Building the Perfect NCAA Basketball Recruit Out of 2013 Prospects
With imagination and suspended disbelief as our aid, we've identified the best attributes of the best players in the 2013 high school basketball recruiting class and combined them to create the ultimate incoming freshman.
Try to greet this exercise with an open mind. We aren't conducting a science experiment, and we aren't adhering to any notions of anatomical compatibility. Which is to say that the players ahead come in every shape and size.
At heart, what we're trying to do is highlight some of the standout skills possessed by the nation's best high school ballers, skills the viewing public will see in full during the 2013-14 college campaign.
Shooting: Matt Jones
Hometown: DeSoto, Texas
It's no surprise that Jones chose Duke, a program renowned for its ability to develop, and feature, great jump shooters. With Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly lost to graduation, the Blue Devils will look to the smooth-stroking Jones for instant offense on the outside.
Rebounding: Julius Randle
Hometown: McKinney, Texas
Scouts rave about Randle's relentless style of play, which, combined with his soaring athleticism and budding upper-body strength, make him a bear on the boards. It's clear to see why ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep calls Randle the best high school rebounder in America.
Paired with returning center Willie Cauley-Stein on Kentucky's front line, Randle should lead one of college basketball's best glass-cleaning units.
Passing: Kasey Hill
Hometown: Eustis, Fla.
The heir apparent to four-year Gator starter Kenny Boynton, Hill augments his plus open-court speed with dazzling creativity. Though his ambition sometimes leads him astray, the Florida product remains one of the best, and most entertaining, assist men in the high school game.
After dominating last year's Adidas Invitational, Hill was dubbed "arguably the best pure passer in this year's crop" by Rivals.com's Corey Albertson (via Sports Illustrated).
Upper-Body Strength: Wayne Selden
Hometown: Boston, Mass.
It's an open debate as to how Selden will develop, with some scouts concerned that his relative lack of height will handicap him at the pro level. There's little disagreement, however, on the Boston product's college prospects.
At a muscular 6'4", Selden can bully past even the best high school talent, and he proved as much with a 13-point performance at the McDonald's All-American Game. Expect him to score early and often during his Kansas career.
Handle: Aquille Carr
Hometown: Baltimore, Md.
A mixtape phenom with obscene one-on-one skills, the 5'7" Carr was an enigmatic college prospect before he decided to skip college and play professionally in Europe. Now his development is even tougher to pin.
Here's what we do know: Carr is one of the most sensational ball-handlers and individual playmakers in the land. He's cat quick, fearless in the lane and able to dunk rather comfortably despite his small stature.
Will it translate to any sort of professional success? As Bon Jovi might say, 23,000 Twitter followers can't be wrong.
Vertical Leap: Aaron Gordon
Hometown: San Jose, Calif.
You won't find a recruiting analyst who hasn't at some point compared Bay Area standout Aaron Gordon to NBA All-Star Blake Griffin. The most obvious shared trait between the two?
CBS' Jeff Borzello called Gordon "an absolute high-flyer," and that was before the 6'8" power forward turned the McDonald's All-American Game into his personal showcase. He should be one of the best offensive rebounders and finishers in the Pac-12 next year.
Shot Blocking: Joel Embiid
Hometown: Gainesville, Fla.
A native of Cameroon, Embiid is still relatively new to basketball and didn't develop into a major national prospect until his senior season. The upside, though, is obvious.
With wingspan that stretches to 7'5", Embiid has all the markings of a shot-blocking maven. Reports say he can be bit overzealous at times, but that's to be expected from a player with so little experience.
Given time to develop, Embiid has a chance to become one of the best interior defenders in this class.
Offensive Versatility: Jabari Parker
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Parker's stock has cooled considerably since Sports Illustrated shackled him with the needlessly hyperbolic "best high school player since LeBron James" label. But even if Parker isn't James' equal as a pure athlete—and really, who is?—the Chicago legend is an enormous offensive talent.
Parker has the power and length to finish inside along with a solid handle and soft jump shot. And that's not to mention his passing ability, which is particularly advanced for a forward.
Parker should be the focal point of Duke's offense next season.
Defensive Versatility: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Hometown: Chester, Penn.
Hollis-Jefferson isn't the highest-ceiling prospect in the Philadelphia area—that honor goes to fast-rising point guard Rysheed Jordan—but he is the most college ready. The 6'7" forward played all five positions for his powerhouse high school team, and has the right suite of skills to defend positions 2 through 4 at the next level.
Even if Hollis-Jefferson never develops the jump shot that stands behind him and superstardom, he should at least be a major contributor at the high-major level.
Basketball IQ: Demetrius Jackson
Hometown: Mishawaka, Ind.
College: Notre Dame
Having played on a fairly low-profile AAU team and attended a small, local Catholic high school, Jackson is a bit of a mystery compared to other 5-star talents.
But where evaluators may differ on Jackson's overall ability, they seem to agree on his intellect and mastery of the game. As ESPN writes in its recruiting profile of the Notre-Dame-bound point guard, he's an "Intelligent young man on and off the court and it shows in his play."
Overall Athleticism: Andrew Wiggins
Hometown: Thornhill, Ontario (Canada)
No list like this would be complete without consensus top prospect Andrew Wiggins, but it's hard to surmise exactly where the Canadian sensation fits.
Wiggins doesn't have one obvious standout skill, which is a backdoor way of pointing out that he does just about everything well. The 6'7" forward can fly, handle, penetrate, defend, pass, shoot and rebound. He's as versatile as Jabari Parker and athletic as Aaron Gordon.
He is, by almost all accounts, the best high school basketball player in the world. He might not be that hypothetical "perfect" recruit, but he's about as close as it gets.