Thursday, April 7, 2011
On the move
By Paul Biancardi and Dave Telep
A lot of things have changed since we released the initial ESPNU 100 for the 2011 class. Here is a look at 11 players who have moved around the rankings a lot throughout the year.
Anthony Davis, PF (Chicago/Perspectives Charter School)
June '10: No. 12 | Sept. '10: No. 3 | Nov. '10: No. 2 | Jan '11: No. 2 | April '11: No. 1
It may be a long time before we see another storyline quite like the one that belongs to Davis. Davis' debut in the ESPNU 100 came last June at No. 12. Following a scintillating summer, the Kentucky signee cracked single digits and now he's our No. 1 prospect. The key with Davis is improvement. He keeps growing while retaining -- and improving -- his skill set on the offensive end. Defensively, he's the most impactful big man in the class. Amazing story.
Michael Gilchrist, SF (Somerdale, N.J./St. Patrick)
June '10: No. 1 | Sept. '10: No. 2 | Nov. '10: No. 3 | Jan '11: No. 3 | April '11: No. 3
As a freshman, Gilchrist was ranked No. 1 in the class and held onto the spot until his senior season. The two-time Gatorade Player of the Year makes his mark with a burning desire to be the best and puts winning above everything else. He has had a stellar, steady career at the top, recently highlighted by a first-ever City of Palms Championship and co-MVP award at the McDonald's All American Game. His St. Patrick team has faced the best competition in the nation and has been nationally ranked because of his approach and attitude. The rise of Davis and dominance of Austin Rivers (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park) are the only two reasons he is ranked third.
P.J. Hairston, SG (Greensboro, N.C./Hargrave Military Academy)
June '10: No. 31 | Sept. '10: No. 14 | Nov. '10: No. 12 | Jan '11: No. 13 | April '11: No. 12
Hairston's story is one that hasn't been told until now. The fact of the matter is Hairston took his game and his conditioning for granted once he committed to North Carolina. He led last year's NBA Camp in scoring but wasn't in great shape, and his game was somewhat limited. With his mother in his ear to get in shape, Hairston did just that, and his game exploded. He fell as far as No. 31 in our rankings but now is entrenched in our top dozen, and in turn the expectations for him have heightened in Chapel Hill.
B.J. Young, PG (Florissant, Mo./McCluer North)
June '10: No. 44 | Sept. '10: No. 28 | Nov. '10: No. 19 | Jan '11: No. 21 | April '11: No. 15
A year ago, no one on the national circuit knew who Young was because he was focused on trying to right his academic situation. Young did not get a chance to showcase his talent until recently, but when he did get a chance to play he certainly displayed all the tools necessary to be a high-level guard. After a strong summer campaign and senior season, which included a loss on national television against rival Bradley Beal (St. Louis, Mo./ Chaminade), he turned things around by winning a state championship against Beal's team. Recently, the Arkansas signee played very well in the All-American Championship. His scoring instincts and distribution skills have solidified him as one of the best in the nation.
Tony Wroten Jr., PG (Renton, Wash./Garfield)
June '10: No. 24 | Sept. '10: No. 31 | Nov. '10: No. 23 | Jan '11: No. 14 | April '11: No. 16
There's no denying his talent. Once regarded as the finest prospect in the class, Wroten was bitten by the injury bug and it derailed his quest to ascertain the top spot. There was also a time Wroten simply wasn't playing up to his potential, which allowed his peers to pass him, and it may have cost him an extra hard look for the McDonald's All-American Game. That's in the rearview mirror and we've seen signs of him settling in as a big point guard with an innate passing ability. Basically, he's too talented to leave out of our top 20 prospects. He rode the rankings roller coaster but finished closer to his ceiling than he was last spring.
Kyle Wiltjer, PF (Portland, Ore./Jesuit)
June '10: No. 32 | Sept. '10: No. 12 | Nov. '10: No. 16 | Jan '11: No. 15 | April '11: No. 18
He made big strides following a summer in which he was named to the Boost Mobile Elite 24 game. Wiltjer also played in, and won, many tournaments, including the inaugural Fab 48 AAU tournament, with the dynamic Drew Gooden Soldiers and led Jesuit High School to back-to-back state championships. On the floor, the battle-tested Kentucky signee is a steady force, scoring inside with advanced post moves and a 3-point shot. He is one of the most skilled big men in the country.
Rakeem Christmas, C (Philadelphia/Academy of the New Church)
June '10: No. 8 | Sept. '10: No. 19 | Nov. '10: No. 10 | Jan '11: No. 16 | April '11: No. 19
Christmas was one of the most difficult players to evaluate in the senior class. Here's our dilemma: the delicate balance of production versus potential. Christmas is an above-the-rim rebounder and powerful finisher. He's so athletic and explosive that his natural abilities create expectations that he hasn't settled into yet. Ideally, he would be an easy choice for the top 10 but didn't demonstrate consistent enough production to merit inclusion. His length will be a problem for opponents at Syracuse. If he can crank up the consistency, he'll deliver on the potential.
Dom Pointer, SF (Roseville, Mich./Quality Education Academy)
June '10: NR | Sept. '10: No. 53 | Nov. '10: No. 55 | Jan '11: No. 34 | April '11: No. 24
From our seat, Pointer has done one heckuva Andre Iguodala impersonation. Like Iguodala, Pointer was passed over by some big programs as a junior. Also like Iguodala, he's a tenacious defender, explosive athlete and ever-improving shooter. St. John's owns an exceptional recruiting class, one that has players and prospects. Our money is on Pointer being tough to beat out for minutes in the Big East, and don't be surprised when he's in the conversation for newcomer of the year in the league. He showed up in our rankings last September and has been a steady riser ever since, cracking the top 25 after an outstanding all-around performance at the All-American Championship in Houston.
Rodney Hood, SF (Meridian, Miss./Meridian)
June '10: 85 | Sept. '10: No. 30 | Nov. '10: No. 30 | Jan '11: No. 25 | April '11: No. 30
Hood has stood out in every venue he's played in. His Lebron James camp performance was outstanding, as he scored with consistency. Once Hood made the jump in the rankings, the 6-foot-7 lefty continued to improve. The future Mississippi State Bulldogs player is smooth, effective and efficient with room to grow.
Shannon Scott, PG (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton)
June '10: 53 | Sept. '10: No. 63 | Nov. '10: No. 42 | Jan '11: No. 29 | April '11: No. 34
Like a race horse coming down the stretch, Scott has come on in a hurry. Known for his steady and consistent play, Scott had a breakthrough senior season. The turning point was his breakout game at the City Of Palms, where he led Milton to the championship game. The Ohio State signee also guided Milton to a 29-3 record and received many awards, including McDonald's All-American, Georgia's Gatorade Player of the Year and the Atlanta Tip-Off Club's Georgia Player of the Year.
Trevor Lacey, SG (Huntsville, Ala./S.R. Butler)
June '10: 23 | Sept. '10: No. 26 | Nov. '10: No. 52 | Jan '11: No. 40 | April '11: No. 40
Coming off of knee surgery his junior year, the undecided shooting guard had a strong offseason for Each One Teach One. In a nationally televised game, he came up big with 23 points, as his teammate, Rivers, fed him the rock. Lacey also played football and won three state championships over his high school career. He makes any team better and was named Mr. Basketball in Alabama for the second consecutive season.
Paul Biancardi, who has been a head coach and assistant on NCAA tournament teams, is the national director of basketball recruiting. He is also one the voters for the McDonald's All-American Game and Gatorade Player of the Year. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter. 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.