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For the first time ever at 247Sports, we’ve updated all of our basketball rankings on the same day.
Rather than spreading out three classes worth of updates over the course of a few weeks — or even a month — it almost makes more sense to do them all on one day. This is because pinning down the graduation year of today’s top basketball prospects has become more elusive than ever before.
Just like how NIL and the transfer portal have shaken up the world of college sports, high school athletics is also embarking on a new earth-shattering era. More specifically, high school basketball has entered the “Era of Reclassification.” And it’s something that isn’t going away anytime soon.
It wasn’t too long ago that the term “reclassification” was a codeword for “bad grades.” In the early-2000’s, and even as late as the early-2010’s, reclassification was almost solely used for players that needed to take a fifth/prep year of high school courses in order to be eligible for college. In the rare case that a player did reclassify to the class ahead of them, it was almost certain that they were moving into the class that they originally belonged to.
Now, those days are all but a distant memory. Reclassifying to an older class is no longer a rare occurrence. More and more players are legitimately skipping a year of high school to arrive on college campuses a year early.
Former NBA Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins was one of the first big names to redefine reclassification into what we see today back when he was the No. 1 overall recruit in 2013. But even after Wiggins did it, reclassifying up was reserved for very specific cases. That was until Marvin Bagley burst onto the scene. When Bagley classified into the 2017 class (gaining the 2017’s top spot in the process), the flood gates began to open.
Bagley’s impact is being felt to this day. Just look at the class of 2024. Cooper Flagg recently moved up from the class of 2025. Like Bagley, he gained the class’s top spot by making the move. Flagg wasn’t alone either. He was accompanied by top 10 big man Jayden Quaintance.
As for the 2026 class, AJ Dybantsa just debuted as the No. 1 player. Although he hasn’t said anything publicly yet, it is almost a foregone conclusion in recruiting circles that he’ll move up into the class of 2025. If Flagg, Dybantsa and Quaintance are any indication, then it’s safe to say that there will be a slew of other players in the classes of 2024, ’25 and ’26 who float between grades.
At this point, the trend is pretty undeniable. In our final rankings of the class of 2023, at least seven of the top 51 players in the class were at one time listed in the class of 2024. This includes five-star North Carolina freshman Elliot Cadeau. In the final 2022 rankings, No. 6 GG Jackson was originally the No. 1 player in the 2023 class and part of a class where 10% of the top 50 were originally in the 2023 class. In 2021, four of the top 13 players — including June’s No. 3 NBA Draft pick Scoot Henderson — reclassified from 2022.
These moves don’t seem to be slowing down and those who recruit at the highest level have certainly taken notice.
“When we are recruiting the top underclassmen a we spend a lot of time doing our due diligence to determine who could potentially graduate a year earlier than the class they are listed in,” one Big 12 assistant told 247Sports. “If we want to have a chance with an elite player from the class of 2025 who is going to end up coming out next spring, our recruitment of them needs to be a year ahead of schedule if we are going to have any chance at landing them. It may not be a ton in the grand scheme of things, but more and more potential first year difference makers are eyeing reclassification so we need to be prepared.”
The reasons for behind the reclassification trend aren’t exactly difficult to pinpoint, either. Since the NBA isn’t interested in letting players enter the draft directly out of high school and NIL money is at an influx at top college programs, it’s no surprise that elite players are looking for ways to get to the NBA as fast as possible and earn as much money as they can in the process.
With programs like Overtime Elite, the NBA G League’s Ignite and the foreign professional opportunities available to today’s high school stars, college programs are more incentivized than ever to find ways to snag top tier prospects. Even if that means helping them navigate through the reclassification process.
Likewise, families and prospects have become well versed in whether or not a reclassification could get them to the NBA a year earlier (in order to be eligible for the NBA Draft an American player must be a year removed from high school and turn 19 at some point during the calendar year they’ll be drafted). And if they aren’t, then there’s always an agent waiting around the corner to educate them.
For those who can’t get to the NBA a year earlier, the idea of making NIL money for two years before making the professional leap is very appealing. Look no further than a player like Quaintance for an example of this.
“Look at Flagg and Quaintance,” an East Coast based assistant said to 247Sports. “Why would Cooper stay in high school through 2025 when his birthday allows him to go to the NBA in 2025 if he graduates in 2024. That kid isn’t just a potential No. 1 pick, he’s probably going to make a boatload of NIL money. Why on Earth wouldn’t he reclassify? I know Quaintance won’t be eligible for the draft until 2026 because he’s still only 16 years old, but he’s physically ready so why not make good money for two years instead of one?”
To make a long story short, from now on, fans should just assume that at least handful of the top-rated players a basketball rankings class will be enrolling in college early or taking an alternate professional route.
Could it be a five-star like Darryn Peterson, Bryson Tiller or Jasper Johnson from the class of 2025 that ends up in the current senior class alongside Flagg? Perhaps. But if not them, it’s going to be somebody else. That’s just the era we live in.