Next week, the announcements from Nerlens Noel (Everett, Mass./Tilton School) and Shabazz Muhammad (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman), the Nos. 1 and 2 players in the ESPNU 100, will alter the landscape of college basketball. Their decisions will have a major impact on the balance of power next season.
Noel is a game-changer on the defensive side who is good enough to create havoc in the paint at the rim and agile enough to make would-be shooters think twice about letting it fly -- even on the perimeter. Muhammad is the biggest fan draw in the class and the top senior scorer. His approach rarely changes, and when singularly focused on a clear mission, as was the case at the McDonald’s All-American Game, it’s best to get out of his way. Noel and Muhammad occupy the upper tier of the class and are in the category of potential superstars, which they share all to themselves.
In advance of our signing day special on April 11 (ESPNU, 7:30 p.m. ET), when the decisions of Noel and Muhammad will be unveiled, we freshened up our rankings. Overall, the movement was slight as the body of work for these seniors draws to a close.
It’s the little things like Kentucky signee Alex Poythress’ (Clarksville, Tenn./Northeast) willingness to take on a larger role and be a leading man that can enact a bump. There’s the advancement of athleticism in future Wisconsin Badger Sam Dekker (Sheboygan, Wis./Sheboygan Lutheran) and the recalibrating of who we think Michigan signee Glenn Robinson (St. John, Ind./Lake Central) is and may become.
We also have the typical logjam at point guard, UConn signee SG Omar Calhoun (Brooklyn, N.Y./Christ the King) moving up 20 spots to No. 32, Oklahoma State signee Marcus Smart (Flower Mound, Texas/Marcus) sliding into the top 10 and future Wichita State PG Fred Van Vleet (Rockford, Ill./Auburn) making it into the rankings at No. 82.
We’re constantly making subtle adjustments with the goal of correcting our list. You’ll notice some guys moved up based on them demonstrating a greater feel for their position (see Iowa PG Mike Gesell (Sioux City, Neb./South Sioux City)) and some descended based on the same principles.