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Elite Talent on NBA Horizon: Top 10 High School Prospects

Sun, 07/05/2015 - 2:05am

By Ian Powers

The 2015 NBA Draft concluded last week with a fresh new wave of talent coming into the league. Unlike in year's past, fans are now able to know who the top prospects in America are long before they set foot on a college campus.

The Golden St. Warriors capped of a historic season with a championship in the most watched NBA Finals since Michael Jordan’s last title in 1998. The new TV deal is set to kick in after next season and the salary cap will explode to unprecedented levels. The popularity of the game is at an all time high and the talent coming in should continue that trend and the high school ranks has no shortage of elite talent on the horizon.

Special thanks to McDonald’s All-American Selection Committee member Frank Burlison, ESPN’s John Stovall, 24/7 Sports Jerry Meyer and Evan Daniels of Scout.com for their help in compiling this list:

[Keep in mind we are not saying these prospects will become the players they are compared to, it is a best case scenario of someone they could possibly develop into considering their style of play. At such a young age, there are many variables at play and their skill sets and bodies have not yet fully materialized]

DeAndre AytonDeAndre Ayton1) DeAndre Ayton 7’0” 230 PF/C Balboa City, San Diego, CA 2017 ­ Last year Ayton became our top prospect by summer's end, and we saw no reason for that to change this year. He has gotten better and better over the last 12 months and is still a long way from his ceiling. He has really developed a face up game where he is now a consistent shooter out to 17 feet. An improved face up game to go along with his elite athleticism, ability to run the floor and game changing ability on the defensive end screams upside and franchise player. He is the odds on favorite to be the #1 pick in 2018 and at this point, it is hard to see anybody challenging him. NBA Comparison: David Robinson

2) Marvin Bagley 6’11” 210 PF Corona Del Sol, Tempe, AZ 2018­ Bagley has been a big name with high school talent evaluators for a couple of years and upon first glance, it is not hard to see why. He is an uber athletic, highly skilled combo forward who can take over games on both ends of the floor. He can play some point forward, has a sweet lefty stroke to the college 3 point line and can dominate down on the box with a jump hooks over either shoulder. He plays above the rim and can terrorize opponents defensively and on the offensive glass. He can simply do it all and there is no limit to his ceiling. If he continues to work and not rest on his laurels, he can someday be a superstar at the highest level. NBA Comparison: James Worthy

3) Harry Giles 6’10” 230 PF Wesleyan Christian Winston­Salem, NC 2016­ Another of the Big 3 in the 2016 class, Giles is an inside/out force that has put a serious knee injury suffered a couple of years ago in the rear view mirror. His game has gotten back to the level it was a couple of years ago when he was considered by some as the top prospect in all of high school basketball. In May at the Houston Nike EYBL session, he had a stretch in one game where he crossed a defender over and stepped back for a three and on another possession he gave his defender a hesitation dribble and got all the way to the rim for a finish. Guys his size are not typically able to make plays like that and he is not anywhere near the player he will be when he figures it all out. He runs the floor well and rebounds in and out of his area. He no longer requires a knee brace and is playing with great confidence as one of the top players along with the aforementioned Tatum and Jackson on the USA Under 19 team with averages of 13.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg, and 1.7 bpg. His performance the rest of the summer will cement his place among the elite players in the class. NBA Comparison: Chris Webber

4) Josh Jackson 6’8” 200 SG/SF Prolific Prep, Southfield, MI 2016­ The debate for #1 player in the 2016 class often centers around three names. Harry Giles and Josh Jackson Jayson Tatum, . Jackson has done nothing to take his name out of that conversation. He is a 2 way player in every sense of the word. He is a dynamic driver of the basketball who can finish through you or over you in emphatic fashion. His jump shot is a little streaky and he still has a tendency to shoot it on the way down, but he is an alpha dog and can have a Lebron type impact on a game due to his versatility. He can bring the ball up and initiate your offense, make plays for guys around him, put it on the floor and knock down long range jumpers. The other end of the floor is where he’s a joy to watch. He takes pride in locking up the opposing teams best perimeter threat. Not many high school kids play with the passion and pride that Jackson does on that end of the floor. Guys like Jackson are en vogue in today’s NBA. Do it all, 2 way wings that can be franchise centerpieces to get you to a championship level. NBA Comparison: Andrew Wiggins

5) Dennis Smith 6’2” 180 PG Trinity Christian School, Fayetteville, NC 2016­ Smith is arguably the most explosive player in the country pound for pound, with Steve Francis like freakiness. He is a lead guard with a strong study body that can get in the lane at will. What he does once he gets in the lane is what separates him from the pack. His game has made strides over the last year. He had a tendency to take plays off on the defensive end of the floor and hasn’t always run a team the way that you would like from a premier lead guard, but he has improved in those areas. He has really progressed in terms of using his teammates better and not allowing the defense to load up on him. His calling card is breaking the defense down and using his patented floater or dishing to a teammate for a high percentage look. His jumps shot could still use more consistency, but that should come with reps. He is an elite point guard with the athleticism to thrive in the open floor and play above the rim. NBA Comparison: Chris Paul/Steve Francis

6) Jayson Tatum 6’8” 200 SG/SF Chaminade, St. Louis, MO 2016­ Tatum is simply one of the most versatile and talented wings in the country and may end up as a big point guard in the mold of Penny Hardaway when it's all said and done. He has the ability to run a team, is a great playmaker and can score the ball in every imaginable way. The main things holding him back are strength and he’s not a knock down shooter yet. He gets better and better every time out and has the type of personality and game that will someday make him one of the faces of the league if he continues to improve and stays healthy. The knocks on him are the aforementioned lack of strength, jump shot and lack of a killer instinct. He has a cool and laid back demeanor off the floor and sometimes that carries over on the floor and keeps him from dominating the way someone with his ability should. If he can develop those areas, you're looking at a special talent at the next level and beyond. NBA Comparison: Grant Hill

7) Lonzo Ball 6’5” 185 PG Chino Hills, Chino Hills, CA 2016­ Before anybody gets bent out of shape by what I am about to say, let me be clear. I am not saying he is as good as Jason Kidd was in high school or will be as good of a pro, Kidd was the consensus National Player of The Year in 1992 and will be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but what I am saying is that he is the best passer I have seen at the high school level since Kidd. He is a magician with the ball and can make breathtaking passes with either hand. The game comes easily to him and it almost looks like he’s not trying but when you look up he has 35. He is a better offensive player than Kidd was in high school because of his ability to shoot the ball from deep. His jump shot can be a little streaky and he shoots it off to the side of his head, but that flaw can be corrected. Their are also concerns about the style of play that he has been allowed to play in over the last few years. His high school and travel teams play a free wheeling style that doesn’t emphasize pick and roll play or much discipline in terms of shot selection. In fact ,they lost the state championship this past season by not being able to protect a lead. He’ll have a bit of an adjustment at UCLA running a more structured offense, but the physical tools are all there. NBA Comparison: Michael Carter­-Williams

8) Michael Porter 6’9” 195 SF Father Tolton, Columbia, MO 2017­ They call this kid Baby KD and while he’s a long way away from where the former league MVP is, it’s not hard to see where the nickname comes from. A coaches kid, his father Michael is an assistant on the Missouri women’s team. He is a legit 6’9” and possesses a rare combination of size, length, skill and athleticism. His ability to shoot the ball is what stands out about him. He has in the gym range and once he gets it going, the bucket gets bigger and the points can pile up in a hurry. I first saw him in 2013 when Porter was in the 8th grade and it was highly impressive to see a kid that young with the advanced stroke and range he had. He has expanded his game since by improving his ability to put the ball on the floor. In combination with his shooting touch he becomes almost unguardable at the high school level. In order to maximize his immense upside, he’ll have to show a little more dog when things get tight, but outside of that, he’s a big timer. NBA Comparison: Mike Miller

9) Mohamed Bamba 6’11” 195 C Harlem, NY Westtown School 2017­ 6’11” in shoes with a 7’8” wingspan and a 9’5” standing reach. If that doesn’t grab your attention, nothing will. After you get past that, you start noticing his tools. First you see how fluid he is, then you notice how fluid and agile he is. As you watch him more, you start to see that he isn’t rudimentary in his skill level. He is nowhere close to being polished, but he’s not as raw as you might assume either. He has a developing face up game and has a very soft touch around the basket. Those are things that he has been blessed with and cannot be taught. The scary part about his upside is what will happen when his refinement catches up with his natural ability. He might be the most gifted player in the country in terms of raw physical tools. He has had a coming out party of sorts over the last month with standout performances at the Pangos All American Camp and the NBAPA Top 100 Camp. The sky is the limit for this this kid and he may be at the very top of this list in another year. NBA Comparison: Sam Perkins

10) Edrice Adebayo 6’9” 230 PF Pinetown, NC Northside 2016­ “BAM”is his nickname and when you watch him play, you’ll see why. He is power personified and he has no regard for anybody in the paint when he goes up to finish and attacks the offensive glass like a man possessed. His game is just not reliant on sheer power. He has developed a reliable back to the basket game over the last year or so and has flashed signs of a mid range game. He also can impact a game with his shot blocking and altering. He will have to continue to hone those things to avoid some of the issues that plagued Cliff Alexander in his lone year at Kansas. He plays hard on both ends and will make his presence felt one way or another before the final whistle blows. NBA Comparison: Kenneth Faried

Honorable Mention:

Trevon Duval -- Talented point guard who received a lot of buzz at NBPA Top 100 Camp, leading his team to the title.

Wendell Carter -- Emerging young big man who could definitely be in next year’s top 10 with continued development.

Thon Maker ­ -- Multi skilled 7 footer who can impact a game inside and out.

DeAaron Fox­ -- Cat quick point guard with explosive athletic ability.

Jarred Vanderbilt -- Do it all combo forward, a consistent jump shot away from being on this list.

Troy Brown­ -- Big combo guard who keeps growing and getting stronger, and is settling into his game. NBA Comparison: Steve Smith

Jarrett Allen -- Young Texas big man who is just scratching the surface of his abilities.

Rawle Alkins -- Lance Stephenson type 2-guard who can put the ball in the hole.

OhCanada-
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Dearon Fox is my favourite

Dearon Fox is my favourite prospect on this board. Might not be at the level of the top 6 but I would rank Jim 7th. Really love his game.

GBee
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Terrible comparions per

Terrible comparions per usual. You guys should just leave that part off.

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Thon Maker

Thon Maker has been an honorable mention on these lists for the past 3-years (2012, 2013, 2014). He wasn't even an honorable mention in 2013, but I made a comment in the article about how big of a snub that was and a few hours later he showed up.

Now it's 2015 and once again Thon Maker is an honorable mention lol. It's like you know he's good...but you can't bring yourself to admitting it. He was just MVP of the NBPA Top 100 Camp, so if he can't make the cut after that, looks like he'll never be that good of a player in your eyes. Then again, once he becomes a lottery pick in the not so distant future, I'm sure this site will be hooting & hollaring about how it's been a fan of Maker since day 1.

Still a nice article though despite a few selections I disagree with. Keep up the nice work.

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Thon Maker

Thon Maker has gone head to head with Josh Jackson, Harry Giles, Deandre Ayton, Edrice Adebayo and played equally as well or outplayed them. For the bigs, he dominated Ayton and Adebayo in their matchups yet he is only an honourable mention on this site. In the Eurocamp last year he was the leading scorer and rebounder with both Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram there. At the NBPA top 100 he was the leading scorer and rebounder with Ayton, Bamba, Adebayo, and Porter there. In the Hoop Summit he gets 10 rebounds in 14mins of play and by the head to head matchup with Skal he was outplayed only a little by a guy 1 year ahead of him.

How do do you determine who are these elite NBA talent on the horizon? I mean it use to be he was rail thin now from recent videos he has size and is patrolling the paint. What is your criteria for elite talent?

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Giles is a Tristan Thompson

Giles is a Tristan Thompson type of player, he is so tough but i don't know on what inside outside game you're talking about, he only score on dunks and putbacks...

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Tatum does have an amazing

Tatum does have an amazing smoothness to him...

ipowers
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Really? Lol

Really? Lol

evantomes
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Shayok, I'm not sure what you

Shayok, I'm not sure what you mean. I was at both Orangeville vs Prolific Prep games this year and Josh was clearly better than Thon. It really wasn't close.

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I'm

I'm petty sure Michael Porter will/is a much better athlete than Mike Miller was...

Shayok
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Game on line

Hey Pistol Pete. The 1st game is online at cityhoops.net. It's under Mustang Maddness Orangeville vs Prolific Prep. Thon Maker was clearly the better player in that game. With the score tied at 55 he makes a huge block on Jackson and then another block. Orangeville won 63-55 with Maker being named MVP. Josh Jackson was good that day but Maker was better. I will look for the 2nd game which I think Josh was better on the day.

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City league hoops

*cityleaguehoops.net not cityhoops.net.

evantomes
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I was at Mustang Madness but

I was at Mustang Madness but I guess we disagree. Might be worth noting it was Josh's first weekend back since his dad passed. The second time they played was at the Bluegrass National Championship in the first round.

Shayok
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I have seen

I was not at either but saw both online. I'm not knocking Josh as a player. It was more to point out that Thon Maker is more than honourable mention as a prospect. Head to head against Harry Giles it was 26&14 for Harry and 24 & 11 for Thon. He just out played Adebayo at the NBPA Top 100. It's not knocking these players but trying to find out this sites criteria for my countryman.

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Maker v Ayton

At the Under Armour All American Camp Thon Maker destroyed DeAndre Ayton. Final stat line:

Ayton 7pts & 6 rebounds

Maker 23pts and 17 rebounds

What's the excuse now? Maker produces when the lights come on!

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Top on the line

I think Harry is on the top line then any other on the leagur

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reviews of resume services

nice

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