-- We have been tracking this class for four years. With seven of the top 10 of the latest 2017 ESPN 100 rankings between 6 feet 8 and 7 feet, the sheer size at the top of the class is the strength of this group.
DeAndre Ayton holds on to the top spot, but Michael Porter Jr., Wendall Carter, Mohamed Bamba and Trevon Duvall are not far behind. Ayton had spurts of brilliance this summer along with some dominating performances and his effort certainly has been consistently better. If Ayton continues to improve his effort, his growth in the game will be scary.
Based on his outstanding performances, and enormous potential, Porter moves to No. 2. He was exceptionally strong at the Peach Jam and has elite athletic ability with guard skills and small forward rebounding production. Carter is a combination of scoring, rebounding and shot-blocking talent with alertness and a high basketball IQ.
The top five have areas of growth, but the class has its share of one-and-dones and lottery picks. Ayton's motor needs to be there every day to cement his stature as the nation's best player. Porter must commit to being a better on- and off-ball defender and play with consistent aggressiveness. Carter has few holes in his game but should try to become an elite scorer while keeping all the other facets strong. Bamba clearly needs overall body strength, which will help him on both ends of the floor. Duval understands that his outside jumper is not where it needs to be.
Outside the top five, big man Mitchell Robinson has cracked the top 10 and his shot-blocking range to contest and reject shots goes out to the 3-point line.
Trae Young has closed the gap on the top point guard spot. He had an outstanding summer showing off his deep 3-point shooting and playmaking ability.
-- Paul Biancardi
Five players on the rise
With the summer recruiting period now behind us there are several players who have made notable jumps, and even debut appearances, in the ESPN 100.
At the top of the class the most notable is Collin Sexton (No. 10). An electric attacking guard, Sexton didn't just lead the EYBL in scoring this season, he averaged 31.7 points, nearly 10 points more than the next-best guy on the list. In June, he played a key role in USA Basketball's gold medal at the U17 World Championships and continued to produce at a high level during the July evaluation period. At this point, his production is virtually unmatched. He's relentless attacking defenses and scoring the ball, and at this level he has yet to find a defense to stifle him.
Troy Brown Jr (No. 18). has also climbed back into the top 20. Another player who stood out with USA Basketball, Brown's size and passing ability have always been his best attributes. He can play a multitude of positions, facilitate at a very high level and open the game up for increasingly common scoring guards. Combine that with an improved jump shot, conditioning and defensive productivity, not to mention sustained consistency across the board, and he was a riser.
Chaundee Brown (No. 30) and Nick Weatherspoon (No. 34) are two other notable risers in the top half of the ESPN 100. Brown is a power wing with a bruising straight line style. Weatherspoon is similar to Sexton in that he is an aggressive scoring guard who puts points on the board in bunches. Both have developed lengthy resumes of production this spring and summer and seen their recruitment go to the highest levels.
Two of the more notable newcomers on the list are Marcus Garrett (No. 62) and Jericho Sims (No. 67). Garrett is an emerging big guard loaded with versatility who rode the wave of his big summer all the way to a commitment to Kansas. Sims is an athletic lefty up front whose ability to change ends, play up at the top of the box and use both hands around the rim has made him an increasing national priority.