Nerlens Noel is Scout.com’s top overall prospect for the 2012 recruiting class.
After plenty of evaluating, bantering with the Scout.com staff and weighing the options, Noel, a 6-foot-10 center prospect, held off a late run by Shabazz Muhammad to hold on to the No. 1 spot in the final rankings.
Noel, a Tilton (N.H.) School product, is the nation’s top shot blocker and a dominant force in the paint.
His length, timing, athleticism and ability to use either hand to swat away a shots make him a legitimate contender to break Anthony Davis’ shot blocking record at Kentucky next season.
While not known for his offense, Noel is gaining steam on that end of the floor. He’s always good for a handful of put backs because of his knack for offensive boards, but he’s also gained confidence in his ability to score around the rim.
Checking in just behind Noel is Muhammad, who was the McDonald’s All-American game MVP.
The ultimate competitor, Muhammad, a standout at Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman, brings effort, energy and intensity to the table every time he touches the court.
His offensive ability and overall ball skills have improved a great deal. He’s turned into arguably the best overall scorer in the class and his jump shot continues to get more consistent.
While Noel and Muhammad held on to the top two spots, Isaiah Austin made a late push. After a terrific senior season, Austin had impressive showings at the McDonald’s All-American game and the Jordan All-American game.
Early in his career, Austin, a Baylor signee, faded to the perimeter and didn’t exert himself in the post. Now he’s a confident post player. He starts inside by blocking shots, rebounding and scoring on the block, and then he’ll step out and work in jump shots.
Muhammad’s future teammate -- Kyle Anderson – finished his high school career at No. 4 overall.
A unique prospect, Anderson is the best passer in the 2012 class. At 6-foot-8, Anderson is versatile and can play a variety of positions, including on the ball because of his court vision, skill set and ability to fire pinpoint passes.
Anderson’s mid-range game is also a weapon. His size allows him to shoot over defenders and he has terrific touch in the paint.
New Zealand native and Fitchburg (Mass.) Notre Dame standout Steven Adams is Scout.com’s fifth best prospect.
While he only spent half a season in the United States, his presence was felt. His first game in the country he put 20 points and nearly 20 rebounds against the nation’s top prospect – Noel.
At 6-foot-10, Adams has terrific size and strength. He has a great set of hands, a half hook on the block and can even hit short range shots.
Kaleb Tarczewski, Alex Poythress, Anthony Bennett, Grant Jerrett and Brandon Ashley close out Scout.com’s top 10.
Poythress is one of two (Grant Jerrett) newcomers to the top 10. A Kentucky signee, Poythress closed his career in a major way, showing improvements offensively and to his skill set. An explosive athlete, Poythress will factor into John Calipari’s offense early on in his career.
Jerrett, an Arizona signee, is a skilled post prospect that can score both facing the rim and with his back to it. During Jerrett’s senior season he showed better athleticism and played an aggressive brand of basket.
Josh Scott, Georges Niang and Melvin Johnson were among the biggest movers in the new rankings. All three moved up 19 spots. Joel James managed to jump 17 spots, while Sam Dekker moved up 14 spots to No. 15 overall.
In all, only three prospects made their debut in Scout.com’s top 100. Marcus Hunt, Marqueze Coleman and Fred Van Vleet closed their careers as top 100 prospects.