
Evans: Production versus potential. We are all about the what-if and what-can-be with a prospect, but to what extent? There comes a time and a place when a prospect has to produce and put up numbers. It is tough to undersell continued progressions and a competitive mindset compared to others not willing to put the time and effort in, and instead rest on the laurels of the dreaded "potential" label.
The time is now for the light to come on for the 2019 class at it now enters its final year of high school ball. They might not boast the pristine basketball ceilings of Vernon Carey, James Wiseman, or Jaden McDaniels, but Armando Bacot, Drew Timme and Oscar Tshiebwe proved that you can’t sweep strong numbers and productive stat lines under the rug any longer.
McDonald: Elias King is a prospect I've been watching for about four years now. It doesn't take long watching him to know he has the type of talent that could take him a long way in this game. In one particular game this summer against B-Maze Elite and five-star 2020 guard Jaden Springer, King put on probably one of the top three individual performances I saw in July.
The problem is I've also seen plenty of games where he hasn't been very good. I'm curious to see where his development goes from here, because he's a prospect we could look back and say he's way too low, but there is also a chance we could look back and say he was too high if he doesn't put in the work.
The reason I believe in this player's ranking ...
Bossi: We have consistently ranked Drew Timme higher than anybody else in the industry, and I believe we are doing the right thing by moving him up to No. 29 overall and five-star status. Timme has a great feel for the game, is productive, plays with passion and doesn't back down from anybody.
Whenever I watch him I feel like I'm watching a strange mix of two of my favorite players to scout from the past: Julius Randle and David Lee. They both loved spin moves, they were both physical and they both loved to talk some trash -- like Timme does.
Evans: Patrick Williams is more than deserving of his top 40 ranking, thanks to his blend of playmaking skills, IQ for the game, the versatility that he presents and the monstrous upside that he has. Williams doesn't talk much about his recruitment, which puts him on the national periphery a little. That shouldn’t undermine just how good Williams is - and can be. He has been a heavily respected prospect for the past two years here at Rivals.com, but with a tremendous spring and summer spent on the Nike EYBL circuit and ending the summer on a high note with a more-than-solid few days at the Nike Skills Academy in front of a throng of NBA scouts, Williams’ ranking is more than deserved.
A 6-foot-7 wing with a nearly 7-foot wingspan, and a player that can play practically four positions on the offensive end and has only continued to get better? Yes, I will take that and more with the Carolina native.
McDonald: I've always been a huge fan of Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, going back to when he was playing on KC Run GMC's 15-under team. You know what you're getting every time out with him. He'll probably have a double-double. He'll make winning plays and play his tail off. And what I especially like is that he's always progressing with his skill-set. As long as he's not in a rush to get to the NBA, he'll be the best big man in the 2019 class in the college ranks.
The player I fear we may have too low is ...
Bossi: Really, I could go with any of the first seven or eight players that we have ranked outside of five-star range for this category, but I'll go with Zeke Nnaji. The Minnesota big man is very skilled, he's sneaky athletic and he's grown quite a bit over the last year. He stayed about the same this time around, but he's a guy that we need to monitor very closely and consider for a loftier ranking, depending on how he does this winter. I'm having a hard time imagining him not making the NBA at same point, given his game and upside.
Evans: I am going to make this a package deal type of response, since both players are now teammates at IMG Academy. Terrence Shannon and Lester Quinones, now found in the top third of the Rivals150, might be even better than that. Shannon just turned 18 years old, has grown close to a foot since his freshman year and the progressions that he has made throughout the summer are nothing short of superb. The upside is staggering with him, and the fact that he can play a variety of positions, has alpha-dog traits to him and is all about getting better adds up to the fact that we might even have him a bit too low.
Next to him is Quinones, a 6-foot-5 wing that is built to compete. This dude wants to go at the heads of the best. He scored 37 points in an Under Armour affiliated game in July against three top 50 prospects, where he had already lit the FIBA Under-18 America’s Championship event on fire by posting over 17 points per game in leading his Dominican Republic team from start to finish. In a day and age where shot-makers with size and toughness are as valuable as ever, Quinones might not be as high as he might end up in the final rankings, come April.
McDonald: This is the easiest question for me, and the answer is Patrick Williams. I love everything about his game. I pushed for us to get him up into five-star range. He has great size at 6-foot-7, very good athleticism and a great basketball build. He can shoot it, handle it, finish at the rim and he's a stud on the defend as well. Every time I've seen him play, he's been productive. He's going to be a really good forward in college that can play either spot. He will develop into an NBA small forward.
The player I hope proves us right, and he's not too high is ...
Bossi: Give me Brandon Newman as a guy that has great potential to make us look like we know what we are talking about. The game is becoming more and more about making jump shots and there simply aren't many in the Midwest who shoot it better than the 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Indiana who now ranks No. 76 nationally. Not only is Newman a potentially big-time jump shooter on the college level, I love his versatility as a defender and wouldn't be surprised to see him turn into an All-Conference-type defensive player at some point.
Evans: Will Baker made the move up into the top 15 of the 2019 class rankings, and rightfully so. One of the top - if not the best - performers from start to finish in July, Baker showed dimensions to his game that I had never seen.
I had previously thought the big man was more of a 10-foot and in center, but he led the break like a point-forward, hit shots to the perimeter and played with a motor and purpose. Sure, he has moved up the rankings and surpassed some that had tremendous summers in their own right, but Baker more than backed up his claim that he is one of the very best frontline prospects in America. He proved his value in July on the travel circuit, and I am hoping that he proves it even further in the months ahead as the 15th best prospect in the 2019 class.
McDonald: I usually always answer this question with somebody we bumped up quite a bit, so I'll go with Boogie Ellis here. He moved up 67 spots in this update after a terrific July. I didn't see him at the Peach Jam, where by all accounts he was terrific, but I did see him during the EYBL season and really liked him.
At that time, I thought a bump from 108 was justified, but I didn't think he was the 41st best prospect in the class. So the question for me here is: Was he just really hot at the Peach Jam, and is he really closer to the player I viewed as more of a top 75 type player? Or did he make a big step in his game and the Peach Jam was a closer reflection of the player he'll be? Time will tell.