After watching and analyzing the Class of 2017, this group is much better than we originally thought. In our updated rankings, we made a switch at the top as Michael Porter Jr. (committed to Washington) now sits at No. 1.
No high school senior had a better summer, and no one is having a better high school season than Porter as he produces at a high level against the nation's best. While winning the Peach Jam championship in July, Porter dropped a highly efficient 33 points and dominated the game. He has continued his winning ways as his high school team, Nathan Hale (Washington) is currently undefeated. At the Hoophall Classic, Porter scored an impressive 37 points. It's easy to see his approach and game is at another level.
Porter upends DeAndre Ayton (committed to Arizona), who had held the No.1 spot since we saw him as a freshman. Ayton is so gifted, and with his physical tools -- inside and outside skill with unique mobility as a 7-footer -- he has a chance to dominate the game on both ends of the floor every night.
Porter, on the other hand, brings his NBA-range jump shot along with his extreme versatility and elite athletic ability to every contest. His game mirrors the way the NBA game is being played: position-less with size, skill and versatility to score along with being a switch defender. You can't ignore his dominating performances, and he has turned his enormous potential into consistent production while playing with a noticeable edge and an aggressive motor.
Point guard Trevon Duval (uncommitted) made a move up one spot inside the top five to No. 4 as he has amped up his game by controlling the action from the point guard position. Duvall has stood out with his dynamic play on most nights, and he tries to dominate the competition while keeping the talent that surrounds him happy with his facilitating.
New to the rankings at No.37 is Kezie Okpala (committed to Stanford). His tools are undeniable at 6-foot-8 as he owns pure guard skill with good perimeter instincts for the game. He's a sleeper in the class and one to keep a steady eye on as the season unfolds. Another new face in the top 100 is Remy Martin, who just missed the cut in the last rankings update. Martin plays with great intensity, possesses open-floor speed, penetrates the paint and distributes all game long as a passer. Most importantly, he understands the value of winning and is the catalyst for nationally ranked Sierra Canyon (California).
Two Midwest prospects from the state of Indiana made moves within the 100: Michigan State commit Jaren Jackson (No. 25 to No. 16) and Louisville commit Malik Williams (No. 40 to No. 29). Jackson has shown shooting touch and rebounding prowess to go along with his extra-long frame. His best days are clearly ahead of him. Williams has a chance to be special with his athletic tools and rapidly developing skills combined with his shot-blocking talent.
This race for No. 1 has been interesting and exciting down the stretch as Wendell Carter (No. 3) has produced at a high level and has significant upside down the road. Duval is blossoming at the right time. Ayton has one last chance to capture back what he has owned since he arrived from the Bahamas. Whoever wants it badly will put himself in position to permanently claim the top spot in our final rankings in April.
-- Paul Biancardi
On the cusp
As always, some of the hardest rankings decisions were for the very final spots because ultimately 100 spots isn't nearly enough to capture all the high-major college prospects in the Class of 2017. These players remain right on the cusp of the top 100 heading into the last couple of months of their high school careers.
Bishop O'Connell High School (Virginia)
Committed to Providence
Watson is headed north to Providence, and he could very well follow in the footsteps of someone like Ben Bentil, who three years ago was unranked but went on to thrive much sooner than expected under coach Ed Cooley's guidance. Watson, like Bentil, has a college-ready body to step in and play big minutes from Day 1. He has a polished arsenal at the low and mid post and shows signs of extending his game away from the basket. We want to see him crash the glass consistently and ramp up the motor before he cracks the ESPN 100, but expect Cooley to solve both of those issues quickly.
Eudore High School (Kansas)
Committed to Creighton
The southpaw shot-maker has one of the smoothest releases you'll find in the high school game, and he makes his living from behind the arc. Ballock might not be the type of guard who is going to cross a defender up and set YouTube on fire with big dunks, but he has the basketball acumen to make a quick transition to the type of offensive structure you see at the next level. Further, his particular talents -- his skill set and his basketball IQ -- are an ideal match for coach Doug McDermott and the system he runs at Creighton. Expect Ballock to have a long and successful career for the Bluejays.
Commonwealth Academy (Massachusetts)
Committed to Saint Louis
French is a throwback-style power forward: powerful, rugged inside and at his best offensively inside of 12 to 15 feet. In many ways his style would have been perhaps more valued a decade or two ago. Here's what is undeniable, though: French is a sheer winner, one of the best pound-for-pound rebounders in the country and an absolute steal in the Atlantic 10. He had plenty of high-major offers and undoubtedly could have made his presence felt there, but instead he'll get the chance to be part of the foundation of coach Travis Ford's rebuilding effort. He'll contend for a starting spot from Day 1 and will help to make the Billikens relevant again sooner rather than later.
Oak Hill Academy (Virginia)
Committed to Ole Miss
There are times when Shuler can seem a little buried in one of the deepest backcourts in all of high school basketball. And the same was true on the AAU circuit this summer. While Shuler has undoubtedly grown from both experiences, he's a player who could surprise some people when he arrives at Ole Miss and earns the freedom to become a primary playmaker. He's an athletic guard with a lightning-quick first step, so he's going to be able to penetrate opposing defenses even in a half-court game. As his shooting stroke continues to develop, he'll become much more dangerous.
Alonzo Verge Jr.
Thornton Township (Illinois)
In a point guard market that has largely dried up, Verge is a name college coaches are going to continue to come back to this season. He has good size for the position at 6-2 and the ability to score and to facilitate. He's a playmaker by nature, one who has some natural flair and showmanship to his game, and he is most comfortable operating off the dribble, where he can create space and get into the lane. Consistency and efficiency are the keys moving forward, but there is no denying that he has plenty of tools that translate long term.
-- Adam Finkelstein
Top recruiting storylines to watch
1. Kentucky has already essentially wrapped up the No. 1 recruiting class
Heading into the early signing period, Kentucky didn't have a single commitment. About two months later, the Wildcats have the clear-cut No. 1 recruiting class in 2017, and it's nearly impossible for anyone to catch them. It's the ninth consecutive season -- out of nine -- that John Calipari has landed the No. 1- or No. 2-ranked recruiting class. This year's group includes Nick Richards (No. 11), P.J. Washington (No. 14), Quade Green (No. 22), Jarred Vanderbilt (No. 23), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (No. 32), and five-star wing Hamidou Diallo, who is already enrolled but will wait to suit up until next season.
2. Several five-stars still up for grabs
There are still plenty of dominoes to fall in the 2017 class rankings. Seven five-star prospects are uncommitted: Trevon Duval (No. 4), Mohamed Bamba (No. 5), Brandon McCoy (No. 6), Kevin Knox (No. 7), Brian Bowen (No. 12), Trae Young (No. 15) and M.J. Walker (No. 19) have yet to make a decision, and only Bowen seems close to announcing his commitment. There are several schools that overlap on the remaining lists, which we'll get to later, but there is going to be plenty of action as the high school season winds down and these players sit down and focus on a decision.
3. It's not just bluebloods getting elite prospects
The top of the recruiting class rankings aren't all that surprising: Kentucky, UCLA, Duke, Arizona. But looking at the five-stars in 2017, it's not just the blue bloods cleaning up. Michael Porter Jr., the No. 1 player in 2017, is going to Washington and will look to replace the production of Markelle Fultz. Alabama reeled in two five-star players in Collin Sexton (No. 10) and John Petty (No. 22); Western Kentucky -- Western Kentucky! -- landed Mitchell Robinson (No. 9); Oregon kept Troy Brown (No. 17) out west; and Miami went out and beat Arizona and Kentucky for Lonnie Walker (No. 18).
4. National powers still looking for point guards
One of the big national storylines entering the fall was the point guard situation. There were several good ones at the top, but then there was a drop-off -- and there was bound to be a school or two left in the cold. Duke and Kansas have ball handlers on their roster, but if things go awry in the early entry period, they could be in need. The Blue Devils are gunning for Duval, and Kansas has zeroed in on Young. Indiana lacks a true point guard and missed on Paul Scruggs (No. 28) and Tremont Waters (No. 33), while Syracuse has a major void and lost out on Green. With only a couple of high-major point guards left in the class, new options are emerging, including 2018 guard Eric Ayala, who could reclassify back to 2017.
5. Duke and Kentucky still battling for two top-10 players
It wouldn't be a recruiting cycle without a few battles between the two biggest recruiting powerhouses in the country, Duke and Kentucky. Bamba and Knox are still available, and the Blue Devils and Wildcats appear to be at or near the top of the list for both players. Bamba just visited Kentucky, and will visit Duke soon. Texas and Michigan are still in the mix there. As for Knox, he has officially visited Duke and Florida State and will look to take officials to Kentucky and North Carolina soon. There's nothing like a Calipari vs. Mike Krzyzewski recruiting matchup.
-- Jeff Borzello