THE NBA’S CALLING US
As rumors are running wild these days regarding the NBA opening up the draft waters. We figured it was time to do an article on the high school prospects most likely to be ready to make the jump straight out of high school. It’s been since 2004 that a high school prospect was taken by the NBA. Dwight Howard was the #1 pick that year. The last high school player drafted into the NBA went that same year in the second round with Amir Johnson by the Detroit Pistons. Since then the rule has changed so that players to do at least one year of college. I feel that it hurts the kids and the college game by forcing kids to go to school before they can make a living as a professional athlete. It’s been proven that if you are good enough to go your chances of being a success far outweigh the odds of you flopping.
Look at the NBA champion Lakers. They have Kobe who made the NBA jump back in 96 and is already considered one of the greatest of all time. Would college have made him any better or would that have set him back? The all NBA first team consists of three high school players that made the jump to the pros, Lebron, Kobe, and Dwight Howard. Multiple MVP awards and Defensive player of the year awards have been won by these players. During All Star weekend Kobe and Lebron have won four out of the last five MVP awards.
I would be willing to bet that if you put a game together of the top five straight out of high school guys against the top five out of college guys that the high schoolers would run away with the game. If the waters open back up you will see the whole process around recruiting kids change drastically. You will have to have media outlets that can truly dissect the difference between a high school kid that could jump to the NBA and a college kid much earlier. Something else to look at from the college side of things is that if you want to be a NCAA champion then you have got to have at least one McDonalds All American. a It has been years since a school won a National Championship without such a kid. From a coach’s point you will still have to recruit the right kids that can take your program to the promised land. The true prizes in this whole process will be the border line top ten to top twenty five guys in the rankings. As follows is a list and breakdown of the guys that we feel are most ready to make that huge jump and become tomorrow’s next superstars. These are the twelve kids that over the course of the next couple years should be making a loud noise on the NBA radar. As you can’t always project where some of these kids would go in the draft, there are a couple that should end up top 10 picks and a few that could end up All Stars one day with continued work.
FOR SURE KIDS
1. Shabazz Muhammad- Class of 2012 SF/SG NV Shabazz is the most physically imposing kid at his position in the country regardless of class. A kid that could average 40 a game right now at the high school level if he was allowed to play in garbage minutes and teammates got him the ball the way they should. Always plays his best when the lights are the brightest as well. Has added athleticism in the last couple of months and more strength. He is another kid that can play around the top of the box with ease. Has a serious killer instinct as will go for your jugular when he senses it is time for the kill. Would like to see him widen his stance a little on his jumper, but that’s about it. As with most kids has to continue to work, but there aren’t many holes in his game. Has been worked with by the right people and has a desire to succeed and be the best. I see Shabazz being able to play this game very well for a very long time on the next level. He could one day be the face of a franchise.
2. Archie Goodwin- Class of 2012 SG/PF AR Goods is as hot as a roaring furnace right now. Has a chance to be very special. I have had coaches tell me that long term he could be the best out of his class. Extremely young for his class, having just turned sixteen in fall. Has great game off the bounce as he finishes either from the mid range or all the way to the cup and draws contact. A couple weeks ago he exploded for 51 in front of coaches from UCONN and Kansas. Can play at the top of the box when needed, but game is not solely based around playing above the rim. Has to continue to work on things in his game but can be very good. If he gets hot from outside, somebody is in for a long night. Also has a flare to win every time he touches the court which is a rarity these days. Another kid that carries himself properly as he always seems to have a smile on his face and comes from a good family background. Long term can be a superstar if he wants to. It’s all up to him and how much work he is willing to put in.
3. Chris Thomas- Class of 2013 PG/SG/ CO Chris might be the best long term prospect in all of high school basketball. He brings skills to the court that you just don’t see every day. Chris is a prolific scorer as he has had multiple fifty plus point games this year against some very good competition. The crazy thing though is as good a scorer as he is it might not be his best attribute as he’s a unbelievable passer. Chris’s vision on the court is from another universe. Another thing is that with his athleticism he plays well above the rim. This is a must have, since the NBA is always looking for great athletes. Folks, there are some things that you just can’t teach and this kid has a lot of them. Another thing that makes Chris very appealing is that with his charisma and smile he would be a marketing teams dream. He is the type of kid who can light up a room. I project Chris as being a legitimate superstar with continued work at the next level.
4. Chris Walker- Class of 2013 SF/PF FL Some might say: How does this kid make the list considering he is not even ranked in the top 10 by a single scouting service? Simply put he has potential and Josh Smith, Blake Griffin and Shawn Kemp type athleticism. This kid is an absolute sky walker as he plays at the top of the box consistently night end and night out. Chris has a decent stroke which is much better than Josh’s was at the same stage. However, he must continue to work on this. He has range out to the three point line. He has had some big nights from behind the line this year. Another thing that makes him so intriguing is that he blocks tons of shots. He seems to block seven or eight shots every night and he rebounds the ball extremely well. All in all this kid is a must for this list as with continued work he will get paid to play this game for a long time.
5. Julius Randle- Class of 2013 SF/PF TX Julius is right now the most dominant high school sophomore in the country. He is a man child on the court. The kid has a great motor and plays the game the right way. Very athletic and seems to finish everything around the rim. I see Julius eventually moving to the three unless he hits a growth spurt that would shoot him up a couple inches. Seems to always be around the ball as he has had some huge rebounding games this year. He can step out and shot the mid range jumper very well. He has range out to the three. He just needs continued work to become more consistent. Another thing that Julius has to work on is that he really needs to anticipate more and become a better shot blocker. Julius at the high school level is a matchup nightmare as he is too strong for most kid. When you find somebody his size to guard him he is way too quick to guard off the bounce. Should end up projecting as a solid pro at the next level as a worst case scenario.
6. Andre Drummond- Class of 2012 C CT Andre could play ball in the Big East right now at a very high level. There is no need for this kid to still be in high school right now. High scool is only holding him back. Drummond has a chance to be one of the next great dominant big men. He is very long and athletic. This kid can be as good as he wants to be. Like we always say you can’t teach size. You are either born with it or you’re not. Has to work on things and refine his post skills. He should continue working on a little turn around face up and some other offensive weapons. The kid is playing on raw ability right now. It is scary how good he can be. Blocks shots very well and rebounds the ball at a very high level. If he continues to put in the work he can be as good as he wants to be. He just has to push himself on a day to day basis if this is truly what he wants. Could end up being a top five pick in a couple years.
7. Dajuan Coleman- Class of 2012 C NY To me, Dajuan is the most physically imposing presence in the post in the country right now. Dajuan reminds me of a young Eddy Curry. He is not like the New York Knicks Eddy but a young Eddy from Chicago that had everybody talking about him being the next great big man. The thing I like about this kid is that he knows what he does best and sticks to it. He doesn’t try to be something that he is not. He is going to kill you all night long down low on the block as he can give you 20 and 20 on a nightly basis. Kid is also a proven winner as he has already won a New York state championship. The one thing he has to watch very closely is his conditioning. He needs to make sure he stays in the right shape. If he gets comfortable with where he is at, he could balloon and become out of shape. All in all this kid just needs to continue to work and stick to what’s gotten him to where he is at. If he does that, he will be playing this game for a long time.
8. Nerlens Noel- Class of 2013 C MA/NH Nerlens to me is the closest thing that we have seen to a young Patrick Ewing since Ewing was coming out. This kid is the best defensive prospect in all of high school basketball right now. He is blessed with great length and natural instincts. He has only been playing the game for a couple years now and will continue to grow all around the court at a rapid pace. The kid seems to block a ton of shots over the top of the box as he has tree limb type arms. Must continue to work on his offensive game all the way around as he is very raw right now. Has to keep his head on his shoulders and listen and can be as good as he wants to be. Is intriguing because he is the type of kid a GM would draft off of potential and have to wait on for a couple of years. The thing is when he blossoms he could end up being a All Star caliber player.
9. Ricardo Ledo- Class of 2012 SG RI Rickyis the best long term offensive weapon in his class. This kid has unbelievable range on his shot as he has NBA three point range right now today. The most impressive thing is that the game comes very easy to him. Everything at times seems to be effortless. This can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. Many times when the game comes easy people are turned off, because they think you don’t play hard at times. Ricardo has to make sure he keeps his motor running at all times as I am convinced the only person that can stop him is himself. Ricardo comes from a rough family background and has to make sure that he keeps the right people in his corner. The sky is truly the limit for this kid. I could see him being the type of kid that could one day lead the league in scoring. We should see this kid play for at least twelve seasons. It’s all up to him.
TO EARLY TO TELL
10. Dakari Johnson- Class 2014 C NJ/NY Dakari is the type of kid that should end up playing at the next level without question. It says a lot that his family has made some smart decisions in to get him into a strong program to start his high school career. St. Patrick’s produces great quality ball players on a yearly basis. He should receive quality coaching and continue to grow. Like any kid at this stage, he is very raw but his upside is through the roof. Will be interested to see how much more he grows as that will tell a lot about how good he will be one day. Seems to have a good motor and be a very tough kid right now. If he puts his mind to it this kid should be able to set himself up to be in a position to jump straight to the league. Only time will tell how good he will be.
11. Jahlil Okafor- Class of 2014 C IL Big Jahlil could be the next great big man from his state that has produced a long line of them. This kid seems to be in the position to end up leading a storied high school program over the next couple years. He can set himself up to make a leap if the time if right and he develops properly. Jahlil is very light on his feet right now and he has very polished moves on the low post. He is way too strong for anybody his age to handle him down low. I think he might grow a little more which would only make him that more dominant. One thing he will have to watch is his conditioning and turning a little baby fat into muscle. The biggest thing is that with continued work the kid will be in the right place to make a jump if he develops right.
12. Andrew Wiggins- Class of 2014 SF/PF Canada Mr. Wiggins is one of the most athletic kids at his age that I have seen. He is a kid that truly plays the game well above the rim. The kid is a highlight waiting to happen as he seems to dunk everything around the rim. He is blessed with great size. He is 6’8 to 6’9 right now and should have a little growing left in him. Shoots the ball alright and can handle the rock when needed. If he grows a couple more inches and works to continue to polish his game he will be very deadly. He would be a kid that could play from the inside or outside. Will have to add some weight as he is very skinny right now. This could go a long way as to telling how elite a prospect he will become. If he puts the weight on and it doesn’t take away from his game he could end up being the best prospect from his class. Has a rather tight family that watches his every move as he is shielded from the public. Another thing is that he has great family genes and his dad was a very good ball player. Watch closely as this kid could be very special.