Commentary

New No. 1 in ESPNU 100

Anthony Davis completes meteoric rise by surpassing Austin Rivers for top spot

Originally Published: April 7, 2011
By Dave Telep | ESPN Recruiting

There's been a change at the top of the ESPNU 100. However, it's not as simple as moving one player ahead of another. This one requires an explanation because over the course of the year, we've been playing up "The Decision."

At ESPN Recruiting headquarters, "The Decision" has always been between Austin Rivers (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park) and Anthony Davis (Chicago, Ill./Perspectives Charter). Rivers has been at No. 1 for most of the year but, through absolutely no fault of his own, will finish the year at No. 2.

anthony davis
Courtesy of McDonald's Game staffAnthony Davis' performance at the McDonald's All-American Game helped him earn the No. 1 spot.

Davis' story, to this point, has been well documented. The 6-foot-10 power forward was a 6-3 shooting guard a mere two years ago. That stunning growth spurt led to his meteoric rise last May and the rest is now the stuff of recruiting lore. The owner of a pterodactyl-like wingspan, Davis is the country's best natural shot-blocker and one of the nation's finest rebounders. His skill set as a 4-man allows him to face the basket and handle the ball, while he's learning the ropes inside the lane with very good success.

Davis doesn't have potential, he has "pro-tential." In our world, potential is a dangerous word to throw around but when a prospect has shown consistent improvement and the ability to maximize his potential, like Davis, then making the move and ascending him to the top spot makes sense. He's a full six months younger than Rivers -- which isn't a huge deal -- but it speaks to his youth and is a sliver of information in the profile of the nation's finest prospect.

NBA evaluators at the McDonald's All-American Game concurred about the two best players and prospects at the event. Their point, like ours, is that a prospect of Davis' physical stature and skill package is more difficult to come by. A straw poll leaned slightly toward Davis, but was also very complimentary of Rivers.

Rivers is the go-to scoring threat in the Class of 2011. The son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers owns scoring moves that no one in the class can replicate or attempt. Basically, he's a high school kid with a collegiate and professional array of options. Understand this: The decision to slide Rivers one seat over has nothing to do with his season, talent or potential and everything to do with our evaluation that Davis has more room to grow and the potential to get there.

Fast-forward to next season and Rivers is very likely to be the national freshman of the year at Duke. The Blue Devils lose a ton of firepower and Rivers will have the green light on offense. He won't be afraid of the challenge and if our evaluation is correct, he'll be a high double-digit scorer right off the bat. It's very possible that while Davis has a stellar career at Kentucky -- albeit a brief one -- he may be slower out of the gates. UK has plenty of incoming talent and personality to its recruiting class. In fact, the Wildcats also have the No. 3 overall recruit, SF Michael Gilchrist (Somerdale, N.J./St. Patrick) and No. 7 overall, PG Marquis Teague (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike). Mix in sharpshooting power forward Kyle Wiltjer (Portland, Ore./Jesuit) and you've got UK's third consecutive No. 1 overall recruiting class.

[+] EnlargeBradley Beal
Kelly Kline for ESPN.comLook for Bradley Beal to make big shots for the Gators next season.

Rounding out our top five are Florida signee SG Bradley Beal (St. Louis, Mo./Chaminade) and future UNC power forward James McAdoo (Norfolk, Va./Norfolk Collegiate). Elite players at different positions, these two young men are capable of carrying a basketball team early in their careers. They remain two of the more well-rounded prospects in the entire class.

Quincy Miller (Chicago, Ill./Westchester Country Day), a Baylor signee, missed the bulk of the season with a knee injury, yet he's easily one of the best pro prospects in the class. The aforementioned Teague is the clear choice as top point guard and Memphis signee Adonis Thomas (Memphis, Tenn./Melrose) is one of the most well-rounded wings in the class. SF LeBryan Nash (Dallas, Texas/Lincoln), an Oklahoma State signee, is violent at the rim and consistent with his jump shot. He and fellow Big 12 recruit Myck Kabongo (Toronto, Ont./Findlay Prep) round out the Top 10.

Our biggest mystery in the EPSNU 100 remains SF Otto Porter (Sikeston, Mo./Scott County Central). He is a small-town wonder with great genes, big-time numbers and a burgeoning story. His final chapter comes at the Jordan Brand Classic next week. It'll be the first time he's on the court in a major setting with elite talent and all eyes will be on him. Our true final evaluation for Porter will be complete at that time.

You'll notice the absence of DeAndre Daniels (Los Angeles, Calif./IMG Academy) and Shaquille Thomas (Montclair, N.J./NIA Prep). We've researched both and determined them to be post-graduate players. As such, we've rated them and assigned both numerical and star values but omitted them from the ESPNU 100.

Newcomers to the list include No. 89 TaShawn Thomas (Killeen, Texas/Killeen), No. 95 D.J. Gardner (Okolona, Miss./Okolona) and No. 100 Juan Anderson (Castro Valley, Calif./Castro Valley).

Dave Telep is the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com. His college basketball scouting service is used by more than 225 colleges and numerous NBA teams. He can be reached at espndt@gmail.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.

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