It's an odd thing to say, but if anything, No. 4 junior Ivan Rabb actually may be underrated. The Oakland native was fantastic last summer and has stepped up his game even further this season, and now he appears to be a strong contender for the top spot in the Class of 2015.
Way back in the 2011 summer, before Rabb had entered his freshman year, his talent was apparent. He put himself on the map in the West Coast and then took off from there. He hit the EYBL circuit in 2012 and established himself as one of the most gifted prospects, frontcourt or otherwise, in the country.
Arizona wasted no time, offering him prior to his sophomore season. By the end of the 2012-13 campaign, he'd picked up additional invitations from California, UNLV, N.C. State, North Carolina, UCLA and Kansas. From the beginning, this recruitment was reserved for the big boys.
Rabb hit the trail once again in 2013 with the Oakland Soldiers, and from start to finish he played the role of featured attraction. A year prior it had been another Soldiers big man, Aaron Gordon, who drew eyeballs, and though very different in style Rabb proved up to his predecessor's legacy.
If I had one concern last summer, it was that Rabb seemed unrefined offensively. He didn't stand out at the LeBron James camp (though also struggled with illness there) and didn't showcase the scoring tools possessed by Stephen Zimmerman, Diamond Stone and others.
But to whatever extent that was true in the first place, Rabb has dispelled any doubts this season. His performance at the Tark Classic — when he went toe to toe against both Zimmerman and his touted teammate, Chase Jeter — stands as one of the year's most memorable outings.
He maintained that pace at the Under Armour Holiday Classic last month, proving that he can be not only elite, but consistently elite. He'll enter this spring as a no-brainer, top five talent and will loom as a threat to everyone else in the class.
Rabb's recruitment can't realistically escalate from where it stands already, but as long as he remains undecided look for him to generate extensive conversation here at Scout.com and everywhere else.
Examing his game more closely, his offense includes deft finishing ability with either hand. Those off (left) hand finishes always have been an asset, and now they carries even more value due to Rabb's improved footwork and interior scoring arsenal. He utilizes drop steps, hooks, turnaround jump shots and succeeds on the basis of size, quickness and skill. If all that sounds formidable, that's because he is formidable. And the progress he's making seems to be occurring at an accelerated pace relative to his peers.
He also remains a talented rebounder and shotblocker who could become a star defender as well. He averaged 11 caroms per contest on the EYBL circuit last year, placing fourth in rebounds per game. He also led the league in blocked shots at more than three per game, topping even 7-0 sophomore Thon Maker.
As he becomes more complete, Rabb has transitioned from prospect, to player, to dominator. Here's looking for even greater progress over the next six months.