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Assessing The Top High Schoolers’ June Decisions

It’s time to move our focus entirely to the 2021 HS class of hoopers. We’re past the halfway mark of the year 2020 so it makes all of the sense. With sports coming back slowly, here is the monthly recap of what has happened around next year’s class when it came to deciding their future colleges.

SLAM Summer Classic 2019 Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It hasn’t been a month since the last time I wrote about the 2021 HS class. That’s right, but we better start catching up with what’s going on around it before things start to accelerate and decisions pile up down the line as we enter the second half of the year. Back in mid-June, I penned that column to get you updated on what had happened to next year’s class of seniors, presenting you with the top players that had already named their colleges of choice.

Basketball never stops, so there are a bunch of new cases to analyze here already as we have been doing for the past few months with the 2020 class, so it’s time to start breaking down the freshest of HS classes.

For that, I will be reviewing June’s decisions that came from prospects ranked inside the top-115 of 247Sports Composite Ranks. There were seven of them this past month, including three players labeled as the best prospects of their respective states, and three inside the top-50 players of the class. Not bad for a start.

Who Are The Players And Where Do They Come From?

As I just said, up to seven players inside the 150 best of the 2021 class made their decisions during the last 30 days. The summer has arrived, and with it have come some hot (and early) decisions, it looks like. The college-choice virus has also spread all around the country, with those seven decisions coming from six different states. Maryland threw two kids to the fire, sure, but they come from different parts of the state (Baltimore and Potomac), so even then we had a very mixed month in terms of where the commitments took place.

The players themselves are listed next, including their national ranking, position, current high school, bio, and star/ovr rating per 247Sports:

2021 HS Class June Decisions

Yr Rk Name High School Pos Hgt Wgt Stars Avg College
Yr Rk Name High School Pos Hgt Wgt Stars Avg College
2021 34 Trey Patterson Rutgers Preparatory School (Somerset, NJ) SF 6'7 185 4 9.867 Villanova
2021 42 Daeshun Ruffin Callaway (Jackson, MS) PG 5'9 160 4 9.842 Ole Miss
2021 46 Benny Williams St Andrews Episcopal School (Potomac, MD) SF 6'8 180 4 9.826 Syracuse
2021 95 Isaiah Barnes River Forest (Oak Park, IL) SF 6'6 180 4 9.609 Michigan
2021 102 Casey Simmons Milton Academy (Milton, MA) SG 6'5 170 4 9.575 Northwestern
2021 109 Cesare Edwards Hartsville (Hartsville, SC) PF 6'10 205 4 9.510 Xavier
2021 114 Ike Cornish Legacy Charter (Baltimore, MD) SG 6'6 185 4 9.441 Maryland

While as many as three hoopers are part of the top-50 players of their class, none of them is currently seen as a five-star prospect. It makes sense, though, as the worst-ranked players to ever get a five-star grade were nos. 29 Andrew Jones (2016) and Jahvon Quinerly (2018). That being said, no. 34 Trey Patterson has an “average score” of 0.9867, which is better than those of other players ranked higher in their respective classes (the best being no. 28 Jeff Withey in 2008; other recognizable names: DeJuan Blair, Quinn Cook, and Jonah Bolden).

This has been a month for wings, with five of the seven players slotting between the shooting guard and small forward positions. The other two, Daeshun Ruffin and Cesare Edwards, have manned the point an played the power forward position in high school respectively.

Have Those Prospect’s High Schools Any Track Record Of Top-Player Production?

The best player on the list, Trey Patterson, is the first success story to come out of Rutgers Prep (NJ). While it is true that the prep already had two players ranked by 247Sports (from the 2013 and 2015 classes) none of them ranked inside the top-300 players of their classes, and they committed to Holy Cross and Dartmouth as three- and two-star players, so Patterson can be considered the very first golden nugget to come out of the Somerset-based school.

Moving onto to Callaway (MS), the high school from Jackson is a little more renowned one—though not much. All the way back in 2004 Callaway put Charles Thomas in the top-50 of the nation and he went on to play for Arkansas. Then, in 2015, the school nurtured its best talent ever in no. 8 Malik Newman—who won the Natty with Kansas after transferring from Mississippi State. Not once since then had Callaway built another top-100 player until Daeshun Ruffin.

Not a lot to say about St. Andrews Episcopal (MD), as Benny Williams is the only top-50 player they have ever claimed and the first inside the top-400 of his class. The same goes for the other Maryland prep in the list, Legacy Charter (MD), from which Ike Cornish is the first player ever ranked by 247Sports.

Chances are—slim, but still—that you have heard about River Forest (IL). Based in Oak Park, adjacent West Side of Chicago, River Forest was home to NBA champion Iman Shumpert back in 2008 when he was the no. 23 player in the nation. Shump was named for the MCDAAG’s roster 12 years ago, same as Isaiah Barnes this spring, only the latter could never make it to the game due to the pandemic.

The only time Milton Academy (MA) put a player inside the top-100 of his class was just two years ago in 2018 when Cormac Ryan became the no. 68 player in the nation. Not bad for a school without a track record. Other than that, Casey Simmons is the only other “barely” top-100 player to come out of Milton and we’ll see if he actually ends breaking the 100-mark barrier as we start flipping calendar pages during the next few months.

Finally, Hartsville (SC) is this close to putting a kid inside the top-100 for the first time ever. They have three other names attached to the school history spanning from 2007 to 2019 but the best of them (Trae Hannibal) could only get to the 143rd spot as part of the 2019 class. Cesare Edwards is just nine positions separated from the 100th position in his class’ ranks.

And The Most Important Thing... Where Are They Going To Play College Ball?

Just as a refresher from last month’s article, here is the recruiting leaderboard from the past five years—which includes the senior HS classes from 2016 to 2020 and only accounts for top-50 players in their respective years:

  • 26 Commits - Kentucky
  • 23 - Duke
  • 11 - Arizona
  • 11 - North Carolina
  • 8 - Texas, Kansas, UCLA
  • 7 - Michigan State
  • 6-to-1 - 50 Combined Colleges

Kentucky and Duke are clearly the top two universities at getting (top) talent. On average, Kentucky has gotten more than five top 50 players per class in each of the past five years. And Duke, well, virtually more of the same.

So, have things been different during the past few weeks when it comes to college commitments? Here is how the last month ended looking like:

  • Villanova (1): Trey Patterson (no. 34)
  • Ole Miss (1): Daeshun Ruffin (no. 42)
  • Syracuse (1): Benny Williams (no. 46)
  • Michigan (1): Isaiah Barnes (no. 95)
  • Northwestern (1): Casey Simmons (no. 102)
  • Xavier (1): Cesare Edwards (no. 109)
  • Maryland (1): Ike Cornish (no. 114)

The last (actually, the first) time we explored the team rankings for the 2021 class, USC led the way followed by Wisconsin and DePaul. After this month’s decisions (there were more than those just highlighted in this column, remember) and adjustments by 247Sports, things have changed a little bit at the top of the leaderboard. The Trojans have retained the no. 1 spot while Louisville moved up to no. 2 and Northwestern is now the no. 3 team in the nation.

As far as the colleges highlighted in the list above and impacted by the kids presented in this column, Northwestern is clearly the winner after getting into the top-3 thanks to Casey Simmons’ commitment. Other than that, Maryland is now 9th in the ranks after adding Ike Cornish, while all of Villanova (no. 4), Ole Miss (no. 22), and Syracuse (no.24) are ranked inside the top-25 for the upcoming season after landing a top-50 prospect each.

Finally, Xavier is still in a precarious position at no. 37 nationally while Michigan isn’t in a much better spot currently ranked the no. 34 best team in the nation for 2021.