Saturday, May 24, 2014

Rivals Weekly Starting Five

Sometimes with travel weekends we need an extra day to get to the weekly Starting Five. But, here we are and some of the topics for discussion this week include the need to give the rankings a refresh, the lack of love for Damontrae Jefferson, Elijah Stewart to USC and Oregon State's new coach.

It's been a big spring for Damontrae Jefferson.
Rankings already due a refresh

Last weekend's Under Armour Invitational was's fifth straight weekend covering a major national event. Already, it has become quite apparent that we need to take a look at refreshing both the 2015 Rivals150 and the 2016 rankings that are currently at a top 60.

In 2015 -- which was last updated on March 26 -- the battle for No. 1 is getting really intense. Malik Newman is still holding onto the top spot but he is being chased hard by players like Ben Simmons. Additionally, there are players like Deyonta Davis, Georgios Papagiannis, Jaylen Brown, Allonzo Trier, Damontrae Jefferson, Marquese Chriss and many others who have pushed for a climb up the rankings.

Moving on to the class of 2016, the rankings pool continues to expand as we get to see more and learn more about the players from that class. The ultimate goal is to have the rankings for the class expanded to a true Rivals150 by late August so we need to not only update but expand from where we are. Josh Jackson looks to be in pretty good shape to hold onto the top spot in this update and the rankings will likely expand out to at least a top 75, maybe even 85 depending on how things look.

Others who could be making big moves since the last 2016 rankings adjustment on the 28th of March include Dennis Smith and Kobi Simmons, who have both been standing out of late.

Before anybody asks "what about 2017?" it is going to be a bit before we introduce our first rankings for that class. Look for an initial top 25 sometime after the summer.

Where's the love for Jefferson

For a while now, the previously mentioned Damontrae Jefferson has been one of's favorite players to watch in the class of 2015. Currently ranked No. 47, the Milwaukee native who attends Believe Prep is putting up stupendous numbers on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit.

Standing just 5-foot-7, Jefferson is now averaging just under 30 points and six assists while shooting over 50 percent from the field.

The question is, how long does he have to keep putting up ridiculous numbers before he gets a little more credit on the national level? As much as we've written about him at Rivals over the past few summers, we still may not have given him the full credit he deserves but we have consistently recognized the work he is doing. For some reason, others seem to be hesitant to do so.

Let's face it, Jefferson isn't your typical high school prospect. Not only is he small, but he isn't going to let anybody put him in a box. Jefferson wears his emotions on his sleeve, isn't afraid to let shots fly from all over the floor and plays with attitude. But, at his size, you almost have to have attitude to be as successful as he has been on the floor.

Where does Jefferson end up in the rankings? How does he fit in on the college level? Those are things that we don't fully know the answer to. But, Jefferson has certainly proven by now that he can not only play with, but put big numbers on anybody in the country.

Elijah Stewart has all-conference potential.
Stewart a big pickup for USC

There aren't exactly a lot of difference makers left in the class of 2014, but in our opinion USC landed one Sunday afternoon in shooting guard Elijah Stewart.

The 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester finished No. 64 in the final Rivals150 for 2014 and he has all the tools to be an impact player for the Trojans.

A bit of a late-bloomer, Stewart came on strong as a senior after showing signs of high major ability during the summer of 2013. He is athletic, can put the ball in the hole via the jump shot or by attacking off the dribble and he has immense defensive potential. Stewart will need to add some strength and continue to build his overall ball skills, but he is certainly a future starter and a prospect that could one day develop into an All Pac 12 level player.

Oregon State gets it half right with Tinkle

At the end of the day, it looks like Oregon State is going to make a good hire in Wayne Tinkle. While at Montana, Tinkle did a good job for eight seasons going 158-91 and making three appearances in the NCAA Tournament. At 48, he is also still a relatively young coach and he has experience recruiting the West Coast and hunting for sleepers -- something that he will have to be able to do in Corvallis.

On top of a solid record at Montana, Tinkle has a serious in with a player who would be the highest ranked high school prospect to commit to the Beavers since Jared Cunningham (No. 76) and Roberto Nelson (No. 78) both committed back in 2009. Tinkle's son Tres Tinkle currently ranks No. 124 in the 2015 Rivals150 and should be moving into the top 100 in the next rankings update. A 6-foot-5 wing, Tinkle is a high major prospect who was already seriously considering playing for his father at Montana and the Beavers will now be a considerable favorite to land him with his dad leading the program.

So far all of this sounds good, right? Yes. But here's the thing, Oregon State could and should have done all of this two months ago. Instead, they waited until late in the spring and after the live evaluation period to move away from Craig Robinson and then they took their sweet time (two weeks) to hire his replacement. Two weeks isn't really that long, but given the lack of available spring recruits and Tinkle not being able to recruit for Oregon State during the late spring, every day that it took to hire a new coach was one day too long.

Here's hoping that Tinkle brings success back to Corvallis. He has good credentials, looks to be a solid hire and should be able to hit the ground running with a high profile recruit in his back pocket. But, with its timing, the OSU administration did him no favors in getting him off to a good start and patience could be needed early on.

Coming up next

This weekend, national basketball analyst Eric Bossi will make the trip to Minneapolis for the fourth and final session -- at least for those teams that don't qualify for Nike's Peach Jam -- of the Nike EYBL. Contributing national analyst Russ Wood will be in Orlando for an Adidas Gauntlet stop.

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