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"What Is A 5-Star Recruit?": Explaining how high school basketball prospect rankings work

ByScotty Jenkins

4 min read

"What Is A 5-Star Recruit?": Explaining how high school basketball prospect rankings work

High School basketball players like Bronny James are all over TV and social media nowadays, with analysts wondering which school they will choose or which brand deal they ay sign.

But, what does it really mean to be a five star recruit? And what are these ratings made up of? And who decides a certain players’ ranking anyway? Well, let's find out.

What is a recruit ranking for basketball players?

If you have been around high school sports or sports media in general, you may be familiar with the term “stars”. Every major basketball recruit rankings utilizes stars to rank players, and the highest number of stars a player can receive is 5 (i.e. "she's a 5-star basketball recruit"). A player can also be ranked a four-star, three-star, two-stars, or may not receive any star ranking. As you may have noticed, a player cannot receive a one-star ranking.

Some of the reputable ranking sources include 247 Basketball, Rivals Rank, Future 150, and ESPN. Basketball recruit rankings are based on a player’s positioning, their state, as well as the ranking of the basketball team they play for.

While rankings are certainly an inexact science, they may be helpful in understanding where you stand as a player in the college recruiting pool, and which type of schools to consider, or if you should consider continuing your sport into college.

That being said, recruiting rankings can be inaccurate and some of the highest ranked high school recruits fell flat in college. Others, have been lowly ranked in high school and bloomed into wonderful college and professional players. An example of this is Jimmy Butler - who was a former "2-star" coming out of high school and ranked nearly 2000th in his recruiting class - went on to become an NBA-all star and Olympian. Another example is Steph Curry who was unranked by Rivals Rank and 3-star recruit according to 247 Sports Ranked. Curry has obviously had an extremely successful career and just won his fourth NBA ring and an MVP trophy.


How do star rankings factor into college basketball recruiting?

The goals of the star rankings is to rank players and explain the impact and success they may have at playing in the next level. This helps college recruiters find players that are a good fit for their team and can handle the physicality as well as competitiveness on a larger stage.

Star rankings come about in several ways. The most common is by the use of analysts across the country who look at the top players and analyze film, in-person plays, etc. Other times, students may themselves posts “mixtapes” highlighting their best plays, techniques, etc.

What does each recruiting ranking actually mean?

With the information gathered by analysts, rating services will begin ranking players based on subgroups like position and also based upon geographic location.The following breaks down each prospect level:

Zero-Star Rankings

These players are not on the radar of Division I schools and usually end up waling on for DII, DIII or NAIA teams. However, a large percentage of players still do not play college basketball and it is a wonderful opportunity for those who get to walk on at any level.

Two-Star Rankings

There are no “One-star” prospects, and the rankings go from zero to two stars. Two-star prospects are often listed in rankings and have peaked interest of NCAA basketball recruits, especially from D-1 schools. Most two-star recruits do not expect to be starters at D-1 schools, nor do they expect to go pro after college.

Three-Star Rankings

Three star recruits are often ranked very high in their state or region and can often develop into starters for a D-1 team. They are also more likely to play professionally once their college career is over.

Four-Star Rankings

These players are also often ranked highly in their state, but also nationally. Four-star recruits only consists of a couple hundred people and are supposed to have a large impact  on their college teams. Players are also expected to play professionally after college.

Five-Star Rankings

Only a few dozen players receive this ranking and this ranking consists about 1 percent of the high schoolers ranked 2-stars and above.  Often, these students receive offers from some of the best Division-I basketball programs such as Duke, UNC, Michigan, and Kentucky. Many of these students are also expected to be “one and done” or spend only 1-2 years in college before turning pro.


What is a Blue Chip Prospects and Yellow Chip Prospects?

In addition to the stars, NCAA basketball recruiters also use the term blue chip prospects and yellow chip prospects. Blue chip prospects are those rated with 5- or 4 stars while yellow chip prospects have lower rating and have less of a demand from NCAA DI schools.

If you are a ranked high school basketball player it is a good idea to look at a site like ESPN or 247 Basketball to understand your ranking as well as your competition. This can help you understand what you are up agains.

In addition, these sites provide scouting reports which dive deeper into your rankings, and you can sometimes get sentences to paragraphs worth of observations and necessary improvements to get yourself higher rankings, or noticed by more college recruiters. They provide a player good insight into leadership, position fit, comfort around the basket, quickness, pace, and overall playmaking ability.

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