Elite Talent on NBA Horizon: Top 10 High School Prospects
By Ian Powers
With the NBA draft over, it's time to look ahead to the future and our first look is at the high school level. While this list is incredibly fluid (Mitch McGary was on last year's top 10 and may struggle to ever get drafted). It's important to keep in mind that we're putting this out early in the evaluation period and the summer should go a long way in determining the pecking order for the top recruits in the nation. The Olympics and NBA Summer League are just around the corner and the search for the next group of young stars is next on every basketball junkies to do list. Last year we brought you our first edition of the top 10 high school pro prospects list. Last year's # 1 prospect on our list, Andre Drummond elected to reclassify to his original graduating class of 2011 and sign with UConn. He had his moments as a freshman and was selected 9th overall in Thursday's draft. None of the players on this years list will be in the NBA next year but they will be soon enough.
Special thanks to Joel Francisco, and John Stovall of ESPN, Evan Daniels of Scout, Eric Bossi of Rivals, and McDonald's All American Selection Committee member Frank Burlison for their consultation and assistance in compiling this difficult list, as many promising players did not make the cut this time around. Without further delay, here is nbadraft.net Top 10 High School NBA Prospects.
1. Andrew Wiggins 6'7" 205, SF, Huntington Prep, Huntington, WV 2014- Simply the best talent on the high school level and some feel (NBADraft.net president Aran Smith included) that he could turn out to be an even better pro than Anthony Davis. Wiggins was the unanimous choice for the # 1 spot this year and for good reason. He possesses the special athleticism that separates very good players from great players. To round out his athleticism, he has matured and become more assertive and his refined skill package is a result of that. His jump shot from deep and in the midrange departments have greatly increased and he is more aggressive than he's ever been. His handle, speed off the dribble and ability to get to the rim are "Kobe-esque". There were times this Spring when he simply looked like a man amongst boys. The alarming thing about it is that he still has a long way to go to become the type of player he is capable of. He is a special talent and has unlimited potential. If he continues to stay hungry and work to improve, we're looking at the game's next superstar. NBA Comparison: Scottie Pippen
2. Julius Randle 6'9" 245, PF, Prestonwood Christian, Plano, TX 2013- Randle has been a big name in recruiting circles since he was in the 8th grade. Every year it seems as if he has added an different element to his game. Last year he showed glimpses of a face up game but still did the majority of his damage inside. This year, he has displayed an ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket on a more consistent basis to compliment his strong inside game. He still seems to not be in great condition from a cardio standpoint and he floats on the perimeter a little too much for most, but his talent is undeniable. When he asserts himself and doesn't take plays off, he is without peer at the high school level. In order to maximize his talent he will need to get in better shape which will allow him to consistently play hard and use his right hand more on drives and finishes, but the tools are all there for him to be special. He plays a little too much like Billy Owens with his obsession with handling the ball, and should focus more on being a beast in the post. NBA Comparison: Chris Webber
3. Jabari Parker 6'8" 220, SF, Simeon, Chicago, Ill 2013- Parker is the latest high school phenom to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. Unfortunately, aside being a good sell, their bold claim (greatest prospect since LeBron) has done more harm than good as the backlash has been strong. Parker remains a tremendous player and has earned every honor bestowed upon him during his career, and will earn more as he goes along. He is a do it all wing player who is capable of beating you every way imaginable. He can shoot the ball, handle the ball, pass the ball, rebound the ball, and defend. Essentially he does it all. His demeanor never changes on the floor and he is a great teammate and person. He is not a dead eye marksman from deep, but he is well above average as a shooter. His only drawbacks are a lack of elite burst to get by people and lack of elite athleticism, but again, he is well above average in all categories. He has already won 3 state titles and has the supporting cast to win another one. He is also the reigning Gatorade National Player of the Year. Out of the all the attributes mentioned that make him a great basketball player, his greatest asset is the type of person he is. NBA Comparison: Carmelo Anthony (Melo without the drama)
4. Aaron Gordon, 6'8" 220, SF, Archbishop Mitty, San Jose, CA 2013- Gordon might be the most explosive athlete on this list. He is a terror in the open floor and plays with a relentless motor that a lot of elite talents don't play with. He is a highly energetic kid who works to improve and is still only 16 years old. He has worked to expand his game beyond 15 feet and while he has a ways to go he is vastly ahead of where he was this time last year. He has a great handle in the open court and is also a great passer in those situations to go along with elite finishing ability. If you decide to try to contest him at the rim he will embarrass you. He missed the last few months with an ankle injury but will be back soon. In order to take the next step, he has to become a more consistent shooter and put the ball on the floor better in half court sets to get to the basket. From a physical standpoint, he is the prototype small forward that NBA scouts are looking for. NBA Comparison: Michael Beasley
5. James Young, 6'7" 215, SF, Troy, Troy, MI 2013- Young started the Spring as a top 10 player. Heading into the summer, he is a top 5 player. He is an athletic lefty who can score in a variety of ways. He is long and explosive around the basket and can get hot from 3 and see his point totals go up in a hurry. He play within himself and rarely takes a bad shot and plays a very unselfish brand of basketball. He can put the ball on the floor in the half court and get to the bucket and his mid range game is nothing to sneeze at either. He is the best pure scorer in this years senior class and possibly the entire country. NBA Comparison: Ron Harper
6. Andrew Harrison 6'5" 210, PG, Travis, Fort Bend, TX 2013- One half of the Harrison twins makes our list at # 6 for a variety of reasons. He is a big, physical point guard who uses his sheer strength to get in the lane and score or make plays for others at will. He is super competitive and can beat without scoring which is rare for most players. He can shoot the ball to three and he can penetrate and kick with the best of them. His biggest asset, however, is his ability to elevate the play off everyone around him. He is a leader and a floor general who will put his team on his back when necessary. He has to mature and learn to harness his emotions if he ever wants to fulfill his potential and become the player everyone thinks he can be. NBA Comparison: Dion Waiters
7. Kuran Iverson, 6'8' 210, SF, Northwest Catholic High School, Windsor, Ct 2013- It has been anything but a smooth ride following Iverson over the years. 2 years ago, he was regarded as a top 3 player in his class. Last year was a different story. He looked slow, out of shape and disinterested to say the least. His legs seemed to have shin splints or or something was slowing him down. What a difference a year makes. He seems to be back in good shape and he displaying the skill and versatility that makes him such an intriguing prospect. He has NBA small forward size with the handle and passing ability of a guard. He is not a jaw dropping athlete and he doesn't blend his inside/outside game as much as he should, but when motivated, their are few that can match his talent and skill. NBA Comparison: Lamar Odom
8. Kasey Hill 6'1" 180 Monteverde Academy, Fl, PG 2014 - Hill has been on a meteoric rise since his sophomore year when he first cracked many top 25 lists. He's now pushing to be the top pure point guard in all of high school basketball. He lacks the size and athleticism of somebody like Andrew Harrison, but the fact that he's a pure PG gives him a chance to be better in the long run. Hill shows tremendous range on his shot, excellent floor vision and great size for the position. The best appears yet to be coming for this heady lead guard. NBA Comparison: Kyle Lowry
9. Jahlil Okafor, 6'10" 255, PF, Whitney Young, Chicago, Ill 2014- Okafor is a technician in the post. He has good footwork, soft hands and touch that allow him to score whenever he wants on the box. He is not a great athlete but uses savvy around the basket to get his shots off. He rebounds well in his area and is a more than adequate shot blocker. He has played well this Spring and solidified himself as the top big in the 2014 class. He is showing signs of a face up game and flashes an ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket. When he refines those two areas, he will virtually be unguardable at the highest level. NBA Comparison: Jared Sullinger
10. Clifton Alexander, 6'8" 240, PF, Curie, Chicago, Ill 2014- Alexander is a physical specimen in the lane. he catches and finishes anything near the rim and knows how to use his body to create space inside. He block shots in and out of his area and is great in screen and roll situations as a finisher. He plays hard and is relentless on both glasses. He is showing some signs of a solid back to the basket game , but like most young post players, he has a ways to go. Developing a face up game along with a post game will enhance his great natural ability. NBA Comparison: Thomas Robinson
Chris Walker, 6'9' 205, SF/PF, Holmes County, Bonifay, Fl 2013- The latest in a group of impressive players to come out of Florida over the last few years. Walker is one of the best run and jump athletes in the country. He plays hard on a consistent basis and will always produce solid numbers. He is not a refined offensive player, but has shown some ability to step out and shoot the college three and handle some in the open floor. He rebounds in and out of his area and will contest and block shots in the lane due to his length and elite athleticism. In order to refine his game, he needs to be less of an athlete and more of a basketball player. By all accounts, he is a hard worker and will improve any deficiencies in his game that he may have. NBA Comparison: Amir Johnson
I've watched Kuran a lot...big-time potential, no question...but still might be jumping the gun on him slightly. He's too inconsistent...if he plays like he's been playing than ya...definite top 10...but...definitely has motor issues.
Jahlil Okafor should be a little higher...he's like Sully as far as his footwork and post moves...but he's bigger than him...plus has a little more lift. (and his back hasn't been red flagged lol)
Watched Jermaine Lawernce tear up the Mary Kline Classic...def a nice prospect...I like that honorable mention...he's definitely under the radar.
Lawrence just transferred to the nearby catholic school about 20 minutes away in Sparta NJ. I'll make it a priority to check him out, especially since the Jayhawks have offered him
I'm surprised Karl Towns didn't make your top 10, especially after cracking the Domincan Republic national team lineup.
I'd probably have it as:
1. Andrew Wiggins (2014)
2. Jabari Parker (2013)
3. Julius Randle (2013)
4. Aaron Gordon (2013)
5. Karl Towns (2015)
6, Andrew Harrison (2013)
7. Jahlil Okafor (2014)
8. Aaron Harrison (2013)
Paradigmn do you live in Connecticut?
No way Kasey Hill lacks athleticism he blows by defenders on the regular and always put big men on posters.
Nah, that's a made up name. That's not a real person.
No way is Andrew Wiggins better than Jabari Parker. IMO Parker has been the best high school player in the nation regardless of class for a while now and to me it isn't really close...I've seen Andrew Wiggins play and I still believe Jabari Parker to be the far superior player.
This article is not about the best high school players. This is about the best the best high school PRO PROSPECTS, not players. Their is a difference between being a prospect and a player and everyone that was consulted on this list all had Wiggins # 1 and we agree with that assessment.
The article didn't say Kasey Hill lacked athleticism. It said that he doesn't possess the size and athleticism of Andrew Harrison.
Kasey is more athletic than harrison he just is a lot smaller.
Parker is very good , but I see a lot of Harrison Barnes in his game. Not to say he won't be better than Barnes at the college level. They just remind me of each other quite a bit and I would take Randle as an NBA prospect over Parker from what I have seen. I have not seen enough of Andrew Wiggins to annoint him the man , hopefully I can get to see some of his games this year against high end competition.
Starting to wonder if you ahve seen Hill play because he is a better athlete than Either Harrison. This kiod is down right explosive. You must have been thinking of a different PG when you were writing about Hill
A friend and I were discussing the word "potential" and how that's the most overused word to describe "talented" basketball players... We concluded it just means "haven't did SH*T..." So everytime I hear or see that word I cringe because how many players ACTUALLY reach their so-called potential??? Your attitude towards the game says a lot about what type of player you're going to become...
I'm not taking Randle or Wiggins over Jabari Parker... Like King George said as a PRO PROSPECT Parker has it all... This includes being humble and being able to handle the spotlight... Being a PRO includes the "other" stuff... Wiggins is still very raw to me but he does ooze potential... Still light, I wonder how much can his body take... He's not a scorer even though he has all the tools to be... Maybe he has changed a lot this past year but last time I seen him dude was raw...
Randle remind me of a young Zach Randolph as far as attitude which is why I wouldn't want to place him over Parker... Game wise edge to Jabari... You guys talking pro and Randle is undersized at 6'9...
SpaceGrass NO WAY in hell is Harrison Barnes even near the same type of player Jabari is... Because they shoot mid-range jumpers and play the SF position??? Is that it???
Regardless this was a meaningless article... It's funny how all these "experts" declare certain ish when you're not able to tell for at least 4-5 years from now if their assesment was accurate... More than likely if they were wrong *crickets* and on to the next PRO PROSPECT with "potential"... Stay thirsty my friends...
The funny thing is that people thought the exact same things about Barnes that they are saying about Parker as a person and player before college. People talked about how polished Barnes was offensively and they say the same thing about Parker now. Neither Barnes nor Parker are elite athletes and I would even say Barnes is a better athlete than Parker. Don't be surprised to see Jabari put up similar numbers as Barnes did this past season in his one season of college. Let me guess the reason you think Jabari is so much better is because he plays in Chicago? Or is it because of his dad? Until Parker does what he does in HS in college I am going to reserve judgment because we as people love to give too much credit to a kid before they prove themselves at the necessary levels.
I can see Jabari's handle being weaker than it seems now in college due to college defenses being so compressed inside and physical with the clutching and grabbing that is allowed. Jabari and Barnes will both be very good players at the pro level and I think they will both show better in the pros than they will in college , but people talk about Jabari like he is Lebron James remember the SI article? He is not even freaking close to being the physical freak Lebron was and is.
Also you are hilarious with the Randle is undersized comment. Yea a 16-17 year old kid being 6'9 245lbs is undersized for PF? Haha that is comical , I would imagine the kid is not done developing physically and the guy has the ball skill to possibly translate to the SF position moving forward. Jabari Parker is very good , but you act like he is a once in a generation kid as a player he is not that kind of player , hell Randle and Harrison are not even on that level. That is not me "hating" on him either so don't try and say that because I would love to have Jabari playing at UNC for the 2013-2014 season despite the fact he is being overhyped a slight bit.
After taking a bit of time to reconsider things, I can why Andrew Wiggins is considered the top high school NBA prospect. Though I still feel that Jabari Parker exhibits more polished and well rounded basketball skills, Andrew Wiggins' upside is out of this world...After pouring over a couple of hours of his most recent footage, I must say that I haven't seen a kid as naturally talented as him in a LONG while...if he can keep his head on straight, he could go in history.