Posted On: 02/14/19 1:47 PM

The numbers don’t lie. When we compile data on how many people are reading individual articles on Prep Girls Hoops, it is pretty obvious that the most popular items are the player rankings and evaluations. Hopefully the other stuff is informative and entertaining, too, but it is the ranking of individual prospects by class that always draws the most attention. That means there are going to be a lot of extra eyeballs in these parts over the next week or so because it’s time for the winter rankings update. If you are not yet a subscriber this might be a good time to take care of that. (Thanks in advance!)

The evaluations are in, the data has been tabulated and the rankings have been reshuffled. There are a ton of new faces joining the fray. We have added 25 more players in the class of 2022 for a total of 75. There are 25 more on the 2021 list, as well, for a total of 125. Even the upper classes have some new faces – 6 in 2020 and 3 in 2019 with a total of 150 players on each list. Add it all up and that’s 59 new faces and a total of 500 ranked players.


The question we always get asked – sometimes out of curiosity and sometimes with a taste of bitterness – is how do we evaluate the players and decide where to rank them. Here are 10 things you need to know about that and how the rankings come together.

#1. There are a lot of people involved. More than 20 basketball folks from around the state take part each time the rankings are updated, and it’s not always the same people.

#2. All evaluators are granted anonymity so they don’t have to make it public that they like someone else’s player better than their own. I am the only one who knows who the evaluators are.

#3. Participants come from a variety of perspectives. We have current and former AAU coaches, current and former high school coaches, long-time basketball observers as well as D1, D2 and D3 college coaches. There are males and females; people of various ethnic backgrounds; urban and rural folks; and an age range from early 20s to late 60s.

#4. We watch a ton of basketball. This high school season I have seen more than 125 teams play. I attend every summer AAU event and average about 20 hours of viewing per event. We go to open gyms and practices and training sessions and showcases. Everyone involved is in the gym all the time.

#5. We don’t pay the evaluators. The evaluators don’t pay us. Players cannot pay for a place in the rankings.

#6. If there is no clear consensus on the top players in each class we give the last word to the people with the most influence – college coaches. In last fall’s first ranking of the 2022 class, for example, it was three high Division 1 coaches who provided the final input.

#7. Geography matters. Although we try to watch players across the state as much as possible it isn’t easy. All of our evaluators have other jobs, and many of the rural Class A and AA schools do not play on Saturdays. It doesn’t help that many of their high school coaches don’t take the time to post individual stats.

#8. AAU matters. In the winter update we are obviously adding players who are having great high school seasons and kids who don’t play AAU. But the reality is, if you don’t play AAU your chances of making our list (and playing college basketball for that matter) are significantly diminished.

#9. Seniors who make it clear that they are pursuing a different sport at the college level will likely see their ranking drop. Why? Because a talented athlete with options who decides to play soccer (Taylie Scott of Heritage Christian, for example) or volleyball (like Abigail Groeneweg of Forest Lake) is no longer a good college basketball prospect. Scott is every bit as good a basketball player as she was a month ago but she is no longer a great prospect.

#10. Most importantly, this list is about college potential, not current performance. Let me repeat that. This list is about college potential, not current performance. That’s why a gangly freshman who has barely cracked the varsity lineup can be ranked 30 spots ahead of a highly-skilled guard who is a starter. If the gangly freshman is 6’3 and super athletic, she’s going to be near the top of the list because those kids are few and far between.

Does the process work? For the most part it does. Since the beginning of Northstar Girls Hoops (now Prep Girls Hoops), the list has been remarkably accurate. Generally the players who end up in Division 1 are ranked in the top 30-35 spots. Division 2 players generally fall in the 20-80 range. Of course some players with D1 offers choose to go D2. And some kids who belong in the 100-150 range get missed altogether. Others cannot make the grade academically so their status as a top 20 player is meaningless. In the big picture, however, it tends to work out.

Watch for the new rankings as they are released class by class in the days ahead.

Top photo: Junior Ella Grove of Alexandria is one of the most improved players in Minnesota this year and her updated ranking in the Class of 2020 will reflect that. The 6-foot forward is rising more than 50 places on the list. (Photo courtesy of the Echo-Press)