Rivals Rankings Week: Roundtable on updated 2021 rankings
The 2021 Rivals rankings have been given a winter refresh, and Patrick Baldwin Jr. remains in control of the No. 1 spot. We have expanded the list from 35 to 75 players. What were the toughest decisions the Rivals analysts had to make in the update? 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: What do with a guy like Brandon Huntley-Hatfield. I've seen enough of him during the summers to be a big believer in his talent. But, he hasn't gotten to showcase as much during his sophomore season and it's not for lack of ability. The Bradenton (Fla.) IMG team that he plays on is arguably the best in the country, and he's got two McDonald's All-Americans ahead of him in the frontcourt and multiple other five-star players on the roster.
The experience he's getting on a daily basis in practice is going to help him long term, and I'm expecting a big spring and summer. But without getting to see him play as much during games as some of the other top 2021 kids, it does make determining his ranking a little tougher.
Evans: What to do with Trevor Keels. Many will not be too impressed by Keels at first glance because he is not a high-flying athlete or quick-twitch playmaker. But look further and what you have is a super-polished, skilled and intellectual wing who can play all across the floor. Keels is also younger for his grade level and has a skill set that should translate well to the college game.
He has already put together a strong resume on the travel and high school circuits, one that is only enhanced by his ability to shut down the best scoring weapon opposing him. He may not have the athleticism of some of his peers, but what he can do on both ends of the court makes up for any athletic deficiencies.
McDonald: It's always a tough call deciding who gets the top spot this early because these prospects are young enough to where you probably factor in potential a little more than you do with the upperclassmen. Deciding between Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Terrence Clarke isn't easy. Clarke is the better player right now, but Baldwin has such crazy upside that it is hard to go against him for the top spot.
THE REASON I BELIEVE IN THIS PLAYER'S RANKING IS ...
Bossi: I'm going to stay right at the top with Patrick Baldwin Jr., and I believe in him at the No. 1 spot because of his skill and size. He's as good a jump-shooter as there is in the country and I think it is going in each and every time he shoots. His range is deep, and at 6-foot-8 or so that makes him a serious problem. He's really added to his game and the more I see from him and his development, it's hard for me to buy into anybody else but him at No. 1.
Evans: I could not be more confident in our ranking of Max Christie at the 12th spot. While he was a bit up and down during the early portion of the travel season, Christie came on toward the end before announcing his presence loudly on the national landscape at the USA Basketball Mini-Camp in October.
Christie is a 6-foot-4 guard who is getting bigger and stronger by the day. He can shoot and pass, and he boasts the intangibles that add up to what is now a five-star prospect. Most of the Big Ten has already prioritized him, and I wouldn’t be surprised if and when a program such as Duke does just the same.
McDonald: Right behind those the top two guys is Jonathan Kuminga. I wouldn't be surprised if there are a decent amount of people in the industry who would say he's the top prospect in the 2021 class. He's another prospect with great size, athleticism and skill level. His upside is pretty ridiculous as well. He's an easy call for me to round out the top three.
THE PLAYER I FEAR WE HAVE TOO LOW IS ...
Bossi: It goes without saying that we are still getting to know the class of 2021 and that there's a good bet we haven't even seen many of the players we will be talking about at the top of the class two years from now. Anyway, the guy that really has my curiosity is Jabari Smith. He has great bloodlines, considering his father played in the NBA, and he's growing into his body and starting to figure things out quickly. He looks to have good skill facing the basket, and with his long and lean body type I'm betting that he's a kid who has grown another inch or two a year from now while taking the next step with his game.
Evans: Could Zach Clemence be better than the 74th best sophomore in the nation? He made the move to Findlay Prep this winter, and while his playing time and production have been sporadic, it is difficult to find mobile and agile 6-foot-9 big men who can put the ball on the floor, score in traffic and make shots out to the perimeter. The spring and summer months will answer some of the questions that we currently have, which might be why he just made it into the Rivals150, but we could look back four months from now and look foolish for where we currently have Clemence ranked.
McDonald: Jabari Smith is incredibly intriguing to me. He's right in the 6-foot-8/6-foot-9 range and is very skilled. His father is 7 feet tall, which means it is entirely possible Jabari is not done growing yet. He hasn't played on one of the shoe company circuits yet, so he's not really as well known from a national standpoint, but I have a feeling his recruitment will really heat up this travel season beyond just local offers from Georgia and Georgia Tech.
THE PLAYER I HOPE PROVES US RIGHT AND IS NOT RANKED TOO HIGH IS ...
Bossi: Kendall Brown really blew me away when I was up in Minnesota to see him in December. He has tremendous size for a young wing, he is an above average ball-handler, he showed promise as a jump shooter and he looked to be a top-flight athlete. All of that made him an easy call for the top 20, and I'm of the belief that he'll see his name and reputation take off during the spring and summer.
He's far from a nobody, and he already has several Big Ten and Big 12 level offers, but I could see his recruitment hitting the elite level before it's all said and done.
Evans: Quincy Allen was my sleeper candidate heading into the Hoophall Classic last month. And, boy, did he break out. The now 6-foot-6 swingman is a more-than-capable secondary ball-handler who can run the high-ball screen and defend different spots on the perimeter. Allen is also an above-average shooter. However, did we jump the gun and shoot Allen up too far in the rankings? I don’t think so, and that is why we he is found in the top 25. He as has all of the attributes of a heavily recruited and coveted prospect moving forward.
McDonald: I have watched Chance Moore four times this year. I went and watched his first game this season before he blew up at Hoopsgiving in Atlanta. I have zero questions about his talent level, because he's an effortless bucket-getter with size and some nice explosive athleticism.
I do, however, question his motor and how much "dog" he has in him. If I thought he was tougher I would pound the table for him to be 10 spots or so higher. I'm really curious to see how his development plays out over the next few years.