College Basketball Recruiting 2012: Top 50 Incoming Freshmen
The college basketball recruiting class of 2012 is wrapping up its process, and the players are preparing for the challenges of being freshmen during the 2012-13 college basketball season. Of the hundreds of incoming freshmen, these are the top 50 that will be playing college ball next season.
From the battle for the No. 1 spot between Shabazz Muhammad and Nerlens Noel to the cut-off on this list, all 50 players will have a big impact next season, as freshmen continue to play bigger roles for Top 25 teams.
While it was incredibly difficult to narrow this list to 50—I had to leave off quite a few great players—these are the top 50 recruits in the Class of 2012.
50. Jeremy Hollowell, Indiana
Jeremy Hollowell is a very skilled and talented recruit. He is versatile, which makes him difficult for most coaches to prepare for. However, he does not always give the effort that he needs to be great.
Hollowell is big enough to beat smaller defenders inside or shoot over them, but also quick enough to get past most defenders that are his size. He has decent range that he needs to improve upon, but he knows where he can and can't shoot from.
The biggest problem with Hollowell is effort. He has the potential to be one of the top players in the country over the next few years, but if Tom Crean can't get him to put forth the effort at Indiana, then he will be good instead of great.
49. Dominic Artis, Oregon
Dominic Artis is a small point guard, but he is one of the best on the west coast. He is very quick and skilled, but he is not strong.
With the ability to get by most defenders because of his agility, Artis is very effective in the paint, where he can either score or pass to an open teammate. He also has a decent shot, although his range could be better.
On defense, opponents find him simply annoying. His short stature can deceive opponents because he has surprisingly long arms which allow him to disrupt passes and force turnovers. He is also very quick and can stick close with any point guard, which is why he is difficult to play against.
If Artis can add strength without hurting his mobility too much, he could be very good at Oregon next season.
48. Tyler Lewis, North Carolina State
Tyler Lewis is a point guard who is part of North Carolina State's incredible recruiting class that will be bringing the Wolfpack back up the ACC rankings, fighting for No. 1 next season.
At 5'11", 165 pounds, Lewis doesn't look like a true basketball player, and his frame will most likely hold him back at the college level. He is quick and smart, not to mention his great passing skills and ability to control the tempo. However, he is too small to be elite.
Lewis is a true point guard who won't be scoring much at the next level, but when he does, it will be by his floater.
47. Josh Scott, Colorado
Josh Scott is a very smart, fundamentally-sound player. He is very coachable, which is why he has been so successful.
Scott knows when he has the advantage in the post, and he likes to use it by scoring with a jump hook from either hand. However, when he is at a disadvantage, he is a great passer who likes to hit cutters for easy baskets.
While he must continue to add strength if he is going to have an advantage inside against centers in college, Scott has what it takes to be a very good player in college.
46. Rapheal Davis, Purdue
At 6'5” and 200 pounds, Rapheal Davis has great size for a shooting guard. He can play small forward if needed, but he identifies most with the shooting guard position.
On offense he has a good shooting stroke, and when he is in a groove he can knock down shot after shot. However, he needs to recognize when he is struggling with his shot, and when that happens he should drive through the lane and finish through contact.
On the defensive side, he can use his lateral quickness and hand pressure to disrupt opponents, but the effort is not always there.
With some more coaching, Davis has a lot of potential at the next level.
45. Torian Graham, Undecided
Torian Graham is an undecided shooting guard, and he is the best left in the country.
Graham might have been in the ballpark of No. 90 in the country about 10 months ago, when he was just an athlete. Now, however, he has evolved into a great scorer, and he is in the top 50 because of it.
Despite improving in leaps and bounds, Graham has been falling in most rankings. He now has a better shot, doesn't rush things and doesn't turn the ball over as much in traffic. Because of that, I see him surprising a lot of people when he gets to college.
44. Christopher Obekpa, Undecided
Christopher Obekpa is one of the best shot-blockers in the nation, fighting with Nerlens Noel and Steven Adams.
Obekpa is an intimidating presence in the paint, thanks to his incredible length, timing and athleticism. He has the potential for double-digit blocks on any given night, and he will be able to continue his success in college.
While his offensive game is limited to a few moves in the paint right now, he will improve with time, and his forte comes on the defensive side of the court.
43. Robert Upshaw, Fresno State
Robert Upshaw is a tall, long, big center. He is a seven-footer with an even longer wingspan, and his 250-pound frame allows him to carve out space on the post.
Upshaw is improving his game with his back to the basket and is trying to better his mobility. Both processes will take some time, but a few years in college will have him playing at an elite level.
It was very surprising to see Upshaw pick Fresno State over schools like Louisville and Georgetown, but playing against lesser competition will have him looking like a star.
42. Winston Shepard, San Diego State
Winston Shepard is a true athlete who has a lot of potential at the next level because he always puts in the effort.
Shepard can frequently be seen running the floor in transition and using his incredible stamina to his advantage. He loves to get to the rim for easy baskets in transition, although he is successful with mid-range jumpers in the half-court set.
On defense he is very mobile, and his energy and constant activity allow him to disrupt opponents. He is also a great rebounder thanks to his effort.
Shepard is not the best basketball player, but his freakish athleticism and the fact that he tries harder than almost any other player in the Class of 2012 has made him very successful.
41. Andrew White, Kansas
Andrew White is another highly active player. He typically plays small forward, but is improving his range to become a shooting guard.
White has a great mid-range game because of his ability to spot up or drive through the lane. He also excels in transition because he is a great athlete.
White needs to improve his ball-handling skills however, as he should be the type of player to lead his team in transition instead of running along the sides. He has the high-energy motor to score in bunches in transition, but he needs a teammate to help him because he isn't comfortable taking the ball all the way to the hoop.
40. Jordan Adams, UCLA
Jordan Adams is a strong small forward who has incredible body control. He likes to go right a bit too often, but he is still highly effective when he drives through the lane.
He is also a smart player who moves well without the ball and knows how to attack a defense. He recognizes when defenders try to double-team him, and he makes excellent passes to expose weaknesses when they do.
The biggest concern with Adams' game is his ability to go to the left. He loves to go to the right, which could become problematic if defenders force him to the left. If he can complete this aspect of his game he will be very effective at UCLA.
39. Willie Cauley, Kentucky
Kentucky's first of four recruits on this list, Willie Cauley is a true center, although he runs the floor well for his size.
Cauley can score with short jumpers, but most of his points come off of tip-ins or offensive rebounds. He is still raw but he is developing his game with his back to the basket.
On defense he is a shot-blocker, and he rebounds well.
Kentucky is also bringing in Nerlens Noel, which means that Cauley won't be playing much during his freshman year. This is great for him because it gives him time to develop his offensive game while also putting on some more muscle so he can bang down low in college.
He should be an asset for John Calipari and the Wildcats in a year or two.
38. Omar Calhoun, Connecticut
Omar Calhoun is headed to UConn's only elite recruit, thanks in part to a postseason ban. However, he has no relation to coach Jim Calhoun.
Calhoun is an elite scorer who does not overextend himself and lets the game come to him. He plays a very mature style of basketball.
He has a good shot and loves to knock down mid-range jumpers, but he needs some more muscle before he will be able to drive in college. He is only 185 pounds, which is very small for a 6'3” shooting guard, and it is absolutely essential that he bulk up over the next year so that he is ready for when the Huskies actually make the NCAA tournament again.
37. Perry Ellis, Kansas
The 2011 Gatorade Player of the Year in Kansas, Perry Ellis is a good recruit who will be staying local to play in college.
Ellis is a power forward who loves to get out in transition. His game in the half-court set is limited to within 15 feet because it is difficult for him to score from the perimeter. However, once he is within 15 feet he is very effective.
A good rebounder, Ellis also plays tough defense. He needs to add some more muscle if he is going to be elite, but he is a very talented player. He has the ability to affect the game in a lot of different ways, and he just needs to get the ball in order to do so.
36. Robert Carter, Georgia Tech
Robert Carter is a successful basketball player because of his combination of size, strength and agility. He had a lot of potential in football as well as basketball, but he decided to play basketball for Georgia Tech.
Carter uses his strength effectively on both ends of the floor, and he loves to push weaker defenders out of the way as he finds space down low. He has trustworthy hands that point guards love, and he very rarely loses possession of the ball.
Carter has the ability to step away from the basket for jumpers, but sometimes he will utilize it too much and not take advantage of his size and strength inside as much as he should.
35. Brice Johnson, North Carolina
Brice Johnson has the potential to be a great player or a bust at the next level.
Johnson is a quick power forward who runs the floor extremely well and has excellent mobility. He can face up, but he only has range out to about 15 feet.
However, Johnson is incredibly skinny for being 6'9”, and he has a very narrow frame. It will be difficult for him to put on muscle, and if he can't, then he will bust.
Only time will tell with this kid, but if he can adjust to the college game, he will be highly effective.
34. Shaquille Cleare, Maryland
Shaquille Cleare is a big center who will be playing for Maryland next year. His 6'10”, 270-pound frame is going to suit him well in college, and he will be able to back down other centers.
With soft touch around the basket and a few excellent post moves, he can be an effective scorer once he gets the ball. He has a good combination of strength and power with quickness and grace, which allows him to be dominant inside.
The biggest concern for this kid is simply conditioning. If he can stay in shape he will be very effective, and I don't think that will be a problem once he gets to College Park.
33. Jerami Grant, Syracuse
With a father and an uncle who played in the NBA, Jerami Grant has the bloodlines of a great basketball player.
Grant has great athleticism and he runs the floor extremely well. He could either be a skilled power forward or an explosive small forward who doesn't have excellent range.
Grant needs to add range to his shot, and if he can do so he will be an immediate-impact player at Syracuse.
32. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
Sam Dekker is a small forward who will be staying in Wisconsin to play his college ball.
Dekker has good range, which works to his advantage, but he also has a few areas that he needs to work on.
Dekker is 6'7" and only 190 pounds, which is not big enough to play his game at the college level. He was a good rebounder in high school because he was tall, but he is going to be bullied in college if he can't add from 10 to 30 pounds.
Along with strength, Dekker is not well-conditioned enough to play a lot of minutes at the collegiate level, and Big Ten basketball can be very physical and taxing.
Despite his physical weaknesses, he is very talented and has a lot of potential. He will probably have a rough transition in his freshman year, but he will be a good player once he gets some experience.
31. T.J. Warren, North Carolina State
T.J. Warren is a versatile forward who, unlike most recruits, doesn't have a problem with size or conditioning.
Warren is a 6'7”, 210-pound small forward who is athletic enough to keep up with most small forwards and strong enough to back them down. He can play inside or out, and the only problem with his offensive game is that is inconsistent from behind the arc, which could be fixed if he fine-tunes his release.
Warren is a smart player who knows how the defense is trying to stop him, and he exploits weaknesses well. He also gets out in transition and runs the floor well. Warren has learned from his father, who also played collegiate basketball at North Carolina State, which has certainly served him well.
30. Glenn Robinson, Michigan
Glenn Robinson Jr. is the son of Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson who had a great college career. He definitely has the genes for success, but he is trying to make a name for himself instead of living in his father's shadow.
Robinson is a good small forward who is solid in a lot of areas, including finishing in the lane and spotting up for a jumper.
However, Robinson will need to add more strength and keep his focus during games if he is going to become elite.
29. Shaq Goodwin, Memphis
Shaq Goodwin was actually a football recruit too, but he decided to play basketball for the Memphis Tigers.
Goodwin is a strong, powerful forward who is going to use his strength to carve out space. He is also in great shape and can get up and down the court surprisingly fast for his size.
Height means very little when going up against Goodwin, as he has the muscle to back down defenders who are a good three or four inches taller than him. The way to stop him is with equal strength, which is tough to come by with most forwards.
Goodwin will be very effective when he is in the game, but he needs to improve his stamina if he is going to be a true star for Memphis.
28. Yogi Ferrell, Indiana
Yogi Ferrell is a very small, skilled point guard. He is not even six feet tall, but he is quick and skilled, which makes him a great recruit.
A great leader who controls the tempo of a game, Ferrell has great court vision and passing ability. He also knows how to attack the opposition, whether that means shooting himself or passing to an open teammate.
While his height will probably hold him back a bit at the next level, Ferrell will be a four-year player who can keep Indiana among the elite teams in the country.
27. Marcus Paige, North Carolina
Marcus Paige is a skilled point guard. The southpaw is going to continue a long line of success for North Carolina point guards, and he could be this team's leader next season.
Paige is a serious threat on offense. He is a great passer, although he is not quite as good as the departing Kendall Marshall was. He is a better scorer, however, and he can also force turnovers and get out in transition.
Paige has good range and plays tough defense because he is so quick, but he does have one weakness. Paige is only 160 pounds, and he is not strong enough to compete with most college point guards. He is going to need to add muscle without hurting his mobility over the summer, which can be a problem for a lot of freshmen.
26. Ricardo Gathers, Baylor
Ricardo Gathers has the body of a defensive lineman. He is about 6'8” and 250 pounds and has the strength of a bulldozer.
Helping to replenish Baylor's depleted frontcourt, Gathers is most effective when his back is to the basket. He has the strength to back down defenders or carve out space in the low post. Once he is close enough, he has a few moves that he can use to score.
The only way to stop this kid once he has the ball is to double-team him. That leaves his teammates open, and he is a good passer who can rack up assists by kicking the ball out to teammates for easy buckets.
Gathers is going to be highly successful in college because of his strength, and he will be able to bully weaker defenders on both ends of the court.
25. Amile Jefferson, Undecided
Amile Jefferson is a skinny power forward who will be playing like a combo-forward in college. While he doesn't have the three-point shot that will make him a true combo-forward, he has everything else.
He is very quick for his height, which makes him a clear mismatch. Opponents need to be tall and long enough to match up with him, but also quick like a guard to keep pace with him.
Jefferson is a versatile player who is effective on both ends of the court. On offense he can cut through the lane or use a post move or two to score. On defense he is long enough to disrupt passes, and he can then lead his team in transition.
Over the summer he needs to add some more strength with his college weightlifting program, but he also needs to make sure that he doesn't lose any mobility, since that is what makes him special.
24. Tony Parker, UCLA
Tony Parker is a big center who is heading from Lithonia, Ga. to Westwood to play his college ball.
Parker was one of the last few recruits to commit, but Ben Howland's UCLA Bruins were the lucky ones to land him.
With a big, powerful body, Parker never has difficulty carving out space down low, which is not something most freshmen can do. He then provides a big target for point guards, and when he has the ball he is difficult to stop because he has a plethora of moves that he can use to score.
On defense, Parker is a stopper in the paint, and he forces opponents to change their shots in midair. He also rebounds very well within his space; his long arms help him to do so.
While his conditioning used to be a problem, Parker is keeping in shape, and he will be ready for the next level when the season finally rolls around.
23. Mitch McGary, Michigan
Mitch McGary might be best known for breaking a backboard at Elite 24 over the summer and needing stitches to close his wounds (no long-term damage was done).
McGary next took the media by storm by committing to Michigan, which gave life to the term "Mitch-igan." At the time, he was No. 2 in the nation among all recruits, but he is now No. 27.
McGary did have a slightly disappointing senior season, but he still has the frame and talent to be an elite big man at the next level.
The biggest flaw in McGary's game is when his back is to the basket, but he is steadily improving, and he is a dangerous screener. He is also imposing on the defensive end, and I see him being a great player for the Wolverines next season.
22. Ricardo Ledo, Providence
Ricardo Ledo is an excellent scorer. With a long build and explosive athleticism, he has all the tools to be an elite shooting guard.
Ledo has essentially limitless talent on the offensive end. He has great range and can drive through the lane, finish through contact, rack up assists or hit a pull-up jumper.
The only problem with Ledo is that he plans his moves before the play develops on the offensive end. He predetermines what he will do at times, and he needs to break this habit before he can become a true star.
21. Gabe York, Arizona
Gabe York is the most underrated player in the class, and he is going to shock the college basketball world with his skill next year.
With freakish athleticism and the ability to shoot from “Jimmer range,” he is an incredible scoring threat. He throws down some unbelievable dunks for his 6'0” stature, and you have to watch this highlight reel to truly understand why I have him 46 spots higher than ESPN does.
York is also a great floor general who can control the tempo of the game, and he has incredible passing skills. He can get past almost any defender to get into the lane, and it is difficult to stop him once he is in the key. He can either jump out of the roof for a dunk or kick it out to a teammate for three.
This kid is going to be a star at Arizona, and Sean Miller's Wildcats have found a great point guard.
20. Rodney Purvis, North Carolina State
Rodney Purvis is a great slasher who can drive through the lane and finish through contact. Most of his offensive game revolves around his ability to slash through the lane, but he also has a decent shot out to 19 feet.
Purvis is a disruptive defender who forces turnovers. Once his team gets out in transition, he can either score himself or find an open teammate.
Purvis has a lot of potential, but he needs to develop a more well-rounded game. Right now he is only a wing scorer, but he has all the tools to be a stud at the next level.
19. Danuel House, Houston
Danuel House is an incredibly athletic small forward. He is a high-flying, fast-paced forward who uses his athleticism to his advantage.
House is in his element once his team is in transition. He is athletic enough to get up and score over defenders. He has a good handle and is so explosive that it is next to impossible to stop him if he can get to the basket. However, he needs to improve his range, which only extends out to about 18 feet at the moment.
On defense, House uses his athleticism to play the passing lanes where he gets steal. He is athletic but he is not incredibly quick, which leads to a lot of small forwards being able to get by him to score.
House is one of the best athletes in the class, but he still needs time to develop into a scorer.
18. Kris Dunn, Providence
Kris Dunn is a versatile guard who can play either position in the backcourt. He is an aggressive young player who makes some mistakes because he forces things, but some coaching will break that habit.
Dunn has good skills with the ball, which allow him to play point guard. He also has great length and the ability to shoot the ball from distance, which allow him to play shooting guard.
Dunn is a raw player with a lot of talent, and he has a lot of potential. He will be an NBA player one day, and once he matures he will be a full-fledged star in college. Unfortunately, he needs to mature quite a bit before that happens.
17. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Marcus Smart is one of the best drivers in the Class of 2012. He loves to cut through the lane, because he is big for a shooting guard at 6'3” and 205 pounds.
Smart can finish through contact because of his size, which is going to be vital to his success in college. While his range is limited and he becomes a very streaky shooter past 15 feet, he is explosive when he cuts through the lane and he can finish over most big men.
Smart is also a good defender because he has great strength for his size. He is one of the few players who doesn't have to do much over the summer to be ready for the next level, but he should try to extend his range out to 20 feet or so.
16. Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke
Rasheed Sulaimon is a pure scorer. He has an arsenal of weapons on the offensive end that allow him to be a star.
Like Austin Rivers last year, Sulaimon can drive through the lane and finish through contact. He is successful even when he has to adjust his shot in midair, which will let him be a key part of Duke's offensive schemes next season.
While he isn't as successful on the defensive end, Sulaimon can stick with most shooting guards. He isn't going to be completely shutting down the best guards in the country, but he is going to disrupt their rhythm.
The key for Sulaimon next season is to improve his consistency with his jumper. He has the potential to be dangerous from behind the arc, but he is incredibly streaky.
15. Archie Goodwin, Kentucky
Archie Goodwin is a true basketball player, making everything he does look easy. He is a long, athletic player who could play small forward, but has the range of a shooting guard.
On offense, Goodwin has range past the three-point line and he attacks the basket. He can get by defenders and his length allows him to convert acrobatic layups.
On defense, he utilizes his length to rebound well and disrupt passes. He is quick enough to stay in front of most small forwards, but not all shooting guards.
Goodwin has a very good game for his age, and he is one of the few players who doesn't have any major flaws coming into college.
14. DaJuan Coleman, Syracuse
At 6'9" and 275 pounds, DaJuan Coleman is a big, beefy center. Like most big men, conditioning was a concern, but he appears to have eliminated that issue.
Coleman still has a big body that he uses to his advantage, carving out space on the low post and not conceding ground to other centers when on defense. What he lacks in height he makes up for in strength, which allows him to back down defenders and score with an array of post moves.
Coleman has good body control, but he has a tendency to lose it when he drives to the basket. He must learn to play when he faces the basket. He has soft touch but is not capable of driving without opening himself to charges. If he can add that aspect to his game, he will be a star in Jim Boeheim's plans.
13. Alex Poythress, Kentucky
Alex Poythress is a great athlete with a terrific build. His long arms and muscular frame allow him to attack the basket and finish through contact.
Poythress can hit the three with time and space and he plays terrific defense, but his forte is driving to the basket.
His game is very similar to that of Amile Jefferson from a previous slide, but the difference is that Poythress is much more muscular, and he is a true small forward instead of a combo-forward.
Poythress fits the typical mold for John Calipari's players: long, athletic and a future NBA player.
12. Grant Jerrett, Arizona
Grant Jerrett is a 6'10" combo-forward who will be playing for Arizona next year.
The reason I classify Jerrett as a combo-forward instead of a true power forward is that he has good range and is surprisingly quick for a player of his size.
Utilizing his impressive footwork and arsenal of post moves, Jerrett can score inside. However, he also has mid-range game, where he can choose to take a jumper, drive to the basket or even step back and knock down threes.
Jerrett is a mismatch for most teams because he can shoot over smaller defenders, and most 6'10" players can't extend their defensive pressure to the three-point line.
11. Gary Harris, Michigan State
Gary Harris is the best shooting guard in the Class of 2012, thanks to a complete game. He is very mature for his age and his lack of flaws proves it.
At 6'4" Harris has good size for a shooting guard, and he has surprising strength for his 200-pound frame. He is lightning-quick and can get past his man with his freakishly fast first step. He is tough to stop once he gets airborne because he can adjust his shot in midair and still finish.
Harris is aggressive on both ends of the court, looking to score in bunches on the offensive end and play suffocating defense that leads to turnovers on the defensive end.
The only minor problem in Harris' game is his range. He is a good shooter out to about 20 to 25 feet, but he is working hard to improve it. He is also much more consistent than he was with his stroke, which has led to him taking the top spot among shooting guards.
10. Brandon Ashley, Arizona
Brandon Ashley was the hero of this year's National High School Invitational Championship Game, dropping 31 points in a comeback victory.
Ashley is an effective scorer because of his quick post moves and soft touch. He will probably be playing small forward at Arizona next year, although he will be able to back down most other small forwards.
Ashley also has great length and excellent timing, which allow him to block shots on the defensive end. He is quick and savvy enough to stop most small forwards on defense, and he should have very few problems with the transition next season.
Ashley was once as high as No. 4 in the nation, but he needs to work on his fundamentals a bit more if he wants to get back to that position.
9. Cameron Ridley, Texas
Cameron Ridley is a big center who will be playing for Texas next season. He reminds me of Tristan Thompson in some ways, which is great news for Texas fans.
Ridley is an excellent center on the offensive end. He provides a big target for point guards when he posts up, and he can finish with his jump hook or crafty footwork to get by his defender. He is also very effective off the pick-and-roll because he rolls so forcefully.
Strength and conditioning were once a major concern for Ridley, but he appears to be keeping himself in shape year-round now, which is going to pay off in college.
8. Devonta Pollard, Undecided
Devonta Pollard is the most versatile player in the Class of 2012. He can beat his opponents in a variety of ways, changing his approach every night with just as much success.
This kid has good range and can drain six or seven threes in one night. He can drive through the lane and finish through contact as well as anyone else in the country. He can play point guard because of his court vision and passing ability. He can also focus on the defensive aspect of his game and take the opposition's best player out of the equation.
Pollard can play any position from point guard to power forward, and his role could change on any given night.
Pollard is the type of player who needs to be the star of his program. He can't be told that he needs to fill one specific role every night, but he can be told what he needs to do during one game to win, and he'll do it.
This kid is a winner, and he is going to bring great success to whichever program he chooses.
7. Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
Steven Adams is a center from New Zealand who is coming to America to play college ball. Adams was smart about his transition, coming to play his senior season at Notre Dame Prep to give himself more time to adjust.
With the ability to carve out space and provide a big target, Adams is a point guard's best friend. He doesn't exactly have a wide range of moves in the paint once he gets the ball, but Jamie Dixon will be sure to expand his offensive game at Pittsburgh.
With great mobility for his frame, Adams can get down the court quickly, which is one of the best aspects of his game. He can usually be seen helping his team in transition, and a lot of his points come on fast breaks because opponents don't have their centers coming down the court as quickly as Adams.
On defense, Adams is a great shot-blocker. While he isn't as long and doesn't have as high of a jump as some other centers, he is very mature about his shot-blocking. He doesn't leave his feet until his opponent does, and his jump is so quick that he can usually get up to block most centers despite jumping later.
While Adams could struggle because of his transition to a new style of basketball, he is still considered one of the best prospects in the class.
6. Anthony Bennett, UNLV
Anthony Bennett is a power forward who recently committed to the Runnin' Rebels of UNLV.
A future NBA star, Bennett is very versatile and athletic. He has great mobility and get down the floor quickly, which allows him to score in transition or get back on defense.
Bennett has great game inside. He has great hands and provides a large target for point guards. He can carve out space inside, and once he has the ball he can beat his defender with an array of moves.
Apart from his game in the paint, Bennett also has excellent range, and he has the uncanny ability to step out and hit threes with time and space.
His stamina and physique used to be a problem, but he has worked to be in better shape, and it has paid off. He is now going to be a weapon in college, and he will be in the NBA in just over one year's time.
5. Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona
Kaleb Tarczewski is another seven-footer on this list, emphasizing that big men dominate the Class of 2012. Tarc is also Arizona's fourth recruit on this list, making up the nation's No. 1 class.
Unlike a lot of other big men on this list, Tarc holds nothing back when he is attacking the basket. He finishes with explosive dunks when he is close to the basket, spinning by his man or driving through the lane.
Apart from dunks, he also has great mobility, sticky hands and soft touch out to 15 feet. He is an asset on the offensive end of the floor, but he can also rebound well and play tough defense.
There are very few flaws when it comes to Tarczewski's game, with the only glaring flaw being that he cannot always carve out space on the low post. He is not as naturally gifted as these last four players (which is why he must settle for No. 5), but he is a sure-fire success at the next level.
4. Isaiah Austin, Baylor
Isaiah Austin is a seven-footer with freakish skills like a point guard, and he did in fact play some point guard in high school.
Austin is a very versatile center, but he needs to put on some weight. At 7'0" he should be much bulkier than his 210-pound frame allows. In fact, he is lighter than a lot of small forwards, and even one point guard on this list.
However, once he hits a college weightlifting program, he will certainly put on some muscle, which will allow him to bang down low with other big men.
Austin reminds me a lot of Perry Jones III, who played his final game in a Baylor uniform this year. Austin is also a very tall player with great ball-handling skills who is mobile enough to beat other centers down the floor. He is going to be an asset in transition because he can handle the ball or get up for an alley-oop.
Austin's versatility has him high on my list, but this all hinges on him adding weight and staying mobile.
3. Kyle Anderson, UCLA
Kyle Anderson is a 6'9" point guard.
Yeah. A 6'9" point guard.
He is incredibly unique because of his unbelievable size for his position. When defended by shorter players, he can shoot over them or see the floor over them while utilizing his incredible passing ability. When defended by larger players, he is quick enough to get past them or blow by them with his ball-handling skills.
Dubbed "Slow-Mo" because of his apparently slow moves, Anderson is deceptively quick and efficient. Because he is always playing in control, he looks like he is going slower, but when you watch him he is actually going faster than a lot of players.
Anderson is this high on my list because he is simply such a ridiculous mismatch, which leads to great success.
There is no one who can completely shut this kid down because he has so many different weapons on offense, including range, the ability to drive, court vision, passing ability, etc. His height also puts all defenders at some disadvantage.
On defense, this kid is quick enough to stay with other point guards, smart enough to beat them to spots, tall enough to block their shots and long enough to disrupt their passes.
He is essentially the perfect weapon.
2. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
Nerlens Noel is the best big man in the Class of 2012. He is a 6'10" center whose 215-pound frame will probably fill out after he starts a college weightlifting program, and Kentucky really needs him to pan out.
Noel is a long center who is arguably the best shot-blocker in the country, fighting with Christopher Obekpa and Steven Adams for that particular title. Noel also rebounds well on both ends of the floor thanks to his excellent timing and length.
On offense Noel is still developing his game. He can make jump hooks with both feet planted, but he needs to add another move, and he has a tendency to rush his shot.
Noel has been compared to Anthony Davis because of his shot-blocking and developing offensive game. It doesn't hurt that he is playing at Kentucky either. He is similar in many ways, which is why he is constantly fighting for the No. 1 overall spot on these rankings. However, he is No. 2 in mine.
That only leaves...
1. Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
Muhammad is the true No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2012, beating out Nerlens Noel in these rankings.
I know that ESPN has Noel No. 1, and Rivals has Muhammad, but the advantage between the two goes to Muhammad because of his incredible impact on both ends of the floor.
An NBA-ready player who could be playing against elite players today, I have compared Muhammad's game to Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. He can slash through the lane like no other, and has good range out to 20 feet.
On defense, Muhammad can play tenacious defense, although he will need to keep his intensity up for the full 40 minutes. He can shut down just about any other small forward, and his elite game on both ends of the court pushes him just ahead of Noel for the right to the No. 1 spot on this list.