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Rivals Roundtable: Top spot in 2022 rankings, 2021 in review

Rivals.com’s Rob Cassidy and Jamie Shaw weigh in on three topics from around the basketball world. Today, they look back at the year that was, discuss the COVID surge impacting the sport and log their picks for the vacant top spot in the 2022 rankings.

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More: Duke stays red hot, lands four-star forward Sean Stewart

2022 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2023 Rankings: Rivals150

2024 Rankings: Top 40

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1. Cards on the table time, who are you pushing to be No. 1 in the 2022 class now that the top spot is vacant?

Kyle Filipowski
Kyle Filipowski (Rivals.com)

Cassidy: Like Jamie, I like Kyle Filipowski and think he is certainly in line to challenge for that top spot late in the season or after the McDonald’s All-American Game, but the more I watch Dariq Whitehead the more I think he could be the next man up. Whitehead has proven it against top-flight competition so far this season and seems to have taken the next step as both a defender and a jump shooter. No prospect in the class if more complete or battle-tested.

Shaw: Kyle Filipowski. For me, he was in the conversation with Shaedon Sharpe the last go around, and Filipowski has done nothing but further solidify himself since. At 6-foot-11, Filipowski is very skilled, an excellent passer who can initiate, and plays mean. Just so many likable, translatable qualities in a big. His trajectory of improvement has been great; he has dominated all comers, be it on the EYBL or in the NEPSAC, and he continues to go out every night and prove it. I will also give a hat-tip to Dariq Whitehead and the incredible start to the season he has had.

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2. When you look back at 2021 as a whole, what's your top basketball-related takeaway?

AJ Griffin
AJ Griffin (USA Today Sports Images)

Cassidy: This is the year of Name, Image and Likeness. Less than a full year into the new NIL rules, we’re seeing the recruiting landscape undergo drastic changes. Prospects that would have opted for the pro route have landed in college, and programs with national brands are becoming even stronger than they were before the rules took effect. The rich are certainly getting richer from a recruiting standpoint, but it’s nice seeing players finally getting the chance to pocket some of the revenue they create. They still need to be paid more – preferably by the schools that they represent– but this is a start.

Shaw: The transfer portal. Not only has the portal changed college basketball, but it has also changed recruiting. But the thing of it all is we are still not sure how it has changed things. Programs are still deciding how to recruit, develop high school kids, take grad transfers, go after first- or second-year lower-level guys who have seen success. Then you have junior college and prep school recruiting. So many options are now there to make recruiting and building a team simply not as cut and dry as it once was.

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3. With the sudden surge in COVID cases, should conferences make teams unable to play forfeit games?

Mick Cronin
Mick Cronin (USA Today Sports Images)

Cassidy: It’s nice to see some conferences revisiting their preseason stance when it comes to this because making teams forfeit crucial games for situations beyond their control is downright insane, when asymptomatic players are being forced to sit. Instituting forfeit losses would make qualifying for the NCAA Tournament as a bubble team a total crapshoot based on luck. The fact that most leagues have changed their minds on the forfeit front is the rare example of college athletics responding well on the fly.

Shaw: No. I agree with what Rob said here and don’t really have much to add. However, to emphasize my disagreement with current policy, I do want to reiterate his ‘vaccinated, asymptomatic players being forced to be tested and sit’ part.