Rivals Rankings Week: Breaking down new 2021 position rankings
As #RivalsRankingsWeek continues, the 2021 position rankings have all been updated. National analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald give their impressions of each group and point to various reasons that top players stand out.
RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK
TUESDAY: 2020 Top 10
WEDNESDAY: 2020 Rivals150
THURSDAY: 2020 position rankings
FRIDAY: 2021 Rivals150
SATURDAY: 2021 position rankings
MONDAY: 2022 rankings
Is this point guard group deep, and who intrigues you?
Bossi: If there is a collective group that should feel they have something to prove, it is the 2021 point guards. Devin Askew is the only one to crack the top 10 at this point and while he’s a stud, he’s no lock to stay there. What I’ve also noticed is we have a lot of guys who could just as easily slide over or may ultimately be better suited to play at the two.
One of those who intrigues me is Hunter Sallis. He can score and put the ball on the floor and as soon as he starts recognizing the open passing lane a little quicker, he could really take a big leap.
Evans: I am not sure there is a lot of depth when it comes to NBA talent but there are a lot of college-ready playmakers that should impact the next level immediately. This group reminds me some of 2015 class where it was a battle between Jalen Brunson (Askew) and Jawun Evans (Kennedy Chandler); it worked out pretty well for them.
When it comes to intrigue, Manny Obaseki leads the category. While he is more of a scorer than a facilitator, I love what Obaseki is made of. He is a competitor, first and foremost, and has only gotten better. He continues to climb the Rivals150 and might not be done yet.
McDonald: It's a pretty solid group all the way through the prospects that are in the Rivals150. I really like the top of this class though.
The guy that intrigues me the most is Max Christie. I watched him a couple times in July and he's just really smooth. He can play point guard and create, but he's also really good playing off the ball coming off screens and knocking down the deep ball. I really like his game.
2. What makes this shooting guard group strong?
Bossi: What stands out is the diversity. You have skill guys who can create a shot at the top in Terrence Clarke and Jaden Hardy. You have guys who can bully defenders like Aminu Muhammad and Langston Love and then there are shooters or guys who do a little bit of it all. The two guards are the strength of the 2021 class.
Evans: The amount of bucket-getters in the class. Nowadays, you’re really either a guard or a forward, but the 2-guard spot remains the primary place for where the top scorers can be found. It is not lacking in the 2021 class, that is for sure, which begins at the top with Clarke, and continues with Hardy, Muhammed and Love.
Go down the list and Shane Dezonie, Ahamad Bynum and Malik Thomas are just three others that, though they might not have the upside of some of the elite, are going to score a lot of points throughout their college career.
McDonald: The top two are just spectacular. I like a lot of the same traits about Clarke as I do with Cade Cunningham in the 2020 class. He has great size at 6-foot-7, can make shots from deep, makes plays for others, and is a really good athlete. He seems like a really competitive kid too. Hardy is really productive and makes a lot of "wow" plays. I like these two as much or more than any guards in the 2020 class.
3. The small forward group has potential and many unfinished products. How big is the gap between No. 1 Jonathan Kuminga and the rest of the group?
Bossi: I would say that there is a gap between Kuminga and the others and it’s pretty sizeable. Frankly, the gap between him and everybody else in the class, regardless of position, is pretty big at this point. Kuminga’s jumper could still use some fine tuning but he’s big, he’s athletic, he can put the ball on the floor, he rebounds and when he is locked in he puts opponents in a padded cell as a defender.
Evans: Large. He sets the bar. There is no other way to put it and that is not to slight the talents of AJ Griffin, Harrison Ingram or Kendall Brown because they are top-20 prospects for a reason. Rather, it is about just how great of a talent that Kuminga is.
He put everyone on notice this summer with dominant performance after dominant performance at various camps and travel games before highlighting his rare abilities by averaging over 22 points per game at the prestigious Nike Peach Jam. Kuminga is a special prospect and while Emoni Bates is discussed as the best in all of high school ball, the top-ranked junior should have a say in such an argument, too.
McDonald: It's a pretty big gap right now. Kuminga has such a ridiculous combination of size, skill and athleticism. It's really not that close right now between him and the group of guys behind him. I think that gap can and probably will close because I like the potential of Ingram and Griffin.
4. What sticks out about the 2021 power forwards?
Bossi: This group is competing with the shooting guards to be the best group of 2021 and is probably a little better at the very top end. There’s a flavor for whatever you like too. Paolo Banchero is a throwback guy who just produces, Pat Baldwin is a lights out shooter and the top 15 or so at the position are pretty strong.
Evans: It is deep. I love the talent at the top with Banchero, Baldwin, Jabari Smith, and Michael Foster leading the way. Each are top-10 prospects and each bring a diverse skill set to the floor that differs from each other.
The power forward spot has become the most versatile position in the game in recent years and it is reflected further by who sits as the better ones found in the 2021 class. Banchero could be the next Carlos Boozer; Baldwin is a sharpshooting prospect that can play all over the floor; Smith, as my fellow analyst Eric Bossi has compared, could be the second coming Rashard Lewis; lastly, Foster is a brute force that can handle, post and rebound. This is a very talented group that also includes Daimion Collins, the biggest riser in the newly updated Rivals150.
McDonald: There is a lot of depth in the class. Looking all the way down to No. 20 with Josh Taylor, he's currently No. 74 overall in the Rivals150. Taylor is a really good prospect, so that just shows how strong the class is at power forward.
5. How unique is Chet Holmgren and is there another center who could give him a run for No. 1?
Bossi: I’ve been doing this for 20 years now and I don’t know that I’ve seen many guys like Holmgren. At seven-feet, he handles the ball like a guard, is a lights-out shooter from deep and despite an obvious lack of bulk, he is mean and nasty. He’s been on the rise in each set of rankings we have done and if Kuminga and Clarke eventually reclassify and go to college as 2020 prospects as many expect them to do, Holmgren is a legitimate contender for the top spot. Matter of fact, he can contend for the top spot regardless of who stays in or leaves the class of 2021.
Evans: LOL! That is only my response. Holmgren is someone that doesn’t pass the eye test, but watch closely and there really is not anyone that I can compare him to. The last time that we didn’t see someone that are eyes were trained to see, it turned into Zion Williamson. We are not going to miss this time.
Holmgren must get stronger and develop a low post game but the fact that he can make five 3-pointers and block five shots in any given game places the Minnesota native in uncharted territory.
However, if there is one guy that could prevent him from the No. 1 center ranking, it is Moussa Cisse. He is the best shot-blocker in America and one of the best that I have ever evaluated. If his offense ever comes near his defense, Cisse could make the final move into the top center position.
McDonald: I don't remember a prospect at his size that can legitimately put the ball on the floor and you have to respect him. I mean, he made Steph Curry fall. He's a really good shooter too. That's just going to be hard to replicate. I don't see anybody overtaking him as the top center in the 2021 class. He has a good argument to be No. 2 overall in the class behind Kuminga.