NOTE -- Later this week we’ll release our Top 25 post-graduate list. Guys like Marcus Morris and Dee Bost are part of that release. It’s our philosophy to give players one “senior” year and a chance to be a Scout.com Top 100 prospect.
Recruiting is a comparison business. Fans and analysts alike are constantly searching for correlations between players, classes and styles of play. If its natural comparisons in classes you seek, then look no further than the Class of 2005. The 2008 crop might as well be staring directly into the mirror.
Led, at the time, by Josh McRoberts and Gerald Green, most of the elite guys jumped at the chance to head to the league. By and large, it’s taken some time for the group to establish identities in the pro game. Each would have benefited from a year or two of seasoning (as the majority of preps to pros not named LeBron) would have.
Don’t be surprised if the 2008 contingent mirrors its counterparts of three seasons ago. Understand we aren’t comparing their individual games, merely the cast of characters in each year as a group.
Brandon Jennings is our choice for the top spot in 2008. He’s tracking like Monta Ellis and should have a similar path long term. Jennings averaged 35.4 points at Oak Hill and is a magician when it comes to distributing the ball. He’s got some shot selection issues to iron out, but overall he impacts games with his athleticism, style and ability to get hoops for himself and others.
No. 2 on our list is Samardo Samuels, the big man we feel is most ready to impact college basketball. Samuels isn’t Tyler Hansbrough in terms of his intensity (nobody is) but we feel he can step into college and get numbers as a freshman.
Asking Samuels to mirror Hansbrough’s total points, rebounds and free throws isn’t fair but requiring double-digits points and being among the top rebounders in the Big East is doable.
DeRozan Has Green’s Talent (Hawkins)
Checking in at the third spot is B.J. Mullens. Reasonable minds can agree that Mullens is the premier pro big man in the class. If he makes good on his potential we’re talking about a high draft choice. Think of him as the 2008 Andrew Bynum of this group.
Jrue Holiday is No. 4 and probably the most difficult kid to draw a correlation with from the ’05 group. We shoehorned him into a Martell Webster comparison because of his size and offensive game but we think Holiday should be at least a Webster clone in terms of his long-term success.
Tyreke Evans was also tough to pigeonhole. Sticking with Philadelphia, we’ll reference him as 2008’s version of Louis Williams. Both are gifted scorers and each is destined to experience an adjustment from being the go-to-guy to fitting into more of a structured setting.
Demar DeRozan was easy. He’s most logically compared to Gerald Green. Both are elite wing athletes and in DeRozan’s case, the tools to be a serious wing scorer are there. Like Green, the high school portion of his career was marked by consistency issues. At the time, Green was the best big wing athlete of his day; ditto for DeRozan.
Most are going to associate this final comparison and see it as a negative but that would be missing the message. Back in 2005, McRoberts was the No. 1 guy. Three years ago Hansbrough, Williams and Webster each sat atop the rankings at one time during their high school careers.
When it came the moment to decide on the top spot, we had a difficult time. Memories of those struggles were rekindled this season. Jennings is the third member of the class to occupy the final spot.
Greg Monroe spent the better half of his high school career as the No. 1 prospect. Flashes of brilliance were mixed in with missed opportunities. Like McRoberts, he’s a skilled forward with great size. Their games are similar in many ways, though Monroe will always be the superior rebounder and inside presence when he elects to do so.
Jones Earns T-25 Nod (Hawkins)
The main advantage the Class of 2008 holds over its 2005 counterpart is that it has a chance to outperform its peer group. These guys are going to college; they have no choice. The time spent on campus will allow them to develop their games and present them with the opportunity to further their careers beyond college basketball.
The thinking is this group will be defined by the development of the shooting guards and the emergence of kids from the power forward list. From Samuels (No. 1) to Quintrell Thomas (No. 34 PF) there is work to be done. College basketball needs this group to mature quickly and bring back the size in college hoops.
Top 100 By The Numbers
34 power forwards in the final Top 100; 24 shooting guards, 19 small forwards, 14 centers and 9 point guards.
Newcomers to the Top 25: Rashanti Harris (17), DeQuan Jones (22)
Top 100 newbies: Latavious Williams (51), Ray Willis (60), Freddie Riley (78), Terrico White (80), Tyshawn Taylor (83), Rotnei Clarke (84), Ricardo Ratliffe, Ater Majok
By Conference: SEC (20), ACC (18), Big East (16), Pac-10 (13), Big Ten (10), Big 12 (8), Undecided (6), Conference USA (5), A-10 (1), WAC (1), Missouri Valley (1), Mountain West (1).
It's rankings week at Scout.com. Monday (2008 Top 100), Tuesday (2009 Top 100), Wednesday (Final 2008 Team Rankings), Thursday (2008 Post-Grad Top 25), Friday (2010).