As is to be expected there was a lot of discussion surrounding the final class of 2011 rankings. From the top five to the bottom five, players were dissected and strong opinions were formed. Here is a look at some the guys who were debated the most.
Maybe nobody drew more discussion than Brad Beal. The future Florida Gator had a dynamite senior season, and was one of the most productive players in the nation. While there is no doubt that Beal is an elite level talent, the question became would be he moved into the top five or not.
Beal came into the rankings at No. 8, and cracking the top five wasn’t going to be easy, but it was talked about. In the end it was a tough decision, but Beal was bumped up two spots to No. 6. His ability to make shots, play defense, and athleticism translate very well, and that is the reason for the jump, but it just wasn’t quite enough to get into the top five despite the fact that opinions were definitely split and a lot of thought and time was put into what to do with Beal.
Another player who generated a lot of discussion was Michael Gbinije. The Duke bound wing doesn’t have that one next level skill that brings flash to him, but he is one of the safest and most productive players in the class.
With that in mind, Gbinije basically held onto his spot in the rankings. The decision to keep him in the top 30 came down to the fact that he projects as a player who could be an immediate contributor and someone who will be at Duke for a while and fits into the mold of a kid who puts a team on his back as a senior and takes them a long way.
Maybe the most talked about player all year has been Otto Porter. He went from unranked before the season, to No. 49 mid-season, and now at No. 28 in the country. It was tough to bump Porter all the way up to a five-star ranking with the limited amount of viewings, but still his performance and upside made him a sure fire high-four star player, and though placing him was tough, he earned his rise up the charts.
Easily the most difficult player to place was Alex Murphy. For the past two years Murphy has been evaluated as a class of 2012 product. Factoring in an added year of eligibility, Murphy was ranked No. 11 in the 2012 class.
Now as a 2011 prospect without that one extra year of development, an entire mindset had to be changed. Murphy ended up fitting in outside the five-star level at No. 37. Murphy’s athleticism is top notch, but during the high school season he struggled on the big stage, and seemed to be in a little bit of a funk at times. He still fits in as a super prospect and a great get for the Blue Devils, but the change from 2012 to 2011 made things very interesting in terms of finding a spot for him in this class.
Seemingly since the beginning of his high school career Mike Shaw has been an under the microscope player. He has the inside-out skills, the athleticism, and the body to dominate games. However he has never done that. Because of that lack of domination, Shaw is someone who has been a polarizing figure.
Some scouts view Shaw as a soft player who floats around the perimeter, others point to the fact that he is a high level rebounder and say that doesn’t fit in with being soft. Opinions were and still are very mixed about Shaw and the type of player he will be in college, and that caused a lot of discussion.
When it comes to some of the new players that came into the rankings, one big man, and two point guards were the subject of a lot of discussion.
On the interior Malcolm Gilbert is a bit of a lightning rod. Some view him as a dominating defensive player who is developing a complete game. Others see a kid who lacks toughness and has no ability to score on the offensive end.
That kind of disagreement makes for an interesting discussion when it comes to ranking him. Ultimately Gilbert ended up in the top 100 on the strength of his ability to block shots and change the game on defense. His offense isn't there, but the length and athleticism proved to be too much to leave unranked.
Then there are the cases of Trey Burke and Dee Davis. Neither was in the top 100 coming into the season, but dominant senior years got them into the rankings. Davis led his team to a state title and was a major factor on both ends of the floor. Burke got his team into the final four, and will go down as one of the most successful players on the high school and AAU circuit.
Both Burke and Davis did enough to crack the rankings on the strength of the improvement they showed during the season, the question was how much did they improve from the summer circuit, and should it have been enough to get both guards, who aren’t extremely physically gifted, to get them in the top 100.
Overall picking 100 players to rank is never easy, but these are the prospects that seemed to cause the most debate while putting the list together.