This year’s VolleyballMag.com Boys Fab 50 list screams the obvious on numerous fronts.
Continuing recent trends, the state of California dominates the sport’s longest-running and most-respected rankings of the top 50 senior-age boys players in the country as voted on by an elite list of NCAA Division I-II men’s coaches.
The Golden State has more than 55 percent of the field and would have had an even 60 if not for a five-way tie for the 50th spot on the 2020 list (for those bean counters, you will see 54 names on this year’s list). This Cali domination continues a trend that saw 30 also make it in 2019. Twenty-seven from California made it in 2018 and 2017.
Illinois is a distant second on the Fab 50 list this year with seven players originating from the Land of Lincoln.
With that many Californians ranked, it’s no surprise clubs from that state lead this year’s pack with Fab 50 selections. SCVC tops the list with five Fab 50s, followed by Balboa Bay with four and then a tie for third with 949, Coast, Orange Coast and Rock Star with three each, and all are based in Southern California. The Illinois-based Future club also has three Fab 50 selections this year.
Which college programs made out the best on this list?
Chicago-based Loyola and coach Mark Hulse top things with seven Fab 50 selections, while Rick McLaughlin’s UC Santa Barbara Gauchos have six Fab 50 picks, Long Beach State has five, and in the East Sam Shweisky continues to do good things at the Ivy League’s Princeton, which has four 2020 Fab 50 selections. Loyola tied for first in 2019 with six Fab 50 selections.
SCVC’s Clarke Godbold is officially the nation’s top recruit in the Class of 2020, earning the honor in a landslide. Thirty-two points separated Godbold, also the 2019 VolleyballMag.com boys club player of the year and earmarked for Long Beach State, from second-place Maryland native Francesco Sani, who is heading to UC Irvine.
Third- through fifth-place in the top five this year include: 3) Ethan Champlin from the San Diego area and headed to UCLA, 4) Henry Wedbush, also from the SCVC club and headed to Princeton, and 5) Miles Partain, another UCLA signee. Stretching it out to the top 10, it’s Jacob Pasteur (No. 6, Ohio State), Grant Sloane (No. 7, UCLA), Nolan Flexen (No. 8, Grand Canyon), Hawai’i native Jack Deuchar (No. 9, USC) and Zeo Meyer (No. 10, BYU).
Flexen, from the Albuquerque, New Mexico suburb of Rio Rancho, is this year’s interesting name. The 6-8 outside hitter has been homeschooled his entire academic career. He originally hooked up with a homeschool boys team before finding a men’s rec league team in nearby Albuquerque, and then hitting the club circuit last year with Florida-based 352. He’s over at Arizona Fear now where he has shot up the recruiting charts, ending up with Phoenix-based Mountain Pacific Sports Federation entrant Grand Canyon University and coach Matt Werle. We’ll have a separate story on Flexen and his volleyball and academic journeys in the very near future here.
Another interesting snippet with this year’s list is the case of Balboa Bay stalwart Geste Bianchi, who will start his college career at well-known Southern California JUCO Orange Coast. He received so many write-in votes from panelists that he made it onto the 50.
We also present a list of 25 underclassmen to watch (they can be freshmen, sophomores or juniors). Last year’s 25 watch list saw 21 of 24 graduate to this year’s Fab 50 grouping with the 25th name, BYU commit Luke Benson, making his second appearance on the top-25 list after being on it as a 10th-grader in 2019.
Keep in mind, this is not a list of the top 25 underclassmen in the country, rather an excellent sampling of who some of the up-and-coming young guns are. Again, this was voted on by our panel of NCAA Division I-II men’s coaches.
One note on the 25 list, in the nearly 20 years I have compiled these rankings I cannot recall a boys player from the state of Iowa making the list. That streak is over, and in fact, we have two players from the Johnston Volleyball Club who are on the 25 to watch list.
No other major trends with the 25 (we did have a two-way tie for the 25th spot so you will see 26 names), other than two sophomores made it, California dominated the list, andPenn State, UC Santa Barbara and Ohio State scored two each of confirmed verbal commits on this hot prospects ledger.
2020 VolleyballMag.com Boys Fab 50 Name, Height, Position, High School, Club, College Choice James Bardin, 6-7, S-RS, Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA), 949, Harvard
Rees Barnett, 6-4, RS, Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, CA), SCVC, UC Santa Barbara
Geste Bianchi, 6-5, RS-S, Laguna Beach (CA), Balboa Bay, Orange Coast CC
Peter Brown, 6-7, RS, New Trier (Winnetka, Illinois), Chicago Bounce, USC
Kupono Browne, 6-5, OH, Iolani School (Honolulu, Hawai’i), Spike & Serve, Stanford
Austin Buchanan, 6-8, S, Monte Vista (CA), Bay to Bay, Hawai’i
Connor Campbell, 6-8 1/2, MB, The O’Farrell Charter (San Diego, CA), Wave, UC Irvine
Ethan Champlin, 6-3, OH, Classical Academy (Escondido, CA), Coast, UCLA
Jacob Christopher, 6-7, RS, Northwest (Cedar Hill, Missouri), HP St. Louis, Purdue Ft. Wayne
Josh Coan, 6-6, MB, Penfield (New York), Pace Bootlegger, Princeton
Trey Cole, 6-0, Libero, Connetquot (Bohemia, New York), Academy, Pepperdine
Sam Collins, 6-2, OH-RS, Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, CA), Rockstar, UC Santa Barbara
Joe Deluzio, 6-6, OH, The First Academy (Windermere, Florida), MVP Academy, Pepperdine
Jack Deuchar, 6-7, OH, Punahou (Honolulu, Hawaii), Spike & Serve, USC
Nato Dickinson, 6-7, RS-OH, Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, CA), Pinnacle, Long Beach State
Bryce Dvorak, 6-3, S, Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, CA), Balboa Bay, Pepperdine
Nolan Flexen, 6-8, OH, Homeschooled (Rio Rancho, New Mexico), AZ Fear, Grand Canyon
Anderson Fuller, 6-9, RS-OH, Fayetteville-Manilus (New York), Pace Bootlegger, Pepperdine
Reece Francke, 6-7, MB, St. Augustine (Encinitas, CA), Coast, UC Santa Barbara
Evan Giorgi, 6-8, RS-OH, Camarillo (CA), SMBC, Lewis
Jaden Glenn, 5-11, Libero, Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, CA), Balboa Bay, UC Santa Barbara
Clarke Godbold, 6-5, OH, Peninsula (Rolling Hills Estates, CA), SCVC, Long Beach State
Josh Gottlieb, 6-7, OH-RS, Wheaton (Illinois)-Warrenville South, Sports Performance, Loyola
Ben Harrington, 6-2, OH, Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Illinois), Future, Princeton
Omar Hoyos, 6-7, OH, Archbishop McCarthy (Ft. Lauderdale, FL), MVP Academy, George Mason
Matthew Iamaleava, 6-6, MB, Long Beach (CA) Poly, Rockstar, Long Beach State
Dain Johnson, 6-7, MB, Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, CA), Rockstar, UC Santa Barbara
Landon Krause , 6-4, OH, Kimberly (Wisconsin), Milwaukee, Lewis
Gavin Leising, 6-10, MB, Hart (Newhall, CA), Sports Academy, Princeton
Keaton Long, 6-4, OH, Plano (Texas) East, Excel, Lewis
Dan Mangun, 6-4, S, Joliet (Illinois) Catholic, Uno VBC, Loyola
Jack Martel, 6-6, MB, Kirkwood (St. Louis, Missouri), HP St. Louis, Loyola
Zeo Meyer, 6-4, S, Wheaton (Illinois)-Warrenville South, Future, BYU
Ben Montplaisir, 6-6, MB, Woodbridge (Irvine, CA), OCVC, Loyola
Matt Oakley, 6-1, Libero, Sage Creek (Carlsbad, CA), OCVC, Loyola
Miles Partain, 6-3, S-RS, Palisades (Pacific Palisades, CA), Pac6, UCLA
Jacob Pasteur, 6-4, OH (Homeschooled) Westminster, Pennsylvania, Yorktowne, Ohio State
Jackson Payne, 6-6, MB, Carlsbad (CA), Coast, UC Irvine
Jared Piontkowski, 6-9, MB-RS, Holy Redeemer (Wilkes-Barre, PA), Yorktowne, Ohio State
Noah Platfoot, 6-2, S, Darby (Hilliard, Ohio), Vanguard, Ohio State
Andrew Reavis, 6-4, OH, Laguna Beach (CA), 949, UC Santa Barbara
Jackson Reed, 6-1, OH, Cathedral (San Diego, CA), 949, USC
Noah Robin, 6-7, MB, Huntington Beach (CA), Pinnacle, Long Beach State
Sebastian Rodriguez, 6-5, OH, Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, CA), Balboa Bay, Long Beach St.
Justin Ross, 6-8, MB, Stevenson (Lincolnshire, Illinois), Adversity, Loyola
Francesco Sani, 6-8, OH, Walter Johnson (Bethesda, Maryland), The St. James, UC Irvine
Logan Sharp, 5-8, Libero, El Segundo (CA), SCVC, Hawaii
Grant Sloane, 6-8, OH, Northwood (Irvine, CA), OCVC, UCLA
Luke Snyder, 6-3, S, Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, CA), SCVC, Penn State
Luke Turner, 6-6,OH, Loyola (Los Angeles, CA), SCVC, Stanford
Parker Van Buren, 6-9, OH, Middleton (Cross Plains, Wisconsin), Milwaukee, Loyola
Bryce Walker, 6-8,MB, St. Francis (Wheaton, Illinois), Future, Purdue-Ft. Wayne
Jack Walmer, 6-3, S, Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, CA), MB Surf, Hawaii
Henry Wedbush, 6-4, S, Loyola (Los Angeles, CA), SCVC, Princeton
Top 5 Players in the Class of 2020
1. Clarke Godbold, SCVC, Long Beach State
2. Francesco Sani, TVP, UC Irvine
3. Ethan Champlin, Coast, UCLA
4. Henry Wedbush, SCVC, Princeton
5. Miles Partain, Pac6, UCLA
2020 VolleyballMag.com Boys 25 Underclassmen to Watch Name, Height, Position, Year, High School, Club, College (if known) Luke Benson, 6-6, OH, Jr., Newbury Park (CA), Mamba Sports Academy, BYU
Luke Biondi, 6-5, OH, Jr., Iolani School (Honolulu, Hawaii),Spike & Serve, n/a
Owen Birg, 6-7, RS-S, Jr., Thousand Oaks (CA),Mamba Sports Academy, UCSB
Ben Braun, 6-10, MB, Jr., Palm Desert (CA), OCVC, Ohio State
Ben Coordt, 6-4, OH, Jr., Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, CA), Rockstar, UCSB
Matt Cosgrove, 6-5, OH, Jr., Parkway West (Ballwin, Missouri), HP St. Louis, Penn State
Gabe Dyer, 6-4, S-RS, Jr., Saddleback Valley Christian (San Juan Capistrano, CA), Balboa Bay, n/a
Jonah Gilbert, 6-5, OH, Jr., Bradley (Hilliard, Ohio), Vanguard, n/a
Callahan Hefner, 6-5, OH, Soph., Westlake (Austin, Texas),Houston VB Academy, n/a
Dane Hillis, 6-3, OH-RS, Jr., San Clemente (CA), Balboa Bay, Long Beach State
Luke Hobus, 6-5, MB, Jr., Palos Verdes (Palos Verdes Estates, CA),MB Surf, n/a
Cole Ignaszak,6-7, OH, Jr., West Seneca (New York), Niagara Frontier, Penn State
Noah Keelin, 6-5, OH, Jr., Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA), 949, n/a
Klistan Lawrence, 6-7, OH, Jr., Forest (Ocala, Florida), 352, Long Beach State
Lucas Little, 6-4, MB, Jr., Olentangy Orange (Lewis Center, Ohio), Vanguard, n/a
Robin Liu, 6-2, S, Jr., Bellarmine College Prep (San Jose, CA), Bay to Bay, n/a
Luke McFall, 6-9, MB-OH, Amador Valley (Pleasanton, CA), Bay to Bay, n/a
Sean McQuiggan, 6-8, MB, Jr., Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, CA), Rockstar, n/a
Ryan Merk, 5-11, Libero, Jr., Loyola Academy (Wilmette, Illinois), D1, Penn State
Tyler Morgan, 6-7, S, Jr., Dike-New Hartford (Dike, Iowa), Johnston VBC, n/a
Cooper Robinson, 6-6, OH, Jr., Loyola (Los Angeles, CA), SCVC, UCLA
Kevin Roberts, 6-5, OH-RS, Jr., Apopka (Florida), 352, n/a
Max Roquet, 6-7, OH, Jr., Johnston (Iowa), Johnston VBC, n/a
Andrew Rowan, 6-7, S-OH, Soph., JSerra (San Juan Capistrano, CA), OCVC, n/a
Theo Snoey, 6-6, RS, Jr., Head-Royce (Oakland, CA), Bay to Bay, n/a
Kyle Teune, 6-6, OH, Jr., Timothy Christian (Elmhurst, Illinois), Sports Performance, Ohio State