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August 26, 2012

2013 rankings: Two-way talent

On Tuesday, the Rivals150 for the class of 2013 will receive a post-summer updating. As we get closer to releasing the new list, we preview the five toughest calls that had to be made when putting together the new list.

Who is number one?

The race for number one in the class of 2013 has been a tough one. Chicago (Ill.) Simeon small forward Jabari Parker currently sits on top with Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison and Aaron Gordon nipping at his heels.

Each of those guys has risen to where they are thanks to building up a strong body of work during their high school careers. They've all continued to get better over time and have continued to cement themselves in the national top five.

Complicating matters is that Parker played with various injuries through much of the spring and then was unable to play in July events after breaking his foot playing for USA Basketball's 17-and-under team. Also missing lots of time due to injury was Gordon, who was able to return in mid-July to help lead his Oakland Soldiers team to a title at the Peach Jam.

On the production side of things, Randle was as good as it gets with his inside/out game. Then we have the Harrison twins, two of the biggest bullies (in a good way) on the perimeter that we've seen in some time. Which brings us to the next question.

How to rank the Harrison twins?

Houston twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison have long been among the nation's elite players. And for most of that time it's been the point guard of the two, Andrew, who has been ranked higher between the 6-foot-5 twins.

After watching them extensively over the years, could it be time to switch that around?

While they are incredibly close as prospects and the line separating them -- if there even is one -- is razor thin, one could argue that perhaps Aaron has overtaken his brother by the slightest of margins. Playing off the ball as a shooting guard, Aaron has long depended on his brother setting him up for shots. But more recently Aaron has become stronger at getting his own looks and has also proven to be a viable option as a point guard when Andrew goes out of the game.

How high should some of the new ranked players debut?

As with any rankings update, there are going to be some players that fall out of the rankings as new players come in. So, how highly can some of these new players enter into the rankings?

In total, the new number of new entries into the 2013 rankings will number somewhere in the low double digits. Don't expect anybody to debut as a five-star, but players such as Eric Mika, Wesley Clark] and Ikenna Iroegbu are all strong candidates to enter the rankings somewhere in four-star territory. Now, it's just a matter of placing them.

How to rank Ndiaye?

There are plenty of guys in the class of 2013 who are tough to get a read on, but 7-foot-5 center Mamadou Ndiaye is maybe the most perplexing case.

To some, he's a bit of a novelty: A huge guy who is able to score because of his sheer mass. And there are legitimate questions about how long he can stay on the floor and if he can keep up with the pace of college basketball. At a minimum, he certainly has to play for a program that plays at a more deliberate pace and allows their post men to set up and establish position.

To others, Ndiaye is a total game-changer. Obviously, his size is a major problem for defenders to deal with. But he's not just huge; he's aggressive, has strong hands and pretty good touch out to around 10 feet. He also plays hard, eats a ton of space in the lane and seems to really enjoy playing the game.

Based on what Rivals.com has seen, Ndiaye needs to be in the rankings. The tough part, though, was determining exactly where to put him.

What to do with the football/hoops stars?

It seems like each year, there's a player or two who is equally or more highly regarded as a football prospect. This year, there are two primary candidates for the Rivals150 who fall into that category. Derrick Griffin (No. 62 hoops, No. 40 in football and No. 3 wide receiver) from Texas and Cornelius Elder (unranked in hoops, No. 215 in football) from Tennessee.

Already ranked No. 62 for hoops as a super athletic, dunking and rebounding power forward, the 6-foot-6 Griffin was recently elevated to No. 40 overall in the football rankings. The No. 3 wide receiver in the country, Griffin has committed to Texas A&M for football. Griffin has stated that he would like to play both football and basketball in college, but history has shown that the double is one that is rarely pulled off at a high level. So, do we continue to rank him in both sports or do we work under the assumption that he's more likely to stick with football and only rank him there. Then, if he remains ranked in both sports, where exactly do we slot a player who will have somewhat limited availability in hoops?

The case of Elder is a bit different. A three-star prospect who is currently unranked as a point guardl, Elder has stated to Rivals.com that he would prefer to play basketball in college. So far in hoops, he's received heavy attention at the upper mid-major level, while high majors started to come around at the end of the summer.

In football, Elder currently ranks No. 215 nationally and is the No. 13 athlete with offers from programs such as Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Vanderbilt, Ohio State and many others.

The biggest question is whether he would pass up the high-level offers he has in football if he doesn't get offers near that level in hoops. And, if he's going to end up playing football, should he take up spot in the Rivals150 for basketball?

For now, both Griffin and Elder deserve spots in the Rivals150 for basketball while their futures are a bit unclear. However, when final rankings are done in the spring of 2013, both will likely be removed from the hoops rankings if it is pretty certain that their ultimate future is solely on the gridiron.





 

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