Ranking the 2020 Men’s NCAA Recruiting Classes: #5-8

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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

There’s a lot of sprint prowess incoming for Alabama, which is great for noted sprint coach Coley Stickels. Washington’s Matt King is one of the top freshman sprinters nationally, coming in  at 19.7/43.2 out of high school. He should become an instant relay contributor with a high ceiling for individual points down the road.

The other big relay additions are international. Bernardo Bondra out of Brazil could be a massive weapon. he’s 52.3 in long course butterfly, and has split 49.6 on a long course 4×100 free relay. Roughly converted, that puts him in the 45.9-range for the 100-yard fly and somewhere around 43-low for his 100 free split.

Meanwhile Poland’s Kacper Piotrowski (23.0/50.6/1:51.5) could be a multi-relay threat, depending on how well he can convert his speed into the yards format.

Eric Stelmar and Christopher O’Connor form a solid 1-2 backstroke punch. Stelmar is a little more well-rounded at 47.9 and 1:43.2, and he could push for an NCAA invite in the 200 back as a rookie. O’Connor has a little more speed (47.7), but will have to bring around his 1:49.9 in the 200.

#7: Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State always seems to have solid depth, and this class is exactly how they do it – a big class with a mix of established and developmental talent.

The most established is Hunter Armstronga key sophomore transfer from West Virginia. Armstrong was a late-comer to full-time swimming, but blew up over his senior year, going from 21.2 in the 50 free to 20.1/44.2 in the 50/100 frees. Then he dropped to 19.7/42.7/1:35.8 as a freshman at WVU. Armstrong will join Ohio State this fall and should be an early-impact, much-needed relay piece. The Buckeyes graduated Noah Lense and Andrew Loy, and their last transfer, star freestyler Cameron Craig, dropped off the roster after two DUIs.

Owen Conley is probably the biggest name among the freshmen. The 3:46.0/1:47.5 IMer was an honorable mention just outside of our top 20 nationally. He’s also 1:44 in backstroke and 1:37.0 in freestyle for some potential relay ability down the road.

And the relay building doesn’t stop there. Justin Fleagle is the younger brother of former Buckeye All-American Josh Fleagle, and brings multistroke sprinting speed to the table. Fleagle is 19.9 in the 50 free, 47.7 in the 100 back and 48.1 in the 100 fly. In the fly, he joins Jean-pierre Khouzama 47.0/1:44.4 prospect, as in-state pickups.

This is a big and deep class, but one other standout is miler Charlie Clarkwho is 15:07 in the 1650 free.

#6: Georgia Bulldogs

  • Top-tier additions: #2 Luca Urlando (CA – fly), #3 Jake Magahey (GA – free), Tommy-Lee Camblong (France – distance)
  • The rest: Connor Haigh (GA – breast), Cheuk Yin Wesley Ng (Hong Kong – free)

Georgia’s class is on the smaller side, but two swimmers alone would probably garner them a top-8 ranking. Luca Urlando is arguably the top domestic recruit in the nation. He’s 45.6 in the 100 fly and 1:40.9 in the 200 fly. Those times would have made NCAA finals in 2019 – in fact, he would have been 14th in the 100 and 6th in the 200.

Urlando is also a 1:42.9 IMer, and brings 19.8/43.2/1:34.3 speed in freestyle. For a Georgia program that has struggled for a long time to build out its freestyle relays, that’s an incredible addition.

Between Urlando and #3 prospect Jake Magaheythe Bulldog relays could take a huge step forward without the team even recruiting a true sprinter. Magahey has extremely rare freestyle range. He’s probably best as a distance swimmer (4:12.7/14:51 in the 500 and 1650), but comes down to excellent 19.9/43.1/1:33.3 times in the relay distances.

Urlando and Magahey should plug right in on all three freestyle relays. Last year at SECs, the Bulldogs had two splits above 20 seconds on the 200 free relay and one split above 44 on the 400 free relay.

Georgia also got French distance swimmer Tommy-Lee Chamblong, who is 15:18 in the long course 1500 and should convert close to 15:00 in short course yards. In-state prospect Connor Haigh is a 55.1 breaststroker who could develop into a medley relay piece, and UGA also got Hong Kong’s Cheuk Yin Wesley Ng, a 50.9 long course freestyler.

#5: Michigan Wolverines

There’s a clear-cut difference in tier when you hit these top five classes. Michigan has two top-10 recruits and one great international, in a class that should pay dividends for years.

Wyatt Davis is an outstanding backstroke prospect and the reigning World Junior champion in the 200-meter back. His 1:40.8 in the 200-yard back is one of the better times we’ve ever seen from a high schooler in that event. Davis is also 45.8 in the 100 back and has a shot to score at NCAAs in both events as a rookie, without even needing to drop much time at all. Between that 100 back and a 1:33.6 in the 200 free, Davis should be a multi-relay weapon every year, and he’s got a 1:44.1 in the 200 IM that probably projects as a better third individual event than the 200 free.

#9 Jake Mitchell is a lot like Magahey – a rangy freestyler who can cover a ton of distances. Mitchell is 4:14.6 in the 500 free and 1:34.0 in the 200 free, rare times through the mid-distance freestyles, where we don’t see many high school recruits under 4:20, much less under 4:15. Mitchell can also swim up to 14:57 in the mile or down to 20.6/44.0 in the sprints. He was a World Juniors teammate of Davis’s, and won gold on a 4×200 free relay.

Canada’s James LeBuke is a key sprint piece to load up the Wolverine relays. He’s 22.8 in the long course 50 free and 50.4 in the 100, which converts to somewhere in the 19s and 43s in yards.

Michigan beefs up its fly group with a pair of prospects: Illinois’ Bence Szabados (47.3/1:44.8) and California’s Charles Morici (47.0/1:46.3). Szabados is also 19.9 in the 50 free, which should be rare out of high school, but gets lost in this extraordinary class nationally.

There’s some other sneaky talent. Yugo Tsukikawa out of Ecuador is 15:25 in the mile. Ansel Froass chips in a 1:47.5 IM for development, along with a 55.1 breaststroke. Michigan just graduated a bunch of IMers, so Froass may have to contribute early.

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PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
1 year ago

One could argue that the difference between the top 5 classes and the others isn’t that large when there are 2 classes ranked at 5.

(This joke will cease to be funny as soon as the article gets fixed so please delete tytyty)

1 year ago

Will Florida’s streak of SEC titles be broken in a few years? Once their rising junior class graduates out, it looks as if it will be wide open between a handful of teams! Georgia and Alabama look to be building up nicely

1 year ago

Prediction, Jake Magahey will be the best 200 freestyler in this class. Has the distance base and has a great 100 lcm which historically adds up to a great 200scy.

Reply to  Swammer
1 year ago

I’d put money on Lukas Miller. His progression in 200 free is insane.

2016-2017: 1:48
2017-2018: 1:38
2018-2019: 1:34
2019-2020: 1:33

Reply to  Swimfan
1 year ago

Puberty is a hell of a drug.

NCSU Swimfan
Reply to  Swimfan
1 year ago

I’ll double your Money on Lukas Miller, His 100 FR LCM time this short season is # 2 for the class of 2020. It appears he also has the one of the fastest 100 FR Relay splits in the class too, with a 42.51 in the 400 MR at Juniors West.

Reply to  NCSU Swimfan
1 year ago

NCSU swimfan, a few people ahead of Lukas Miller in the 100 free LCM in the class of 2020 are Andrei Minakov, Jake Magahey, Adam Chaney, Carson Foster, Destin Lasco, Luca Urlando, Luke Maurer, Matt Brownstead, and probably a few others I missed.

NCSU Swimfan
Reply to  Anonymous
1 year ago

Looking at the SWIMS database, only Brownstead and Minkov are faster for the 2020 Season, He is ahead of Magahey, Chaney, Lasco, and a few others I missed according to the Swims Database.

Reply to  Swammer
1 year ago

His range is great and his times are fast but his technique needs some work!

Reply to  Ghost
1 year ago

Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.

Reply to  Ghost
1 year ago

1:33 with bad technique…. smh…. I had a beautiful technique for 1:39 200 freestyler

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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