In a refreshing change from the last couple of years, the biggest story in college basketball’s recruiting class of 2013 isn’t about the low post. Instead, small forwards and point guards are the order of the day in this year’s deep crop of prospects.
One of the best of the latter is Washington-bound Nigel Williams-Goss. With his 6'3" frame and outstanding court vision, he'll be a terrific running mate for Huskies scoring star C.J. Wilcox.
Read on for more on Williams-Goss and the rest of the best prospects at all five positions among next season’s incoming freshmen.
As Arizona’s Mark Lyons showed last year, a high-powered combo guard can be a terrific asset to an offense even if his floor leadership still needs some work.
Terry Rozier isn’t going to be Mark Lyons, but he will be a major boost to a Louisville team that could use more half-court scoring.
The 6’1” Rozier is a competent passer but a first-rate scorer, particularly from three-point range. His ball-handling and defense will make him a terrific complement to Russ Smith when they’re in the Cardinals backcourt together.
Demetrius Jackson is an improving shooter, which is a scary prospect for future Notre Dame opponents. Once Jackson becomes a bigger factor looking for his own shot, he’ll have a complete offensive package at the point guard spot.
Jackson can take almost any defender off the dribble and his passing skills are outstanding. His greatest strength might be his intangibles, as he’s a remarkably heady leader for a player his age.
He may be a bit one-dimensional on offense, but Nigel Williams-Goss has the passing skills to make that one dimension count. The Findlay Prep product dished out six assists to lead both rosters in the McDonald’s All-American Game.
At 6’3”, Williams-Goss can see over defenders to get the best passing angles, and his length also helps him finish inside. He needs improvement as a scorer, but he’ll be a top-notch floor general from day one.
Florida’s Scottie Wilbekin is coming off a wonderful season at point guard, so it’s saying something that Billy Donovan may want to move the rising senior off the ball next year. But then, Kasey Hill isn’t an ordinary freshman.
The lightning-fast Hill doesn’t have Wilbekin’s catch-and-shoot skills, but he’s a lethal penetrator who can create openings for Florida’s scorers.
The freshman is also a fine defender, so the full-court press that served the Gators so well last season will be in good hands when he’s on the floor.
At 6’5”, 210 lbs, Andrew Harrison already looks like an NBA point guard. The even better news for John Calipari is that he already plays a lot like one, too.
Harrison has the shooting ability to move to SG if needed, he’s an imposing penetrator and his passing skills are first-class. His size gives him a huge edge on most point guards, so it’s little surprise that he’s a terrific rebounder and defender.
SMU ranked 248th nationally in scoring offense, so it’s safe to say there will be plenty of shots available for Keith Frazier. That’s just as well, because Frazier can put points on the scoreboard in a hurry.
The 6’5” freshman has shooting range well past the three-point arc, but he can also attack the rim given the opportunity. He’s not as strong a ball-handler as some SGs in this class, but his jumper is second to none.
Although Isaac Hamilton is a dangerous catch-and-shoot threat, he’s even more valuable with the ball in his hands. The high-scoring guard is one of the better passers in the class from the SG spot, making him a dual threat when he plays on the ball.
Hamilton’s shot runs hot and cold, but when he’s clicking he’s deadly. He also has the benefit of long arms at 6’5”, making it tough for defenders to challenge his shot on the perimeter.
Jabari Bird’s specialty is the rim-rattling dunk. He has plenty of other weapons in his arsenal, but none as effective as soaring to the goal.
Bird has three-point range on his jump shot, too, and can score from anywhere in between. He’s a promising defender, but he could use some work on his passing and ball-handling.
At 6’5”, 220 lbs, Wayne Selden is far more developed physically than most wing players in his class. That athletic edge makes him especially dangerous slashing to the rim, where he has the muscle to finish through contact.
Selden’s jump shot is respectable but not a major plus at this stage. He is, however, a fine passer, and his power game includes a substantial rebounding advantage over most guards.
Like his twin brother Andrew, Aaron Harrison has a good deal of point guard in him, making him an especially dangerous ball-handler and playmaker.
However, Aaron is a shooting guard first, and his scoring punch is second to none in this recruiting class.
The 6’5”, 205-lb Harrison is just as happy to shoot over the top of defenders as he is to drive by them and power to the rim. He’s also an overpowering defensive player himself, especially against smaller guards.
Zak Irvin has a great deal in common with new teammate Nik Stauskas, which is hardly a bad thing for Michigan. Listed at 6’6”, 185 lbs (to Stauskas’ 6’6”, 190 lbs), Irvin is a devastating catch-and-shoot scorer with great three-point touch.
Unlike Stauskas, however, Irvin is also comfortable putting the ball on the floor, making him that much tougher to guard. His own defense could use some improvement, but he’ll be a serious scoring threat for John Beilein right away.
Like big brother Rahlir, who just finished his career at Temple, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is an aggressive, physical defender. The 6’6” forward’s competitive fire also helps make him a top-notch rebounder from the wing.
As a scorer, Hollis-Jefferson knows how to attack the basket, and he can also set up teammates with his solid passing ability.
The major hole in his game at this point is his lack of three-point range, but his athletic ability makes him tough to guard on the perimeter even without that asset.
For raw athletic ability, James Young is the most impressive perimeter player in the 2013 class. His skill set isn’t half-bad either, especially a jump shot that already features three-point range with some room to spare.
Young stands 6’6”, 210 lbs, allowing him to outmuscle plenty of wing players (especially on the glass). He hasn’t made as much of an impression as a defender yet, but he has the tools to dominate on that end of the floor as well.
Duke seems an especially appropriate place for Jabari Parker to play his college ball, because Parker’s game has a lot in common with that of former Blue Devils star Shane Battier.
Like Battier, Parker is a dogged defender and an outstanding passer from the small forward spot.
If anything, the youngster shows the potential to be an even better offensive weapon than the 2001 Wooden Award winner, thanks to his ability to take his man off the dribble.
He doesn’t quite have Battier’s shooting range at this stage, but Parker is still a scorer to be feared.
As soon as Andrew Wiggins announces where he’s going to school, he’ll be the best player in that program’s recruiting class. Considering that loaded Kentucky is among the multi-talented forward’s finalists, that’s saying something.
Wiggins’ 19 points in the McDonald’s All-American Game provided a fine demonstration of his many weapons as a scorer. With his 6’8” frame and NBA athleticism, he’s also developing into a terrific defender.
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson loves to load up on scorers, and he’s got a good one in Bobby Portis. The lanky 6’9” PF should provide a large portion of the points the Razorbacks need to replace NBA-bound B.J. Young's scoring.
Portis has a terrific face-up game and very good mobility for his size. However, at 225 lbs, he’s also a solid low-post option offensively, as well as a productive rebounder.
Blessed with an impressive wingspan on a 6’8”, 220-lb frame, Noah Vonleh is a force as a rebounder. He has the toughness to hold his ground on the low block and a respectable collection of post moves once he gets the ball.
What sets Vonleh apart is his ability to play on the wing, thanks to his excellent ball-handling skills. He’s even tougher to guard in the face-up game because he has a soft touch on his jump shot and enough range to knock down the occasional trey.
The biggest recruiting coup of Johnny Jones’ young LSU coaching career, Jarrell Martin has the potential to be the foundation of the Tigers' program. He’s a 6’8”, 215-lb PF with phenomenal mobility for his size.
Martin is a high-motor type who can really dominate on the glass, especially when it comes to tipping in his teammates’ misses. He’s also got a nice shooting touch, both on mid-range jumpers and on his many free-throw attempts.
Contrary to popular belief, Aaron Gordon can make plays that don’t involve dunking the basketball. He just doesn’t need to make them very often.
The MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game threw down nine slams in that showcase, and he has the speed and quickness to hammer home plenty more as a Wildcat.
He’s not as developed in the face-up game as some of his classmates, but he makes up for it on the defensive end with superior shot-blocking skills.
Julius Randle is the best low-post scorer in the class of 2013. He has a strong repertoire of back-to-the-basket moves and a solid jump shot to go with them.
Randle is a high-energy type who can really pile up rebounds when he gets going. At 6’9”, 225 lbs, he also has the strength to control the paint on defense.
As Shaquille Cleare and Robert Carter head into their sophomore seasons, the ACC’s run on big men who are built like defensive linemen continues with BeeJay Anya.
The 6’9”, 275-lb freshman has every bit of the rebounding prowess you’d expect from a player with his powerful build.
Anya’s 7’4” wingspan makes him a formidable defender, and he obviously won’t get pushed around easily. He has good footwork offensively, but he needs more moves when he catches the ball down low.
Unlike the 2012 class, this year’s crop of freshmen doesn’t have many true seven-footers, but Joel Embiid is an exception. He’s still filling out his frame (at just 220 lbs), but he compensates for his lack of bulk with remarkable agility.
Embiid’s rebounding and shot-blocking skills are his biggest assets at the moment, though his offensive game is coming along.
He can knock down open shots from the mid-range and in, but finding openings against good defenders isn't something he's equipped for yet.
After several years of recruiting big men built more like Kevin Durant than Serge Ibaka, Roy Williams finally found a post player with some meat on him.
The 6’9”, 275-lb Kennedy Meeks is a tremendous offensive weapon on the block, where he can score with a decent variety of moves or pass out to an open teammate.
Meeks will need some work on his conditioning to run with the transition-happy Tar Heels, but he’ll bring a dimension to the half-court game that UNC has lacked.
As soon as he arrives on campus, he’ll become the best rebounder on the roster by a substantial margin.
Chris Walker is already a more impressive athlete than plenty of NBA big men. The 6’10” prospect is a highlight-reel shot-blocker who can also finish a dunk with flair.
Walker’s offensive game is raw, though he’ll get loads of points in transition because he runs the floor extraordinarily well. His length also makes him a big-time rebounder, though at just 205 lbs he can be pushed out of position by stronger forwards.
Dakari Johnson’s enormous hands are the foundation of his entire game. He can rip a rebound away from an opponent or feather home a jump hook with equal aplomb.
Johnson’s low-post offensive game is the most polished in the class, though at 6’10”, 250 lbs, he isn’t as much of a factor in transition. His ability to hold his ground inside makes him a fearsome rebounder and a fine defender.