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Porter-Gaud's Aaron Nesmith (front) is ranked second in South Carolina's senior class, while Josiah James is the state's top-rated junior. 

Porter-Gaud junior Josiah James leapt into elite company in the latest Rivals 150 national rankings, released Tuesday.

The Cyclones’ 6-foot-6 point guard rose to No. 18 in the Class of 2019 national rankings and was upgraded to a five-star prospect. Recruiting services typically use stars to grade a prospect’s potential with five being reserved for a small fraction of the nation’s elite. James is one of just 28 five-star prospects in the 2019 class. He’s averaging 14 points, six rebounds and six assists this season as the highest rated junior in South Carolina.

Porter-Gaud senior Aaron Nesmith also received a bump in the 2018 rankings. The 6-foot-5 four-star Vanderbilt signee is now ranked 69th in the nation and second in the state behind only five-star Zion Williamson of Spartanburg Day. Nesmith is scoring 24 points with five rebounds and two assists per game this season.

“I think the recognition is honestly a little overdue for them,” Porter-Gaud coach John Pearson said. “They can compete with anyone in the country. They’re blessed with the natural gifts, attributes that they can apply to the game. The difference with them is the amount of blue-collar work they put into it to become even better.”

Nesmith has also been nominated for the 2018 McDonald’s All-American game. He was one of just three boys from South Carolina, including Williamson and Landrum’s Foster Bridges, to make the final list of nominees, released Wednesday.

A selection committee will narrow the list of hundreds down to 24 girls and 24 boys to play in the 41st edition of the annual all-star showcase scheduled for March 28 in Atlanta. Nesmith is the second Porter-Gaud player in the past nine years to be nominated for the McDonald’s All-American game, following Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton in 2009, then a three-star senior for the Cyclones.

“That’s an incredible honor for Aaron to be nominated,” Pearson said. “Both he and Josiah can compete with anyone in the country. And they aren’t done developing. As good as he already is, Aaron still has a very high ceiling that he hasn’t touched yet. Josiah is only a junior. He’s really just scratching the bottom edge of what he’s going to be able to do.”