Rivals Rankings Week: 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.
RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK
MONDAY: Updated 2020 Rivals150
TUESDAY: Updated 2020 position rankings
WEDNESDAY: Updated 2021 Rivals150
THURSDAY: Updated 2021 position rankings
FRIDAY: Updated class of 2022 top 75
What is your impression of the point guard group, and whose long-term potential stands out relative to his current ranking?
Bossi: It’s time for the point guards in 2021 to step their game up. As they head into their final spring and summer on the grassroots trail, it is looking like one of the shallowest pools of talent I’ve ever seen at the position. Kennedy Chandler has established himself as a winner and producer. His classmates need to join him.
I do really like the potential of Hunter Sallis who is already ranked third at the position. He’s likely more of a combo than true point, but based on size, feel for the game and overall upside, I felt he was a good one to bet on and that he’ll prove worthy of his big jump.
Evans: There is a bit of a lack of depth here. There is great value in Chandler and Khristian Lander, upside with Sallis and JD Davison, and a breakthrough performer in Jalen Warley, but it if you are a major program in need of a point guard, you can’t afford to miss.
One guy I would hitch my wagon to for long term potential is Warley. Having grown over four inches within the past 18 months, Warley is everything one looks for in a next level playmaker: big, sneaky quick and athletic, can shoot and also run a team. He is ascending the rankings and he might not be done yet thanks to just how much better he can become.
McDonald: It's a little strange and unusual that we get all the way down to No. 10 overall in the 2021 Rivals150 before we have a point guard pop up. There isn't really what I would consider a star at the position in this class, but there are some really good prospects in this group that will be really good at the next level. Davison is really one to watch. He's such an explosive athlete and a really good play-maker that if he ever becomes a more reliable shooter he's going to make a lot of money playing basketball.
What is your impression of the shooting guards, and whose ranking do you believe most strongly in?
Bossi: Jaden Hardy is a certified stud. He’s very worthy of his No. 6 overall national ranking and is the clear cut class of the group. I’ve written that he reminds me of Brad Beal at the same age and there’s probably not another position where there’s a bigger gap between No. 1 and the rest of the group. So, I believe most strongly in his ranking and I expect there to be a lot of movement among the 10 or 15 directly behind him in the next few months.
Evans: There are still a lot of questions regarding the shooting guard crop. We all know how good Hardy is, but the jury is still out on Manny Obaseki, Kowacie Reeves and Jaxson Robinson. Not that they are not good but rather, how great they can be? They carry plenty of value but need some rounding out; Hardy is waiting for some of his peers to make a run for the top-ranked position that he has cemented during the winter.
Someone that I really believe in and we may have a bit underrated is Jahmai Mashack. The four-star guard has tremendous two-way potential and despite suffering an injury that cut short his junior summer and kept him under the radar, I have a feeling that a ‘blow-up’ is not too far away for the California native.
McDonald: Again, all the top spots in this class are taken up by bigger forwards, but I think there are still some really good prospects in the back-court at both spots for college coaches to get excited about. I pushed pretty hard to get Reeves moved up a few spots in this set of rankings. He just the type of length and athleticism combined with a lethal jump shot that makes a for a really high long-term ceiling. He's made a huge jump in the past year.
What is your overall impression of the small forward group, and who stands out to you as someone to keep a close eye on moving forward?
Bossi: In 2021, small forward is where it’s at. Jonathan Kuminga, Patrick Baldwin Jr. and A.J. Griffin are certified studs. While the guys directly behind them don’t score it quite as well, Harrison Ingram, Kendall Brown and Peyton Watson all have terrific size and versatility.
Moving ahead, keep an eye on Jordan Nesbitt. I just watched the St. Louis native over the weekend and he was a monster. He’s shredded physically, has really improved his ball-handling and I was impressed by his passing. If he replicates that effort this spring and summer, he’ll soar up the rankings and see his recruitment explode.
Evans: There is some star power in this group. Kuminga and Baldwin Jr. are the headliners, but you also find intriguing guys like Alex Fudge and Josh Minott along with ready-made producers in Michael James and Louisville commitment Bryce Hopkins. The small forward position has value and depth not every group in 2021 does.
One prospect that I am keeping an eye on is Minott. The four-star is a newcomer to the rankings and there are not many others that possess greater upside than the south Florida native. Long, versatile and with a quality skill set already in tow, Minott fits the mold of a positionless wing that can play all over the floor.
McDonald: The biggest thing that jumps out to me is the size and length of the top few guys here. There are a bunch of guys in the 6-foot-7 to 6-foot-9 range with real skill. Kaleb Washington is the one guy I've seen quite a bit of recently. He too is in that 6-foot-7 range with a boatload of skill. His potential is turning into more production and every part of his game he struggles with is strength related. He has a ton of upside and could be a scary prospect long term.
What is your overall impression of the power forwards and who might be underrated?
Bossi After the small forwards, I like the four men in 2021 next best. Paolo Banchero is a complete player and Jabari Smith oozes upside while reminding me of a baby Rashard Lewis. As for underrated, I will either be very right or die on the hill that Ernest Ross is going to be a professional basketball player. Now, the Floridian is a little wild at times and inconsistent but his size, athleticism and potential to develop into a floor-stretcher with his jump shot are too much for me to ignore.
Evans: You can find a few gems at the top in Banchero and Smith, but there is a quick fall-off once you get past the first dozen or so.
Someone that can make a move from that lower ranked end of the power forward group is Legend Geeter. The three-star prospect is somewhat of a no-name on the national platform, but I am intrigued by what he can become down the road. A rough and powerful power forward that is a mid-major recruit for now, Geeter is already a productive ballplayer and I wouldn’t be surprised that, if the right opportunities are allotted this summer, that his recruitment is amplified thanks to Big Ten and Big East offers.
McDonald: This is the strongest position group in the class. There are some really talented prospects here that will make noise in the NBA. Ross might be a little underrated right now. He's really skilled and athletic. He has moments where he looks like he needs to be a McDonald's All-American.
What is your overall impression of the centers? Bigs tend to develop at a slower pace. Whose recent improvement has caught your eye?
Bossi: I’m cautiously optimistic when it comes to the center group. Chet Holmgren is clearly the top guy in the group because of his skill and desire to accept and win any challenges. When I saw Adama Sanogo this winter I was pretty taken with his improvement. He’s in tip top physical shape and much more skilled than the slightly out of shape bruiser that I first remember seeing last spring.
Evans: The center position is one area where 2021 may have an edge on 2020. It begins and ends with arguably one of the most unique prospects of the past 10 years in Holmgren, but progressions from Charles Bediako, Sanogo, Nnanna Njoku and Ryan Mutombo have added some depth.
Speaking of Njoku, few have improved more over the last year. Not only has he gotten into better shape, he has also developed a more refined face-up game while throwing in a number of counter moves with his back to the basket. Njoku is going to impact a high-major program from day one and it is because of his work ethic and recent track record of getting better.
McDonald: I like the way this question is worded because it's completely relevant here. There are several prospects in this group that just need time to develop, but I like the direction of their development. Mutombo is the one I've seen the most lately and he's very deserving of making the jump from outside the Rivals150 all the way up No. 84. The son of former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo, he has a lot of the same traits as his father. He's a tough rim protector, really strong on the boards, and his offensive game is really coming along.