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March 28, 2014

Jackson tops expanded class of 2016 rankings

RANKINGS: Class of 2014 - 2015 - 2016

There are still a lot of players to see from the class of 2016, and there will be plenty of players putting themselves on the national radar this spring. But after a long winter it is time to not only update but expand our initial top 35 from the class to a top 60. While the list expands, the player at the top remains the same as Detroit shooting guard Josh Jackson holds down the top spot heading into the grassroots/travel ball season.

Top five creating separation

Ever since the class of 2016 first started making noise on the national level last year, the core group of No. 1 Josh Jackson, No. 2 Harry Giles, No. 3 Thon Maker and No. 4 Jayson Tatum has maintained a level of separation from the rest of their classmates. As far as Rivals.com is concerned, No. 5 Seventh Woods has made his way into that group.

Since he is at the top, we'll start with Jackson. A lengthy 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Detroit (Mich.) Consortium, Jackson is a gifted athlete with every tool an elite wing scorer needs. Jackson can shoot from deep, he creates off the dribble and he can finish above the rim in traffic. While skinny, Jackson displays toughness on both ends of the floor and is as good a defender as there is in the sophomore class.

Despite missing his entire sophomore season after suffering a major knee injury during the summer of 2013, Giles deserves to stay in the second spot. A 6-foot-9 forward with length and athleticism, the High Point (N.C.) Wesleyan product is right out of the new age hybrid forward mold because he can play above the rim but also face the hoop and attack off the dribble a bit.

Standing nearly seven-feet tall, Maker is highly productive and versatile. Not saying that he is Kevin Garnett, but the big man from the Carlisle (Va.) School has a frame and athleticism that is similar to that of a young KG. Maker is a shot blocker, a force on the glass and can really get out and move in transition. Most impressive about Maker is that he is a pretty good ball handler and a very good shooter between 12 and 17 feet, given his youth and size.

[ THE LIST: Updated Class of 2016 Top 60 ]

Probably the most highly skilled of the 2016 top five, Tatum is a 6-foot-7 do-it-all wing at St. Louis (Mo.) Chaminade. The school has produced NBA talents such as David Lee and Bradley Beal, and Tatum is looking more and more like a safe bet to one day follow in their footsteps. Although he isn't an overwhelming athlete, he has an incredibly high basketball IQ and can play anywhere from the point guard to the power forward on the high school level.

Pushing his way into elite status in the class of 2016 is Woods. A truly freaky athlete who became a YouTube sensation because of his electrifying dunking as a freshman, the 6-foot-2 point guard at Columbia (S.C.) Hammond School has quietly been building his game. Because he's so athletic, Woods sometimes moves too fast for his own good, but defenders are almost powerless when it comes to keeping him in front of them, his jump shot has developed nicely, and he has much more of a killer instinct on the court. He still has a lot of work to does, but the raw tools are too impressive to ignore at this point.

Eric Bossi is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.


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