Below is a link to my initial list of Ohio’s top 30 rising 8th graders. As a disclaimer, the list represents “one man’s opinion,” of what I have seen with my own eyes, or have heard from multiple, credible sources. As you can imagine, it is extremely difficult to establish with 100% certainty who the “actual” top 30 players are in the state. I will fully acknowledge that at this early stage, some kids have been missed, and there are a number of names that should/could be on a list like the one posted below. However, for whatever reason, the player(s) have not been adequately evaluated enough during their school season, the AAU trail or at individual showcases and camps. I had almost 40 names on my initial list, but was forced to make some tough decisions and whittle it down. If your you, your child/player's name is not on the list, no disrespect or slight is intended, it's about what I see and hear.
For the most part, I have personally seen 95% percent of the listed players on multiple occasions and in multiple settings over the past couple of years. For the other roughly 5%, I have relied on input from coaches who coach teams in the class, independent observers, and other people who I trust to provide accurate and credible information. If you, your son, your player, your friend, ect is not listed, there may be multiple reasons (i.e. talent level, inadequate exposure, bad timing, inconsistent performance at competitive events, etc).
This list is still under development and will be updated as players emerge on the scene. My hope is to have a much more accurate list by the end of the player’s 8th grade year. That final 8th grade list is the most valuable in terms of exposure to the people that matter (i.e., college coaches, national scouts, event directors, etc). Therefore, I have another 12 months to put together a more accurate list before it is widely distributed national. The younger lists are good starting points.
If rankings matter to you (for many people they do not matter at this age), then I would suggest a couple of things. Number one, get in the gym and work on your game daily. Most top players work very hard to develop their game and it often shows when it’s time to performer. Find a team that can both develop you as a player and person, and a team that will put you in situations where your talent can be seen. It’s not necessarily the top team(s) in the state; it’s the right team or situation for YOU! If you are on a team that does not compete in the top tournaments, or does play in those types of tournaments but is knocked out by Saturday afternoon; guess what; you are probably not going to be seen. Even if you are on a less than competitive team, there are ways to gain individual exposure. It may cost you time, money and a lot of driving, but you know what they say; “there's no free lunch.”
Whether rankings at the 7th grade matter at all is often debatable, and really varies from person-to-person. You and/or your parents have to determine to what extent rankings matter to you. They did for the Taylors, and we drove all around the country for years and spent a lot of time and money in the process. At the end of the day, it was money well spent, and I would not change a thing! I hate to be so wordy, but many years of doing this (rankings) have taught me what types of reaction I can expect when I put this information out there for public consumption. I’m ok with the debate that will follow, I will simply ask you to keep it civil, and make sure your child uses the list as motivation to make a list; remain on a list; or move up on a list. By channeling their energy in a positive direction, rankings do serve a purpose.
Now back to the class of 2017. Right now, the class is nowhere near as top heavy or deep as the class of 2016. If you have not followed Ohio’s 8th graders, you cannot possibly appreciate how good that class truly is, and how many quality players there are in the class. In addition, I’m not sure there is a consensus #1 player, or even a top ten. This class is still very much emerging and undefined at this point. It is my challenge to increase the number of opportunities to see and evaluate the class. At the end of the day, the class will be defined by the number of nationally competitive teams and the level of individual talent.
The number of elite guards and bigs seem to be down in this class, and after about the first 10-15 players, the talent level appears to drop off a bit. I hope that more of the top players rise to the surface, but every class is different, and depends on the teams the players play for, the coaches who advise them, the adults who handle them and to what extent they embrace some of my previous suggestions. In most cases, if I see a talented player, I write about them, take their picture and try to obtain information about them. If you have read about a kid on this website you know this to be true. Ok, enjoy the list, debate the list, but keep your child/player in the gym!!
Buckeye Prep Top Thirty 7th Graders