There is a new men’s college recruiting-class sheriff in town.
And the bad news for the rest of the NCAA men’s college volleyball world: It’s the two-time defending national champions.
Coach Alan Knipe’s Long Beach State program, which won the 2018 and 2019 NCAA titles, and did not have a chance to defend the crown this season because of the COVID-19 shutdown, is the overwhelming choice as having the top 2020 recruiting class. Our ranking is voted on by an elite panel of NCAA Division I-II coaches and recruiting coordinators.
We include not only incoming freshmen, but also transfers and international players.
With its nod as the top class, Long Beach State dethrones UCLA, which held the top spot the past three years after having the third-rated class in 2016.
The Bruins didn’t exactly end up on skid row. Coach John Speraw and recruiting coordinator and longtime men’s game good-guy John Hawks check in at a healthy No. 2 in the 2020 rankings.
Long Beach State garnered just more than four out of every five first-place votes in the polling with UCLA and UC Santa Barbara also in the category of teams that earned first-place consideration.
The 49ers held a 29-voting-point edge over UCLA, more than double the Bruins’ 14-point advantage over 2019 No. 2 Stanford. The Bruins were 13 points ahead of the Gauchos from Santa Barbara in the race for No. 2.
After UC Santa Barbara, the rest of the top five includes UC Irvine at No. 4 (large gap between UC Santa Barbara and Irvine) and Loyola-Chicago at No. 5 in a photo finish for that spot over Princeton at No. 6. The final ballot submitted turned the tables for the Ramblers, who edged the Tigers by a single voting point for that fifth spot.
The top 10 shows Pepperdine (No. 7), Ohio State (No. 8), Hawai’i (No. 9) and a tie for the final spot with BYU and Lewis.
One thing to keep a close eye on here is the NCAA recently ruling in favor of extended eligibility for the seniors who played on 2020 teams this spring and had their seasons cancelled by the pandemic. They now have the option to return for the 2021 season, which could have an effect on these incoming recruits and how quickly they see the competition floor (or could an incoming recruit send a now-returning senior to the pine?).
For instance, Hawai’i, ranked No. 2 in the country at the time of the shutdown and subsequent season cancellation, said four 2020 seniors, including All-American Rado Parapunov will be back next season.
And we close with a little history lesson that will be expanded on in greater detail later this year. Looking at five-year trends and assigning decreasing point values based on where a team appeared in the poll each year (starting with 10 points for having the top recruiting class), it’s UCLA in a landslide with 47 points, followed by Stanford, which had 29 points based off three classes that earned top-two rankings, and then it’s Long Beach State and UC Irvine tied for third with 26 points each and then Loyola and Pepperdine tied for fifth with 22 each.
In terms of consistency, UCLA, Long Beach State, Irvine, Loyola and Ohio State have appeared in each of the last five top-10 rankings.
1. Long Beach State 49ers
Who is new in Long Beach: Nato Dickinson (6-7, RS-OH, Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, CA, Pinnacle), Clarke Godbold (6-5, OH, Peninsula, Palos Verdes, CA, SCVC), Matthew Iamaleava (6-6, MB, Long Beach, CA, Poly, Rockstar), Caden Jackson (6-0, Libero, Dana Hills, Dana Point, CA, 949), Noah Robin (6-7, MB, Huntington Beach, CA, Pinnacle), Sebastian Rodriguez (6-5, OH, Redondo Union, Redondo Beach, CA, Balboa Bay), Simon Torwie (6-10, RS, Frankfurt, Germany, Carl-Von-Weinberg-Schule, German youth national team)
Analysis: The 49ers loaded up with this class and then some. Godbold, recently named to the USA junior national training team, is the top-ranked recruit in the 2020 class via a vote of NCAA Division I-II coaches and recruiting coordinators as part of the 2020 VolleyballMag.com Boys Fab 50 rankings. Godbold also was named the 2019 VolleyballMag.com boys club player of the year. Knipe’s haul includes five Boys Fab 50 picks in Godbold, Dickinson, Iamaleava, Robin and Rodriguez. Keep an eye on German native Torwie, who has piqued the curiosity of plenty.
“This class has some high-level talent and the best player might be the German Torwie, as opposed to Godbold,” one pollster noted. “Torwie brings some high-level physicality to match the volleyball skills that Godbold and others possess.”
Here’s Knipe’s synopsis of his class: “We have added two of the top outside hitters in the class and the No. 1 overall recruit. We have two very athletic and dynamic middle blockers, a big time opposite from the German national team, a very well-rounded outside hitter/setter-opposite and a solid libero.”
And this from another voter: “Rodriguez, Godbold and Torwie is one heck of a trio at the pins. As always, they look to be reloading.”
2. UCLA Bruins
Who is new in Westwood: Ethan Champlin (6-3, OH, Classical Academy, Escondido, CA, Coast), Guy Genis (6-5, MB, Alliance, Tel Aviv, Israel, Maccabi Tel Aviv), Miles Partain (6-3, S-RS, Palisades, Pacific Palisades, CA, Pac6), Grant Sloane (6-8, OH, Northwood, Irvine, CA, Orange Coast)
Analysis: After having the top class in the country the last three years, the Bruins “fall” to No. 2 in this year’s rankings. Champlin, Partain and Sloane are Boys Fab 50 selections with Champlin voted the No. 2 recruit in the class of 2020 and Partain the No. 5 recruit via the 2020 VolleyballMag.com Boys Fab 50 voting. Hawks is jacked up about this smaller, but impactful class.
“We love this class,” Hawks said. “We have addressed some important needs for our program. This is an extremely talented group with lots of experience. Ethan Champlin is a natural-born leader on and off the court. He is an elite passer and defender, and attacked with nice range for his limited experience playing that position. Grant Sloane is a very good volleyball player who gives us some nice size for our future. He is nowhere near his potential. Add Miles Partain and you get the most complete volleyball player of the class who can play four positions really well. Guy Genis is an athletic middle with elite blocking potential. He is explosive and his experience in the army (Israel) will prove invaluable to our team. All four players have the ability to make an impact right away. More importantly, we have added four outstanding young men who will positively add to our tremendous culture for years to come.”
Partain was recently named both the AVP and VolleyballMag.com rookie of the year as a high schooler.
“Partain and Champlin give them a lot of versatility, high volleyball IQ and high-level experience,” said one pollster, who added Sloane staying healthy is a wild-card with this Bruins’ class.
And this from another voter. “Partain and Champlin are very savvy volleyball players, though they might get the most out of Sloane, who will bring them some needed physicality at the pin if he is healthy.” Champlin recently was named to the USA junior national training team.
3. UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
Who is new in Santa Barbara: Rees Barnett (6-4, RS, Redondo Union. Redondo Beach, CA, SCVC), Sam Collins (6-0, OH, Mira Costa, Manhattan Beach, CA, Rockstar), Jaden Glenn (5-11, Libero, Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, CA, Balboa Bay), Reece Francke (6-7, MB, St. Augustine, Encinitas, CA, Coast), Dain Johnson (6-7, MB, Mira Costa, Manhattan Beach, CA, Rockstar), Dominic Lang (6-1, OH, St. Monica, Santa Monica, CA, West VBC), Andrew Reavis (6-4, OH, Laguna Beach, CA, 949)
Analysis: There is a reason coach Rick McLaughlin’s Gauchos are so high up on this list. Santa Barbara hit the Southern California talent pool hard and comes away with six VBM Boys Fab 50 selections in Barnett (recent USA junior national training team appointee), Collins, Glenn, Francke, Johnson and Reavis.
“I really like our class of seven freshmen,” McLaughlin said. “It’s a group of all-around very well-skilled players who take volleyball seriously. I can’t wait to get back in the gym with the returners and these new guys.”
One voter added: “It’s a big class with a lot of depth. It’s similar to Loyola’s class with a lot of guys with good potential.”
And this from another pollster. “Good depth. Their seniors returning will help these guys grow over time.”
4. UC Irvine Anteaters
Who is new in Irvine: Connor Campbell (6-7, MB, The O’Farrell Charter, San Diego, CA, Wave), Connor Dahm (6-4, OH, Monte Vista, Danville, CA, Bay to Bay), Gustavo Gomes (6-2, Libero, Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, CA, Balboa Bay), Jackson Payne (6-6, MB, Carlsbad, CA, East, Coast), Francesco Sani (6-8, OH, Walther Johnson, Bethesda, Maryland, The St. James VBC), Dylan Zhai (6-1, S, Archbishop Mitty, San Jose, CA, Bay to Bay)
Analysis: Anteaters coach David Kniffin goes up and down the state of California with a great mix of San Diego-, Orange County- and Bay-area standouts, to go along with Sani, ranked the No. 2 recruit in the VBM Boys Fab 50. Sani recently was named to the USA junior national training team. Together, the Anteaters wind up with three Fab 50 picks in Sani, Campbell and Payne.
“It’s a diverse and ample collection of personalities and talent,” Kniffin said. “And they know what they are signing up for.”
Here is what one pollster had to say regarding Sani, “Sani could play with (Joel) Schneidmiller right away.” The 6-6 Schneidmiller plays outside for the Anteaters and is a former Big West freshman of the year.
And this from another voter, “Sani is the real deal and is the main reason I have them in the top five.”
5. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers
Who is new in the Windy City: Jonathan Drysdale-Anderson (6-5, RS, Surrey, England , Tasis England, Richmond Volleyball), Josh Gottlieb (6-6, OH-RS, Wheaton-Warrenville South, Wheaton, Illinois, Sports Performance), Sebastian Lara (6-3, OH, Mater Dei, Santa Ana, CA, The HBC), Dan Mangun (6-4, S, Joliet, Illinois, Catholic, Uno VBC), Jack Martel (6-6, MB, Kirkwood, St. Louis, Missouri, HP St. Louis), Jimmy Meinhart (6-8, MB, Glenbard West, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Future), Ben Montplaisir (6-6, MB, Woodridge, Irvine, CA, Orange Coast), Matt Oakley (6-1, Libero, Sage Creek, Carlsbad, CA, Orange Coast), Justin Ross (6-8, MB, Stevenson, Lincolnshire, Illinois, Adversity), Parker Van Buren (6-9, OH, Middleton, Cross Plains, Wisconsin, Milwaukee)
Analysis: This is a very large 2020 recruiting class for Ramblers coach Mark Hulse. Of the 10, seven earned VBM Boys Fab 50 distinction. One voter termed Loyola’s class as “legit” in terms of not only depth but also in the fact they feel 4-5 of those players are potential game-changers in the MIVA (Loyola’s league).
“I would expect four or five starters from this class, a few who may see the court as freshmen,” the voter noted.
Here’s what Hulse says: “This group gives us some needed depth at a handful of positions, but also some special physicality with big, strong athletes that can make a difference on the court. Best of all, they all are high-character guys who want to win, are fun to play with and will contribute to our team culture.”
And some more high praise from another voter. “The Loyola-Chicago class is one of the best they have had in years, especially with how deep it is. Every guy has a chance to make an early impact.” Hulse tapped into the Chicago-area club scene hard, nabbing prospects from Sports Performance, Uno, Future and Adversity.
6. Princeton Tigers
Who is new in Princeton: Josh Coan (6-8, MB, Penfield, NY, Pace Bootlegger), Ben Harrington (6-4, OH, Glenbard West, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Future), Gavin Leising (6-8, MB, Hart, Newhall, CA, Sports Academy), Charlie Rogers (6-0, S, Windward, Los Angeles, CA, West VB Nike Elite), Henry Wedbush (6-4, S, Loyola, Los Angeles, CA, SCVC)
Analysis: Another bang-up job by coach Sam Shweisky and recruiting coordinator Pat Shawaryn. This group features four Boys Fab 50 picks in Coan, Harrington, Leising and Wedbush, representing some high-power high school and club programs coast to coast.
“Our 2020 class is full of raw, athletic talent,” Shweisky said. “They all possess a drive and hunger to be the best they can be that we are very excited to bring into our gym. They also all have extremely high volleyball IQs and very high ceilings. This class fills a lot of needs for us with the departure of three four-year starters in George Huhmann, Greg Luck and Parker Dixon. This group has the potential to be one of the best classes Princeton volleyball has seen for some time.”
One pollster had the Tigers high on his scorecard. “Harrington, Wedbush and Leising give them good size and talent at every spot.” Rogers, like Wedbush, is from Los Angeles. Leising and Wedbush recently were named to the USA junior national training team.
7. Pepperdine Waves
Who is new in Malibu: Austin Chandler (6-5, MB, Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, CA, Balboa Bay), Trey Cole (6-0, Libero, Connetquot, Bohemia, NY, Academy), Eli Crane (6-4, RS, San Clemente, CA, 949), Joe Deluzio (6-6, OH, The First Academy, Windmere, Florida, MVP Academy-MB Surf), Bryce Dvorak (6-3, S, Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, CA, Balboa Bay), Anderson Fuller (6-9, RS-OH, Fayetteville-Manilus, NY, Pace Bootlegger), Cole Rasic (6-4, OH, Servite, Anaheim, CA, Balboa Bay)
Analysis: Cole, Deluzio, Dvorak and Fuller all earned 2020 Boys Fab 50 honors.
“Dvorak, Fuller, Deluzio and Cole provide them with high-level experience as all have logged time with the USA youth and junior teams,” one voter noted.
Coach David Hunt headed east and came away with two top New York state recruits in Cole and Fuller. Dvorak and Chandler both played for highly touted Corona del Mar in high school and along with Rasic clubbed at well-known Balboa Bay.
“What I like about our incoming class is that it adds elite depth for us at every position,” Hunt said. “It strengthens our practice gym and immediately inserts guys with high-level volleyball IQ.” Word on the street is several transfers are headed to Malibu. Dvorak recently earned a spot in the USA junior national training team.
8. Ohio State Buckeyes
Who is new in Columbus: Jacob Pasteur (6-4, OH, Homeschooled, Westminster, Maryland, Yorktowne), Noah Platfoot (6-1, S, Hilliard, Ohio, Darby, Vanguard), Thomas Poole (5-9, Libero, Jerome, Dublin, Ohio, Vanguard), Sotiris Siapanis (6-3, OH, Nicosia Grammar School, Limassol, Cyprus, Nea Salamina), Nate Wilson (6-2, OH-Libero, Northeastern, Mount Wolf, Pennsylvania, Yorktowne)
Analysis: There are all sorts of things to talk about with the Buckeyes here. Platfoot is an Ohio state player of the year, while Pasteur was named to the USA junior national training team roster, and clubbed with Wilson at Pennsylvania-based Yorktowne where that team won two qualifiers this past season.
“Noah brings elite athleticism and leadership to the setting position and we look forward to his impact,” Ohio State coach Kevin Burch said. Poole shows plenty of upside at the libero position, having manned the back row at the Vanguard club program where current Buckeyes libero Parker Mikesch played. The wild-card here is Siapanis, who was the stating OH1 on the Cyprus senior national team and also is an accomplished beach player. One voter feels Ohio State has two of the best pins in the class in Sotiris and Pasteur and a setter in Platfoot that has a chance to take the controls from start to finish in Columbus. “I’m excited for the elite athleticism and leadership this class brings,” Burch said. “We also have as much high-level volleyball experience in this class as any this program has brought in. All five guys are proven winners who bring a unique drive and passion to the court.”
Another voter singled out Pasteur and Siapanis. “Pasteur is special in terms of physicality along with a recruit from Cyprus who will increase their volleyball skill level,” the voter noted.
9. Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors
Who is new in Honolulu: Austin Buchanan (6-8, S, Monte Vista, CA, Bay to Bay), Spyros Chakas (6-4, OH, Athens, Greece), Makua Marumoto (6-4, OH, Hawai’i Baptist, Honolulu, Hawai’i, Spike & Serve), Croix Reganit (6-2, RS-OH, Sierra Vista, Las Vegas, Nevada, Kaizen), Logan Sharp (5-9, Libero, El Segundo, CA, SCVC), Jack Walmer (6-3, S, Mira Costa, Manhattan Beach, CA, MB Surf)
Analysis: Coach Charlie Wade scooped up Boys Fab 50 selections in Buchanan, Sharp and Walmer, while staying local with Marumoto, hitting the Vegas scene with Reganit and bringing in Greece native Chakas. Buchanan went to the same high school and played on the same club team as UC Irvine recruit Connor Dahm. Marumoto helped St. Francis High School win a 2019 Hawai’i Division II state title and then transferred to Hawai’i Baptist when St. Francis shuttered. Buchanan’s mother, Debbie, is the longtime women’s volleyball head coach at the University of Idaho, while Walmer’s father, Tim, played on the AVP tour. Chakas most recently helped is team to a first-place finish in the Greek U18 championships where he earned MVP and best spiker honors. His teams also competed at the Greece U21 championships.
“Spyros is a dynamic athlete and serious student,” Wade said when the signing was originally announced. “His commitment to being the best he can be as a student and athlete makes him a perfect fit for our program.”
10. Brigham Young Cougars
Who is new in Provo: Anthony Cherfan (6-6, RS, Bishop Alemany, Los Angeles, CA, Mamba), David Hawkins (6-6, OH Clovis, CA, Pac Rim), Cooper Jarman (6-4, S, Palo Verde, Las Vegas, Nevada, Vegas United), Ian Little (6-6, RS, Temecula Valley, Temecula, CA, Forza), Zeo Meyer (6-4, S, Wheaton-Warrenville South, Wheaton, Illinois, Future), Jack Palmer (6-8, OH, La Costa Canyon, Encinitas, CA, Wave), Miks Ramanis (6-4, OH, Northgate, Walnut Creek, CA, Forza), Caleb Sorenson (6-7, MB, Wheaton, North, Illinois, Pipeline)
Analysis: Voters had plenty to say about Meyer, a 2020 Fab 50 selection. One voter labeled Meyer “a special talent.” Another pollster really likes Meyer, but said don’t sleep on the rest of coach Shawn Olmstead’s incoming class. “Zeo Meyer headlines this class, but each guy that’s committed brings big talent.”
Olmstead went up and down CA and snagged Cherfan, Hawkins, Little, Palmer and Ramanis, while getting Jarman from Vegas and two west-suburban Chicago standouts in Meyer and Sorenson.
10. Lewis Flyers
Who is new in Romeoville: Cooper Armstrong (6-5, S, Foothill Technology, Ventura, CA, SMBC), Liam Buck (6-6, OH-RS, Ambridge, Pennsylvania, Beaver Valley Premier), Evan Giorgi (6-8, RS, Camarillo, CA, SMBC), Connor Keating (6-2, OH, Andrew, Tinley Park, Illinois, Ultimate), Landon Krause (6-5, OH, Kimberly, Wisconsin, Milwaukee), Keaton Long (6-4, OH, Plano, Texas, East, Excel), Tyler Simpson (6-10, MB, Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, Top Flight/Yorktowne)
Analysis: Lewis welcomes 2020 VolleyballMag.com Boys Fab 50 selections in Giorgi, Keating, Krause and Long.
“We have a great group coming in this year that has talent, athleticism, personality and willingness to get better,” Lewis coach Dan Friend said. “Those are key ingredients for us when we look for future players. What is exceptional about this group is we have covered every position for us. There are certainly a couple athletes who will make a lasting impact on our program.”
One voter added this: “Dan always does a great job of finding diamonds in the rough. He’s done it again with this class, getting big size and athleticism. Keaton Long will be a force early in his career.”
And this from another pollster: “Krause is very well-rounded and Long is underrated with good potential.” Long recently was named to the USA junior national training team.
Honorable Mention: USC, George Mason, Stanford, Grand Canyon, Penn State