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Class Rankings Are Cool But They Don’t Mean Much At All

The only way to measure a class is by what it accomplishes

NCAA Basketball Tournament - First Round - Columbia - Practice Sessions
COLUMBIA, SC - MARCH 21: Associate head coach Jon Scheyer of the Duke Blue Devils looks on during their practice session prior to the first round of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship at Colonial Life Arena on March 21, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

In our post on Dereck Lively’s committing to Duke, we said this: “Scheyer will almost certainly have no worse than the second-best class and may have the best overall, depending on how things break.“

In retrospect, it’s a bit exuberant. Is it wrong? Well, yes and no.

It’s quite right in the sense that this class will be ranked no lower than second. Absolutely true.

But will it be the second best class on the court?

That’s a very different question.

No one would have rated Murray State’s class of 2017 as Top Ten when the players reported to campus. But after the emergence of Ja Morant? How could you not? Dean Smith said he recruited Hubert Davis as a favor to his uncle, Walter, a 1970s UNC star. Guys like Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson and Tim Duncan were nobodies coming into college.

Makhtar Ndaiye was expected to be a much better player than Duncan before he was ruled ineligible at Wake Forest.

Then there’s Harry Giles, who was seen as a can’t miss before his knee injuries derailed his career.

The point is the rankings are meaningless. It sounds great to say Duke’s class is better than Kentucky’s - boy does it - but you can’t really know until they’re done. Aside from responding to coaching and one’s own competitive desire, physical maturation is a complete wild card. Some guys look great at 17 and that’s where they peak out. Some guys don’t really start to mature until their late teens.

So we’re as excited as anyone else is, but don’t go crazy.