basketball Edit

Roundtable on updated 2021 position rankings

The 2021 positional 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.

RELATED: Jonathan Kuminga stays No. 1 in updated 2021 rankings

2020 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position

2022 Rankings: Top 75

1. What is your impression of the point guard group and whose long-term potential stands out to his current ranking?

2021 POINT GUARD RANKINGS

Jalen Warley
Jalen Warley (GoFlashWin.com)

Bossi: I really hope that we end up getting some type of late-summer or early-fall travel ball to get a better look at these guys and give them more chances to show what they are about. As it is, this isn’t one of the deepest classes I’ve seen during my 20 years in the business, and many of these points are more combo guards that will play the one and the two in college. I do think there’s a lot of room for Nolan Hickman to move up. He’s got good size, can score a bit and fits the way most high-majors want to utilize their point guards.

Evans: It is not great, that is for sure. If your favorite program is in need of a lead guard this summer, well, it better get its work done early. For the high-major markets there is definitely a giant dearth of major talent. That's not meant to undersell Jalen Warley and how good he is and can be down the road. The bloodlines are strong, as both his father and uncle starred at St. Joe’s in the early 1990s. He has tremendous size, IQ and a feel for the game, and while it is not all there yet Warley is coming hard for the five-star rating and he fits today’s style of ball play.

McDonald: It's a pretty strong group overall based on what I've seen. I was really looking forward to seeing more of a lot of these prospects this summer because I haven't seen a lot of them in person before, but it's an intriguing group. One of the ones I really wanted to see in person and hope I can soon is Angelo Brizzi. The lefty guard is extremely crafty, bouncy, and has deep range on his jumper. He looks like a high upside guy long-term.

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2. What is your impression of the shooting guard group and whose ranking do you believe the most strongly about?

2021 SHOOTING GUARD RANKINGS

Jaden Hardy
Jaden Hardy (https://rivals.com)

Bossi: Jaden Hardy has clearly distanced himself from the rest of the group, and other players are going to have to work to catch him. But, I do really like what we’ve done with D’Marco Dunn, who enters as a top 20 shooting guard in the class at No. 19. I also really like Tamar Bates at No. 22. If anything, I could see both of those guys pushing for the top 15 at their position before they finish their senior seasons.

Evans: There is some promise at the two-guard spot, but there are not many elite prospects at the position. Hardy is without a doubt the very best at his particular position, and there are not many other players that can compete for the top billing.

However, there are some really good and promising scoring guards that possess size, shooting and athleticism that should translate to promising futures, including Jordan Hawkins. The DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) native boasts all of the physical tangibles that you look for in a next-level 2-guard, thanks to his ability to shoot the ball and also finish at the basket. He has to get stronger, but I am glad we bumped Hawkins in the top 50 nationally and top 15 at his position.

McDonald: I like the size and athleticism combination a lot of these kids bring to the table. There are several prospects in 6-foot-6 range, which is important when you start projecting to the NBA. I really feel strongly about Kowacie Reeves' and Matt Cleveland continuing to trend upward. I've seen both of them a dozen times or more over the past year and they both fit exactly what I mentioned with the size and athleticism for the position. If both do things right the next few years, they'll be making a lot of money to play the sport they love.

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3. What is your overall impression of the small forward group, and who stands out to you as somebody to keep a close eye on moving forward?

2021 SMALL FORWARD RANKINGS

Jonathan Kuminga
Jonathan Kuminga (https://rivals.com)

Bossi: The small forward position is one of the strengths of the 2021 class. Obviously, Jonathan Kuminga is a stud and it remains to be seen if he stays in the class or leaves early for Auburn, Duke, Kentucky, Texas Tech or the G League. Looking ahead, I want to keep an eye on Maxwell Lewis. A native of Las Vegas with good size, a lot of skill and some athletic upside, I feel like Lewis could move from his current spot of No. 15 in the small forwards to at least the top 10.

Evans: Starting with Kuminga, there’s some premier talent at the small forward position. Players like A.J. Griffin, Harrison Ingram, Kendall Brown and Peyton Watson have kept improving, making sure Kuminga isn’t alone as an impact guy. Versatility is a must, and Josh Minott is a versatile talent worth watching. The four-star currently ranks No. 26 at the position and could be a point-forward in the right system, thanks to his size, playmaking skills and vision. He has to refine his skill set and get much stronger, but he is also the type of guy that - with a strong end to his high school career - could finish things out as one of the top 10 or 15 swing men in his class.

McDonald: I could give the same answer as I did for the shooting guard here. Starting with Kuminga at the top, there is so much size and athleticism in this group. Because I know his college destination, it makes it easy to project a ton of success for North Carolina commit Dontrez Styles. I love his potential as a combo forward. I think he's skilled and athletic enough to play the small forward spot for Roy Williams, but he can also slide down as a small ball 4-man. He'll be really good for the Tar Heels.

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4. What is your overall impression of the power forwards and who might be underrated?

2021 POWER FORWARD RANKINGS

Jeremy Sochan
Jeremy Sochan

Bossi: Especially when it comes to the top power forwards, this is one of the stronger positional groups, with 13 of them ranking in the top 45 nationally. There’s some drop-off after that, but down the list at No. 24 at the position I’m really intrigued by Rafael Castro. He’s one that many coaches are falling in love with on film and his athleticism and size certainly jump out. With a little more skill and a few big outings against national competition, he could surge.

Evans: This group is as loaded as a group can be at the top of what is a relatively average class. Ranked No. 12 among the power forwards, Jeremy Sochan is a player I was expecting to have a spring breakout. Not many got the chance to see him this past winter, and his first full summer on the travel circuit would have worked wonders for his recruitment. An Oklahoma native who moved to England shortly after being born, Sochan is a multi-dimensional forward that can pass, make shots, rebound and, most of all, really defend. He made a major move in the rankings, but I still think we have him underrated.

McDonald: The top four in this group is really, really strong and it's not like there is a huge drop off behind them. It's a good year in college hoops to need a high school big man if you coach at a program capable of attracting top talent. I really like Ernest Ross' long-term potential. Knowing he's already locked in with Kevin Keatts and N.C. State makes me feel even better about that. I'm a big believer in the Wolfpack head coach's ability to develop players and Ross has the talent to make a big jump in his time in Raleigh.

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5. Finally, what is your overall impression of the centers? Whose development has caught your eye?

2021 CENTER RANKINGS

Roosevelt Wheeler
Roosevelt Wheeler (Matthew Hatfield, VirginiaPreps.com)

Bossi: The center position is what it is these days, a lot of guys who might have been power forwards in past lifetimes. You had better be really skilled or a freak athlete with a non-stop motor, because the days of space-eating enforcers are pretty much done. He’s not a finished product, but I feel like Roosevelt Wheeler keeps taking positive steps forward. Ranked No. 6 at the position, he’s filling out and adding more skill. Another player that has really caught my eye is No. 8 Micawber Etienne. Etienne could end up enrolling as a 2020 prospect, but his size and skill are worth watching.

Evans: These aren’t your typical centers with which we have become accustomed. Rather, they are new-age players that can play facing the basket or with their back to it. Chet Holmgren is the face of the revolution, but Nathan Bittle, Jackson Grant and Treyton Thompson are a few others built in a similar mold, thanks to their ability to extend the defense via the perimeter jumper.

One player that is more of a true post but has continually added various layers to his game is Charles Bediako. He is not the most explosive of bigs, but he is super, super long and is arguably the best shot-blocker in this class now that Moussa Cisse has reclassified. Whether he can develop his face-up game further remains to be seen, but it won’t come from a lack of trying or the willingness to play away from the rim.

McDonald: A lot of times when you think high school centers you see a lot of raw talent that needs time to develop. I see a lot of guys here that should be ready to help college programs early but still with upside to grow. I'm going to cheat a little bit here, but I continue to be blown away by what Holmgren can do. His perimeter skills for somebody over 7-feet tall are unbelievable for a kid his age.