The era of reclassification in high school basketball has firmly established itself and is here to stay.
Rather than spreading out updates across several weeks or even a month, it’s becoming increasingly practical to consolidate them into a single day. This shift is because determining the graduation year of today’s top basketball prospects has become more challenging than ever before.
Much like the impact of NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) and the transfer portal on college sports, high school athletics, particularly high school basketball, is experiencing a transformative period known as the “Era of Reclassification.” And it’s a phenomenon that shows no signs of fading away.
Not too long ago, “reclassification” often implied academic struggles or poor grades. In the early 2000s and even as recently as the early 2010s, reclassification was primarily associated with students who needed an extra year of high school coursework to become eligible for college. In rare instances where a player did reclassify, it typically meant moving to their originally designated class.
Those days have now become distant memories. Reclassifying to an older class has become increasingly common. More and more players are legitimately skipping a year of high school to enter college campuses a year ahead.
Former NBA Rookie of the Year, Andrew Wiggins, was among the early trailblazers in redefining reclassification, notably when he was the top recruit in 2013. However, at that time, reclassification was still relatively rare and applied only in specific cases. It was not until Marvin Bagley’s reclassification into the 2017 class, securing the top spot, that the floodgates truly opened.
Bagley’s influence persists today. A prime example is the class of 2024, where Cooper Flagg recently moved up from the class of 2025, similarly securing the top spot. Flagg wasn’t alone; he was joined by top 10 big man Jayden Quaintance.
In the 2026 class, AJ Dybantsa has recently emerged as the No. 1 player. Though he hasn’t publicly confirmed it yet, there’s widespread speculation in recruiting circles that he will move up to the class of 2025. If Flagg, Dybantsa, and Quaintance serve as indicators, it’s safe to anticipate many more players in the 2024, 2025, and 2026 classes making similar transitions.
This trend is now undeniable. In the final rankings of the class of 2023, at least seven of the top 51 players had, at some point, been listed in the class of 2024. The same pattern emerged in previous years, with notable examples like North Carolina freshman Elliot Cadeau in 2022 and NBA Draft pick Scoot Henderson in 2021. These reclassifications show no signs of slowing down, prompting recruiters to adapt and anticipate these shifts.
The reasons behind this reclassification trend are clear. The NBA no longer permits players to enter the draft directly out of high school, and the introduction of NIL opportunities at top college programs has led elite players to seek quicker paths to the NBA to maximize their earnings.
Programs like Overtime Elite, the NBA G League’s Ignite, and international professional options have added to the allure of high school stars, pushing college programs to find ways to secure these top prospects, even if it means navigating the reclassification process.
Families and prospects are increasingly aware of the potential advantages of reclassification, such as earlier NBA eligibility and the opportunity to capitalize on NIL opportunities before becoming professional. It’s a strategic decision that can benefit both players and programs.
In summary, it’s safe to assume that a significant number of top-rated players in basketball rankings classes will either enroll in college early or explore alternative professional routes. Whether it’s a five-star prospect from the class of 2025 or someone else, reclassification has become a defining feature of the current basketball landscape.