The final edition of the 247Sports ranking of the 150 best basketball prospects of the class of 2022 is over.
It’s only fitting that we close the standings for this outgoing senior class with a new player #1, combo guard bound for Arkansas Nick Smith. After all, the top of the leaderboard has been a virtual revolving door which, to date, has seen five different players occupy the top spot.
A little less than a year ago, Emoni Bates was passed for first place by his basic teammate Jalen Duren. They each signed up early in Memphis, paving the way for shooting guard Shaedon Sharpe to take first place. Sharpe then entered himself early, paving the way for another guy who played with Bates and Duren in the tag team final – Animated Dereck II – to take control of the top spot. Now Smith takes the No. 1 spot as his own, jumping from No. 5.
CLICK HERE FOR THE FINAL 2022 PLAYER RANKING
Why is Smith number 1? What could the class of 2022 have looked like without reclassification and who was driving it during the final ranking update?
Let’s dive in.
ARKANSAS-SIGNED NICK SMITH TAKES FIRST PLACE
Smith’s rise to the top spot has been steady and continuous since he first entered the rankings as a top 40 player in September 2019. He’s only gone up from there in as a 6-foot-4 combo guard at North Little Rock (Ark.) High methodically picked and outplayed those who came before him.
By November 2020, Smith had cracked the top 25. He entered the top 10 in September 2021, made the top five earlier this year and now he sits above others in his class.
“It’s cool, I mean I’ve never really been the No. 1 player in the country before,” Smith told 247Sports. “It’s been a good trip for me to show my talent on the pitch and it’s really a blessing to see someone think I’m the No. 1 player in class.”
So what makes Smith number 1? Today’s game dictates that guards must be able to generate their own attack. Whether it’s a pick and roll action, a shot clock running out, or just a situation where a guy has to go play, if a guard can’t generate an attack by him itself, its ceiling will be limited. Smith can do it all and he does it with an electric first step, rim bounce and a bit of flair.
Add to that he can score from deep, is just starting to grow in his long, lean frame, and is an absolute sponge to soak up knowledge about the game and you have a guy 247Sports is on. bet on the long term. Certainly, Smith has the mindset to match his new ranking and he’ll carry it to the floor with him from now on.
“Every time I walk on the court I feel like the best player there and that’s just the mindset my dad always raised me in,” Smith said. . “Where I grew up, you were either going to be killed or you were going to be eaten. So coming into the game with that killer mentality and knowing the game of basketball and playing good basketball is one of the things that I try to integrate every time.
MITCHELL (TEXAS) AND WHITMORE (VILLANOVA) FALL INTO THE TOP 10
While Smith has gone from No. 5 to No. 1 in 2022, there hasn’t been too much of a change in the top 10. Derek Lively’s fall from No. 1 hasn’t been significant, as the future Duke’s center landed at No. 2. and it was followed by future teammates Dariq Whitehead and Kyle Filipowski at No. 3 and No. 4. Rounding out the top five, the Kentucky-bound combo guard Cason Wallace, who rose from No. 5 to No. 6 thanks to a strong run through the postseason All-Star circuit.
The big man from Oregon also remained in the top 10 Kel’el Ware at No. 6, Baylor shooting guard George Keyonte (No. 8) and UCLA combo guard Amari Bailey (#9).
Crush the top 10 when the final standings were Dillon Mitchell (Texas) at No. 7 and Cam Whitmore (Villanova) at #10. These are the latest examples where it’s about where you end, not where you start.
A top-flight winger heading to Texas, Mitchell is perhaps the premier wing defender in the class, his offense is emerging and his rise in the rankings has been something to behold as in this era the last year he only placed 146th in the class.
Like Mitchell, Whitmore’s rise has been meteoric. A tough, athletic forward from Baltimore who is tagged for Villanova, Whitmore only ranked No. 111 overall a year ago. However, he saw his stock soar during June when he played with high school teammates in front of coaches and his momentum continued throughout the final standings.
2022 COULD LOOK MUCH DIFFERENT
The reclassifications and new professional options will go down in history for the major role they played in shaping the final 2022 rankings.
The trend of players retraining, or graduating early if you will, isn’t new, but it’s certainly been gaining momentum. After the 2020 rankings were finalized, 19 players in 2021 chose to move up a class and into the 2020 rankings. After the 2021 rankings were completed, 12 players who were due to graduate in 2022 either registered early or graduated early to pursue other options. It was to be expected and it will surely happen again this year. Among the most notable to join early were former No. 1s Emoni Bates, Jalen Duren and Shaedon Sharpe
What is new, however, is the creation of Overtime Elite. While the G League has only claimed one potentially rankable player from the Class of 2022 (point guard Scoota Henderson who most likely would have landed at No. 1 had he stayed in 2022 instead of graduating a year earlier), OTE claimed five others who would have made the class rankings. Guys like five star twins Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson are still in the class of 2022 and are not eligible for the NBA Draft until June 2023. But they are at the same time pros and therefore excluded from the classification.
Overall, the class of 2022 is a solid class. However, if you were to add almost 20 players who could have been nationally ranked, that would have been considered strong enough. Consider the crop of players who could have been ranked No. 1: Bates, Duren, Henderson, Sharpe and the two Thompson twins, plus Smith of course.
What these guys might have been ranked in shouldn’t take away from those who stayed in 2022. However, this is something that will need to be taken into account later when we assess how this class fared.
MOVERS, SHAKERS AND ALWAYS ON ADVICE
A total of seven players made their debuts in the final 2022 rankings. Leading the way was the small Canadian forward Leonard Miller who we place at No. 26 overall as a four-star prospect. A big wing with some potential as a jump shooter, Miller is actually NBA draft eligible and declared for the draft. But he retains his college eligibility and will choose Arizona or Kentucky if he chooses the college route and is the second-highest ranked player remaining on the roster. Some others in the industry are higher on Miller, but given how late he appeared and how little we saw of him compared to the rest of his class, we chose to go the conservative route with Miller .
Among the other newcomers were three others who made their debuts as four-star prospects, including the New Mexico-bound playmaker. Tooth Donovan (103), Marquette signed Chase Ross (121) Kentucky’s newest addition Adou Thiero which lands at No. 124.
Because this is the final ranking and we’ve made so many adjustments over the past few years, there aren’t as many massive moves in the rankings. However, Orlando (Florida) Dr. Phillips shooter Riley Kugel begs to differ after jumping 52 big places from No. 100 to No. 48 overall. Formerly committed to Mississippi State, he is the third-highest ranked player who still hasn’t decided on his college future. Right on his heels is Dayton bound small forward Mike Sharavjamts which made a 48-place climb from No. 150 to No. 102.
Only five members of the top 150 remain undecided about college. Miller and Kugel were mentioned above and the only remaining five stars on the board Julian Phillips (#18) will announce his college decision on Thursday. After these three only n°123 Bobi Klintman (who recently disengaged from Colorado) and No. 144 Shawn Phillips (scheduled to announce next week) are still available.