Top Of 2016 Is Loaded

Top Of 2016 Is Loaded
Joyner Holmes

The story of the class of 2016 is one of constant debate.  As many as six players have a reasonable argument for consideration as the No. 1 player in the class, depending on the lens you use to look at each player.  That’s not to say this class is without a No. 1 player.  The top of this class is as strong as any class in the past three years, at the least.

Coming into the summer of 2015 Lauren Cox of Flower Mound, Texas, held the top spot for the entirety of the time the class has been ranked.  She is the most decorated player when it comes to international competition, having won gold medals with three straight USA Basketball national teams – U16 at 2013 Americas, U17 at 2014 Worlds and U19 at 2015 Worlds. 

If was simply ranking past performance there is a high likelihood that Cox would have held the top spot from start to finish.  However, part of the ranking process is projecting how the player’s talent, skill set, size and potential will translate at the next level.

2016 ELITE 150 Rankings

The development of a player at the next level is not something that is measurable in real time, but by tracking the improvements these elite prospects show throughout their high school careers, as well as looking at their physical potential or athletic ceiling, some assumptions can be made in how the players are expected to perform at the next level.

The class of 2009 is a great example of this analysis playing out.  Brittney Griner, now the All Star post with the Phoenix Mercury, was not the predestined top player in the class immediately as Brianna Stewart was in 2012.  For a majority of the 2009 class’ career on the recruiting trail, Kelsey Bone, now with the Connecticut Sun, was the consensus No. 1 player. 

Some in the grassroots community were up in arms when we, then running the original, made a change at No. 1, elevating Griner to that spot.  Both have turned into terrific pros -- Bone averaged 15.4 points and 5.7 rebounds this season while Griner averaged 15.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4 blocks.  But in that instance, using the inexact science of projecting, most would say it was the right call. 

That’s not to say with any concrete certainty that Joyner Holmes of Cedar Hill, Texas, the new No. 1 prospect in the ELITE 150, will follow Griner’s path exactly.  What is known is that the growth in efficiency and productivity from Holmes this summer, combined with her incredible athletic upside, provides a strong argument.

A year ago the knock on Holmes’ game was, that for a player some referred to as “Lady Lebron”, she settled for far too many jump shots and didn’t have a game made to win big games.

Through 10 Nike EYBL games in April and July with the Cy-Fair Shock, Holmes proved to be a model of consistency while filling the mold of the hybrid wing-forward of the future.  She averaged 17.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game while shooting just under 50-percent from the field.  Mind you these stats were produced in 32 minute games.  Holmes played on a super talented team but she was the key cog in the program reaching the semifinals of Nike Nationals.

“(Holmes) was the most feared player on the circuit,” Kelly Sopak, the coach for the Nike Nationals champion Cal Stars, said, “at least for us.”

The Holmes-Cox debate will rage on throughout their senior seasons and for good reason.  Both have valid and convincing arguments for the mythical throne.  But their arguments aren’t the only ones being made this summer. 

2016 ELITE 150 Rankings


Up For Discussion

No. 3 Sabrina Ionescu of Walnut Creek, Calif., is simply a winner.  The 6-foot combo guard is crafty, composed and competitive.  She played on back-to-back gold medal winning USA Basketball teams, the U16 and U17 teams.  She played in two Nike Nationals championships in three years, capping off her final club season with a championship on that circuit.  She shot the 3-pointer above 40-percent and got to the line as often as any player in the class.  Her anticipation on defensive and will to win combined with her talent could easily have been enough to be considered the top player in the class.

No. 4 Crystal Dangerfield of Murfreesboro, Tenn., has been on the elite high school circuit since the eighth grade, playing with the Tennessee Flight until this past summer where she finished her club career with Kentucky Premier.  The 5-6 point guard led her Blackman High School team to the Tournament of Champions finals last winter, won gold with both the U16 USA team in 2013 and this past summer as one of only three underclass high school players on the U19 national team. 

No. 5 Jackie Young of Princeton, Ind., really emerged in the last 12 months as more than just a talented player.  She’s been a top 10 rated player for two years but her ability to control games and make plays in key moments was key to her short-handed (they had five players to finish July) Indy Gym Rats team to the championship game against the Stars at Nike Nationals.  She did all this while effectively playing on one leg, suffering from stress fractures. 


2016 ELITE 150 Rankings


Beyond The Top 5

The top 25 is loaded in 2016.  No. 6 Erin Boley of Hodenville, Ky., proving she is one of the most versatile forwards in the country and like we mentioned with Young, proved she can carry a team as the go-to player.

Destiny Slocum of Meridian, Idaho, lit the basketball world on fire with her dynamic point guard play, making the U19 national team this summer as an alternate.

No. 8 Tori McCoy is coming back from injury and was at one point considered a potential candidate for the No. 1 spot.  There is nothing stopping this gifted post player from doing that in her senior season either.

No. 9 Leonna Odom of Los Alamitos, Calif., was unguardable at times this summer and No. 10 Alecia Sutton of Florissant, Mo., showed her explosiveness at the point as well as the ability to run the show.

It begs repeating; this class is loaded

Aaliyah Wilson of Muskogee, Okla., was special this summer with DFW T-Jack.  She has always been regarded as a talented wing who can it but she made plays in key moments.  She was ranked in the top 20 coming into the summer so the jump to No. 14 might not be huge numerically but her impact sure was.

The biggest riser from the pre-summer ranking was Jamie Ruden of  Rochester, Minn.  The 6-1 power forward helped lead Minnesota Fury to a breakout summer and matching up with elite competition this summer, she proved she is on the same level.


2016 ELITE 150 Rankings

All 2016 Players

Committed Players by School

Chris Hansen is managing editor of and serves on the McDonald’s All-American and Naismith Trophy selection committees.  He was the national director of scouting for ESPN HoopGurlz from 2005 until 2012 and is the director of the Check Me Out Showcase.  He can be reached at

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