Every July college basketball fans obsess over the July recruiting period where summer AAU legends are made and scholarships are won or lost. While most of the buzz this summer was over the superstars (particularly Shabazz Muhammad and class of 2013 recruit Nerlens Noel) the more interesting action was happening further down the ranking list. While ESPN’s decision to move Muhammad above Andre Drummond in their new rankings is interesting at some level in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t mean much. For the purposes of recruiting and scholarship offers it is the guys that won’t be getting headlines on the front of ESPN.com or trending on Twitter that are more useful to look at. To that end we took a look at the pre- and post-July recruiting rankings for the class of 2012 from ESPN.com and Scout.com to see which players were climbing up the ranking list and which ones were plummeting.
To do this we looked at where certain players were ranked before the July recruiting period and where they were ranked afterwards. The obvious caveat here is that rankings are subjective and some fans have accused scouts of a form of confirmation bias where they tend to rank players higher if they are recruited by certain schools (particularly Duke in basketball and Notre Dame in football) than if they were being recruited by similarly powerful programs, but not the de facto face of the sport. Still it seems reasonable to think that two independent scouts ranking players would be fairly reliable (assuming Dave Telep and Evan Daniels aren’t cheating off each other).
When we looked at the new rankings there were a handful of players that stuck out as having risen or dropped quite a bit in the rankings. Here are the top 50 recruits based on their composite ranking put in order of their composite move from before the July recruiting period to after the July recruiting period with players who moved more than 10 spots highlighted in green (up) or red (down):
In total, 15 players moved up by 10 or more spots and 12 players moved down by 10 or more spots. Outside of Steven Adams, the New Zealand recruit who has committed to Pittsburgh that rocketed up the Scout rankings, but was curiously left off the ESPN rankings the players fall into two categories–those who went up or down in both rankings and those who went up or down in one ranking bringing them closer to what they were in the other ranking before the July recruiting period.
For the players who rose up the rankings, Jake Layman and Brice Johnson fall in the former category as both rose by more than 30 spots in both the Scout and ESPN rankings while Danuel House, Anthony Bennett, and Marcus Smart shot up ESPN rankings while remaining relatively stable in the Scout rankings. Interestingly, the only player in the top 50 who made a significant jump in the Scout ranking, but not the ESPN ranking was Arizona commit Gabe York. [Ed. Note: Evan Daniels apparently either had a better feel for these recruits before the July period or he is more stubborn than Telep.]
For the players who fell down the rankings, most players tended to drop fairly significantly in both rankings with Daniel Ochefu being the lone exception as he actually rose 5 spots in the Scout ranking while falling 20 spots in the ESPN ranking although it is worth noting that he ended up in a fairly similar place on both post-July rankings. In addition, several highly-touted recruits–DaJuan Coleman, Rodney Purvis, and Ricardo Ledo–had significant drops after starting the period near the top of almost every recruiting ranking imaginable.
As for the players outside of the top 50 who didn’t quite make our cut there were a few players that stood out for rising more than 50 spots–Josh Scott (72 spots), Prince Ibeh (66), Javan Felix (65), Chicken Knowles (59), and Dominic Artis (59) –or dropping more than 50 spots–Michael Frazier (76 spots), Gavin Ware (54), and J.P. Tokoto (51).
In the end it is unclear what these moves will ultimately mean for these players. Do college coaches really pay attention these rankings? It is unlikely that the rankings themselves mean that much to the coaches, but they are probably a reasonable reflection of how the recruits performed on the floor against some of the best players in the country. We doubt that many coaches will run away from Purvis, Coleman, and Ledo just because they had less than stellar summers, but it is possible that a few coaches at some of the very top schools like Duke and Kentucky may be less inclined to give them an offer since they seem to have their pick of McDonald’s All-Americans. On the other end of the spectrum, players like Layman are getting extra attention as he recently received an offer from Louisville after Rick Pitino watched him play last month. Another player, Felix, has already received an offer and committed to Texas after impressing them last month in Las Vegas and Indianapolis. The players who should probably be a little more worried are the guys lower on the lists who dropped after the summer like Frazier, who already committed to Florida, and Tokoto, who already committed to UNC. Those schools may not withdraw the offers just based on one summer, but if I were those players I would be on the look out for additional offers.