Rivals Rankings Week: Five programs that should be pleased
The release of the new Rivals150 brought with it an updated 2019 team rankings, and USC, Kentucky and Villanova sit atop of the polls. While there is still over two months until the first signing period begins, there are five fan bases that should be feeling pretty swell as the fall months approach.
The Trojans have been atop of the 2019 team rankings since the spring, thanks to the early commitments of five-star big men Isaiah Mobley and Onyeka Okongwu. From there, Andy Enfield and his staff kept thing moving forward as they patched together their perimeter core with the pledges of four-star wings Max Agbonkpolo and Drake Landon.
There were questions in L.A. at this time last year after the FBI investigation that saw lead assistant Tony Bland arrested and then relieved of his duties. Those questions were squelched with this class - and then some.
The Trojans are not done just yet, as they could complete things with the commitment of four-star guard Kyle Sturdivant, Boogie Ellis or Cassius Stanley. Oregon was the Pac-12 program to break through with a top-five class last year. USC is on track to top what the Ducks accumulated and even finish the year at No. 1.
Another year, another recruiting cycle in which Kentucky is likely to finish with a top-two class. John Calipari has not had issues notching commitments from elite players, and while there is some concern regarding whether they can eventually land James Wiseman, their top target in the 2019 class, there should be no worries about the group of scorers that the Wildcats have already assembled.
Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney are the next faces of the blueblood program. Maxey, one of the most outgoing personalities in high school ball, and Whitney, one of the biggest alpha dogs in the sport, should immediately stabilize the program next year. Top in-state prospect Dontaie Allen will enroll, giving UK a tremendously polished isolation scorer with size on the wings.
Where Kentucky ends in the final class rankings is still unknown, but if recent history is any indication, then an elite, nationally acclaimed class should be in the cards.
All of the talk about Villanova searching under every rock and crevice for any under-appreciated players that might fit the mold of a three or four-year producer is accurate. But so, too, is the program’s ascent up the team rankings.
Jay Wright finished with a top 15 class last year, but this year’s could be his best one ever. The top prospect is Bryan Antoine, an uberly-talented guard from New Jersey that is one of Wright’s biggest wins on the recruiting trail. Justin Moore, a guard similar to Phil Booth, and tough-but-skilled big man Eric Dixon make up the Wildcats’ 2019 class, which is ranked third overall.
The Aggies went to work early, thanks to the commitment of Sahvir Wheeler. The turbo speed guard loves to push the pace and he has some nastiness about him, in addition to having the desire to do whatever it takes for his team to win. His play should only be bolstered by one of the most competitive guards that there is in the 2019 class, Chris Harris. The four-star backcourt player will enroll next fall and be joined by another four-star prospect, power forward Tyreek Smith. A run-and-jump big man that cleans up plays around the basket, Smith averaged a double-double on the Under Armour circuit this summer, and his motor and energy level should help from day one.
It may be a minor step-back season in College Station, but with a top 10 class already on paper and some traction with Sam Williamson, DJ Thorpe and Drew Timme, more help could be on the way for one of Billy Kennedy’s top classes.
Who said that Virginia can't win recruiting battles? While the Cavaliers will remain a grab-and-develop program, and finding the proper fit is vital for Tony Bennett and his staff, a quick look at the rankings shows that the Cavaliers are in the top 10. They placed a heavy, heavy priority on Casey Morsell before many others, and he then broke out this summer on the travel circuit and gained an invite to the USA Basketball trials. There might not be a more tailor-made guard for UVA basketball than the top 75 prospect.
They gave Morsell a 2019 running mate in Kadin Shedrick, a big man who blew up in July and then heard overtures from some of the top programs nationally. Shedrick and Morsell should impact the program immediately. So, while the Cavaliers need one more player this fall and could lose some ground as a top 10 class, Shedrick and Morsell should create a culture in which Virginia continues to be a consistently contending ACC program.