Shabazz Muhammad takes over No. 1
After analyzing the performers, reviewing their résumés and breaking down each position in the Class of 2012, ESPN Recruiting has settled on an updated ESPNU 100. At the top, the candidates remained much of the same, but there was a slight shuffling of the deck involving the elite players.
Muhammad works his way to the topOnce Shabazz Muhammad's (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) high school season ended, the wing went to work. He took up with a strength coach, committed himself to fitness and obsessed about working out. Through the spring, Muhammad stated his case step by step for the top spot through a series of outings that verified all the chatter and bumped him from No. 3 to No. 1.
It should be noted that former No. 1, and current No. 2, Andre Drummond (Middletown, Conn./St. Thomas More) didn't hand over the ranking to Muhammad. After a sluggish outing at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, Drummond refocused. His efforts in late July at the adidas Super 64 were tremendous. There's a school of thought, and it's one that we at ESPN also share, that Drummond is still the best pure prospect in this class. The 6-foot-10, 275-pounder moves with the athleticism, power and grace of a potential star in college and beyond. This race for No. 1 experienced a change heading into the season and by no means is the marathon over; Muhammad sprinted out to a lead but there's a long season ahead.
Baylor commit Isaiah Austin (Mansfield, Texas/Grace Prep) was at No. 2, but after losing a few head-to-head battles with Drummond, he was eliminated from contention for the top spot and resides at No. 4 behind Mitch McGary (Chesterton, Ind./Brewster Academy). Austin still has tremendous upside, but needs to get in a college weight program more than any other big in the class. His length couldn't bail him out this summer and it was clear that he had a lot of trouble with stronger bigs.
Shooting guards were agonizingly closeComing into the season, we'd have thought the real difficulty in this class would be separating the bigs. Over the course of the last few months, they've done a nice job of elevating themselves into different tiers. On the other hand, there's little more than a sliver of separation -- if any -- between the elite shooting guards.
The upper tier of shooting guards in the Class of 2012 was the most debated topic by our staff and it'll likely remain as such throughout the year. The player with as much natural talent as any is Ricardo Ledo (Providence, R.I./Notre Dame Prep) and we ranked him No. 6 on the shooting guard list and No. 23 overall. The strength of this group is impressive and drawing distinctions between the players was an arduous task.
Gary Harris (Indianapolis/Hamilton SE) came out victorious in a staff poll for the top SG slot. The reasoning behind the elevation was that Harris' approach on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball was impressive. The No. 10 overall player has room to improve, the capacity to do it and his transition to college basketball will be seamless. Think of a junior varsity version of Eric Gordon.
Show me a better competitor than Marcus Smart (Flower Mound, Texas/Marcus), whose résumé speaks for itself. He got the nod over Rasheed Sulaimon (Houston/Strake Jesuit), who also had a tremendous summer, partly due to a head-to-head matchup at the NBPA Top 100 Camp which tilted Smart's way.
Archie Goodwin (Little Rock, Ark./Sylvan Hills) and Rodney Purvis (Raleigh, N.C./Upper Room) are two of the more dynamic players in the class. Goodwin is unstoppable off the drive and Purvis is one of the game's more accomplished scorers. Goodwin is coming off an injury and it's important to leave open the possibility that he's the cream of the crop next spring. All of the five highest-rated shooting guards are top-20 prospects and there was no debating that point.
Hot prospects on the moveOne of the year's biggest risers is power forward Anthony Bennett (Brampton, Ontario/Findlay Prep). The single biggest reason for Bennett's rise was the fact he embraced his inner power forward, got himself healthy and played with a chip on his shoulder.
This time around, we welcomed Danuel House (Sugarland, Texas/Hightower) to the top 20 and T.J. Warren (Durham, N.C./Brewster Academy) and Amile Jefferson (Philadelphia/Friends Central) to the top 25; all earned their rankings with consistent, high-level performances while converting with high efficiency rates.
Sam Dekker (Sheboygan, Wis./Lutheran) will play a major role for Wisconsin the next few seasons. Over time, he's exactly the type of recruit who can play himself into Big Ten Player of the Year honors and brings the requisite toughness to Madison. Brice Johnson (Edisto, S.C./Edisto) was a triple-double machine this summer and played his way into our top 30. Other hot names to watch throughout the year include Josh Scott (Colorado Springs, Colo./Monument) and Jake Layman (Wrentham, Mass./King Phillip).
Dunn makes his pointThe point guard rankings in this class have been fascinating to chronicle. Each one of these guys is so different from the other that it's been a process assigning order to the list. We've consistently moved players up and down in the rankings. Marcus Paige (Marion, Iowa/Linn-Marr) is the most trustworthy guy to take a team into a hostile environment and help his teammates get better. However, the point guard with the most upside is Kris Dunn (New London, Conn./Wilbraham & Monson), who found his groove during the latter stages of July. His athleticism, size, and ability to guard and get to the rim trump everyone on the list. If he can improve on the mental aspects of his position, the top spot could be his.
Yogi Ferrell (Indianapolis/Park Tudor) blends scoring and passing into a point guard who should impact Indiana's backcourt from the moment he arrives on campus. Ryan Arcidiacono (Langhorne, Pa./Neshaminy) and Braxton Ogbueze (Charlotte, N.C./United Faith) are two of the toughest players in the class. Javan Felix (New Orleans/St. Augustine) and Dominic Artis (Oakland, Calif./Findlay Prep) are two of biggest risers on the point guard list. There was a summer run on this shallow position and only three of the top 10 point guards remain uncommitted heading into the fall.
Dave Telep is the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com. His college basketball scouting service is used by more than 225 colleges and numerous NBA teams. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.
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After a busy July evaluation period, we have made some changes to the rankings, including a new No. 1 in the ESPNU 100.