Top 10 Basketball Players Class Of 2021

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Basketball scouting is always something to watch forward to as we get to see new top basketball players making their debut in NBA and other basketball leagues.

The scouts of every sport seek young players with talent and potential. Basketball scouts have the same aim; every year, many young players are selected and given the opportunity to make names for themselves.

As a result, many young men join the basketball league every year. The 2023 NBA Draft will take place on June 22nd, 2023. 

Jaden Hardy
Jaden Hardy (Source: Mavs Moneyball)

But, today, in this article, we are looking at ten of the top basketball players of the class of 2021.

Being selected by the scouts is their first step towards proving their talents and potential. More is expected from them, and sports fans worldwide are waiting to see which of these top players will be the league’s next rising star.

Now let us explore the new players who are the top basketball players of the class of 2021.

Quick Overview

First, let us look at the preview of our overall list.

Player Name Team
10. Kennedy Chandler Memphis Grizzlies
9. Michael Foster Philadelphia 76ers
8. Caleb Houstan Orlando Magic
7. Jalen Duren Detroit Pistons
6. Jabari Smith Houston Rockets
5. Patrick Baldwin Jr. Golden State Warriors
4. Paolo Banchero Orlando Magic
3. Emoni Bates Eastern Michigan Eagles
2. Jaden Hardy Dallas Mavericks
1. Chet Holmgren Oklahoma City Thunder

Top 10 Basketball Players Class Of 2021

We have prepared our list with the help of references from ESPN.

10. Kennedy Chandler

We are starting our list with a 21 year-old Kennedy Chandle. He was among the top twenty picks in the 2002 NBA draft.

During his high school years at the Briarcrest Christian School, Chandler started playing basketball. He was an integral part of the team and helped to lead the team in several state basketball tournaments.

During his junior years of high school, universities like Florida, Arizona State, Ole Miss, and many others offered Chandler several basketball scholarships offers. He was among the five-star recruits.

Kennedy Chandler
Kennedy Chandler (Source: Instagram)

After finishing high school, he was committed to playing college basketball for Tennessee in 2020. One of the top recruits, he was one of the top point guards of the 2021 class.

The next year, Chandler forwent his remaining years at college to enter the 2022 NBA draft. Currently, he has been signed by the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies.

9. Michael Foster

The ninth pick is a 21 year-old Michael Foster. He is a professional rated by ESPN and 247Sports as a five-star recruit.

Foster attended Washington High School of Information Technology, where he played basketball for the team. He led the team to a state runner-up finish during his first two years.

Michael Foster
Michael Foster (Source: BleacherReport)

Later he transferred to Hillcrest Prep, where he played basketball as a senior. Foster was committed to Arizona State to play college basketball.

However, in 2021, he decided to join the NBA G League. On April 23, 2021, NBA G League Ignite signed Foster.

He entered the 2022 NBA draft but was left undrafted, yet the Philadelphia 76ers signed him, and Foster joined the team during the 2022 Summer League.

On December 5, 2022, Foster re-joined the Delaware Blue Coats and has been playing with the team ever since. 

8. Caleb Houstan

Our eighth pick is Canadian professional basketball player Caleb Houstan. The 21 year-old was a consensus five-star recruit of 2021.

Starting his basketball career at Montverde Academy, Houstan helped lead his team to the semifinal of the prep national championship. He was ranked the No.1 player in the country before COVID-19 canceled the season.

Caleb Houstan
Caleb Houstan (Source:

247Sports ranked Houstan No.14 prospect while he was the No.2 prospect from Florida.

After high school, he received several colleges offers from Michigan, Alabama, Virginia, and Duke, from which he accepted Michigan.

Houstan was Michigan’s highest-rated recruit of the modern era. He entered the 2022 NBA draft and forwent his college eligibility.

Orlando Magic drafted him 32nd overall in the 2022 NBA draft and joined the roster during the 2022 NBA Summer League. He plays the position of the shooting guard.

7. Jalen Duren

Jalen Duren is a 20 year-old American professional basketball player. He is the seventh top basketball player of the class of 2021 and 2022 before reclassifying.

Duren played high school basketball at the Roman Catholic High School and led his team to the Philadelphia Catholic League title twice. He later transferred to Montverde Academy.

Jalen Duren
Jalen Duren (Source: Instagram)

Sports Illustrated named Duren among the only five underclassmen on the Preseason All-American team. After high school, he committed to playing college basketball for Memphis.

Duren forwent his college eligibility when he declared to enter the 2022 NBA draft.

Charlotte Hornets drafted him as the 13th overall pick during the draft. However, the Hornets traded him to the New York Knicks.

Again Duren was transferred to Detroit Pistons and made his NBA debut for the Pistons at the 2022 NBA Summer League. He plays in the center position for the team.

6. Jabari Smith Jr.

On number 6, we have a 20 year-old Jabari Smith. He is the son of former NBA player Jabari Smith Sr.

Under his father’s mentorship, Smith started playing basketball at age 5. He joined the Atlanta Celtics on the Amateur Athletic Union circuit at age 15 and played varsity basketball at Sandy Creek High School.

Jabari Smith Jr.
Jabari Smith Jr. (Source: Instagram)

Smith received offers from several colleges but chose to play basketball for Auburn University. He was one of the highest-ranked players to commit to the University of the modern era.

Smith forwent his remaining years at college to declare for the 2022 NBA draft. During the draft, he was projected as the top-three selection.

Houston Rockets selected him as the third overall pick.

At the 2022 NBA Summer League, Smith made his NBA debut with the team. Smith plays in power forward position.

5. Patrick Baldwin Jr.

The 21 year-old Patrick Baldwin Jr. is the sixth on our list. Nicknamed “PBJ,” he was a consensus five-star recruit of 2021.

Baldwin played high school basketball at Hamilton High School. He was part of the team that made it to the 2017-18 state tournament in his freshman year. Unfortunately, he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in his senior year’s second game.

Patrick Baldwin Jr.
Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Source: Getty Images)

As one of the top players of the 2021 class, Baldwin was committed to playing collegiate basketball for Milwaukee. He had also received offers from Duke and Georgetown.

Similarly, he was the highest-rated recruit to commit to the Horizon League program. Baldwin suffered from an injury during his freshman year at college.

However, he declared to enter the 2022 NBA draft forgoing his remaining college year.

The Golden State Warriors drafted Baldwin as the 28th overall pick in the draft. He plays the position of small/power forward. 

4. Paolo Banchero

On number 4 of our list, we have Paolo Banchero. The 21 year-old is an American-Italian professional basketball player who was a consensus five-star recruit.

Growing up, Banchero played basketball and football. Nationally, he was ranked among the top 50 eighth-graders in both sports. He also played both sports during high school.

Paolo Banchero
Paolo Banchero (Source: Instagram)

As one of the top basketball players, Banchero received several offers from top NCAA Division I programs and universities. On August 20, 2020, he chose to play collegiate basketball for Duke.

Like all the young players on the list, Banchero forwent his remaining college year when he declared to enter the 2022 NBA draft.

Orlando Magic drafted him as the first overall pick in the draft.

In 2022, Banchero was named the Rookie of the Year and first-team All-ACC. He made his NBA debut for the Magic at the 2022 NBA Summer League. He plays as the power forward in the team.

3. Emoni Bates

Emoni Bates is a 20 year-old college basketball player who was a consensus five-star recruit. 

Since his middle school, analysts ranked Bates among the top prospects. He attended Clague Middle School, where he played basketball ad was rated the No.1 player by the Future150 website.

Emoni Bates
Emoni Bates (Source:

Similarly, he attended Lincoln High School, where he continued to showcase his incredible skills. 247Sports’s Evan Daniels mentioned Bates as possibly the best high school prospect since LeBron James.

Bates was touted as the top high school basketball prospect by analysts and scouts. Additionally, 247Sports and Rivals considered him to be the second-best player.

On August 24, 2021, Bates committed to play basketball for Memphis. However, he transferred to Eastern Michigan University after his freshman year.

2. Jaden Hardy

On number 2, we have Jaden Hardy as one of the top basketball players of the class of 2021 and a consensus five-star recruit. The 21 year-old is a professional basketball player for the NBA franchise Dallas Maverick.

Jaden Hardy
Jaden Hardy (Source: Inquirer)

For high school, Hardy attended Coronado High School. His basketball skills earned him the Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year and Las Vegas Review-Journal Boys Athlete of the Year honors.

Most recruiting analysts had predicted that Hardy would choose to play professionally over going to college. They were right, as he decided to join the NBA G League and forgo collegiate basketball.

NBA G League signed Hardy in June 2021 and put him in their affiliated developmental team, NBA G League Ignite. Sacramento Kings picked him as the 37th pick in the 2022 NBA draft.

The Kings traded him to the Dallas Mavericks on draft night, and Hardy made his NBA debut with the Mavericks in the 2022 NBA Summer League. He plays in the shooting guard position.

1. Chet Holmgren

Our number 1 pick is an American professional basketball player Chet Holmgren. He is a 22 year-old player who was also a consensus five-star recruit.

Holmgren grew up playing basketball being influenced by his father. He attended Minnehaha Academy, where he led his high school team to win the Class 2A state championship for the second time.

Chet Holmgren
Chet Holmgren (Source:

Similarly, Holmgren also enjoyed success with the Amateur Athletic Union team, Grassroots Sizzle. As he was ranked the No.1 highest-ranked player of 2021, he garnered national attention.

Likewise, Holmgren received about 30 scholarships from college basketball programs in his junior year.

He chose to play college basketball for Gonzaga but later forwent his college eligibility when he entered the 2022 NBA draft.

Oklahoma City Thunder picked Holmgren as the second overall in the draft and debuted at the 2022 NBA Summer League. He plays as a center/power forward.


So, these were our top ten basketball players of the class of 2021. All these young men have a lot of potential, and we hope to see more of them.

These young basketball players will have to continue to hone their skills if they wish to be the best in the league. It is the only way they can climb the ranks and get to the top positions in the basketball leagues.

Boby Rai
Boby Rai

Boby Rai

Boby Rai is a dedicated writer who specializes in capturing the essence of sporting excellence through his unique lens. As the creative mind behind numerous sports-centric projects, he brings a fresh perspective to the world of athletics, blending insightful commentary with captivating narratives.


Sports Journalism Feature Writing


  • Boby's writing transcends conventional boundaries, offering readers a glimpse into the lesser-known stories.
  • His feature articles provide a deep dive into the human side of sports, exploring the emotions, challenges, and aspirations.


Armed with a passion for sports and a gift for storytelling, Boby has honed his craft through years of immersive experiences in the field. With a keen eye for detail and an unwavering commitment to authenticity, he continues to inspire and inform readers through his thought-provoking work.

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