If you judge a senior class by its strength at the top, then 2017 could arguably be one of the best in decades.
A who’s who list of blue-blood programs will have a shot at former Apple Valley and now Prolific Prep (Calif.) standout Gary Trent Jr., arguably the top shooting guard in the nation.
Texas recruit Jericho Sims, an athletic 6-9 forward from Cristo Rey Jesuit, went from having Nebraska as his best scholarship offer last year to being offered by Kansas and receiving heavy interest from North Carolina last month. He's now a top-50 prospect.
Trent, Sims, Lakeville North's Nathan Reuvers (Wisconsin recruit), Maple Grove's Brad Davison (Wisconsin) and Champlin Park's Theo John (Marquette) and McKinley Wright (Dayton) were all top 100 prospects at some point. You also have players of note in the class such as DeLaSalle's Goanar Mar (George Mason) and Hopkins' Ishmael El-Amin, who has several Division I scholarship offers.
“I think our class is one of the best classes in Minnesota history,” Wright said last month. “This class is deep. Regardless of where everyone goes (to college), we’re going to represent Minnesota.”
There haven't been many Minnesota high school classes in the last 20 years with three or more top 100 players nationally. Some years there are none.
Which recent classes can compete with 2017? Three come to mind 2007, 2009 and 2014.
The 2007 class featured Bloomington Jefferson’s Cole Aldrich (Kansas), Orono’s Jon Leuer (Wisconsin), St. Bernard’s Trevor Mbakwe (Marquette and Minnesota), Hopkins’ Blake Hoffarber (Minnesota) and Henry’s Al Nolen (Minnesota). All five players were offered by the Gophers. Braham's Noah Dahlman (Wofford) was also in this class.
Aldrich and Leuer are in the NBA with the Timberwolves and Detroit Pistons, respectively. Mbakwe is enjoying a successful career overseas.
The 2009 class featured Hopkins' Royce White (Minnesota and Iowa State), Cooper’s Rodney Williams Jr. (Minnesota), Henry Sibley’s Mike Bruesewitz (Wisconsin), Hopkins’ Mike Broghammer (Notre Dame) and Trent Lockett (Arizona State and Marquette), St. Cloud Tech’s Nate Wolters (South Dakota State) and Roseville’s Mike Muscala (Bucknell). White, Wolters and Muscala were selected in the NBA draft.
The 2014 class almost needs no introduction. Wolves guard and ex-Apple Valley star Tyus Jones is one of the best high school players the state's ever produced. Jones and North's Khalid El-Amin are both on the Mount Rushmore of Minnesota prep hoops for what they did winning national titles at Duke and UCONN, respectively. But back to this 2014 class. So there's also Cooper's Rashad Vaughn, who is in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks. DeLaSalle's Reid Travis could have a breakout year coming off an injury last season at Stanford. And Lakeville North's JP Macura is last but definitely not least when it comes to potential impact in college. Look for him to help Xavier do big things this year.
The Big Four as we should call them were all top 100 recruits in their class. But the state's talent drops off after that. That's why this group can't hang with 2007, 2009 or 2017 when it comes to deepest.
I did a recent podcast with the One-and-Done show where GopherIllusrated.com's Ryan James and I debate which Minnesota prep class is the best in recent history. My pick is 2007. What's yours?