Fans in college basketball are just as passionate about recruiting rankings as they are in college football. But while Clemson and Alabama have been able to grab the top recruits and play in the biggest games in college football, the top recruiting teams in college basketball did not.
Of the top 25 recruits in the much ballyhooed top 2016 recruiting class according to the 247Sports Composite ranking, zero will play in the final. That includes the likes of Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox, Jayson Tatum and Lonzo Ball.
The highest rated recruit to play in the Final Four is North Carolina center Tony Bradley who was the No. 27 recruit in the class. He is a back-up center for the Tar Heels. Gonzaga’s Zach Collins was also a top-50 recruit who advanced to the Final Four.
But just because no 5-star freshman made the Final Four, that doesn’t mean there aren’t high school standouts who are represented. Sindarius Thornwell was the No. 32 recruit in the 2013 class and South Carolina’s P.J. Dozier was the No. 25 recruit in the 2015 class.
Gonzaga meanwhile has a McDonald’s All-American on their team in the form of transfer Nigel Williams-Goss. He orginally committed to Washington out of high school.
So what does this mean? For starters, recruiting is still important. North Carolina, Gonzaga, Oregon and South Carolina all had highly recruited players on their team out of high school. And who knows, if Luke Maye, a former walk-on who was the No. 156 player in the 2015 class, doesn’t hit the game-winner, Kentucky could’ve sent three players who were in the top 25 of the 2016 class to the Final Four.
But it also shows that you don’t have to get the best-of-the best guys. Markelle Fultz and Dennis Smith Jr. were the No. 5 and No. 7 players in the class. Borh will likely be taken in the top-10 of the upcoming NBA Draft. But due to not having a well balanced team around them, both players missed the NCAA Tournament all together. Instead, teams of solid players out performed one super-duper star.