2017 HoopSeen Class Rankings: Auburn, Washington, Illinois sit atop

Auburn, Washington, and Illinois sit atop the first 2017 HoopSeen Team Rankings of the year.

After updating the latest 2017 HoopSeen Top-125 Rankings, we release our first team rankings for the class. A few programs have jumped the gun compared to others and have brought in commitments that should bring further success on the hardwood and in classes ahead. While things will definitely change in the coming weeks and months where the likes of Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, and Arizona are nowhere to be seen, it is interesting to see some new faces atop at the current moment.   

1 – AUBURN

  • AUSTIN WILEY, 6-FOOT-10, CENTER – RANKING: 29
  • CHUMA OKEKE, 6-FOOT-7, FORWARD – RANKING: 34
  • DAVION MITCHELL, 6-FOOT-1, POINT GUARD – RANKING: 57

Leading the way early on is Auburn. You read it right…this is not football! Bruce Pearl has done great work on the recruiting trail early on at the SEC program but securing three top-60 commitments in the 2017 class before September has even rolled around is quite impressive. He has a go-to scorer on the block in Austin Wiley, a dynamic lead guard with impressive athleticism in Davion Mitchell, and a do-it-all point-forward type with Chuma Okeke, all of which combine to create the best class in America at the current moment.

2 – WASHINGTON

  • MICHAEL PORTER, 6-FOOT-8, SMALL FORWARD – RANKING: 3
  • JAYLEN NOWELL, 6-FOOT-4, SHOOTING GUARD – RANKING: 100
  • BLAKE HARRIS, 6-FOOT-2, POINT GUARD 
  • MAMADOU DIARRA, 6-FOOT-10, CENTER 

Trailing directly behind the Tigers is Washington. Yup, here we are, with the Huskies at number two overall thanks to the commitment of 6-foot-8 small forward Michael Porter. The third ranked prospect in the 2017 rankings is an impressive ballplayer and prospect where he can shoot the outside jumper with great efficiency, yet also make a name for himself around the basket and on the weakside glass. Blake Harris helps the Pac 12 program’s case where the pass first lead guard is one of the best distributors off of the east coast. Jaylen Nowell brings good size and a shooting stroke off the ball along with big man Mamadou Diarra down low, a space eating center that can produce in traffic.

3 – ILLINOIS

  • JEREMIAH TILMON, 6-FOOT-10, CENTER – RANKING: 26
  • TRENT FRAZIER – 6-FOOT-1, GURD – RANKING: 123
  • DA’MONTE WILLIAMS, 6-FOOT-2, GUARD 
  • JAVON PICKETT, 6-FOOT-4, SHOOTING GUARD 

Illinois gets at the sixth overall spot as it definitely seems to be the right time for John Groce to put together a big time class in Champaign. While he will see his name on many of the coaching hot seat articles heading into the college basketball season this fall, luck hasn’t been on the side of the Illini head boss. Now with the health of his troops back in store, his staff has gone to work on the recruiting front landing the top Illinois native, Jeremiah Tilmon. The 6-foot-10 center declined scholarship offers from UNC, UCLA, and Kansas and keeping the five-star big man in state is a giant win for the Big 10 program. Joining him will be hard-nosed combo guard Da’Monte Williams and strong scoring wing Javon Pickett. Things just got better for the Big 10 bunch after securing the verbal commitment of Trent Frazier this past Sunday. The 6-foot-1 guard is a tough-nosed playmaker that allows for all three 2017 guard commits to be placed onto the floor all at the same time once they hit the Champaign campus.

4 – LOUISVILLE

  • MALIK WILLIAMS, 6-FOOT-10, CENTER – RANKING: 23
  • DARIUS PERRY, 6-FOOT-2, GUARD – RANKING: 88

The first blueblood program to enter the HoopSeen Team Rankings where Louisville slots in at the fourth overall spot. While both commits were two that the staff had not done a ton of work with this time last year, the Cardinals made up heavy ground with Williams and Perry in the weeks leading up to their respective commitments. Malik Williams has his best basketball ahead of him but has learned how good he can be lately where he has showed off a mean streak around the basket but also the abilities to step out and hit the perimeter jumper, all of which makes him an ideal, new era big man in today’s game. Joining him is top-100 guard and defensive piece, Darius Perry. The Peach State native should flourish in speeding the game up within the system that Rick Pitino has become known for and is a fine four-year guy that can play on and off the basketball for the ACC program.

5 – UCLA

  • JAYLEN HANDS, 6-FOOT-1, POINT GUARD – RANKING: 41
  • JALEN HILL, 6-FOOT-8, POWER FORWARD – RANKING: 52
  • LIANGELO BALL, 6-FOOT-7, FORWARD 

Staying out west, UCLA slides in at fifth overall thanks to three early commitments that have been in hand since last year. Leading the way is the seventh ranked lead guard in America, Jaylen Hands. While he can be a high risk type of floor general, he does play the game at a break neck pace and brings it on both ends. He should create a fine tandem with his Compton Magic travel teammate, Jalen Hill, a 6-foot-8 big man that definitely looks the part and produces as such. The tough and active big man is a solid presence around the basket that should pair nicely with LiAngelo Ball, a stretch forward that is the younger brother of five-star freshman guard Lonzo Ball.

6 – XAVIER

  • NAJI MARSHALL, 6-FOOT-6, SMALL FORWARD – RANKING: 32
  • ELIAS HARDEN, 6-FOOT-4, SHOOTING GUARD – RANKING: 101
  • JARED RIDDER, 6-FOOT-4, SHOOTING GUARD

We see the first Midwest program enter the fray as Xavier slides in at sixth overall. The Musketeers have had great success on the recruiting trail going back to the Skip Prosser days but this year could be its best ever. Already, the Big East bunch has secured three great perimeter pieces headlined by Naji Marshall. The tough wing has improved his ball skills drastically in recent months but it is his toughness and alpha-dog traits that make him special as he has some Tony Allen in him. Right alongside the hard slicer to the basket are two giant shot makers of the ball. Elias Harden, hailing from Georgia, and Jared Ridder, a wing from Missouri, should create major issues in the half-court due to their long range shot making abilities.

7 – ARKANSAS

  • DANIEL GAFFORD, 6-FOOT-10, CENTER – RANKING: 37
  • KHALIL GARLAND, 6-FOOT-4, SHOOTING GUARD 
  • DARIOUS HALL, 6-FOOT-6, SMALL FORWARD 

The second SEC program enters the mix and no, it is not Kentucky. Arkansas has a lot of its personnel returning from last year and the cupboard will remain pretty full for the years ahead thanks to the early commitments for those within the 2017 class. Daniel Gafford is the face of the class early on as the in-state recruit, who committed to the Razorbacks a year ago, is a fine energy giver and rim runner that does a solid job of protecting his basket and cleaning his area on the glass. The wings of the floor will showcase some talent with Darious Hall and Khalil Garland, the latter being a big time athlete at the basket, though, if he were to improve his shot making skills, his production and game should hit the next level.

8 – CREIGHTON

  • MITCHELL BALLOCK, 6-FOOT-5, SMALL FORWARD – RANKING: 74
  • TYSHON ALEXANDER, 6-FOOT-4, SHOOTING GUARD – RANKING: 99
  • HUNTER THOMPSON, 6-FOOT-10, POWER FORWARD 

Creighton falls in at number eight and for all of those that thought the Blue Jays would fall off once Doug McDermott left the Big East program, think again. While there is no top-50 recruit in tow, there is depth and versatility. The backcourt is solidified for the years ahead thanks to the commitments of TyShon Alexander, a smooth shooting guard that can play on the ball some in play making when needed, along with Mitchell Ballock, the top prospect from the state of Kansas who brings improved athleticism at the basket and an always in order jumper from deep. Hunter Thompson finishes up the three man class as the 6-foot-10 forward out Wyoming can step out and shoot the perimeter jumper but also clean his area on the glass.

9 – FLORIDA

  • SHAI ALEXANDER, 6-FOOT-4, POINT GUARD – RANKING: 51
  • DEAUNDRAE BALLARD, 6-FOOT-4, SHOOTING GUARD – RANKING: 116

Coming in at the ninth overall spot is Florida, the third SEC program slotted within the HoopSeen 2017 Team Rankings. The Gators welcome two versatile prospects in the backcourt with vast upside at their fingertips. Shai Alexander, by way of Canada and finishing out his high school career at Hamilton Heights in Tennessee, is an elite passer of the basketball. He has improved his jumper and has the length and standing stature at over 6-foot-4 that should allow for giant lineups placed onto the floor by head coach Mike White. Following him to Gainesville next year will be Deaundrae Ballard, a strong and tough-minded wing that can defend various spots on the floor and when feeling it, really fill it up on the scoreboard.

10 – WISCONSIN

  • NATHAN REUVERS – 6-FOOT-9, POWER FORWARD – RANKING: 87
  • BRAD DAVISON, 6-FOOT-2, GUARD – RANKING: 122
  • KOBE KING, 6-FOOT-2, GUARD

Rounding out top ten is the Wisconsin Badgers basketball program. Led by head coach Greg Gard, there has been no slippage on the recruiting trail with the newly named head coach. The staff got in early and scooped up the ideal Wisconsin-type of big man with Nathan Reuvers. A long and mobile face-up power forward that can extend the defense with the perimeter jumper but has the grit to score and produce in the lane, Reuvers could be a solid, four-year producer in Madison. He is trailed by two tough and versatile guards in the backcourt that can play both on and off the basketball. Brad Davison, another Minnesota native, just like Reuvers, heads to the Big 10 program, alongside an in-state recruit with Kobe King. Each brings immediate scoring abilities from off the catch but also can run their team’s offense when needed.

11 – TCU

  • RJ NEMBHARD, 6-FOOT-4, SHOOTING GUARD – RANKING: 67
  • KEVIN SAMUEL, 6-FOOT-9, CENTER – RANKING: 120

Coming in at number 11 and finally, the first Big 12 program enters the fray. No, it is not Texas, Kansas, or even Oklahoma, but actually TCU. Jamie Dixon and his newly assembled staff in Fort Worth have gone to work quickly in sweeping up three commitments that bring great versatility and size for their respective spots on the floor. RJ Nembhard headlines the class as the 6-foot-4 play maker can be used on and off the ball as he has elite levels of athleticism at the basket. Kevin Samuel, the newest commit to the bunch, is a hard-nosed center that cleans his area on the glass and protects his basket. The strong two-man class brings great optimism for years ahead with the new era created at TCU as the Horned Frogs remain heavy in the hunt for five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt.

12 – WESTERN KENTUCKY

  • MITCHELL ROBINSON, 7-FOOT, CENTER – RANKING: 10

The first non-power conference program enters the fray and who would have guessed it that it would be the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers rolling in at the twelfth spot. While it is just a one man class, Mitchell Robinson is not just one prospect. The tenth ranked senior in the 2017 class is a giant, giant boost for the CUSA program. One of the top shot blockers in all of high school basketball, if not the very best, the 7-foot center is mobile in getting up and down the floor, has improved his low post skillset, and has already created tons of positive publicity for the new staff in Bowling Green, Kentucky, a program now led by one-time Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury. 

13 – MICHIGAN

  • JORDAN POOLE, 6-FOOT-3, SHOOTING GUARD – RANKING: 118
  • ISAIAH LIVERS, 6-FOOT-7, FORWARD
  • ELI BROOKS, 6-FOOT-1, POINT GUARD

While only one commit is within our top-125, the depth and fit from the current three-man class is ideal. First comes Jordan Poole, a 6-foot-3 guard that has become a much better shooter and athlete in the past several months but is more than capable of sliding over onto the ball as a playmaker. Right alongside him is another under the radar pick-up that, if all goes right, could become an impact guy during his upperclassman years in the mold of Eli Brooks. Finishing the group off is in-state recruit and versatile forward, Isaiah Livers. The 6-foot-7 forward can play either the three or the four, can put it on the floor some, and is capable of defending various spots, the upside is the best with Livers out of the group. In all, Michigan’s class might not get a ton of pub but it does fit specific needs and the system that John Beilein runs in Ann Arbor.

14 – CALIFORNIA

  • ALEC HICKMAN, 6-FOOT-4, GUARD – RANKING: N/A
  • JEMEARL BAKER, 6-FOOT-4, SHOOTING GUARD 
  • JUHWAN HARRIS-DYSON, 6-FOOT-4, SHOOTING GUARD

The third Pac-12 program to enter the mix where California went to work early and grabbed three commitments, all of which are natives of the state. A jumbo, 6-foot-4 lead guard, Alec Hickman fits into the Berkeley program well as Cuonzo Martin has become known for throwing out giant lineups onto the playing floor. Juhwan Harris-Dyson is another solid addition but the face of the class, at least at the tie being, is Jemearl Baker. The 6-foot-4 guard brings good size and length onto the perimeter and can even run some of the lead guard position when needed. However, he is valued greatest for his shot making skills where he can create havoc on the perimeter and cause for major headaches within the half-court setting.

15 – VIRGINIA TECH

  • NICKEIL ALEXANDER-WALKER, 6-FOOT-4, GUARD – RANKING: 30

While just a one-person class at the time being, that one prospect will be quite the asset for Buzz Williams’ crew in Blacksburg. A 6-foot-4 guard that can play on and off the basketball, the sky is the limit for Nickeil Alexander-Walker. After creating great momentum during his play at the FIBA U18s, adidas Nations, and Under Armour Elite 24 last month, the Canadian guard seems to be, quite possibly, the most skilled and polished guard recruit that Buzz Williams has ever landed. While he does need to get stronger and continue to round out his skillset, Alexander-Walker has yet to reach his basketball ceiling, giving greater insight as to how good he can be one day.

Managing Editor

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