Updated rankings will begin to roll out on Wednesday with ESPN scheduled to announce a new ESPN 100 for the class of 2017. New England will follow suit beginning with updated 2017 rankings in all six states on Thursday followed by a new top 50 for the entire region. The class of 2018 will be up next while 2019 and 2020 will wait until after the Elite 75 Frosh/Soph Showcase in September.
With that in mind, here’s a couple of reminders about rankings:
1. Rankings are subjective
Ultimately, rankings come down to a small group of people, if not one person alone, and can sometimes be based on different criteria depending on the source. At NERR, our rankings are based on a prospect’s potential at the college level, and in the most unique cases, beyond that. In other words, we aren’t measuring who the best high school players are because often times the best high school players can be very different from the best college players. That isn’t to say current productivity isn’t a consideration. It certainly is, so long as it helps us better forecast the next level. Regardless, it’s important to note that sometimes rankings look very different because they are based on very different things.
2. Consider the source
While no ranking is conclusive, what they should be is informed and unbiased. That isn’t always the case and that’s why the number one rule of thumb when watching rankings is “consider the source.” Being informed requires two things – a knowledge base necessary to assess the level you are evaluating for (if someone is claiming to evaluate for college basketball but has zero experience at that level, what makes them qualified for that task?) and adequate information/evaluations about the prospects they are critiquing (how much have they seen them?). Being unbiased demands no conflicts of interest. In New England, we’ve actually seen AAU coaches pose as fake media outlets in an effort to promote their own players and criticize others. Conversely, NERR was founded 10 years ago by Adam Finkelstein who had 3+ years of experience in both college coaching (at the division III and I levels) and NBA scouting and has since gone on to work as a national analyst for ESPN.com. Our current team of evaluators, scouts and contributors includes no active AAU coaches or anyone with a conflict of interest.
3. No ranking is a destination
Forecasting the future, by its very nature, is an inexact science and so no ranking should be seen as a destination. One of the most exciting things to watch from an evaluator’s standpoint is the prospect who makes the unexpected rise. Conversely, one of the hardest things to watch is the high level talent who doesn’t maximize his potential because he’s been coddled from a young age. The moral of the story…if your ranking serves as positive reinforcement for the hard work you’ve been putting into your game…great. If it motivates you to work even harder at your game…that’s great too. But if you are lucky enough to be highly ranked and you think you’ve achieved something that lasts, think again, or else you’ll join the long line of people who were once great prospects but didn’t quite pan out…and those aren’t the players that people remember.
4. Keep it in perspective
Please remember that NERR was created to promote New England basketball…all of New England basketball…and that remains our primary mission today. It has never and will never be about promoting one grassroots or AAU program over another and the same can be said for high schools, prep schools and individual players. Rankings, while competitive in nature, are far and away the most viewed piece of content on the site every week dating back for the last ten years, and thus help drive interest in our game. We take great care to be as thorough and accurate as possible but at the end of the day it isn’t about who is 1, 2 or 3…it’s about more kids getting seen, more kids getting motivated to work on their game and more kids having an opportunity to use basketball as a vehicle to a better education and hopefully a better life.