The top players in the 2016 class are coming off the board at an alarming rate. As of Monday morning just 31 top 100 prospects and only five of the nation’s top 10 prospects are still available.
With so many players verbally committed, it’s the perfect time to take a look at the 2016 recruiting class rankings and draw some conclusions about which schools could finish No. 1 in the team rankings.
As of today, Tom Izzo and Michigan State sit at the pole position in the class rankings with four commitments. But can they hold on to the spot? Who are the other contenders?
Lay of the Land: After sub-par classes by Michigan State standards in 2013 and 2014, the Spartans have regrouped on the recruiting trail in a big way. In 2015 they picked up a pair of top 100 recruit. In 2016, they are filling major needs, but also filling them with star power, especially on the perimeter. Langford and Bridges on opposite wings is a scary thought for the rest of the Big Ten. Both are dynamic, tough, physical and athletic scorers. Winston is their point guard of the future and while he can certainly fill the role as set up man, he has scoring ability too. Ward is the lone post prospect on board and although he’s a tad undersized, he’s an effort guy that plays a physical brand of ball, but can also score some. All four are immediate contributors.
Will they get to No. 1? The last piece to the Michigan State puzzle is adding Scout’s No. 2 prospect Josh Jackson. At this point, Arizona and Kansas seem to be their main competition for the 6-foot-7 wing. If they were to add Jackson, their class would consist of three of the top 17 players in the class and five ranked among top 48. With that said, even if they add Jackson it’s not a guarantee Michigan State would have the best class, as it would depend on how Duke and Kentucky close things out.
Lay of the Land: Last week Kentucky received huge news when Gabriel opted to go ahead and pull the trigger
for the Wildcats, giving them their first five-star of the 2016 recruiting class. Gabriel, an active, aggressive and versatile forward, joins Killeya-Jones, who is a 6-foot-11 skilled power forward, and bruising big man Tai Wynyard to make up their current commits. For most schools that’s a terrific overall class, but for Kentucky it’s just the start.
Will they get to No. 1?: The three-man class Kentucky has already assembled will be a major boost to their frontcourt and I could see them adding at least one more in 2016. They are heavily involved with Jarrett Allen, Marques Bolden and Edrice Adebayo, all of which are five-star prospects. But they have their eyes set on adding the nation’s most dynamic point guard – De'Aaron Fox – and combo guard – Malik Monk. While I don’t think it’s guarantee that the Cats get Fox and Monk, I think they’ll certainly get at least one of them. So with a potential class of the three commits, one of Allen, Bolden or Adebayo and at least one of Fox and Monk, Kentucky would certainly lock up the top spot in the class rankings.
Lay of the Land: Coming off a National Championship, Mike Krzyzewski and his staff are heating up on the recruiting trail again. For quite some time, Kentucky was the “cool school.” Now Duke has joined them in that category. In 2014, Duke reeled in the nation’s best recruiting class, knocking Kentucky off the perch they’d held for six consecutive years. Duke’s 2016 group currently consists of an elite perimeter scorer in Tatum, a scoring floor general in Jackson and an active and energetic power forward in DeLaurier.
Will they get to No. 1? The Blue Devils already boast two five-star prospects and I think they’ll add at least one more. I think Harry Giles, Scout’s No. 1 overall player, has been a Duke lean for quite some time and while there’s a chance he could end up at Kentucky, I think when the dust settles he ends up a Blue Devil. So the next question is do they get Marques Bolden, Scout’s No. 12 overall player? He’s officially visited Duke and Kentucky and will see Kansas, plus take other visits. If Duke gets Giles and Bolden, they could certainly have the best recruiting class. But it wouldn’t be a guarantee, as it would depend if Kentucky were to get three of the five-star prospects they have remaining.