Austin Rivers takes over No. 1
One look at the updated ESPNU 100 and it's easy to see that Kentucky coach John Calipari is off to another tremendous start. The Wildcats have four players in the top 12, including No. 2 Michael Gilchrist (Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick), No. 3 Anthony Davis (Chicago, Ill./Perspectives), No. 7 Marquis Teague (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) and No. 12 Kyle Wiltjer (Portland, Ore./Jesuit). However, Kentucky does not lay claim anymore to the top-ranked player in the 2011 class because Austin Rivers (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park), who remains undecided about his college choice, has played himself into the top spot.
It's important to note that Gilchrist had an excellent summer and continues to improve. He is still a star and one of the most dominating players in this class. His jumper has improved and he even won a gold medal with the USA U-17 team. It's just that Rivers has played out of this world.
Rivers always could dominate on the offensive end, but he has surpassed his peers based on an ability to lead his team to a comeback win, like he did in the AAU Super Showcase finals. He also won a gold medal and set a U.S. record with 35 points in a FIBA U-18 event against Team Canada.
He is the most-skilled offensive player in the country thanks to his array of moves, highlighted by his lethal crossover, and killer instinct. Rivers can get to the rim, put up a floater over bigger defenders, hit pull-up jumpers, score off pick-and-rolls and shoot long 3-pointers. Plus, he can deliver a good pass when under duress. He consistently put up 30-plus points this summer, despite teams keying on him. In one-on-one situations, the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers can get his shot on anyone and has come to embrace the bull's-eye on his back.
While one Kentucky star dropped a spot in the rankings, Davis jumps from No. 12 to No. 3 and Wiltjer climbs to No. 12 from No. 32. You can make a strong case that Davis is the most gifted player in this class, based on potential. The 6-foot-10, 200-pounder has great versatility and can play inside or outside. Davis is great in pick-and-pop or -roll situations, a terrific rebounder and a game-changing shot blocker. He can also defend multiple positions.
Wiltjer is the best shooting big man in this class. He is fundamentally sound with unique versatility. The 6-9, 221-pounder also has the most polished back-to-the-basket game. He has a great feel for the game, is fantastic at taking what the defense gives him and is a very good passer.
Adonis Thomas (Memphis, Tenn./Melrose)
After exploding onto the scene, the 6-6, 210-pound small forward keeps getting better. He moves up to No. 9 in the lastest ESPNU 100 from No. 15 thanks to his versatile inside-outside game and attacking mentality. His skill level continues to improve and he is a coach's dream.
Rodney Hood (Meridian, Miss./Meridian)
He is a wiry, athletic, left-handed shooting guard that is efficient and effective. He moves up to No. 31 from No. 85. Hood never forces the action, but is a matchup nightmare because of his size (6-7, 190 pounds) and scoring ability. He is very good at hitting pull-up jumpers, rebounding and blocking shots.
Chane Behanan (Bowling Green, Ky./Bowling Green)
He is an undersized power forward that is very physical and hard working. Behanan was named MVP of the NBA Top 100 camp, which helped him move up to No. 33 from No. 73. He plays with tremendous strength and effort inside.
Just missed the ESPNU 100
Here is a look at 10 players who are on the cusp. It is important to point out, however, that any of these prospects could vault himself into the rankings.
Damien Leonard (Greenville, S.C./J.L. Mann)
SG, 6-foot-5, 190 pounds | College: Undecided
He has great size for a 2 guard with the ability to shoot over smaller defenders. Leonard is a good athlete and a high-volume shooter who stretches the defense.
Malcolm Brogdon (Norcross, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian)
SG, 6-5, 205 pounds | College: Virginia
He is a tough, hard-nosed competitor who burst onto the scene at the Peach Jam.
Pat Connaughton (Arlington, Mass./Saint John's Prep)
SF, 6-4, 190 pounds | College: Undecided
He made a name for himself at the AAU championships in Orlando, Fla. He also is a high-level baseball prospect.
Tyler Adams (Brandon, Miss./Brandon)
C, 6-9, 255 pounds | College: Duke
The future Blue Devil is a space eater in the paint. He is good at rebounding his position, setting screens and finishing drop-off passes above the rim. Adams also is a very team-orientated player.
C.J. Barksdale (Danville, Va./Hargrave Military Academy)
PF, 6-7, 195 pounds | College: Virginia Tech
He is a crafty scorer and active, aggressive rebounder. Barksdale often plays on the baseline, where he slides in between defenders to get in the paint, and has a good touch around the rim.
Tracy Abrams (Chicago, Ill./Mount Carmel)
SG, 6-1, 175 pounds | College: Illinois
He is a small shooting guard who looks to score. Abrams is very good at slashing to the basket and hitting midrange pull ups. He can help at the point but is more comfortable in a scoring role.
Marquis Rankin (Charlotte, N.C./Hargrave Military Academy)
PG, 6-1, 170 pounds | College: Virginia Tech
He is a floor leader who is excellent in transition, especially getting the fast break going, and defends the perimeter well. Rankin also has pretty good strength for a point guard and can finish at the rim.
Kevin Johnson (Woodland Hills, Calif./William Howard Taft)
C, 6-9, 270 pounds | College: Undecided
He is a true wide-bodied center and a good area rebounder. He has the talent to jump back into the ESPNU 100.
Amir Garrett (Las Vegas, Nev./Findlay Prep)
SF, 6-6, 190 pounds | College: Undecided
He has a prototypical wing frame for Division I with long arms and explosive athleticism. Garrett plays extremely hard at both ends of the floor, and is one of the few prospects who exhibits an enormous amount of energy each and every game.
Jabarie Hinds (Mt. Vernon, N.Y./Mount Vernon)
PG, 5-11, 165 pounds | College: Undecided
He is a strong, physical point guard who does a great job working through contact and finishing in traffic. Hinds also reads defenses well, has great court vision, and is very good at the drive, draw and kick.
Paul Biancardi, Adam Finkelstein, Joel Francisco, Michael LaPlante, Reggie Rankin and John Stovall contributed to this story
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