Revisiting NCAA Recruit Rankings: Men’s High School Class of 2018

Each summer, college swimming fans look forward to recruiting – the lifeblood of any NCAA swim program. Since 2012, we’ve been ranking down the top NCAA prospects in the nation from each recruiting class. But sports are inherently unpredictable, and even the most sure-fire prospect can go awry or completely change their role over four years.

As we do each year, we’ll look back at the high school class of 2018, which just finished four years of college eligibility this spring.

First, a few notes:

  • Most of the data we’re tracking here deals with NCAA scoring. Obviously, some swimmers are great assets for their teams in dual meets and conference competition without ever being national factors. While we don’t discount the impact of those types of swimmers, the difference in competition between various teams’ dual meet schedules and conference meets makes NCAA scoring the best “apples to apples” comparisons between swimmers.
  • Relays are another point of contention, as a swimmer in a strong program has more opportunity for NCAA relays, though they also have more competition for those relay spots. We’ve left relay results out of the data below, except where specifically indicated. That, too, gives us a more fair comparison between athletes.
  • We don’t rank diving recruits, but we have started to track individual diving scoring, which is helpful in determining how much of an impact a diver is likely to have on NCAA finish.
  • We did our best to scour NCAA results over the past four-plus years, but it’s certainly possible we made a mistake in compiling our data. If you spot an error, please respectfully let us know in the comment section so we can update our work!

2022 Note: Due to swimmers being granted an extra year of eligibility after the 2020 NCAA cancelation, some of these athletes may still have years of scoring still to come.

We only include domestic recruits in our recruit rankings, as it’s often harder to predict if and when an international recruit will join the NCAA, and which class they should be ranked with. However, we’ve gone back through and tallied up all individual scorers that roughly fit into this class – international and domestic.

REVISITING OUR TOP 20

Check out this post for our analysis of the top 20 recruits in the high school class of 2018. This class was actually the first in which we did a re-rank for the swimmers when they were high school seniors (previously the final rankings were done during their juniors years). Since the re-rank gives us the best gauge of where the athletes were coming into the NCAA, and therefore we get a better idea of who improved the most during their time in college, we’re using the re-ranked top-20 rather than the original rankings from their junior seasons.

Here’s a look at our top 10 recruits, plus how many individual points they scored at NCAAs in each of their four years:

Note: we’ve made an effort to put a dash (–) in a season in which an athlete didn’t compete (or was cut short due to injury) rather than “no invite”. If you see an error please let us know in the comments.

RANK NAME COLLEGE TEAM TOTAL NCAA POINTS 2019 NCAA POINTS 2020 NCAA POINTS 2021 NCAA POINTS 2022 NCAA POINTS 2020 NCAA PSYCH SHEET POINTS
1 Reece Whitley Cal 92 29 36 27 37
2 Drew Kibler Texas 118.5 25 47.5 46 36
3 Alexei Sancov USC 18 no invite 18 0 6
4 Max McHugh Minnesota 110 33 40 37 36
5 Daniel Krueger Texas 55.5 15 29.5 11 22
6 Trey Freeman Florida 22 2 redshirt 6 14 redshirt
7 Cody Bybee Arizona State 0 redshirt 0 11
8 Patrick Callan Michigan 15 7 8 0 18.5
9 Jack Levant Stanford 0 no invite
10 Daniel Roy Stanford 30 5 14 11
11 Kieran Smith Florida 119 25 50 44 47
12 Robert Finke Florida 100 5 53 42 39
13 Michael Brinegar Indiana 37 17 redshirt 7 13 redshirt
14 Matthew Willenbring Texas 0 0 no invite 16
15 Noah Henry Arizona State 0 no invite redshirt no invite
16 Jason Park Texas 0 no invite roster scratch no invite
17 Danny Kovac Missouri 43 0 33 10 17.5
18 Khalil Fonder Arizona State/Virginia Tech 0 no invite no invite no invite
19 Andrew Abruzzo Georgia 2 0 2 no invite
20 Mason Gonzalez Stanford 0 no invite no invite no invite no invite
HM Shaine Casas Texas A&M 70 10 60 57
HM Andrew Koustik Texas 0 0 roster scratch no invite roster cap cut
HM Zach Brown NC State 0 no invite 0 no invite no invite
HM Jack Dahlgren Missouri 29 0 12 17 11
HM Will Davis Florida 6 0 0 6
HM Jack Franzman Indiana 5 no invite 5 no invite

Ninth-ranked Jack LeVant pulled out of the 2019 NCAAs in his freshman year due to medical complications and never ended up representing the Cardinal at the nationals.

Texas’ Matthew Willenbring was an NCAA qualifier as a freshman and then won the 2020 Big 12 title in the 200 IM before the NCAA cancelation. Willenbring has been dealing with a long-lingering health issue that has kept him out of collegiate competition for the last two years, but he hopes to make a return.

The hits:

  • In a class with no shortage of standouts, Florida’s Kieran Smith emerged as the top scorer with 119 points in three NCAA meets, adding 44 in his senior season. He was incredibly versatile, having raced in six different events over his three NCAA appearances, highlighted by a national title in the 200 free in 2021. Since joining the Gators he’s also become the fasest swimmer of all-time in the 500 free.
  • Texas’ Drew Kibler was a close second to Smith with 118.5 points, breaking through and winning his first individual title this season in the 200 free. Kibler scored in all nine of his NCAA races, seven of those being in the ‘A’ final.
  • The Gators really hit the nail on the head in nabbing both Smith and Bobby Finke in this recruiting class, as Finke finishes with 100 points for his career including three individual titles.
  • Max McHugh had a phenomenal four-year career at Minnesota, scoring an incredible 110 points over just six races at NCAAs (average of 18.3 points per event, which is more than the 17 points that go to second place). McHugh won three breaststroke titles over his career, including the 100/200 sweep in 2021.
  • While he has yet to win that elusive individual title (he could take another run at it next season), #1 ranked Reece Whitley was a consistent top performer for Cal, scoring 92 points and helping the Bears to a pair of team championship titles.
  • Shaine Casas was arguably the most dominant swimmer to come from this class, given that he went three-for-three in his events at the 2021 NCAAs (60 points) and was seeded to score 57 at the canceled 2020 meet. Despite only racing at two NCAA Championships, since he turned pro early, Casas still ranks as the sixth-highest scorer out of this class.

The misses:

  • Seven of the top-20 recruits didn’t end up scoring at NCAAs for a variety of reasons.
  • The highest-ranked swimmer who hasn’t scored is Arizona State’s Cody Bybee, who was forced out of NCAAs due to illness as a freshman and then didn’t get another opportunity to swim at NCAAs until this season after the Sun Devils redshirted their entire roster last year. Bybee was the 2020 Pac-12 runner-up in the 100 fly and neared scoring at NCAA this season, placing 20th in the 50 free and 25th in the 100 fly. He did swim some critical relay legs this season, helping ASU to top-eight finishes in four relays, including a runner-up finish in the 400 free.
  • Alexei Sancov has shown flashes of brilliance during his career at USC but hasn’t put up the point totals you’d expect of a #3 recruit. Sancov scored 18 NCAA points, all as a junior, and was as fast as 1:31.82 leading off the Trojans’ 800 free relay that year.
  •  Noah HenryAndrew AbruzzoKhalil Fonder and Mason Gonzalez didn’t pan out as projected at the NCAA level. Jason Park and Andrew Koustik fell victim to the incredibly deep Texas Longhorns roster.

OTHER IMPACTFUL RECRUITS IN THE HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2018

Of course, not every contributor comes from our top 20 list. Some swimmers develop extremely well in college. Some swimmers slip under our radar, or don’t prove to be late bloomers once they hit the NCAA.

We dug through NCAA results to find the best American swimmers from this class to not appear on our top 20 list. Again, it’s not always easy to account for redshirt years, gap years or mistakes in an athlete’s listed class each season. So if we forgot anyone, please let us know in the comments.

UNRANKED RECRUITS

NAME COLLEGE TEAM TOTAL NCAA POINTS 2019 NCAA POINTS 2020 NCAA POINTS 2021 NCAA POINTS 2022 NCAA POINTS 2020 NCAA PSYCH SHEET POINTS
Dillon Hillis Florida 34 18 16 15
Zane Backes Indiana 26 14 12 16
Braden Vines Texas 25 23 2 34
Raunak Khosla Princeton 19 6 13 8
Jason Mathews Ohio State 15 15 4
Mitchell Whyte Louisville 15 6 9 0 28
Mason Wilby Kentucky 15 4 11
Justin Grender Virginia 14 3 11
Casey Storch Virginia 12 4 7 1
Alex Zettle Texas 11 11 0 2
Jarel Dillard Tennessee 11 11
Hudson McDaniel Ohio State 7 7 0
Mikey Calvillo Indiana 7 7 7
Caleb Aman Wisconsin 7 3 4
Charlie Scheinfeld Texas 6 6
Michael Daly Penn State 5 5 0 1
Josh Bottelberghe Notre Dame 5 5
Will Chan Michigan 4 4 0 3
Jared Daigle Michigan 3 3
Cooper DeRyk Utah 2.5 2.5 0 (relay-only)
Dylan Eichberg Virginia Tech 2 2
Blake Manoff Virginia Tech 0 15
Chris Jhong Cal 0 6
Christian Sztolcman Auburn 0 0 (relay-only) 3
Kyle Barone Georgia Tech 0 1
Nicholas Perera Alabama 0 1

Standouts:

  • Along with Smith and Finke, Florida also got a big boost from this high school class in the form of Dillon Hillis, who put up 34 points over the last two seasons with the Gators.
  • Zane Backes was a stud for Indiana in his two NCAA appearances, scoring double-digit points both times.
  • Braden Vines had a big junior year with Texas, scoring 23 points including a sixth-place finish in the 400 IM. He was also seeded for 34 in 2020.
  • Princeton’s Raunak Khosla really rounded into form in his senior year, earning second swims in all three of his events to go along with a sweep of his individual races at the Ivy League Championships.

INTERNATIONAL RECRUITS

NAME COLLEGE TEAM TOTAL NCAA POINTS 2019 NCAA POINTS 2020 NCAA POINTS 2021 NCAA POINTS 2022 NCAA POINTS
2020 NCAA PSYCH SHEET POINTS
Kacper Stokowski Florida/NC State 53 9 redshirt 17 27
David Schlicht Arizona/ASU 50 22 28
Antani Ivanov Virginia Tech 44.5 5 29 10.5 11
Nyls Korstanje NC State 38 9 redshirt 29 24
Cooper van der Laan Pitt 11 11
Nikola Acin Purdue 11 11
Umitcan Gures Harvard 11 11 12
Michael Houlie Tennessee 9 9
Josh Dannhauser Auburn/Wisconsin 5 5 0 (relay-only)
Giovanni Izzo NC State 4 4
Victor Johansson USC 3 3 6
Lyubomir Epitropov ECU/Tennessee 1 1
Lewis Burras Virginia/South Carolina 0 7.5
Sem Andreis Ohio State 0 3
Marin Ercegovic Arizona 0 2

Standouts:

  • Australian David Schlicht was the top international performer from this class through the 2020-21 season, having put up 22 points as a freshman and 28 as a junior at Arizona. He failed to score this past season after transferring to ASU.
  • NC State’s Kacper Stokowski joined the swimmers from this class to win an NCAA title in 2022, topping the 100 back field after placing second to Shaine Casas last year. The Polish native finished the four seasons with 53 points to lead all international swimmers.
  • Stokowski’s Wolfpack teammate Nyls Korstanje was dynamite this season with 29 points, earning top-five finishes in the 100 fly and 50 free while being a critical relay contributor. Having sat out of the 2020-21 season, the Dutchman has up to two years of eligibility left.
  • Antani Ivanov has already found success on the international stage competing for Bulgaria, and he’s also been a top contributor for Virginia Tech, highlighted by a third-place finish in the 200 fly (and sixth in the 100 fly) at the 2021 NCAAs.

DIVING RECRUITS

NAME COLLEGE TEAM TOTAL NCAA POINTS 2019 NCAA POINTS 2020 NCAA POINTS 2021 NCAA POINTS
2022 NCAA POINTS
Anton Down-Jenkins South Carolina/UNC 43 4 15 24
Ben Bramley Purdue 37 13 17 7
Matthew Wade Tennessee 36 13 19 4
Jacob Fielding Ohio State 29 3 13 13
Conor Casey Stanford 22 11 11
Noah Vigran Stanford 17 14 3
Tazman Abramowicz UNLV/Wisconsin 12 12 0
Danny Zhang Kentucky 7 6 1
Parker Hardigree SMU 6 0 6
Li Zhenwei Alabama 3 0 3
Conner Pruitt Auburn 3 0 3

Standouts:

  • Kiwi Olympian Anton Down-Jenkins was the class’ top diver, transferring from South Carolina to UNC after his freshman season. Down Jenkins scored 39 of his 43 NCAA points with the Tar Heels, placing fourth in the 3-meter last year and adding a pair of top-eight finishes in 2022.
  • Purdue’s Ben Bramley and Tennessee’s Matthew Wade also eclipsed 30 diving points at nationals, while Ohio State’s Jacob Fielding was close at 29, having put up 13 in back-to-back championships.

ALL INDIVIDUAL SCORERS IN THE CLASS

(Ranked recruits are listed with their 2018 rank. International recruits are listed with “INTL” and unranked recruits with “NR.” Diving recruits are listed with “DIVE”)

Final Rank 2018 Rank Name College Team Total NCAA Points 2019 NCAA Points 2020 NCAA Points 2021 NCAA Points 2022 NCAA Points
2020 NCAA Psych Sheet Points
1 11 Kieran Smith Florida 119 25 50 44 47
2 2 Drew Kibler Texas 118.5 25 47.5 46 36
3 4 Max McHugh Minnesota 110 33 40 37 36
4 12 Robert Finke Florida 100 5 53 42 39
5 1 Reece Whitley Cal 92 29 36 27 37
6 HM Shaine Casas Texas A&M 70 10 60 57
7 5 Daniel Krueger Texas 55.5 15 29.5 11 22
8 INTL Kacper Stokowski Florida/NC State 53 9 redshirt 17 27
9 INTL David Schlicht Arizona 50 22 28
10 INTL Antani Ivanov Virginia Tech 44.5 5 29 10.5 11
T-11 DIVE Anton Down Jenkins South Carolina/UNC 43 4 15 24
T-11 17 Danny Kovac Missouri 43 0 33 10 17.5
13 INTL Nyls Korstanje NC State 38 9 redshirt 29 24
T-14 13 Michael Brinegar Indiana 37 17 redshirt 7 13 redshirt
T-14 DIVE Ben Bramley Purdue 37 13 17 7
16 DIVE Matthew Wade Tennessee 36 13 19 4
17 NR Dillon Hillis Florida 34 18 16 15
18 10 Daniel Roy Stanford 30 5 14 11
T-19 DIVE Jacob Fielding Ohio State 29 3 13 13
T-19 HM Jack Dahlgren Missouri 29 0 12 17 11
21 NR Zane Backes Indiana 26 14 12 16
22 NR Braden Vines Texas 25 23 2 34
T-23 6 Trey Freeman Florida 22 2 redshirt 6 14 redshirt
T-23 DIVE Conor Casey Stanford 22 11 11
25 NR Raunak Khosla Princeton 19 6 13 8
26 3 Alexei Sancov USC 18 no invite 18 0 6
27 DIVE Noah Vigran Stanford 17 14 3
T-28 8 Patrick Callan Michigan 15 7 8 0 18.5
T-28 NR Jason Mathews Ohio State 15 15 4
T-28 NR Mitchell Whyte Louisville 15 6 9 0 28
T-28 NR Mason Wilby Kentucky 15 4 11
32 NR Justin Grender Virginia 14 3 11
T-33 DIVE Tazman Abramowicz UNLV/Wisconsin 12 12 0
T-33 NR Casey Storch Virginia 12 4 7 1
T-35 NR Alex Zettle Texas 11 11 0 2
T-35 NR Jarel Dillard Tennessee 11 11
T-35 NR Cooper van der Laan Pitt 11 11
T-35 NR Nikola Acin Purdue 11 11
T-35 NR Umitcan Gures Harvard 11 11 12
40 INTL Michael Houlie Tennessee 9 9
T-41 NR Hudson McDaniel Ohio State 7 7 0
T-41 NR Mikey Calvillo Indiana 7 7 7
T-41 NR Caleb Aman Wisconsin 7 3 4
T-41 DIVE Danny Zhang Kentucky 7 6 1
T-45 HM Will Davis Florida 6 0 0 6
T-45 NR Charlie Scheinfeld Texas 6 6
T-45 DIVE Parker Hardigree SMU 6 0 6
T-48 NR Michael Daly Penn State 5 5 0 1
T-48 NR Josh Bottelberghe Notre Dame 5 5
T-48 INTL Josh Dannhauser Auburn/Wisconsin 5 5 0 (relay-only)
T-48 HM Jack Franzman Indiana 5 no invite 5 no invite
T-52 NR Will Chan Michigan 4 4 0 3
T-52 INTL Giovanni Izzo NC State 4 4
T-54 DIVE Li Zhenwei Auburn 3 0 3
T-54 DIVE Conner Pruitt Auburn 3 0 3
T-54 INTL Victor Johansson USC 3 3 6
T-54 NR Jared Daigle Michigan 3 3
58 NR Cooper DeRyk Utah 2.5 2.5 0 (relay-only)
T-59 NR Dylan Eichberg Virginia Tech 2 2
T-59 19 Andrew Abruzzo Georgia 2 0 2 no invite
61 INTL Lyubomir Epitropov ECU/Tennessee 1 1
62 14 Matthew Willenbring Texas 0 0 no invite 16
63 NR Blake Manoff Virginia Tech 0 15
64 INTL Lewis Burras Virginia/South Carolina 0 7.5
65 NR Chris Jhong Cal 0 6
T-66 NR Christian Sztolcman Auburn 0 0 (relay-only) 3
T-66 INTL Sem Andreis Ohio State 0 3
68 INTL Marin Ercegovic Arizona 0 2
T-69 NR Kyle Barone Georgia Tech 0 1
T-69 NR Nicholas Perera Alabama 0 1

Archives: Revisiting Recruit Ranks

Analysis as of: Spring 2022 Spring 2021 Spring 2020 Spring 2019 Spring 2018 Spring 2017
Class of 2021
Class of 2020 After Sophomore Year
Class of 2019 After Junior Year After Sophomore Year
Class of 2018 After Senior Year After Junior Year After Sophomore Year
Class of 2017 After Senior Year After Junior Year After Sophomore Year
Class of 2016 After Senior Year
Class of 2015
Class of 2014
Class of 2013

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Jbaby
7 months ago

Where do the old guys, dean and shoults end up on this list?

swimmermom
7 months ago

whens this year freshman article coming out

swimswamswum
7 months ago

It’s so interesting with the men that very few are huge points earners all four years, particularly their freshman year. The only recent ones that come to mind are Ryan Murphy, David Nolan, and maybe Seliskar. All the other ones I thought either had an off year (Dressel, Schooling, Licon) or didn’t swim three events every year (Conger, also Schooling).

Cody Bybee
7 months ago

Hey in all fairness I was seeded to be top 8 my freshman year but came down with mono. And this year I helped out 4 relays to top 8 finishes. Not my fault everybody else got dummy fast

Cody Bybee
Reply to  Cody Bybee
7 months ago

Thanks the the edit swimswam (-:

Raul Rodriquez
Reply to  Cody Bybee
7 months ago

You had a nice year Cody. Your first chance to compete a NCAA’s and you took home 4 trophies. How many swimmers get 4 trophies in their entire career!

Raul Rodriquez
Reply to  Raul Rodriquez
7 months ago

And I noticed that the times you swam this year in all 3 events would have scored last year. The 5th year guys and the incredible amount of foreign swimmers recently makes it a tough year for everyone. Lots of the top recruits didn’t score this year.

swimswamswum
7 months ago

For whatever reason I remember someone complaining that Smith was way too highly ranked in this class and this really goes to show how wrong they were! Top point getter in the class as well as a key relay contributor to Florida in the past 4 years.

Admin
Reply to  swimswamswum
7 months ago

https://swimswam.com/top-20-ncaa-swimming-recruits-boys-high-school-class-2018/#comment-517490

And I quote: “Also, the #8 recruit is at least 20 places higher than he should be” (Kieran was the #8 recruit at the time).”

sam
7 months ago

Lewis Burras might be the biggest recruit in 2022 standars, he´s gonna have hell of summer…..

Aquajosh
7 months ago

Florida consistently does more with less. Chaney is the first real blue chip recruit UF has gotten in years, and he’s lighting it up.

I’d like to see Kieran come back for a 5th year. Preparations for World Trials got in the way of what he might be able to really do.

swimswamswum
Reply to  Aquajosh
7 months ago

Florida has always done pretty well at getting good international recruits which has helped them besides developing non-blue chip guys.

Riccardo
Reply to  Aquajosh
7 months ago

They got this guy named Caeleb Dressel to commit in 2014.

Jbaby
Reply to  Riccardo
7 months ago

I disagree, and this shouldn’t be a crazy cold take but I might get some downvotes.

Schools like Florida/Texas have some killer recruits (some of the best in the country/internationally for Florida) and develop some “lower” ranked recruits and turn them into solid swimmers. In the same breath, Texas and Florida benefit greatly by the size of their recruiting classes. It seems as if there is no limit on the number of guys they can have on their roster. This is off of memory but I recall recently Florida having an incoming class of about 15 swimmers and their total roster somewhere over 40 or 45. There are few schools that allow over 35. Yes they get solid recruits and… Read more »

Fresh kid ice man
7 months ago

Ouch IU. Losing Backes to “mental health”, Franzman not scoring, Brinnegar leaving, and about a dozen others not named in the article.

SwimmerGOD
Reply to  Fresh kid ice man
7 months ago

Calvillo, Hamblin along in this class going from All Americans to irrelevancy. The IU burnout is real.

Not to mention losing talent from the 2019 recruiting class through immediate transfers: Marcum, Gallant and Bathurst.

Major props to guys like Burns, Matthias and Steele for grinding it out!!!

Last edited 7 months ago by SwimmerGOD

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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