Ranking the 2020 Men’s NCAA Recruiting Classes: #1-4

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We continue our spring recruiting series with a team-by-team look at the best recruiting classes entering the NCAA next season. The classes below are projected freshmen for the 2020-2021 season. Of course, the coronavirus pandemic presents a number of wrinkles to this analysis: some athletes didn’t get a senior-year taper meet. Some high-end recruits may opt to defer their enrollment for a year to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics. There’s also still the possibility that the 2020-2021 school year is delayed, along with NCAA sports. All things considered, these ranks are based on the 2020-2021 NCAA season happening, but as we usually view these recruiting classes over their projected four years of college swimming, a potential delay or cancellation of the upcoming season doesn’t have as big an impact on this analysis as it would seem.

A few important notes on our rankings:

  • The rankings listed are based on our Class of 2020 Re-Rank from just last month. “HM” refers to our honorable mentions.
  • Like most of our rankings, these placements are subjective. We base our team ranks on a number of factors: prospects’ incoming times are by far the main factor, but we also consider potential upside in the class, class size, relay impact and team needs filled. Greater weight is placed on known success in short course yards, so foreign swimmers are slightly devalued based on the difficulty in converting long course times to short course production.
  • Transfers are included.
  • For the full list of all verbally 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.

Previously ranked:

  • #16: Texas A&M Aggies
  • #15: Tennessee Volunteers
  • #14: Auburn Tigers
  • #13: Indiana Hoosiers
  • #12: Florida Gators
  • #11: Notre Dame
  • #10: USC Trojans
  • #9: Virginia Cavaliers
  • #8: Alabama Crimson Tide
  • #7: Ohio State Buckeyes
  • #6: Georgia Bulldogs
  • #5: Michigan Wolverines

#4: Cal Golden Bears

Cal loads up yet again with a strong domestic recruiting class, capped with one key international. The Golden Bears add Destin Lasco to their backstroke factory. 45.9 and 1:40.7 out of high school, Lasco follows in the footsteps of a long line of top Cal backstrokers. He’ll overlap one year with current standouts Daniel Carr and Bryce Mefford. Lasco is also 1:44.5 in the IM and 1:35.1 in the 200 free, and should find plenty of ways to contribute to relays across his career.

One of the team’s top sprinters, Pawel Sendyk, is graduated, but Cal reloads with Sweden’s Bjorn Seeligeran elite long course talent with times of 22.2 and 49.5 in meters. Roughly converted, that should put Seeliger around the 19.2 range it took to earn an NCAA invite last year, and his 100 is probably on the cusp of the 43-second barrier. Seeliger is also a 55-second backstroker in long course and could jump onto multiple relays.

Forrest Frazier joins a strong breaststroking tradition. He’s 52.5 and 1:55.3 out of high school, with a 1:45.9 IM to add as well.

Dare Rose out of New Jersey is an intriguing addition. He’s an elite long course swimmer (53.9 and 1:58.9 in butterfly, plus 3:51 and 1:49 in free) who hasn’t yet transferred that kind of production to short course yards. If Cal can bring around his short course times, though, Rose has ability to be one of the top 10 domestic talents in this entire recruiting class.

The Golden Bears graduate sprinter Michael Jensen but bring in his younger brother Matthew Jensena breakout star in Pennsylvania’s abbreviated high school state meet. Matthew is 46.5 in butterfly and 1:46.3 in IM, and rising fast. Dylan Hawk (44.5/1:36.0 free) could be a relay contributor down the road, and Tyler Kopp is an interesting free/IM hybrid in the mold of current standout Sean Grieshop, who also left the state of Texas for Berkeley as a recruit. Kopp is 15:08 in the mile and 3:48.8 in the IM.

#3: NC State Wolfpack

Another outstanding class coming in the door for NC State, whose stellar freshman class from a year ago didn’t get to show their full range in a COVID-shortened season. Former Florida freshman All-American Kacper Stokowski is still on track to make his NC State debut this season, the team says. The 44.9/1:41.3 backstroker is a massive weapon, and should still have three years of eligibility remaining. He’s also 45.7 in fly.

Luke Miller is an absolutely massive recruit, more than a #11 overall ranking should indicate. He’s 1:33.4 in the 200 free, which already would have been the second-best split on NC State’s 800 free relay at 2020 ACCs. That relay graduates both of its 1:33 legs, so Miller will be a valuable piece to help rebuild.

Miller is also 43.5 in the 100 free and 47.1/1:46.5 in butterfly, which should give him plenty of event options individually.

The Wolfpack also bolsters its distance group. Denmark’s Alexander Norgaard might just be the best distance prospect entering the NCAA this year. He’s an incredible 14:47 in the long course 1500 free and 7:52 in the 800. Long-course-to-short-course conversions are notoriously tricky, but some converters put that in the 14:30-range in short course yards – which would have been a top-3 time at NCAAs in 2019. Put another way, the top domestic distance swimmer in this recruiting class is Jake Magahey, who is 14:51 in short course and 15:24 in long course. Norgaard is 37 seconds faster in long course meters, which gives some frame of reference to how good he could be in the NCAA mile. One more rough attempt to contextualize: Norgaard’s long course meters time is a tick faster than 2020 NCAA record-setter Bobby Finke (14:48.70), who is still the clear-cut favorite to win next year’s NCAA title.

James Plage (14:57/4:23) is another great distance swimmer, from within the U.S. And NC State builds up its IM group with 3:48.9/1:47.8 Michael Moore and 3:49.4/1:48.7 Conall Monahanboth from North Carolina.

Note: we don’t include returning redshirts who previously competed for the program, but NC State will also get 19.2/42.6 sprinter Giovanni Izzo back from an Olympic gap year.

#2: Stanford Cardinal

As on the women’s side, the top two classes are in a field of their own, and almost interchangeable as the #1 and #2 classes. This is an incredible Stanford group, with five top-20 prospects and perhaps the best international pickup of any team in the NCAA.

Let’s start internationally. Andrei Minakov is a World Champs silver medalist, one of the top sprint flyers in the world, and decided to avoid the ISL to keep his collegiate eligibility. The Russian Minakov is a blazing 50.8 in the 100-meter butterfly, converting to somewhere in the 44s in short course yards. Only four swimmers in the NCAA final went 44s in 2019, and none will be around by this coming year. Minakov is also 48.5 and 22.7 in long course freestyle, converting to something like 19.7 and 42.2. That’s immediate-impact stuff.

He joins #8 domestic recruit Ethan Hualso an elite flyer. Hu is 45.6 and 1:43.6 in short course, with a 1:44.6 IM and a shot to score as an NCAA rookie. Honorable mention recruit Preston Forst (1:43.5/47.4) will make it a big-time fly trio.

Between Minakov and Illinois standout Luke Maurer (1:34.4/43.9/20.2), Stanford should get a lot of pieces to help rebuild their relays, which have dropped off badly. And this class also brings in top-level talents in breaststroke (52.7/1:55.2 Ethan Danga longtime age group standout) and backstroke (Aaron Sequeira out of Ohio is 46.7 and 1:44.1 in backstroke, plus 19.9 in free).

Jonathan Affeld is a fast-rising and very versatile prospect, who could choose a number of different event paths. He’s 1:45.3 and 3:49.0 as an IMer, but also 46.9/1:44.0 in fly, and has some absurd freestyle range, from 44.0/1:36.0 to 4:21.0/15:12. If he does continue with the IMs, he’ll join training partner Rick Mihm, who is a rare 1:43.9 out of high school with solid sprint frees to potentially bolster relays.

Toss in Michigan dive product Hunter Hollenbeck, and this is a nine-man class that could see scorers in just about every event early in their NCAA careers. For new head coach Dan Schemmel, the transition in year 2 couldn’t be set up any better.

#1: Texas Longhorns

This Texas group is as good a class as Texas has had recently, and that’s saying something. #1 overall recruit Carson Foster is one of the best high school IMers in history, going 3:38.6 in the 400 IM and 1:42.4 in the 200. He’s also 1:40.0 and 46.2 in backstroke, and adds yet another elite 200 freestyler (1:32.9) to Texas’s gigantic stockpile of talent in that event.

There are three more ranked domestic recruits. #10 Coby Carrozza is a 1:34.3/4:14.9 freestyler who fits that Texas mold perfectly. He’s got a lot of versatility beyond those two races, and could develop as a backstroker (he’s 1:45.5 and 48.8 now), IMer (1:47/3:49) or butterflyer (1:44.2). A 43.5 in the 100 free should also make him a relay candidate down the road.

#12 Ethan Heasley is more of a distance freestyler and IMer. He’s 3:44.2 in the 400 IM, which would probably stand out more in a class that didn’t have someone as game-breaking as Foster at the top. For what it’s worth, it took 3:44.3 to earn an NCAA invite last year and 3:42.7 to score at NCAAs in 2019. Heasley is also 15:03 in the mile and 4:17.5 in the 500.

Coach Eddie Reese pulled a lot of distance talent out of the state of Texas. David Johnston is a fast-rising miler, 14:51 with the best 1650 time of any high school senior in the nation. Matthew Tannenberger is 15:35 and 4:21.

Meanwhile Zac van Zandt has an intriguing breast/fly combo skillset. He’s 53.1 in breaststroke and 46.6 in butterfly, and that has to suggest he could develop into a strong IMer. He’s 1:47.8 there right now.

Texas generally does very well with divers – without the benefit of times, it can be hard to project exactly how a diver fits in the NCAA, but if you rate the three new Longhorn divers as NCAA scoring types, then this could be a pretty incredible class.

Ohio’s Noah Duperre is a clear high-impact recruit. He’s competed at three straight Junior Pan Ams and was selected as the 2018 national high school diving champion. Texas also went to Pennsylvania to get state champion diver Brendan McCourt, and the school has confirmed it also signed Canadian national teamer Laurent Gosselin-Paradis, a relatively recent crossover from gymnastics who won two bronze medals at the 2019 World University Games. Gosselin-Paradis will join Texas in January of 2021.

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10 months ago

getting my popcorn ready for these comments

10 months ago

Stanfords combined men & women has to be one of the best freshmen classes in history

Reply to  Swimmerj
10 months ago

Im sure Cal circa 2015 might have something to say about that.

Jim C
Reply to  Ervin
10 months ago

At least the people who are a part of the Nerd Nation know how to read. The claim that this is one of the best classes in history cannot be refuted by naming one class that may or may not have been better.

Reply to  Swimmerj
10 months ago

While the star power on paper isn’t as high as some others, it is pretty hard to argue with the NCAA titles of the Auburn freshman class of ‘03. The men won four titles (and never lost a meet of any kind in their careers), and the women won three titles.

Off the bandwagon
10 months ago

Great Job not even mentioning Rick Mihm. 1:43 200 IM and has had very fast free relays splits. Stop with the Texas propaganda. Stanford is the better class and everyone knows it.

Reply to  Off the bandwagon
10 months ago

Texas has a certain transfer that sways it their way, just hasn’t been announced yet.

Reply to  Scoop
10 months ago

*cough* Zach Yeadon *cough*

not tx
Reply to  Scoop
10 months ago

are you sure??

Reply to  Off the bandwagon
10 months ago

Mihm is undervalued. He doesn’t have the pop-out flat start times to give the initial impression of a major freestyle relay contributor, but his various split times can attest to his value. He has been 19.3 and 43.0 before on relays.

Plus they have a pretty tame reaction to 1:43.9

Reply to  Off the bandwagon
10 months ago

I see him in there, was he added after your comment?

Off the bandwagon
Reply to  Charge
10 months ago

@charge, he was added after. Shocked that forgetting Mihm and then later adding him somehow didn’t push Stanford past Texas.

Reply to  Jared Anderson
10 months ago

You’ve arrived

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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