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August 7, 2007
What did we learn while traveling the country for the last two months?
For starters, the more things changed, the more they stayed the same in the updated Class of 2008 Rivals150.
Monroe surges in the summer
Since Rivals.com began ranking the class of 2008, Greg Monroe has been our No. 1 player. The 6-foot-10 forward from Louisiana has been up and down in terms of his production, but his potential and overall skill set for a player of his size has always been intriguing.
Rivals.com National Basketball Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer said he anticipated a challenge from the rest of the class for the top spot. Instead, Monroe solidified his position as the No. 1 prospect in his class.
"Even though Greg Monroe has always been our No. 1 player in the 2008 class, we felt he needed to prove something to us in the month of July in order to hold his rank," Meyer said.
"Monroe did answer our questions. Starting in Colorado Springs (at the USA Youth Development Festival) and ending in Portland, Ore. (at the Nike Global Challenge), Monroe exhibited a more aggressive and dominating style of play. He had the kinds of performances that you want to see from an elite big man. He started his game inside before working to the outside, showed a penchant for scoring in traffic and chased down basketballs outside his area."
Monroe averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds at the elite events and showed off his versatility.
Monroe held on to the top spot, but the competition certainly made a push.
DeRozan almost does it
Demar DeRozan, a USC commitment, shined equally as bright at the national events. He put on impressive performances at the USA Youth Development Festival and the LeBron James Skills Academy. The 6-foot-5 Compton, Calif., native came close to taking the top spot.
"The one player who really challenged Monroe for the No. 1 spot was Demar DeRozan," Meyer said. "With NBA size and athleticism at the shooting guard position, DeRozan is an impossible one-on-one matchup. Defenders just can't get to his shot because of his explosiveness to the rim his fluid step-back jumper. I can see DeRozan putting up all-star numbers in the NBA one day."
Rounding out the five-stars
There were few changes in the five-stars with only four players making debuts in the five-star rankings.
After a dazzling showing at the Nike Hoop Jamboree, Sudanese center John Riek debuts at No. 5 overall. The 7-foot-2 center dominated defensively and looked good on offense at the LeBron James Skills Academy. Riek's actual graduating year is uncertain. He could enter college as soon as the semester break, or he could even be reclassified to the class of 2009. Whatever the case, Riek is one of the most intriguing prospects in the country.
Texas center J'Mison Morgan moved up from No. 39 to 23rd in the latest ranking. The 6-foot-10 prospect hails from South Oak Cliff High School in the Dallas area.
Odds & Ends
There is a noticeable theme in the class of 2008: big men rule the class. Of the top 50 prospects, 17 are power forwards and 10 are centers.
Twenty-three players are making their debuts in the Rivals150. Southern Illinois commitment Anthony Booker made one of the biggest jumps. Booker went from an unranked (and unevaluated) prospect to No. 29 in the nation. Guard Deividas Dulkys climbed from No. 149 to 67th.
More than half of the players in the Rivals150 are committed to schools. As of Tuesday, Aug. 7, 90 players have found a place to call home as college freshmen.