Rivals150: Ayton still No. 1, new five-stars
Just in time for the month of July and three important evaluation periods, Rivals.com has updated the class of 2017 rankings. Seven-footer DeAndre Ayton remains on top.
RELATED: Updated 2017 Rivals150
AYTON STANDS TALL IN TIGHTLY PACKED TOP FIVE
DeAndre Ayton is still the top player in the class of 2017, and he's deserving of that designation. Right behind him, though, there’s little change to the top five other than them gaining ground on the product of the Bahamas who attends Phoenix (Ariz.) Hillcrest Academy.
The shrinking margin says more about the rest of the top five getting better than it says about any kind of dropoff by Ayton, because he’s been terrific.
Most notably, Ayton has addressed his two biggest past weaknesses, motor and effort. He is still a work in progress, but Ayton built off of a strong junior campaign and was marvelous in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, putting up 19.5 points (on over 60 percent shooting) and 11.5 rebounds per game. Ayton showed mobility and skill facing the basket as a shooter and passer, and his consistency was good to see after times earlier in his career where that wasn’t a given.
After rumors during the winter that he could look to skip college basketball, Ayton was adamant this spring that he would play college ball and he’s listed Kansas, Arizona, Kentucky and UCLA among those showing interest.
Holding tight in the No. 2 overall spot is Michael Porter Jr. of Seattle (Wash.) Nathan Hale. The 6-foot-9 wing was the model of skill and fluidity all spring. Whether it was standing out at individual camps like the Pangos All-American Camp or piling up 22.8 points and 10.9 rebounds per game with MoKan Elite in the EYBL, Porter was dominant everywhere he went. He didn’t shoot the ball well from deep early in the spring but righted that ship over the last few months. Porter’s father, Michael Sr., took a job as an assistant coach at Washington -- where his brother, Jontay Porter, a four-star prospect in 2018 is committed -- and the Huskies figure to be tough to beat in his final five that also includes Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Virginia.
The only movement in the top five comes at the No. 3 and No. 4 spots where previous No. 4 Wendell Carter and previous No. 3 Mohamed Bamba traded spots. The call to switch them wasn’t an easy one -- especially with Bamba being sidelined by injury for a large part of the spring -- but the edge at No. 3 went to Carter because of his refined offense, strength and efficiency. The former overall No. 1 from Atlanta (Ga.) Pace put up a double-double of nearly 17 points and 11 rebounds while converting on 71 percent of his field goal attempts for Team CP3 in the EYBL.
On the other hand, you have Bamba. A New York City native who attends the Westttown (Pa.) School, he’s 6-foot-11 of arms and legs and probably does more than any other player on the high school level to discourage shot attempts. He can run, he’s athletic and he may eventually have the most upside of anybody in the class, but for now he settles in at No. 4 as he looks to add strength and improve his offensive game. Both Bamba and Carter are heavily considering Duke, Kentucky and Harvard among many others.
Finally at No. 5 is the nation’s top point guard, Trevon Duval. While Duval is not quite as tall or as high a leaper as Derrick Rose was at the same age, he’s otherwise very similar. The 6-foot-2 native of Delaware plays basketball like he’s coming downhill at full speed with an uncanny ability to change directions in tight spots without losing control or speed. His first step is explosive and he’s a quiet assassin who lets his game do his talking. Maryland, Villanova, Connecticut, Baylor, Kansas, Syracuse and many more are giving chase.
While the top five remained relatively unchanged, there was some movement behind them in the five-star ranks. Rivals.com welcomes four newcomers to five-star territory in center Mitchell Robinson, combo guard Collin Sexton, power forward Jaren Jackson and point guard Quade Green.
Formerly committed to Texas A&M, Robinson is a shot blocking menace who can really run the floor and showed enough offensive promise to move from No. 33 to No. 11 overall. North Carolina and LSU are among those to get involved but keep an eye out for Western Kentucky, whose new head coach Rick Stansbury originally recruited Robinson to A&M.
Making the biggest jump into a five-star territory, Sexton rose a whopping 47 spots to No. 12. One of the most explosive scorers in the country, Sexton is a blur to the basket, scores in bunches from deep and has seen his recruitment take off. Alabama put in early work and Florida has been on him hard while Kansas, Florida State, Arizona, Georgia and many others are looking to make an impression.
A skilled 6-foot-10 power forward, Jackson used a huge spring with the Spiece Indy Heat to make a climb from No. 63 all the way up to No. 20. His father’s alma mater Georgetown, Maryland, Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue and many others are chasing hard.
Finally, Green was the EYBL’s leading assist man and was nearly flawless running the point for the PSA Cardinals. He moves from No. 50 to No. 25 and after visiting Duke last week will see Kentucky this week. Villanova and Michigan State are among the other major players for Green.
BIG RISERS AND OTHER NOTES
In total there are 16 newcomers in the 2017 Rivals150. The highest debut, No. 61 overall, was made by 6-foot-6 small forward Savion Flagg. The product of Alvin (Texas) High was super on Under Armour’s Association circuit and has the likes of Texas A&M, Texas, Creighton, Purdue, Northwestern, SMU and many others hot for his services. Another newcomer making a significant debut is Davidson committed shooting guard Kellan Grady, who checks in as a four-star and No. 76 overall. Also debuting in the rankings as four-star prospects are Jordan Nwora (No. 92), Bruno Fernando (No. 94), Elias Harden (No. 100), Luka Garza (No. 107) and Wisconsin committed big man Nate Reuvers (No. 108).
In addition to the four players that we already mentioned making rises to five-star status, another 13 prospects made climbs of 15 ore more spots. The single biggest jump was registered by power forward Nate Watson. Watson rose a whopping 68 spots from No. 143 to No. 75 overall. Right on his heels was shooting guard Alex O’Connell, who rose 62 spots from No. 131 to No. 69. Other notable climbers include combo guard Nick Weatherspoon, who rose 40 spots to No. 32, and point guard Isaiah Washington, who jumped 32 spots to No. 86 overall. Committed players making the biggest leaps were Virginia Tech bound shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who rose from No. 91 to No. 52, and Miami-bound point guard Chris Lykes, who climbed from No. 96 to No. 71.
Only five of the class of 2017’s top 35 prospects have committed, and two of them are headed to Auburn. Auburn’s class is led by big man Austin Wiley, the highest-ranked committed player at No. 15 overall, and point guard Davion Mitchell, who held steady at No. 34. Wiley is one of only two five-star prospects who is currently off the board. The other is point guard Jaylen Hands, who is headed to UCLA and checks in at No. 22 overall. No. 27 overall Jalek Felton is ticketed for North Carolina while No. 31 Daniel Gafford is off the board to Arkansas.