Posted On: 11/7/16 1:34 PM
We’ve now had three years of high school and AAU basketball to break down the 2017 class, and things look much different then our first rankings of them two years ago. While rankings are always subject to change, especially with the reclass and transfer rate as it is, almost all of the players have improved whether they dropped or rose in our rankings.
When taking rankings into consideration, the Vantage Hoops team spends about a month contacting coaches and experts across the state to compile the list. There were over 250 kids we considered for the top 150, and the rankings reflect the next level potential of the prospects. Things taken into consideration include upside, high school production, head-to-head matchups, skill set on both sides of the ball and include intangibles such such as how recruitable a kid is based on grades, attitude and how coachable they are.
Here’s a broad overview of our rankings, taking a look at some of the trends we’ve seen so far. Stay tuned for more in depth breakdowns of the 2017 class and new 2018 and 2019 rankings on Vantage Hoops!
Top 10 Stays Steady
The only change in the top 10 is the addition of Creighton commit Ty-Shon Alexander of Oak Hill at #10, in part due to the Myles Douglas transferring from Paul VI back to Maryland. Because of our extensive research of the prospects in the 2017 class over the past three seasons, there aren’t nearly as many shake ups at the top, and the fact that not many players transferred in or out for their final season is yet another reason things have stayed very much the same.
What’s interesting about the top 10 is that you can see the dominance of national powerhouse Oak Hill, who has five players in the top 10 and four in the top five. The transfer of 6’9” Billy Preston, a nationally ranked wing who has brilliant in the two exhibition games we watched, is the perfect addition to a guard heavy team that needed wing scoring. The other four who are ranked are high major guards, the only one who hasn’t committed is Matt Coleman who is still deciding between Texas and Duke, and what’s interesting is that they all will have played over 100 games together in just two seasons.
There is only one player in the top 10 that does not play for a private school, and that’s LC Bird’s Mario Haskett who has committed to Harvard. Other than Coleman and Preston, every player in the top 10 has given a verbal commitment to where they will play in college.
Commitments Pick Up After Summer
Speaking of commitments, it’s commitment season now that AAU is over and kids have had the chance to go on their official visits. While signing day hasn’t arrived yet, 26 players have verbally committed to division one schools ranging from the ACC and SEC to the Big South and NEC. To our count (it could be off one or two in either direction), of those 26 commitments 16 of them came after the summer.
What will be interesting to see now is how the uncommitted prospects will lean. There are a few that have already taken official visits, a few that want to see how their recruitment will pan out through their senior season, and a couple that are teeter tottering on which level they’ll be able to play at.
Something new this season is the presence of division two schools recruiting the state so early. With only three division two schools in the state, VA is often a goldmine of talent at that level, but there’s always a number of kids who slide through the cracks and end up at division three schools, hence the depth and strength of conferences like the ODAC and CAC.
While there are some division two schools that have typically recruited VA for this reason, it’s a little odd to see them offering this early. Schools ranging from Virginia Union, Virginia State, UVA Wise, Mount Olive (NC), Lincoln (PA), Millersville (PA), Concord (WV), WV Wesleyan, Lincoln Memorial (TN) and Wheeling-Jesuit (WV) are all division two schools that aren’t waiting for kids to fall through the cracks and have already offered players in the 2017 class. Expect those schools to continue to recruit VA hard and find more kids in this deep state.
New Faces and Stock Risers
While we discussed how we’ve had time to watch this group for years now, there’s always players that transfer in or improve immensely and increase their stock during the summer. Here’s a quick look at five guys who are in much different spots this year.
Tyler Foster | 6’5” WF | Middleburg | #13
Foster bolsters a brand new Middleburg lineup with his length and versatility on the wing. His athleticism allows him to score in transition, guard multiple positions and rebound on both ends of the floor. He can make shots from all over the floor, and can create his own shot off the bounce. He’ll have to accept the leadership role if he’s going to help make them a contender this season.
Nana Opoku | 6’6” PF | Potomac | #28
Opoku is one of the most improved players in the state after helping lead Potomac to a 5A State Championship last season. He’s a shot blocking presence that rebounds, can start the break and has a high motor on both ends of the floor. While he was still under the radar, Mount St. Mary’s got themselves a gem when he committed there.
Denmark Slay | 5’10” PG | St. Stephen’s St. Agnes | #29
It’s only fitting that he’s ranked right next to Opoku, because the two of them boosted their stocks massively this summer. Despite his size, Slay is a killer at the PG spot who plays with endless energy on both ends, is a true leader and loves having the ball in his hands in crunch time. He climbed over 20 spots in the rankings, and has verbally committed to High Point.
Izaiah James | 6’0” PG | Cape Henry Collegiate | #36
He was a key contributor for Cape Henry his sophomore season, and after playing one year at Legacy Charter in South Carolina he transferred back home. James’ brings a toughness that Cape really missed last year, as he’s a dog on both ends of the floor. He loves guarding the best player on the team, is always after 50-50 balls and will compete with anyone. Hopefully his energy and toughness will spread throughout the group as they look to get back to the promise land.
Ben Stanley | 6’5” PF | Millwood School | #53
Improvement is always a big deal, especially for a kid like Stanley who was given the “upside” tag a long time ago. The lefty combo forward has a great frame and motor that makes him an impact when he’s on the floor, and he’s athletic enough to play and guard the 2-5. He’s worked on his off hand to where he can attack and finish going right, and his jumper from deep looks much better. He’ll be asked to do a lot of things this season for them.
Breakdown By Position
We know there’s a lot of controversy over ranking players of the same position. There’s also some controversy in what position certain kids are. Here’s how we broke down the number of players per each position in our rankings.
Top 10 List
|1) Billy Preston||6’9″||WF||Oak Hill Academy|
|2) Matt Coleman||6’2″||PG||Oak Hill Academy|
|3) Devontae Shuler||6’2″||WG||Oak Hill Academy|
|4) Nate Watson||6’8″||PF||Bishop O’Connell|
|5) Lindell Wigginton||6’1″||PG||Oak Hill Academy|
|6) Aamir Simms||6’8″||PF||Blue Ridge|
|7) Aaron Thompson||6’3″||PG||Paul VI|
|8) Ejike Obinna||6’8″||PF||VA Academy|
|9) Mario Haskett||6’3″||WG||LC Bird|
|10) Ty-Shon Alexander||6’3″||WG||Oak Hill Academy|
Be sure to check out the fully updated rankings for the 2017 class here!