Rivals Rankings Week: Roundtable on updated Rivals150 for 2020
The 2020 Rivals150 has been given a winter refresh and big man Evan Mobley has taken over the No. 1 spot in the rankings. What were the toughest decisions? Whose rankings came with the most conviction? These questions and more are addressed by analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald.
THE TOUGHEST DECISION FOR ME IN THIS RANKING WAS ...
Bossi: Actually making the switch at the top of the rankings and putting Evan Mobley over Jalen Green. A mobile 7-footer with rapidly expanding offensive game and the ability to change things as a rim protector, Mobley is looking more and more like a new age Marcus Camby. He has earned the stop spot.
At the same time, it was really tough to move Green off that No. 1 line because he didn’t do anything to lose the top spot. Like Mobley, Green has had a big-time winter and has added to his game – particularly as a playmaker for others. But, when push came to shove, it was time to go ahead and make the switch.
Evans: How the Nos. 6 six through 10 prospects shook out. For the most part, the top five in the Rivals150 is fairly sturdy, but what to do with the five that followed was not the easiest task.
You have an uber athlete in Greg Brown, a silky-smooth scorer and playmaker in BJ Boston, a defensive dynamo in N’Faly Dante, a jumbo shot-maker with tons versatility in Ziaire Williams and arguably the most polished top-10 prospect in Cade Cunningham. A lot of shaking out will happen in the coming months, as we are still more than a year away from putting the 2020 Rivals150 to bed. I would not be surprised to see any of the group knock on the top-five door during the travel season.
McDonald: It's always tough to decide between a big or a forward and a guard in the ranking process, especially at the top. That's the case here with Mobley and Green. You could talk me into either prospect being in the top spot, because both are so incredibly talented with a ton of upside. I'll probably change my mind on which one I like more every time I see them between now and when they enroll in college.
THE REASON I BELIEVE IN THIS PROSPECT'S RANKING IS ...
Bossi: I loved everything that I saw from Daishen Nix during the winter, and I believe he’s every bit of the five-star, top 20 player that we now have him ranked as. I’m not saying he’s Jason Kidd, but man does he have some Kidd in his game. He’s big, he’s physical, he has an off-the-charts feel for the game and he is every bit as dynamic on the defensive end as he is the offensive end. He does as good a job as any player in America, regardless of class, of making players around him better.
Evans: I didn’t quite realize how good Jamari Sibley was the past few years, whether that was because of my own poor evaluation methods or just how much he has improved, but he deserves his placement in the upper half of the new Rivals150.
I have watched Sibley a good amount dating back to his freshman year, and while I have always been impressed with his high-energy play and his defensive versatility, little did I know that he would become such a deadly two-way threat. Last month, Sibley wowed with his shot-making, an asset that he can put to use from off of the bounce, out of the spot-up and at the rim. He is the type of rangy and versatile forward who has become coveted in recent years, and offers have begun to roll in from some of the best in the nation. He should break out this spring even further while playing with the Phenom Universe alongside top-five forward Jalen Johnson.
McDonald: I've become a big believer in Deivon Smith. He looks taller and bigger than he was last summer, and he's become one of the better floor generals in the country. His jump shot isn't a weakness, but if he can get to the point where he's scaring defenses with his 3-point stroke, he will have the chance to continue moving up in these rankings.
THE PROSPECT I FEAR WE HAVE TOO LOW IS ...
Bossi: I’ll stay out West for my third answer in a row and go with Makur Maker, who debuts in the rankings at No. 15 overall. In my mind, Makur is eventually going to compete for the national top five because of his unique blend of size, skill and ability to make plays as a ball-handling 7-footer. But, I get it. He’s kind of just popped back onto the scene this winter and my co-workers haven’t seen as much of him, so I understand why we decided to err on the side of caution when it came to his ranking.
Evans: I see a lot in CJ Wilcher, to the point that even though he is a fringe top-100 prospect who made leap more than 40 spots in the updated Rivals150, he still might be too low. I have come to appreciate competitive ballplayers who can really shoot the ball. It is difficult to find those two assets in one prospect. So, when you do, you have to value that prospect even further.
Myles Powell (Seton Hall) displayed those attributes during his younger years, and so did Noah Locke (Florida). They were two guards who were knocked for being undersized and not athletic enough, but have left a major impression on their college homes. Wilcher is not far off from the two elite shot-makers, and it doesn’t really surprise me that both programs are chasing after him. He does need to better his frame and improve defensively, but I worry more about where we have him ranked compared to those pressing issues with his game.
McDonald: Eugene Brown was having a really good start to his junior year up until Thanksgiving. He really showed out at Hoopsgiving in Atlanta, and was well on his way to having a monster season before breaking a bone in his leg in early December. I was getting close to pounding the table for him being a top 50 prospect nationally before that.
With an injury like that, you just never know how somebody will recover, but I predict by July we'll be talking about Brown being one of the more highly sought after wings in the country and he'll be ranked comfortably inside the top 100.
THE PROSPECT I HOPE PROVES US RIGHT AND HE'S NOT TOO HIGH IS ...
Bossi: Xavier Foster. He’s playing in the middle of Iowa, doesn’t play for a big shoe-sponsored team and is very much a work in progress. But, he’s also 7-feet tall, runs like the wind, has touch from the perimeter and perhaps as much upside as any big man in the class. The pressure will be on for him to prove he belongs as a five-star prospect this summer, but I don’t have any doubts that he will show he’s worthy.
Evans: Cameron Thomas has been sensational this high school season and while he has been helped some by the gravitational pull of Cole Anthony on the perimeter and by Kofi Cockburn’s presence on the interior, the now five-star prospect has placed himself squarely in the conversation as one of the best scorers in America.
A long-armed, tough-minded and competitive two-guard that can really put the ball through the basket, we are ahead of the curve with Thomas, but it is not like his junior season numbers came out of nowhere. He was a strong scorer on the Nike EYBL circuit last summer while playing a year up and - thanks to his consistent production and ability to put points on the scoreboard - Thomas is going to prove us more than right and possibly move up even further during the next Rivals150 update in the spring.
McDonald: This is probably a product of me seeing him at the wrong times, but I'm a little worried about where we have Jalen Johnson. My last two viewings of him were in Orlando during the last live period in July and he just wasn't very productive. He had some "wow" moments, but I was underwhelmed by his performance, given his lofty ranking.
I thought the same seeing him last May. Again, it's entirely possible I caught him at the wrong time. I view him as a five-star prospect because of his raw ability at his size, but I want more production from a top five prospect.