Every year multiple recruiting services release their rankings for the top high school players. While it is no perfect science these rankings do give us a bit of a look into the future of the game. Lets take a look at how the top recruits from the Class of 2018 are panning out during the first half of their freshman seasons.
- RJ Barrett-Duke
Recruiting Rankings: Rivals-#1 Overall/247-#1 Overall
The consensus top player in the class, RJ Barrett came into Duke with the pedigree coming from a pro basketball father, as well as the size and skill necessary to be a franchise player in the future. The Duke freshman is averaging 23.8 points per game to go with 6.8 rebounds and 3.8 assist while Duke is currently the top ranked team in the country. Although his outside game could use some work (31.9% from 3), it is safe to say Barrett is living up to the hype.
Mid-Season Value: Steady (Projected as the #1 overall pick)
2. Cameron Reddish-Duke
Recruiting Rankings: Rivals-#2 Overall/247-#3 Overall
With top overall recruit Barrett and dunk machine Zion Williamson joining Reddish at Duke, the 6’8″ freshman has been somewhat overlooked. We can assure you that Reddish is not being overlooked by NBA scouts. He is averaging 13.5 points, 3.2 assists and 1.7 rebounds per game. These stats are not mind blowing but you have to take into account all of the talent that Duke is throwing on the floor. He has not played himself out of the top five but he is not challenging Barrett for the top pick as some had predicted.
Mid-Season Value: Down (Projected as the #5 overall pick)
3. Nassir Little-University of North Carolina
Recruiting Rankings: Rivals-#3 Overall/247-#2 Overall
Roy Williams has not been known recently for landing top five players, so everyone was interested to see how he would use a talent like Little in potentially his only season at Chapel Hill. We now know the answer, and it is not much. Little is averaging 19.4 minutes per game, well under the norm for a top five recruit. In this limited time the 6’6″ guard is producing at an effective rate. He is averaging 10.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.7 assist. Going forward he will need to improve his outside shooting (5 for 22 on the season, 22.7%), but expect him to be in the lottery conversation.
Mid-Season Value: Down (Projected as the #12 overall pick)
4. Bol Bol-Oregon
Recruiting Rankings: Rivals-#4 Overall/247-#4 Overall
Bol Bol is as polarizing as any recruit you will come across. His father was a well known player in the NBA from 1985-1995 mainly due to his 7’7″ size. Despite the NBA pedigree, many have criticized the 7’2″ center for his lack of willingness to play inside, along with some bad shot selection from the outside. There was also some endurance and durability questions coming into college as there would be with any player the size of Bol. Those concerns have been put to bed for the first half of the season as Bol is in the conversation for National Player of the Year. He is averaging 21 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 1 assist to go along with 2.7 blocks per game (15th nationally).
Mid-Season Value: Up (Projected as the #2 overall pick)
5. Zion Williamson-Duke
Recruiting Rankings: Rivals-#5 Overall/247-#5 Overall
Zion Williamson arrived at Duke with as much hype as any recruit since Lebron James. As a high school senior he had the social media following of a full fledged celebrity, and his youtube highlight videos have millions of views. You could make an argument he was the most well known incoming freshman in the modern recruiting era. That was the hype, then came the proof, which is Williamson possesses a level of athleticism that he just should not have. He is 6’7″ and 285 lbs. with a vertical leap that is well above the 40 inch. benchmark that is used as the barometer for elite basketball athleticism. So far Williamson has proven he has game as well, averaging 19.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.3 assist to go with an impressive 1.9 blocks per game. His outside shot will always be the question mark in his game(3 for 18/16.7%), but until someone can stop him physically it might not matter.
Mid-Season Value: UP (Projected as the #4 Overall Pick)
6. Romeo Langford-Indiana
Recruiting Rankings: Rivals #6 Overall/247-#7 Overall
Every year there are multiple players in the five star range that are of the same mold as Romeo Langford. They possess elite athleticism, but do not yet have the shooting ability necessary to compete at the professional level. Some players develop it, some do not, and many times it is the defining attribute of their career. Langford is 6’5″ 215, and is a natural born scorer. His freshman stat line is 17.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.6 assist. So far he has shown that he can beat defenders off the dribble and in transition, but has been unable to get his outside shot going (21.3% from 3 pt.) The bottom line is he will be in the lottery discussion with a team hoping he can develop the outside game.
Mid-Season Value: Steady (Projected as the 11th Overall Pick)
7. Charles Bassey-Western Kentucky
Recruiting Rankings: Rivals-#9 Overall/247-#6 Overall
Every year or two there is a five star player that chooses a mid major school as their destination, although it is unusual for a top ten recruit to do so as was the case with Bassey. He is averaging 14.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. Given the lack of competition, those stats are not great, but they are respectable. Standing at 6’11” 245 lbs., Bassey has the size and length needed to compete at the next level and he has shown he can play. One interesting statistic is that Bassey is shooting 4 of 7 from the 3 pt. line this year. If that is a sign that he is a borderline 7 footer with occasional range, he could be an impact player down the line in the league. He will be in first round consideration.
Mid-Season Value: Down (Projected to be the #21 Overall Pick)
8. Quentin Grimes-Kansas
Recruiting Rankings: Rivals-#8 Overall/247-#10 Overall
Quentin Grimes has many of the same question marks as Romeo Langford and Zion Williamson. It is apparent they can dominate against lesser competition or athletes, but what is going to happen when they are being guarded by an equal and it becomes more of a skill based game. The jury is still out on Grimes, but he has not lived up to the hype of being a top ten player thus far. He is averaging 7.4 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game and is only shooting 28.9% (11 for 38) from deep. Unless he significantly steps up in the second part of the season, he is a prime candidate to declare for the draft and end up the G league this time next year.
Mid-Season Value: Down (Projected as the 19th overall pick in the 2020 draft)
9. EJ Montgomery-Kentucky
Recruiting Rankings: Rivals-#11 Overall/247-#9 Overall
Montgomery is 6’10” 225 lbs., and what most would describe as an athletic freak. He can run and jump like a wing player, but has the length to play inside. These were the skills that made him a borderline top ten recruit, but they have not been on full display so far at Kentucky. His stat line is 5.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game in only 16.7 minutes of action. Barring a major bump in production, expect Montgomery to come back for another season at Kentucky, otherwise he will most likely be playing in the G League next season.
Mid-Season Value: Down (Projected as a 2nd rd. pick in the 2020 draft)
10. Simisola Shittu-Vanderbilt
Recruiting Rankings-Rivals-#7 Overall/247-#11 Overall
Many people were surprised when Vanderbilt landed Shittu along with fellow 5 star Darius Garland. The timing did not work out as Garland went down early with an injury and Shittu did not play until November. Nonetheless, Shittu has shown that he has a solid skill set and has produced nicely since getting a late start on the year. He is averaging 14.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. If you put up those numbers as a freshman and you are 6’10” 240 lbs., you will be in the discussion as a potential lottery pick.
Mid-Season Value: Steady (Projected as the 15th overall pick)