Looks Like University Of Illinois - Ramses Melendez
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I always thought I would run out of "see here's the thing..." openers to LLUOI posts. Eventually, I'd just write "here's a player who committed to Illinois and here's what I think about him". But here we are, 7 years into LLUOI, and, well, see, here's the thing....
As you know, I'm perhaps the biggest RSCI fan on earth. I've tracked it since someone posted a link on the Big Ten Fan Forums in 1998. I truly, TRULY believe that if there were an RSCI trivia contest, I would finish second only to Jeff, the guy who runs the RSCI. I contacted him so many times with corrections and questions about certain players that he now emails me every time the new RSCI is updated. The second post I wrote after moving from my blog over to IlliniBoard: an interview with Jeff the RSCI guy.
A few years after that (and more than 15 years after Jeff started the RSCI), 247 Sports copied Jeff's idea. They made their own list of the other recruiting services and combined all of the rankings into a "Composite" score. It was smart, and someone was going to eventually do it, and I'll probably always use it for football, but with basketball, I'll remain an RSCI man.
In the latest RSCI (from September), Ramses Melendez isn't listed. But the rankings have updated since then, so we can form our own RSCI ranking of sorts. The RSCI uses four rankings now (the three from the 247 Composite plus Van Coleman), and here's where Melendez ranks in those:
Van Coleman: 94th
This isn't how Jeff at RSCI does his formula (he assigns points for each top-100 ranking and then 0 points if anyone ranks you 101 or higher), but the average of those rankings is 114.5. So Melendez, by these four rankings, is right around #115 at the moment. That's probably... Joseph Bertrand range? Wait - wasn't Te'Jon Lucas ranked right at #115? Let me go look this up.
Te'Jon Lucas was not in the RSCI (which only ranks the top-100). It looks like his 247 Composite was #138. So Melendez slots a little higher than that. Looking over the list, he's in the Charles Jackson/Tevian Jones range. Jackson was #117 in the 247 Composite. Tevian Jones was #118.
So I think that's a good neighborhood to discuss Melendez. Probably should toss Trent Frazier in there too, since he was #109. The quality of player you get from players ranked in this range: Trent Frazier, Joe Bertrand, Charles Jackson, Tevian Jones, Te'Jon Lucas.
(If you don't remember Charles Jackson, he was in the Chester Frazier recruiting class. Didn't play much, ended up switching to football.)
If I'm honest get a little frustrated when I see Twitter get all "Illini land 4-star" after a commitment like this. The term has lost all meaning. For a very long time, it was 25 five-stars, 75 four-stars, and then a whole bunch of three-stars once you got past 100. That gave you a good idea of what kind of player you were getting.
Then the ranking sites realized more people would subscribe if you told them they landed a 4-star, so more and more 4-stars are added every year. Last year, ESPN named 152 five-stars and four-stars. Rivals had 147. 247 only has a top-150 listed (from their own rankings) and all 150 players were at least a 4-star. So yeah, the term has lost all meaning.
Which is why I'm drawn to the systems (like RSCI) that keep it to 100 (not "keep it 100" - keep it limited to 100 players for the five-stars and four-stars). 100 is usually right around the limit for "really good chance you landed a solid player".
And the RSCI guy has an even better system (not on his website, but in his head when we chatted). He sees the top-5 as NBA guys. Double the next group and 6-15 would be the "college stars who might be one-and-done". Double it again and 16-35 is a great sweet spot. Players who might just stick around 2-3 years and win you a lot of games. Double it again and 36-75 are mostly the same - quite often, you'll get the same production from #42 as you get from #66. And then, to make the math a little cleaner, 76-150 is the next tier where you get some production but also might have some busts. Low chance of a superstar, although it definitely happens. And then 151+: mostly all longshots.
Again, no system is perfect, and there's always going to be a first team All American ranked 191st and a total flop ranked 8th. But remember, we're back in the top-5 because we have four top-50 players on the roster for the first time in forever. Ayo was the first 5 Tom Cruise player in IlliniBoard history because he was, in my estimation, the best player we'd landed in more than a decade. That proved to be true. To win basketball games, you must win those recruiting battles.
So with ALL OF THAT ESTABLISHED, let's talk about Melendez. Rankings are 65-94-145-154. 247 Composite has him #97 right now (not sure why? the average of the three rankings they use is 121), so that will drop once the three full rankings are applied. But getting ranked 94th in Van Coleman's rankings and 65th in Paul Biancardi's rankings is significant. Remember, this is a weird year for recruiting rankings, with very few AAU Tournaments and many high school seasons altered or canceled. Sometimes, there will be "these recruiting services saw the player, these recruiting services did not" scenarios. Hopefully, here, it's that Coleman and Biancardi saw him play while Rivals and 247 did not. It might also be the other way around.
Offer-wise, we go to his Twitter timeline. In April of 2019 he received offers from Florida, Oklahoma State, Florida Atlantic, and South Florida. In at the end of 2019 he tweets a graphic showing those schools plus St. John's and Mercer. This would be during his junior year of high school.
Then we enter pandemic times. There's no AAU (or very little), so you don't see the normal Twitter activity for a rising senior. He tweets offers from the following schools this past summer: VCU, DePaul, LSU, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, Dayton, and Georgia Tech. Then, in October, more offers: Georgia, Illinois, and Iowa State plus Alabama in early November. One thing worth noting there, I think: Jordan Nesbitt picked Memphis on October 1 and Melendez got an offer from Illinois on October 19th.
Not a bad offer list. Certainly not an "A" offer list for the typical Illinois recruit, but a player in the Orlando area getting offers from Florida, LSU, Va Tech, Georgia Tech, Georgia, and Alabama makes sense. You always want to see the schools in a player's region offering him.
Next we go to film. Actually, next lets go to frame. This is the best photo I can find to make my point:
That right there is "basketball length". See how his legs look maybe a foot longer than your average person's legs? How his hand looks massive on the basketball? That's what I view as basketball length. It's not just being "tall" - it's reach and grip and stride and many other things.
I'll pull a quote from a group text because it's not my opinion but it needs to be shared. This is from my friend Dave. Wait, I've referenced at least three "my friend Dave"-s over the years. Sorry to do this, Dave, but I have to use the college nickname even though it doesn't fit. Here's a text from Dirty Dave. And no, not that kind of dirty Dave.
"We have completely struck out on wings for so long. It seems like teams like Ohio State and Maryland and MSU have versatile 6'-7" guys all over the place."
So true (soooo truuuuue). We just never seem to find that guy. As Dave pointed out in that text thread, Tevian was our last attempt at finding that player, and it just didn't work out. Our next attempt: Luke Goode and Ramses Melendez.
Here's what we're getting from Melendez. Please note that we're not getting the very poor defense displayed by the opponent, but here's what length can do. This is a game from last Wednesday, so it's the most recent highlights I can find.
I need to know what his standing reach numbers look like. He's 6'-6"/6'-7", but that looks like the reach of a 6'-11" guy when he stretches out like that.
Here's another dunk because I like dunks.
I guess there's probably more to basketball than dunking. Maybe we should see a jump shot. I only saw one in these highlights (he came down on someone's foot and hurt his ankle later on in these highlights and didn't return, I don't think, so this was the only jump shot shown). He missed:
But that should help you see what I'm talking about with "length". Long arms, when he reaches in the cookie jar after releasing a jump shot it's on a nine foot shelf.
So I'm a fan of this one. Maybe a tiny bit below Luke Goode, but when you add two 6'-6" wings like these two, at least one will hit. Hopefully both.
Let me go see where I ranked Goode. 3.5 Cruises. OK, I'll follow what I said and put Melendez a tiny bit below that.
Ramses Melendez - Three and one-quarter Tom Cruises.