Rankings Revisited: 2015, 2016, & 2017
Our third and final rankings rewind will examine the most recent classes of 2015, 2016, and 2017 even though the jury is still out in all three.
While the alums of those classes are typically still in the college ranks, there are already six players on active rosters in the NBA with more sure to join in the coming years.
Class of 2015
Donovan Mitchell’s rise over the last three-years has been both virtually unprecedented as well as well-documented (click here to read the ESPN story from last January). Suffice it to say that Mitchell was considered by us, and most others, to be the third best perimeter prospect on that year’s Brewster Academy team but between his incredible athleticism, high character, and maybe the highest learning curve we’ve seen in the last decade, he’s been able to shatter those expectations.
Tyler Lydon, who finished fifth overall in 2015, has also exceeded expectations after spending just two years at Syracuse before declaring for the NBA Draft. He and Aaron Falzon were cut from a similar cloth in 2015 and while Falzon was undeniable the more impactful prep player, Lydon superior trajectory since is even more clear.
6th ranked Terance Mann has had a terrific career at Florida State while 7th ranked Marcus Derrickson’s vastly improved conditioning has allowed him to see some time with the Warriors while on a two-way contract.
Francisco Alonso and Nick Mayo were two players that were projected to be steals after committing to UNC Greensboro and Eastern Kentucky alike, but both have exceeded even our lofty expectations since. J.R. Lynch, who finished at 55th overall in New England but has gone on to be a four-year starter at Hartford, is another who has exceeded expectations.
Class of 2016
Wenyen Gabriel finished as the top ranked prospect in New England before spending two years at Kentucky. He was picked in the second round of last June’s draft by the Kings and subsequently signed a two-way contract. Omari Spellman, who finished at #2, chose Villanova but was academically ineligible as a freshman. He started as a sophomore, won a national championship, and was a first round pick of the Atlanta Hawks where he has started 8 of the first 22 games this season. We had Mustapha Heron over Bruce Brown, which was a mistake, as Brown played two years at Miami before being a first-round pick of the Pistons. Heron starred for two-years at Auburn before declaring for the draft only to then decide to transfer to St. John’s. In retrospect, we had the top four right, but the order wrong.
Tyrique Jones and Alpha Diallo were both top ten prospects who should have been even higher while Christian Vital and A.J. Brodeur were both outside the top ten and have since proven they should have been in.
We knew Elijah Hughes was going to be a steal for East Carolina, and ranked him accordingly at 16, but he’s now playing a starring role at Syracuse, albeit for an Orange team that is underperforming so far.
Similarly, 20th ranked Elijah Pemberton has lived up to that billing at Hofstra as too has 23rd ranked Dimencio Vaughn at Rider and 29th ranked Will Rayman at Colgate.
Two players who have vastly exceeded expectations are Charles Brown at St. Joseph’s and Nathan Knight at William & Marry while 50th ranked Ikenna Ndugba and 56th ranked Arkel Ager-Lamar have also had similar stories at Bryant and UMBC respectively.
Class of 2017
Truth be told, it’s way too early to assess the class of 2017. The pundits declared both Jermaine Samuels and Wabissa Bede busts last year when the reality was that both were paying their dues and learning behind experienced rotations and are beginning to reap the rewards as sophomores.
What we know definitively is that Hamidou Diallo was ranked appropriately at #1 as he is already playing consistent minutes with the Oklahoma City Thunder while Kellan Grady was obviously too low as he’s been playing tremendous basketball through the first year-and-a-half of his Davidson career. Geo Baker, who was at 13th, has also exceeded expectations so far at Rutgers. Walter Whyte (Boston University), Tomas Murphy (Northeastern), and Jordan Burns (Colgate) have all been the steals we anticipated while Rich Kelly (Quinnipiac) and Carl Pierre (UMass) have certainly been the most pleasant surprises at the mid-major level to date.