AAU Summer Awards / High School Rankings Update
Updated 2012 Highschool Rankings -- Includes the top 50 seniors, top 25 juniors and top 10 sophomores in the nation (NBA potential).
By Ian Powers
The 2011 July evaluation period concluded a couple of weeks ago and a number of players improved their stock and moved up the rankings in a big way. We could be here for days if we tried to write about every player that stood out, so we decided to pick the truly elite players of the summer. Starting with the class of 2012, we chose one player that stood out in their respective class. We apologize if anyone feels slighted, but this is a relative argument and is up for debate. Here are the players that made the biggest impact this Summer:
Best Senior: The consensus around the country is that Shabazz Muhammad established himself as the top dog in the 2012 class this summer. We will not argue with that. The thing that separated Muhammad from the rest of the pack was his consistency. Every time out he seemed to take it upon himself to dominate the competition and leave no doubt who the top senior in the country was. His numbers were eye popping and when he did not have his A game he was still pretty good. His jumpshot is gaining consistency seemingly every time he laces them up and he has become more explosive around the basket. Improvement in his handle and being able to get by guys off the bounce are the only elements of his game that may lag behind, but he’s a tireless worker and any weakness he may have, he gets in the gym and corrects them. A number of schools covet his signature and his recruitment will be one to watch in the upcoming months.
Best Junior : The great debate from a couple of years ago that intrigued most fans was Kobe vs. Lebron. That argument has been replaced by Julius vs. Jabari. Jabari Parker and Julius Randle are only juniors, but considered by most to be the two best players in America. We give the slight edge to Jabari Parker. He has been fantastic at every stop over the summer, capped off by an MVP performance at the Nike Global Challenge last week. He has added an explosive dimension to his game that he lacked last summer and he utilizes it well. He plays hard and gives a great effort on the defensive end of the floor. The great thing about him is that he is a terrific kid and it shows in the way he goes about his business on the floor. All summer coaches, scouts, and fans made sure they stuck around to catch a glimpse of Parker. When he is at his best, you would be hard pressed to find a better player. *Nerlens Noel may ulitimately surpass both guys, but for now remains too raw offensively.
Best Sophomore : The 2014 class is shaping up to be terrific. It has a good mix of wings, point guards, and big men. This class is more diverse than it’s predecessors. He may not have the most upside, but Tyus Jones was the most consistent performer of the summer. While their will be a handful of guys ranked ahead of him, his consistency cannot be overlooked. He is smart and mature beyond his years. He played up in the 17 and under division in the Nike EYBL and never looked out of place. He is arguably the best pure point guard in the country and he is only going to be a sophomore. Over the next three years there will be an intense battle brewing between Jones and fellow 2014 point guard Emmanuel Mudiay. While Mudiay may have more upside, Jones has a better grasp of the point guard position right now. He is a leader and will be a top 5-10 player in this class.
Breakout Performer: Indiana big man Mitch McGary burst onto the scene this spring and never looked back. He followed his fantastic spring with arguably a better summer. He has firmly established himself as a top five player in the 2012 class. He is a blue- collar guy with skills, and you don’t find that combination too often. The comparisons to Tyler Hansbrough are valid. The difference between the two is that McGary has a much higher ceiling because of the skill package he possesses.
Stock Riser: After careful consideration it was hard to come up with one name in this category. A lot of players helped themselves quite a bit. You could have picked a name out of a hat and made a good case for him. The two players that did the most to help themselves were Texans Marcus Smart and Winston Sheppard. Smart did nothing but win at every event he played in. If he was not locking his man down defensively, he was scoring the ball or getting his teammates involved. He capped off a great summer by winning the Adidas Super 64 in Vegas and MVP honors. He has become a North Carolina and Texas priority, among others over this period and established himself as a near lock for the McDonald’s All American game. Sheppard was wonderful as well. He did everything for his Dream Vision team and was a huge reason for their success. He has a skill set that translates to the highest level and he has become more focused over the last year. He is also a lock down defender and takes pride on that end of the floor. His versatility is what makes him a valuable prospect and if he gets a consistent jumper his upside is significant.
Do you remember when, we used to sing sha-la-la. . . and debate Bryant versus James? I hardly see message boards lit afire by this newer debate.
I think Drummond would disagree with Shabazz as being the best of the 2012 class.