The new Rivals150 for the class of 2018 has been updated and with July’s three live evaluation periods tipping off this week, the only major thing that hasn’t changed is that power forward Marvin Bagley III is still firmly in control of the rankings. There are several new five-stars, several new faces to the rankings and a surprising number of early commitments.
Rivals.com national basketball analyst Eric Bossi takes a look at five topics that stand out with the new rankings.
1. The battle for No. 2 is compelling
By no means am I saying that Marvin Bagley III can’t be beaten out for the top spot, but at least for now the super athletic 6-foot-10 power forward’s hold is a strong one. The real race is for the No. 2 spot that is currently occupied by Zion Williamson.
The way I see it, 7-footer Bol Bol and 6-foot-8 point forward Cameron Reddish could easily make a claim for that spot. Not only are they both big-time talents with great positional size and high skill levels, they’ve put up huge numbers on the grassroots circuit in Nike’s EYBL. As for Williamson, well, we don’t really know what we have in him right now.
He’s certainly a freaky athlete and he’s created an online buzz unlike nearly any other player that I’ve ever seen. However, the only look any of us got of Williamson was in the first Adidas Gauntlet session in April. He didn’t look right physically and ended up shutting things down for the spring during the event. I never like to drop a guy because of injury, so for now he holds onto that No. 2 spot. However, when he hits the floor in July, his play is going to have to be at a very high level and he’ll have to show that he’s more than just an athlete, or else Bol or Reddish is going to take that spot from him.
Consider this as well, before it’s all said and done, the expectation is that 2019’s current No. 1 player R.J. Barrett will move into the class of 2018 and that means even more competition.
2. Early commitments rule the class
Thanks in large part to a flurry of commitments made during the last few weeks of June and first week of July, 50 prospects from the Rivals150 have already made their choices. With one-third of the talent already off the board, it’s putting pressure on programs to make sure that they are hitting on their primary targets or locking in on some good plan B targets.
Although much of the class is spoken for, not a single one of the top 18 prospects has made their choice. At No. 19 overall, point guard Javonte Smart, who is headed to LSU, is the highest ranked of five five-star prospects who have already decided. Ranked No. 30 overall, USC-bound forward Taeshon Cherry is the highest ranked of the 39 four-star prospects who have already made their choices. Of the six ranked three-star prospects, Rutgers-bound big man Mamadou Doucoure is the highest ranked at No. 114.
3. The theme for 2018 is inconsistency
Probably the most difficult task in ranking the 2018 class is sorting through the inconsistent players and weighing potential vs. production when all else appears to be equal. There are just an unusual number of prospects who can look either great or years away, with no steady in between level, depending on when you see them. Many of them are long and athletic combo forward or wings.
For instance, Oregon-bound Miles Norris had a fairly large slide from No. 21 to No. 49 overall. There are still times that he looks like a five-star talent, but with his lack of strength or consistent production it was tough to keep him ranked as high as he was. Others similar to him include small forward Gerald Liddell (No. 39), Villanova-bound wing Brandon Slater (No. 52), small forward Khavon Moore (No. 53), Northwestern-bound power forward Pete Nance (No. 56) and athletic wing Isaiah Mucius (No. 66).
If any of these guys – or others similar to them – can find the key to being consistently productive, they can soar in the rankings. Most likely, though, it is looking like that next step is going to have to come in college after many of these guys get familiar with the weight room.
4. Talent spread
Going by where the prospects in the updated Rivals150 attend school, a total of 34 states and Washington D.C. are represented. Eleven of them have five or more players in the rankings.
Leading the way with a total of 14 ranked players – four of them being five-stars – is California. Next is Florida with 13. Even in a bit of a “down” year for elite, top-end talent Texas is home to 11 ranked players. Maryland has nine while New Jersey, North Carolina, Georgia and Michigan each claim seven ranked players. It’s also interesting to note that all seven of the ranked players from Michigan have made their choices and will play in the Big Ten.
5. Movers and shakers
Shooting all the way up to No. 25 overall from No. 73, recent Syracuse commitment Darius Bazley, a combo forward from Ohio, made the most impressive move into five-star territory. The next biggest leap from a committed player came from Michigan State-bound Marcus Bingham from No. 104 to No. 54 overall. Other gigantic leaps made by committed players include skilled Villanova-bound forward Cole Swider, who rose 49 spots to No. 40 overall, talented Maryland-bound wing Aaron Wiggins (42 spots to No. 48) and high-scoring North Carolina-bound guard Coby White (38 spots to No. 31).
Making the highest debut in the rankings is North Carolina big man Ian Steere, who recently committed to Creighton and checks in at No. 79 overall. Michigan State-bound wing Gabe Brown (No. 92) and undecided Trey Woodbury from Nevada (No. 99) also made impressive debuts and headline the six prospects who entered the Rivals150 as four-star prospects.