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Assessing The Top High Schoolers’ July Decisions

We’re past the halfway mark of the year 2020 so it makes sense to start getting familiar with the hoopers that will jump either to the NCAA or pro-leagues around the globe in less than twelve months. 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 destinations.

Peyton Watson/Nick Koza

July is a hot month, that’s for sure. But just as if the heat wasn’t enough to make it rain fuego during the past few days, we also got a whole bunch of 2021 HS prospects picking their future colleges or choice. Since the last time I went through the latest commitments by the end of June, there has been a massive crop of talents giving his word to schools all around the nation. Seriously, it has been insane and made things difficult to keep track of!

If you have been reading this monthly column for a while now, you know how it goes. I normally just cover top-100 prospects (247Sports Composite ranks) to keep things focused on the true top-tier talents, as those are the ones that will carry the highest chances of finishing playing for NBA franchises. That’s cool and all, but sometimes I have to lower the bar a bit and navigate the top-150, or even top-200 waters when there is a dried group of players committing in any of those four-week spans. This past month, though? Craziness all around the place!

Such, in fact, that I have been forced to cut the list down to only include top-75 prospects in this month’s entry, and even in that case we have up to 10 kids to cover next, not to mention that 10 more missed that top-75 cut with four ranked from 78th to 97th and the other five from 101st to 179th. Don’t worry, though, as I’ll list the name of all 20 players in the next section.

Who Are The Players And Where Do They Come From?

As I just said, up to 20 (!) players inside the 180 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 commitments coming from states left and right and all around the USA.

The players ranked inside the top-75 (ten of them) are listed next, including their national ranking, position, current high school, bio, and star/ovr rating per 247Sports:

2021 HS Class July Decisions

Yr Rk Name High School Pos Hgt Wgt Stars Avg College
Yr Rk Name High School Pos Hgt Wgt Stars Avg College
2021 13 Max Christie Rolling Meadows (Rolling Meadows, IL) SG 6'6 165 5 9.952 Michigan State
2021 14 Kendall Brown Sunrise Christian (Wichita, KS) SF 6'8 205 5 9.951 Baylor
2021 17 Peyton Watson Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, CA) SF 6'7 180 5 9.945 UCLA
2021 24 Matthew Cleveland Pace Academy (Alpharetta, GA) SG 6'6 190 4 9.898 Florida State
2021 26 Langston Love Montverde Academy (Montverde, FL) SG 6'4 190 4 9.894 Baylor
2021 27 Malaki Branham St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, OH) SG 6'4 175 4 9.891 Ohio State
2021 48 Quincy Allen Maret School (Washington, DC) SF 6'7 190 4 9.802 Colorado
2021 54 Rahsool Diggins Archbishop Wood (Philadelphia, PA) PG 6'1 160 4 9.777 Connecticut
2021 57 John Butler Christ Church Episcopal School (Greenville, SC) C 7'1 190 4 9.761 Florida State
2021 73 KJ Adams Westlake (Austin, TX) PF 6'7 200 4 9.704 Kansas
2021 HS Class July Decisions

We had a grand total of zero top-50 players from the 2021 HS class of seniors committing in June compared to this month’s three. Not bad, even less considering all of them are top-20 players with UCLA’s bound Payton Watson being the worst while ranked as the 17th-best prospect in the nation currently. Watson (CA), along with no. 13 Max Christie (IL), no. 27 Malaki Branham (OH), and no. 48 Quincy Allen (DC) are all the best prospects to come out of their respective states. One more state-best player who doesn’t appear above (no. 92 Bensley Joseph from MA) committed this past month, along with the best international prospect in no. 97 Jeremy Sochan, from Germany.

All of the other seven players listed above are four-star-caliber prospects on their own and they come from all places. None of them played high school ball next to each other in the same team, let alone city nor even state!

As far as the type of players that made the headlines during the past four weeks, as you can see almost everyone was labeled as a guard or a wing, with only two big men and just one pure center in John Butler, measuring at 7’1 and the only player above 6’8 of those listed above. Interesting to find KJ Adams slotted as a PF at 6’7 while the 6’8 Kendall Brown got tagged as a SF/wing by 247Sports.

Missed the top-75 cut: Kobe Bufkin (no. 78, committed to Michigan), Bensley Joseph (92, Miami), Jordan Longino (96, Villanova), Lynn Kidd (81, Clemson), Jeremy Sochan (97, Baylor), Maxwell Lewis (101, turned Pro), Angelo Brizzi (119, Villanova), Jordan Riley (149, Georgetown), Will Tschetter (151, Michigan State), Gianni Thompson (179, Boston College).

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

Nothing to say about Rolling Meadows (IL), as the HS has never pumped a player that made the national headlights at all. Max Christie is the first ranked prospect to come out of here, definitely not a bad start putting out a top-15 prospect. In equal terms is Christ Church Episcopal School (SC), with John Butler being their only product to ever rank nationally.

Almost the same happened at Maret School (DC), as it has only two kids ranked since 2017 with Quincy Allen being the best of them (the other one was 2017 no. 118 Luke Garza). Archbishop Wood (PA) is not far ahead with three ranked prospects itself, also with its 2021 player the highest among all of its alumni and no other inside the top-200.

Although Westlake (TX) isn’t a staple in the high school production ranks, KJ Adams will join a list that includes seven nationally-ranked players, all of them but one nurtured from 2018 on. Will Baker, the no. 34 player of the 2019 class, is the best prospect to ever come out of Westlake remaining in-state after committing to play ball at the University of Texas.

Sunrise Christian Academy (KS) has been producing ranked talent since before you were born. Well, perhaps not that far away, but still. The thing is, after getting their first talent out in 2010 Sunrise Christian has been increasingly improving their prospect-nurturing abilities and the best players to come out of the school have either done during the past two years or will do in 2021 and 2022. In fact, they have three seniors in the 2021 class (including no. 14 Kendall Brown) ranked inside the top-30 players of this year’s crop.

While Long Beach Poly (CA) is not your go-to prep in Cali, the truth is that they have put players in the NCAA steadily and from all types of ranks. They started with 2004 no. 650 Marcus Lewis and Peyton Watson will be the latest to come out of Poly and also the best prospect ever produced by the high school. The second-best? No. 100 of the 2014 class, NBA-bound Jordan Bell.

The history of hoopers groomed at Pace Academy (GA) isn’t too long with just five kids coming from the Georgia prep but they have been able to produce two top-25 prospects since 2017 in no. 7 Wendell Carter and now no. 24 Matthew Cleveland, both of then the second-best prospects from Georgia to be part of their senior HS classes.

I don’t think I need to waste your time talking about well-known Montverde Academy (FL), right? Just so you have a little bit of perspective, though, even ranking no. 26 Langston Love is only the 15th-best player to make the list since 2013, with names such as those of Ben Simmons, RJ Barrett, Cade Cunningham (all no. 1 in their classes), Scottie Barnes, Precious Achiuwa, etc above him. Top to bottom powerhouse.

You must have heard about the best player—let alone prospect—to ever come out of St. Vincent-St. Mary (OH), some certain LeBron James. Although SVSM has produced players steadily since that great 2003 year (they also sent Romeo Travis and Dru Joyce to the NCAA), no one has ever ranked as high as no. 27 Malaki Branham this season. He’s the only player from the prep to rank inside the top-200 of his class, and keep an eye on the Akron HS because another top-50 player (Sencire Harris) will come out of it next season.

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

Here is the recruiting leaderboard from the past five years—which includes the senior HS classes from 2017 to 2021 and only accounts for top-50 players in their respective years, updated to include this month’s decisions:

  • 21 Commits - Kentucky
  • 19 - Duke
  • 9 - North Carolina
  • 8 - Arizona
  • 7 - Kansas, UCLA, USC, LSU
  • 6 - Texas, Villanova
  • 5-to-1 - 53 Combined Colleges

Kentucky and Duke are clearly the top two universities at getting (top) talent. On average, Kentucky has gotten more than four top-50 players per class in each of the past five years, including 2021. 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 (I have taken into account all prospects to commit in July ranked inside the top-200):

  • Baylor (3 Commits)
  • Florida State, Michigan, Villanova (2)
  • Boston College, Clemson, Colorado, UConn, Georgetown, Kansas ,Miami, Michigan State, Ohio State, San Diego, UCLA (1)
  • Turned Professional (1)

Florida State keeps looking strong these days. They were the no. 1 team in the nation two months ago, they retained that spot last month, and they are still there by the end of July. The Trojans have 65.56 points and three four-star commits now from the 2021 class to go with a three-star one. Villanova (63.66) and Baylor (63.1) close the top-3 as the Bears were able to land their first five-star player of the year and are now one of only four colleges boasting one on their classes (along with UCLA, Georgia State, and Michigan State).

Michigan landed a couple of four-star players this past month and that left them ranked as the no. 7 team when it comes to 2021 recruiting, now featuring two four-star players and one three-star kid.

While UCLA (no. 8) still falls short of the top-tier of teams, they have the best prospects on average (among colleges with at least two commitments already) with a 9.984 grade boosted after the addition of Peyton Watson a few days ago. Something similar happened at Michigan State (no. 10) after landing top-13 prospect Max Christie, boosting the team’s average prospect grade to 9.837.

As far as the “turned professional” entry you read in the list I wrote above, I was talking about no. 101 prospect Maxwell Lewis, who will skip college and prepare for the NBA Draft in the Chameleon BX training program. Two other four-star players (Kyree Walker and Marjon Beauchamp) from the 2020 class already took that route a year ago.