Every class elicits a visceral feeling among recruiting addicts, college coaches and even analysts. Over the last month, as this list has developed, there’s been one constant: legitimate elite players litter the Top 10.
While the full body of work in terms of the overall class is still in dispute, there’s no denying the absolute star power at the top of the rankings for this group. It’s an exciting collection of talent beginning with uber prospect Michael Gilchrist.
Frankly, after Gilchrist, you could put the next four names in a hat, pick them and you couldn’t go wrong. The neat thing is our Top Five is comprised of five players from different positions.
Gilchrist tops this list and he’s earned the ascension to the mountain. We’ve said it before but it bears repeating. Gilchrist is amazing in transition, a super finisher and he’s got room to improve. He’ll turn 16 in late September!
James McAdoo is almost the forgotten man of the group. After winning a gold medal with the young USA team, he went under the knife. McAdoo tore his labrum and missed all of July. Without him, his Boo Williams team never got on track and his presence was missed greatly. We value him as the quiet star that punches the clock, works inside and out and has a tremendous feel for winning. He’s got a Tim Duncan-esque way about him.
Rakeem Christmas, our choice at No. 3, blocked more shots than anyone we saw all spring and summer long. No matter the competition, he was sending it back. Whether it was the NBA Camp or alongside Gilchrist in AAU ball, he was always over the rim and constantly played the role of defensive intimidator.
No. 4 Austin Rivers flipped positions in our database from point to shooting guard. While we’re still thinking he earns money at either spot, he was devastating in the role of scorer this summer. Like Gilchrist, he’s super competitive.
Marquis Teague is a bad, bad boy. He carved up the LeBron Camp and might be one of the strongest No. 5 selections we’ve ever made. If speed kills then there are warrants out for his arrest in plenty of states after this summer.
This list of five can stand up against some of the better classes in recent memory as the players enter their junior seasons. It’s laced with star power, position diversity and guys who find the winner’s circle or at least know the road map for getting there. The best part about the group? They know they’ll have to work hard because 6-10 is going to push them in a big way.
No. 6 Adonis Thomas, SF: Everywhere he went this summer there were whispers about his game. Whether it was his tenacity, basketball IQ or versatility, Thomas won admirers at each stop.
No. 7 Quincy Miller, PF/SF: The best player at the Nike Hoop Jamboree usually has a great career and Miller has put himself in super shape entering the second half of his high school stretch. Likely a small forward in the making, he’s got the package of athleticism, offensive ability and size. He’s only going to get better.
No. 8 Tony Wroten, PG/SG: His spot midway in the Top 10 is a testament to the strength of this class and the fact you’ve got to bring it all the time. Wroten slipped a tad from Top Five status but we shouldn’t make the mistake of writing him off just yet. One of the best passers in the class, his talent is undeniable. If he wants it badly, there’s room to move up.
No. 9 Johnny O'Bryant, PF: As we watched him one thought crept into the back of our minds: he’s a year away from dominating. O’Bryant is a work in progress but has physical tools to be a beast. To take the next step all he needs to go is focus on one or two aspects of his game and the rest will fall into place. Powerful athlete with physical tools others don’t have.
No. 10 Brad Beal, SG: The captain of the gold medal team, Beal is a model of efficiency. Economical with his shots, he sports a strong body, mean streak and if he needs to go for a big number, he’s capable. Then again, he’s not a guy who needs to be in the spotlight and operates within a team concept while shining brightly.
How good are these 10 guys? We’ll find out because Le’Bryan Nash (No. 11), Wayne Blackshear, Michael Chandler and up and comers like Norvel Pelle, Branden Dawson and Mikeal Hopkins are going to push them for the next 24 months.
While we’re extremely excited about the star power that exists at the upper echelon of this group, we’re equally as concerned about the depth among the power forwards. Our power forward list sports good players, but lacks separation amongst a good chunk of Top 75 contenders. That’s fine, the big fellas often take more time to develop but that’s not to say they aren’t under the microscope early.