Ranking the 2018 Men’s NCAA Recruiting Classes: #9-12

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After a whirlwind of a summer season, it’s time to shift gears and start preparing for NCAA season. To help out, we’re launching our yearly series ranking the top 12 recruiting classes in the nation – these swimmers will be starting their freshman seasons in the next month.

Here are a few important notes on our rankings:

  • The ranking numbers listed for individual recruits are from our Class of 2018 Re-Rank, which was done this past spring. Certainly some of those ranks would change after this summer’s season.
  • Like most of our rankings, these placements are subjective.  Rankings are based on a number of factors, including prospect’s incoming times, team needs filled, prospect’s potential upside, class size, and potential relay impact. Greater weight is placed on known success in short course yards, so foreign swimmers are slightly devalued because of their inexperience in SCY.
  • Transfers are included, and there are lots of big ones.
  • For the full list of the 1200+ committed athletes, click here. A big thank-you to SwimSwam’s own Anne Lepesant for compiling that index – without it, rankings like these would be far less comprehensive.

Here are the 9th-through-12th-ranked Men’s NCAA Swimming & Diving classes (plus some honorable mentions), with the top 8 to follow later this week:

Honorable Mentions (in no paticular order)

Georgia Bulldogs: Georgia got Andrew Abruzzo, who might turn out to be the most underrated recruit in the class at the 19th rank. He’s a multi-event star who’s been way more outstanding in long course, and fits Georgia’s athlete profile to a “T.” The Bulldogs also got two good transfers (1:35 freestyler Grant Norgan out of UNLV and 53.1/1:55.0 breaststroker Jack Dalmolin from Arizona State). They’ve also got legit 200 back depth with 4 prospects (including Abruzzo) between 1:45.6 and 1:46.8.

Minnesota Golden Gophers: 51.5/1:53.5 breaststroker Max McHugh would be the star breaststroke recruit of any class that didn’t have an all-time blue-chipper at the top. There’s not a lot of depth behind McHugh in this class right now, but Minnesota brought in some intriguing prospects in their go-to events: diving and breaststroke. Divers are notoriously tough to project, but the Golden Gophers have typically had great success and could very likely get big NCAA points out of Aiden Werner and Ryan Philip. Useless fact: the Gophers also loaded up on Aidens, with three freshman going by that name in various spellings

Harvard Crimson: Harvard prospect Jake Johnson (3:46 in the 400 IM, 1:46 in the 200) was originally among our top 20 recruits in the class before we re-ranked, and Simon Lamar (15:01 in the mile) is probably one of the best few swimmers not ranked. The Crimson also added European Junior champ Umitcan Gures (52.5 long course 100 fly) to what could be a really high-upside class.

#12: Missouri Tigers

Top-tier additions: #17 Danny Kovac (CO- Fly/IM), HM Jack Dahlgren (MN – back/free), Kyle Leach (CO – free), Ike Khamis (IN – diving)
The rest: Garrett Clasen (IL – breast/IM), Dane Florea (MO – distance), Jack Dubois (GA – distance)

Missouri nabbed a pair of standouts from the altitude of Colorado. Danny Kovac is a fast-riser who surged from well outside our list to ranking 17th after a huge high school state meet. Kovac is 46.65 in the 100 fly (near the class’s best) and 1:46.27 in the 200 IM, plus brings 43.8/20.2 freestyle speed. Kyle Leachtoo, should help the free relays, with times of 20.3/43.9/1:36.9 through the relay-distance freestyles.

Jack Dahlgren is another fast riser who is 1:42.5 and 47.5 in the backstrokes and 1:35.3 in the 200 free. His 200 back, in fact, is three tenths away from being the best in the entire recruiting class, though it’s still got a little ways to go to reach NCAA scoring level. Garrett Clasen is a good two-distance breaststroke pickup (55.8/1:59.8) who might have more impact with his 1:47.5 200 IM.

Florea and Dubois are a nice distance duo. Florea brings some exciting range, swimming 15:17 and 9:04 in the distance races, but also 1:38/45.8/20.8 down to the sprints. He also adds a 3:50 400 IM, which is probably his best bet for a tertiary event at SECs/NCAAs. Dubois (15:22/4:22) also swims down to 1:38 in the 200. Khamis was an Indiana state champ who is good on all three boards.

#11: NC State Wolfpack

Top-tier additions: HM Zach Brown (NC – fly), Nyls Korstanje (Netherlands – free/fly), Rafal Kusto (Poland – breast)
The rest: Jack Moranetz (CO – breast), John Healy (NC – back/fly), Curtis Wiltsey (NC – distance), Nate Mullens (OH – sprint free)

Zach Brown surged into our top honorable mentions with a big senior year where he dropped from 1:46 to 1:43.9 in the 200 fly. He’s also 47.6 in the 100 and has 1:48/3:52 IMs.

NC State is always seeming to reload its sprint corps, and the top addition this year is Dutch sprinter Nyls KorstanjeHis most exciting time is probably a 48.8 long course 100 free, which suggests he should be a solid option in both the 100 and 200 short course freestyles. Korstanje is also 22.38 in the 50 meter free and is a great pickup to fill in for the graduated Ryan Held.

Poland’s Rafal Kusto is a 1:02/2:14 long course breaststroker. He doesn’t yet appear on the Wolfpack roster, but we’re told by the team that he’ll be joining the program for the second semester, as a number of international swimmers tend to. He’s a great pickup, though harder to project because breaststroke does tend to be more hit-or-miss in long-course-to-short-course conversions based on the raised value of pullouts and the importance of stroke timing into each wall.

The rest of the class is solid. Healy and Wiltsey are home-grown products who have a shot to contribute down the road. Moranetz is good breaststroke insurance for Kusto and Mullens could flourish in this storied sprint program.

#10: Texas A&M

Top-tier additions: Shaine Casas (TX – back/fly/free), Clayton Bobo (TX – free), Coco Bratanov (TX – breast/IM), Peter Simmons (TX – back)
The rest: Alberto Gomez (TX – back), Ethan Gogulski (TX – back), Jake Schababerle (TX – breast), Luke Stuart (TX – distance), Mark Schnippenkoetter (AZ – free)

The Aggies absolutely mined their home state with an almost-entirely Texas class that has some serious talent. Shaine Casas is a do-everything talent coming off a massive summer. He’s currently 47.1 in the backstroke and 47.3 in fly, both within striking distance of the best in the class. But it’s fair to project even bigger drops after Casas went 54.5/1:58.6 in long course backstroke and 52.69 in long course fly this pas summer. His meters freestyle swims (22.7/49.9/1:51.6) also suggest he could have a bigger impact than his 20.1/44.3/1:39.1 short course bests.

Clayton Bobo was a top-20 recruit in our original ranks, and fell out of the top 20 only because of fast risers like Casas. He’s got great freestyle range (19.9/43.5/1:37.5) and is a pretty good flyer, too. Coco Bratanov is a Texas high schooler who also competes for Bulgaria, and he’s like Casas in his versatility. A 1:45.2 IM is maybe his best calling card at this point, but 54.4/1:57.4 in the breaststrokes is nothing to sneeze at, either. 20.0/43.9/1:37 in freestyle means Bratanov could be a multi-relay threat early on.

Simmons, Gomez and Gogulski all bolster the backstroke corps. Simmons has the most intriguing single event of the three (47.8 in the 100 back), while all three are between 1:45.0 and 1:46.0 in the 200 back.

#9: Michigan Wolverines

Top-tier additions: #8 Patrick Callan (OK – free), Will Chan (NC – breast), Spencer Carl (Louisville transfer – fly)
The rest: AJ Bornstein (CT – breast), Andrew Babyak (NY – distance), Bora Unalmis (TX –  distance), Ian Miskelley (MI – back/fly), Jared Daigle (MA – back), Mason Hunter (GA – breast), Michael MacGillivray (MI – breast), Leo Zabudkin (Wingate transfer – breast), David Cleason (MI – IM), Eric Storms (WI – back/breast), Jeremie Luong (Vietnam – fly/free), Dylan Boyd (Arizona State transfer – free)

This is a huge class for the Wolverines, and one with a very solid argument to rank higher than 9th. Patrick Callan is one of the best values in the class, already boasting NCAA scoring times in the 200 (1:33.52) and 500 (4:13.78) frees. He’s good enough to swim down and contribute on relays in the 100 (43.9) and projects as a great fit for a Michigan team that has some outstanding freestylers returning.

Will Chan is another breaststroker who doesn’t get the cred his times (53.4/1:58.9) deserve because of how loaded this class is in breaststroke nationwide. Spencer Carl was a top-tier recruit for Louisville a year ago, but didn’t have a productive freshman season. He brings some big potential (47.6/1:44.1 fly, 1:36.3 free) to Michigan with three years of eligiblity remaining.

Michigan loaded up on breaststrokers, with five prospects under 55.5 and four under 1:58.9. AJ Bornstein has been a lot more impressive in long course (2:12.5/1:02.8 this summer), so look for him to improve his short course bests (1:57.4/55.1). Mason Hunter is a speedster (54.2) who could see his 200 come around.

In distance free, Unalmis and Babyak are both 4:26 and 9:11 in the 500 and 1000, though Babyak has been quite a bit faster (15:16) in the mile.

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3 years ago

Pretty sure Ivanov decommited and is following Lopez to Va Tech

Ex Quaker
3 years ago

AJ Bornstein may be the most underrated recruit on this list. If this summer is any indication, he’s due for a huge freshman year.

Reply to  Ex Quaker
3 years ago

he’s been way better long course for awhile

Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger
Reply to  Ex Quaker
3 years ago

Bornstein is one of 50 swimmers I have on my Most Underrated Swimmers list for 2018. But also every swimmer left off that list is, by definition, underrated, so really everyone is underrated. Underrated.

Right Dude Here
3 years ago

So with how much Jack Levant has gone off, should it be considered a 3 way tie for top recruit between Kibler, Whitley, and him?

Reply to  Jared Anderson
3 years ago

I believe you should put more emphasis on performance at National and International events. NCAA’s is an International Meet and is a lot tougher on the mentally, than being the Big Dog at Junior Nationals.

3 years ago

Antani Ivanov will swim for Virginia Tech. Not Gary Taylor, but Sergio López

3 years ago

Looks like Ivanov followed Sergio to VT and Jarryd Baxter is at Indian River. That will certainly knock Auburn down some, unfortunately.

3 years ago

You can’t make a more perfect athlete for UGA than Abruzzo. Plus he will train with Litherland and Kalisz for the next few years. He might just be the top guy in the class when it’s all said and done

Reply to  Jim
3 years ago

Relays relays relays

3 years ago

I agree that Patrick Callan looks like a really solid recruit for MI. Looking forward to seeing him this season!!

Reply to  gator
3 years ago

As someone whos known Pat for a while, he’s gonna be really good :))

SEC Loverrr
3 years ago

Jack Dubois is the name that should be instead of “Kyle Dubois.” I think Mizzou’s class will be very exciting.

JP input is too short
Reply to  SEC Loverrr
3 years ago

Also, between Junior National meets this summer, Florea went 1:50 free, 2:00 fly and 2:04/4:23 IM. Pretty versatile kid. If he keeps that direction of improvement, his best line up might not be distance events, but 200 IM, 200 fr, 200 fly.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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