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How Jalen Duren fits with Memphis, and where Duren and Emoni Bates rank in the revised ESPN 100

The college basketball recruiting world experienced two seismic moves this week, as five-star prospects Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren both reclassified from 2022 to the class of 2021.

Bates revealed his move on Wednesday, along with the final challengers for his services on the basketball court in 2021-22. Duren announced he would be reclassifying on Friday, also revealing that he would be playing for Penny Hardaway and Memphis this season.

In light of those events, we took a look at how Duren will fit with the Tigers, and also the repercussions for the ESPN 100 recruiting rankings as two of the game’s top players moved from the 2022 rankings to the 2021 rankings.

How Duren fits with Memphis

There will be plenty of talent surrounding Duren next season at Memphis, very similar to his previous squads with Team Final or Montverde Academy. He will be complemented by shooters, scorers and playmakers to set him up for success.

Landers Nolley II (13.1 PPG), DeAndre Williams (11.7 PPG) and Lester Quinones (9.5 PPG, 40% from 3) all return for the Tigers, and Miami transfer Earl Timberlake (9.3 PPG) brings another bona fide scoring threat. Duren is not the type to take over a game with his scoring but has to be respected, and when he draws two defenders, Duren’s passing is impressive. The pressure to put up big points won’t be there for Duren, but he will likely change many games with a rebound or a crunch-time block. There also won’t be many in the college game who can physically match up with Duren, so expect him to score or get fouled regularly in the paint.

Duren could be the missing piece to cast Memphis as the favorite in the American, and gives the Tigers a shot at a deep run in the NCAA tournament. The next question, of course, is whether the Tigers will land fellow 2021 reclassifier Bates too. Bates has Memphis, Oregon and the NBA G League on his list.

Where Bates and Duren rank in the 2021 class

Bates and Duren ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the 2022 class before deciding to reclassify.

In most cases when a player moves up a class his ranking drops considerably, because he is now being evaluated against older and more established stars in the game. Both Bates and Duren will indeed see their rankings take a slight hit — Bates will finish at No. 3 in the 2021 class, and Duren at No. 7 — with the high quality of the players above them the most important part of that evaluation.

Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga, No. 1), Jaden Hardy (G League Ignite, No. 2), Paolo Banchero (Duke, No. 4), Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Milwaukee, No. 5) and Jabari Smith (Auburn, No. 6) are the other members of the top seven, along with Bates and Duren.

The rate of improvement, along with a proven and successful track record, kept Holmgren and Hardy in the top two spots.

Holmgren has established himself as the best player on both ends of the floor, and remains the favorite as the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA draft. Holmgren is the ultimate rim protector and shot changer with his 7-foot frame, which includes an enormous wingspan of 7-6 and a standing reach that can change any shot. Offensively he is unique, a fluid and legitimate 3-point shooter with handle to put the ball on the deck and go past defenders.

Hardy was the best offensive player in the high school game, and reports of his workouts with professionals in Las Vegas have been glowing. The 6-4 guard has gotten stronger and his ability to take contact and finish has been elevated to another level. Hardy also is a much more aware and committed defender, especially on the ball. He has the gift of making tough shots look easy with balance, elevation and the footwork needed to get into his shot quickly with playmaking vision.

Bates was the best 15-year-old I’d evaluated in a long time. At that time he possessed size, speed, natural ball skills in the open floor and a knack to take and make a long-range jumper or score in the paint with body control and bounce. It was all there, and still is. He has all the baseline tools and talent needed to be an NBA All-Star, but the process will require him to be coachable and address his necessary areas of growth.

As a 17-year-old this past year, Bates’ scoring ability remained elite although not efficient enough — his shot quality and learning how to play with new teammates have been part of his learning curve. His overall intensity is there, but he demonstrates too much of it when he loses his cool. Bates’ defense clearly needs attention, but most who are highly ranked get there on offense, not defense.

No. 4 Banchero is super-skilled, rebounds and has an understanding of spacing and team play. His frame has made big changes, and his stamina and mobility have been impressive. He will stretch the floor at Duke with his jumper, though he can also play inside and at the high post.

The skill, shooting, size and basketball acumen of No. 5 Baldwin and No. 6 Smith are what the next level covets and those two players have established their skill and potential in the game with evolving productivity.

Duren fits in at No. 7. He has picked up his game effort, which was good but needed to be better and more consistent if it was going to sustain his lofty ranking in a new class. The best power player in the game, Duren had a tremendous summer at Peach Jam, demonstrating physical tools such as power, girth, secure hands and much improved footwork and touch. The game still needs powerful players who can do work in the paint, on the blocks and finish at the rim. As a big man, his position does not carry the same value at the NBA level that it once did, but it is still needed.

“When you add Bates and Duren to what was already a good class, I think the biggest takeaway is the collective strength of the group,” ESPN recruiting analyst Adam Finkelstein said of the 2021 group. “Reasonable evaluators could project the first five or six players in a variety of different orders moving forward, but I am very confident that they all have outstanding potential, both next year and beyond.”

With Bates and Duren now gone from the 2022 class, UCLA commitment and guard Amari Bailey will slide up from No. 3 to the No. 1 spot — at least for now. This class is still in an evaluation period for our updated rankings, scheduled to be released the week of Aug. 30th. To fill the new openings in the ESPN 100, prospects Jaden Schutt and Leon Bond (committed to Virginia) have found their way into the rankings ahead of ESPN’s next release.

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