Now that high school talent evaluators have gotten their final looks at the players in the class of 2021, 247Sports released their last rankings for the group. 7-foot center Chet Holmgren (Minneapolis) who is heading to Gonzaga remains the No. 1 prospect while Wisconsin’s own Patrick Baldwin, Jr. (Sussex) clocks in at No. 5.
The Wisconsin Badgers have two players in the updated Top247, with PG Chucky Hepburn (Bellevue, Neb.) and wing Markus Ilver (Hudson, Ohio by way of Tallinn, Estonia) representing the squad. Hepburn made a big jump up the rankings, going from No. 129 to No. 107, and 247’s Eric Bossi noted:
Headed to a program that looks to be an ideal fit for him, Bellevue (Neb.) West point guard Chucky Hepburn earned a bump up to four-star status thanks to an outstanding senior season.
It isn’t just about his growth as a senior. Throughout his high school career, one of the things you could count on with Hepburn is that each time you saw him, he would be a little bit better than the last time. He can get hot from three, he’s a sneaky explosive athlete and what you really have to love about him is his willingness to take a challenge on the defensive end of the floor. He looks like he’s on his way to being a multiple year starter in Madison.
Ilver, who was a late addition to the Badgers’ class is rated as the No. 139 player in the class and made a pretty big jump up the rankings himself with Bossi mentioning him as a “potential surprise” in the class back in March.
Let’s take a look at how the rest of the conference looks in the final rankings because a number of talented freshman are heading to the Big Ten and we should probably get to know their names now so we can shout at them properly come next season. First, here are the full composite rankings for the whole Big Ten (all rankings per 247Sports).
2021 Team Rankings
It is worth noting the “prospect average” column because that can help you understand some things a little more clearly. Like Nebraska, for instance, has some top end talent in the class (one 5-star and one 4-star) but the other three players are really bringing the class average down. Wisconsin has four solid players which puts them above Purdue who has two near 5-stars and one walk-on level recruit.
One could make the argument that having a smaller class with blue-chip talent is better than having a Wisconsin-like solid class with four rotational contributors since basketball is a sport that can hinge on star-talent more than any other...but that’s probably a discussion for another post.
Now, let’s touch on some of the high-end talent and see who could be an all-conference performer in their first year on campus.
Michigan: The Wolverines have a STACKED class. The top two players are both bigs from basketball powerhouses in Florida, 6-foot-10 Moussa Diabite (IMG Academy) and 6-foot-8 Caleb Houstan (Montverde Academy). In the 247 recruiting rankings era, these are the top two commits to ever go to Michigan. Juwan Howard recruited an entirely new starting five (and a sixth man!) in his 2021 class and, quite frankly, you have to be really impressed.
Michigan State: The Spartans have a higher recruit average than Michigan, but also half of the overall recruits so you can see why they’re ranked they way they are. The top get for Tom Izzo is a player that Wisconsin recruiting followers should be familiar with, 5-star Max Christie (Rolling Meadows, Ill.). The sweet-shooting 6-foot-6 wing should slot right into MSU’s starting lineup and give them a boost immediately.
Nebraska: 5-star SG Bryce McGowens out of South Carolina shocked (at least) me when he picked the Huskers for college. He should step on to campus and be their best player instantly. He is also the best recruit Nebraska has gotten in the recruiting rankings era. The third best prospect the Huskers have ever gotten? 2021 4-star C Wilhelm Breidenbach out of California.
Purdue: The Boilermakers have a pair of 4-star in-state big men in 6-foot-8 Trey Kaufman and 6-foot-8 Caleb Furst. I’m just excited that they don’t have another 7-foot-2 monster that they made in a lab below Mackey Arena ready yet.
Indiana: The Hoosiers have two 4-star prospects coming in with 6-foot-4 SG Tamar Bates (IMG Academy) and 6-foot-9 C Logan Duncomb (Cincinnati). Duncomb was a player that they Badgers were after as well so it will be interesting to compare his development to UW commit Chris Hodges.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes reeled in a talented 4-star SG Malaki Branham (Akron, Ohio) out of the same high school as LeBron James, which I’m sure is a completely reasonable comparison. The 6-foot-4 Branham looks like a very good player but maybe we’ll hold off on the LeBron comparisons for now.