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We can be pretty sure Jahlil Okafor, Emmanuel Mudiay and Cliff Alexander will be stars the first time they step on the court for Duke, SMU and Kansas, respectively. Such is not the case for players rated just several spots below them.
A review of past recruiting rankings shows us that a player rated among the top five or six recruits by all the major recruiting services in a given year can expect instant stardom in college.
Players ranked between six and 10 often have a significant impact as well, although they are not always instant stars.
Players rated between 11 and 25 generally get playing time as freshmen. A few of them will emerge as major contributors, and a few will disappear into obscurity.
Once you get past No. 25, the likelihood of success is pretty much the same for everyone in the remaining top 100. The differences among those players are almost indistinguishable.
In other words, it's easy to spot the players who will become freshman stars. Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Andrew Wiggins and Aaron Gordon were rated the top four incoming freshmen by Rivals.com, ESPN.com, and Scout,com, and they have already separated themselves from the other freshmen this season.
Anthony Davis, Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Tyreke Evans and Kevin Love all were rated among the top handful of recruits their senior year of high school and became college stars as freshmen.
Beyond those top few, though, it's difficult, if not impossible, to project the impact players. There is a definite division between the several elite recruits and the rest of the pack. A player rated No. 2 has a much greater chance for college success than a player rated No. 15. Furthermore, a player rated, say, No. 35 is no more likely to make it big than a player ranked No. 78.
Only Duke, SMU and Kansas should feel confident the players they signed during this year's early signing period will be stars next season.