Basketball Recruiting - Bossi's Best: Top 12 prospects in all of high school hoops
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Bossi's Best: Top 12 prospects in all of high school hoops

Emoni Bates
Emoni Bates (Getty Images)

Now that the 2020 class has pretty much moved on, we turn our attention to the classes of 2021, 2022 and 2023. We recently updated our rankings for the classes of 2021 and 2022, and depending on when and how much of a return we see in grassroots basketball, we hope to make an initial ranking of the class of 2023 in late summer or early fall.

In this week’s edition of Bossi’s Best, national analyst Eric Bossi is throwing out class designations and taking a look (in alphabetical order) at the top dozen prospects in high school basketball.

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2020 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position

2022 Rankings: Top 75

*****

Why him? What more could you want from a modern day forward? Baldwin has the size to play as a stretch four-man and he has the skill to be a playmaking wing. He’s as good a jump shooter as there is in the country, but labeling him as just a shooter sells his game short. Baldwin has a fundamentally sound all-around game and he makes teammates better.

Recruitment: Top 10 of Duke, Kentucky, Georgetown, Michigan, Milwaukee, North Carolina, Northwestern, UCLA, Virginia and Wisconsin.

*****

Why him? There’s so much to like about Banchero’s game, but because he is one of those kids who has been playing at a high level against older players for some time, his excellence goes under-appreciated at times. He has size, he has strength and as a former football player he has toughness. He is a tremendous passer and decision-maker, and has a polished low-post game with the ability to face up and attack. He shows up and does his job every time.

Recruitment: Final six of Arizona, Duke, Kentucky, Gonzaga, Tennessee and Washington.

*****

Why him? Why him? Why not? Bates has established himself as the No. 1 prospect in the country, and I wouldn’t want to bet against him. When he’s on the floor he is there to handle business, not make friends, and his intensity for somebody just finishing their sophomore year in high school is something else. He can shoot, he can dribble, he can play multiple positions and he plays fast. He still needs to get stronger and has room to be a little more explosive athletically, but he looks to be everything that he’s been reported to be as a player.

Recruitment: Given all of the routes to the NBA now available for elite talents like Bates, it’s hard to see him ever playing in college. If he does play in college, Michigan State would appear to have the best chance at this early stage.

*****

Why him? Only 16 years old, Duren is arguably the most physically imposing big man in high school basketball. He looks like a full-grown man with a chiseled 6-foot-9 or so frame and he plays like one, too. Defenders bounce off of him as he powers his way to dunks and he is a ferocious rebounder. You just don’t see many in the high school game who are willing to test Duren in the paint.

Recruitment: Offers from Alabama, Auburn, Georgetown, Maryland, Michigan, Ole Miss, Penn State, UCLA and Villanova.

*****

Why him? There may not be a more explosive scorer in the country. When Hardy gets on a roll with his jump shot – which is often – his range is almost limitless and his confidence knows no boundaries. He’s a big two guard that can help out for stretches at the point and he’s very good off the dribble as well. Hardy isn’t concerned with a bunch of shaking and baking. He just wants to get to his stop and few can stop him from doing so.

Recruitment: His older brother, Amauri Hardy, recently transferred to Oregon, which could be a situation to monitor. Arizona, Arizona State, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Michigan, Texas Tech and UCLA are among others in the hunt.

*****

Chet Holmgren
Chet Holmgren (https://rivals.com)

Why him? You can’t watch Holmgren and try to envision a traditional position or role for him. You just have to look at his skill, fluidity and size and understand that he’s simply a guy you need on the floor. Absolutely his lack of strength is a major concern, but he doesn’t lack at all for toughness and is a natural competitor. Guys like him who can pin a shot off the backboard and dribble down into an NBA range three aren’t easy to come by.

Recruitment: Holmgren now has more than 30 offers from the likes of Arkansas, Auburn, Georgetown, Gonzaga, LSU, Memphis, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio State, Purdue, USC, West Virginia and many more.

*****

Why him? You can’t watch Johnson with the ball and not have an appreciation for how crafty and clever he is. The way he sets up defenders in the pick and roll, his ability to find ways to finish with either hand around the rim and his vision as a passer are all sublime. You aren’t as good as a guy like Johnson without hard work, but he also has natural instincts and feel with which very few are born.

Recruitment: Committed to Syracuse.

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*****

Why him? As our readers well know, there’s a pretty strong likelihood that Kuminga ends up a member of the class of 2020 in one capacity or another. But, until he says so he’s still the No. 1 player in the 2021 class and one impressive talent. A big-time athlete who plays with a chip on his shoulder, Kuminga is a total bully on the floor. He works people over at the rim, has a post game, rebounds and has to be respected as a shooter. He’s also as tough as they come on the defensive end because of his size, versatility and athleticism.

Recruitment: If Kuminga doesn’t choose the G League, then he’ll pick from Auburn, Duke, Kentucky and Texas Tech (where his brother, Joel Ntambwe, plays).

*****

Why him? The best basketball prospect from Akron since, well, the best player in the world: LeBron James. Livingston looks to have anything you could want in an elite-level two guard. He’s bouncy, he can shoot with range, he creates off the dribble and he’s already known for going off on ridiculous scoring binges. He plays off of instinct and will be truly scary as he learns to slow things down and let the game come to him a little more.

Recruitment: The pro route could be one to watch with Livingston, who has reported offers from hometown Akron, Florida, LSU, Ohio State and Tennessee State.

*****

Why him? Smith is the prototypical four-man for today’s game. With a wiry frame and long arms, he is a dangerous shooter and has some crafty post games. When I watch him, I remember watching Rashard Lewis play as a high schooler many years ago. He’s smooth, maneuvers through traffic and before you know it he’s hung 20 points and 10 rebounds on you. He’s got good genes, too. His father, Jabari Smith Sr., played at LSU and in the NBA.

Recruitment: Alabama, Arizona State, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgetown, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Ole Miss, TCU and Tennessee are among his offers.

*****

Why him? Wagner is arguably the best point guard prospect in high school basketball, regardless of class. He’s a natural scorer with skill and feel for the game and is going to develop as a playmaker for others. He only turned 15 a month or so ago and is growing and improving at a rapid pace. If he continues on the path he’s on, he’ll be a McDonald’s All-American, just like his father and grandfather were.

Recruitment: Wagner and his family have not publicized his recruitment much, but considering his father played for John Calipari and that his grandfather worked with Calipari, many figure Kentucky will be very hard to beat.

*****

Why him? Talk about electric. There aren’t many guys at any position with more juice than this wildly athletic combo guard. The following that Williams has built on social media is mind boggling enough. But, the way that a kid like Williams – who has just finished his freshman year of high school – is able to navigate all of the attention and hype is quite impressive. He’s built differently than most.

Recruitment: Williams has said publicly that he will strongly consider going the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) route, and has earned offers from Alabama State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Delaware State, Florida A&M, Grambling State, Howard, Jackson State, Morehouse, Norfolk State, North Carolina Central, Southern, Tennessee State and Texas Southern. Offers have also come in from Arizona State, Arkansas, Kansas, Memphis, Texas Tech, UCLA, USC and many others.