July is a key month for NCAA basketball recruiting, with all-star camps giving coaches a chance to jockey for position with the top players they haven’t landed yet. Those high-school stars, in turn, get a chance to show how far their games have advanced.
One of the most sought-after talents of this recruiting season is going to be 6’5” combo guard Emmanuel Mudiay. His blend of size, scoring and playmaking has him in the thick of the discussion for the nation’s top point guard—and top player, period.
Herein, a closer look at Mudiay and the rest of the 20 most promising members of the 2014 recruiting class who have yet to declare where they’re headed for their (probably brief) college careers.
Kameron Chatman is shaping up to be this recruiting class’ answer to Kyle Anderson. Like UCLA’s rising sophomore, Chatman is a long, skinny wing (6’6”, 175 lbs) who plays off the ball but features many point-guard-like skills.
Chatman is more of a primary scorer than Anderson, though the high schooler isn’t likely to blossom into a top-tier rebounder as Anderson did in Westwood.
The biggest obstacle to Chatman’s college prospects is a relative lack of explosiveness, but his length and skill will make up for a lot, even if he doesn’t manage to improve in that area.
Craig Victor is a scoring power forward who relies on skill more than athletic ability. He’s got a variety of moves in and around the paint, plus the ability to finish effectively with either hand.
Although he’s only 6’7”, Victor is also a solid rebounder. He doesn’t have a ton of shooting range, and he won’t take over games on defense, but he’ll put points on the board all night.
At 6’3” and blessed with outstanding quickness, Josh Perkins is an imposing defender at the point guard spot. He’s even scarier as a passer, where his ability to thread the needle keeps his teammates alert on every possession.
Perkins isn’t a devastating scorer, as his long-range jumper is still a work in progress. On the plus side, his ballhandling talents let him get to the rim on a regular basis, and he’s a productive finisher.
Although he’s not huge for a power forward (6’7”, 215 lbs), Leron Black has the attitude down pat. He attacks the rim as a scorer, attacks the boards on both ends of the floor and he’s an aggressive shot blocker on D.
Black’s quickness and leaping ability also make him a formidable finisher in transition. He’s pretty raw in the low post and his ballhandling needs work, but he doesn’t give many opponents a chance to exploit either deficiency.
If Isaiah Whitehead can convince even one coach that his reputation for inconsistent effort is all in the past, he’s got potential to spare.
The 6’4” shooting guard is a respectable ballhandler and a good defender, but (unsurprisingly) has his biggest impact as a shot-maker.
Whitehead has a fine jump shot with three-point range, but he’s just as impressive powering to the rim. He’s also notable for his ability to draw fouls, not to mention turning them into points at the charity stripe.
In a crowded class for point guards, Jordan McLaughlin distinguishes himself with his ability to penetrate. The 6’0” playmaker can get by almost any defender, then drive to the rim or drop off to a teammate with equal facility.
McLaughlin is also an outstanding shooter who’s a threat all the way out to the three-point line. He’ll need to add plenty of muscle to his 165-pound frame, but he’s got few other holes in his game.
Standing 6’6” and boasting enviable quickness and leaping ability, Kelly Oubre has the tools to be a top-drawer small forward. Even more impressive, he has one of the best three-point shots in the class of 2014.
Oubre is an improving rebounder, too, even if he spends most of his time outside the arc. He hasn’t shown much ability to score off the dribble as yet, but at this stage, his silky jumper will do just fine.
Even more than most high-schoolers, Goodluck Okonoboh is miles away from the player he could be. Of course, the player he is already is quite an impressive one: the best pure shot-blocker in the class of 2014.
At 6’9” and with phenomenal leaping ability, Okonoboh is a threat on the glass as well. He’s still getting his feet under him on the offensive end, but with his size and mobility he could blossom into something special there, too.
It’s no surprise to find a shooting guard whose long-range jumper attracts college coaches. What sets Devin Booker apart is that he’s got a point guard’s head for the game, playing smarter than almost anyone in this recruiting class.
Booker also has respectable length at 6’5”, helping him shoot over defenders when he can’t run them off screens. He’s not a top-notch ballhandler for his position, but he’s going to be a fearsome weapon in the catch-and-shoot game.
A 6’8”, 210-pound small forward would be nothing to sneeze at even in college, and Malik Pope has used his size to great advantage as a high-schooler. He’s a highlight-reel athlete who does his best work finishing at the rim.
Pope also has some point forward in him, both as a passer and (especially) when handling the ball.
He’s not nearly as polished or consistent as some of his classmates—most noticeably when it comes to his jump shot—but he could soar past any of them before he’s done.
It doesn’t take a wild leap of intuition to figure that Stanley Johnson’s greatest asset—as a 6’6”, 220-pound small forward—is his muscle. He’s a hard-nosed rebounder from the perimeter and a freight train driving to the hole.
Johnson is also a tough-minded defender, though he’s still developing when it comes to matching up with quick-footed wings rather than big men.
By the same token, his jump shot (though promising) and ballhandling both need a certain amount of work as he spends more time on the outside.
It’s no mean feat to earn a 5-star rating without being a game-breaking scorer. Justise Winslow is merely good at putting points on the board, but the rest of his game is extraordinary.
The 6’5” small forward is the best perimeter defender in the recruiting class, and he’s a first-rate rebounder as well. He’s got great basketball IQ, and his passing ability would be the envy of plenty of high school point guards.
Another aggressive rebounder in need of some raw power, Kevon Looney stands 6’8” but weighs in at 210 pounds. Still, his energy and instincts make him a terror on the boards despite his lack of bulk.
Offensively, Looney is a very good face-up shooter whose range is creeping out toward the three-point arc. He’s also a skilled ballhandler for a 4, giving him plenty of chances to beat slower defenders off the dribble.
Rashad Vaughn isn’t as instinctive playing off the ball as the other top shooting guards in this class. Of course, the only reason anybody notices is because Vaughn is so tough to stop when he gets the ball in his hands.
The 6’6” youngster can nail three-pointers in the catch-and-shoot game or beat his defender off the dribble from the perimeter. He’s also got the toughness (at 200 pounds) to finish strong on the inside, even against contact.
One of the most polished players in the class of 2014, Trey Lyles is a lethal low-block scorer. He has a wide assortment of back-to-the-basket and face-up moves to keep defenders guessing.
The 6’8” Lyles is also a solid defender and an effective rebounder, though he doesn’t have the leaping ability of some of his rivals at the position.
His lack of NBA-ready athleticism may be the only thing that can stop him from thriving when he gets to the college level.
Emmanuel Mudiay does a lot of driving to the rim, as well he might at 6’5”, 190 pounds. That’s not to say, however, that he’s not a serious threat in a playmaker’s role.
Mudiay has great confidence and touch as a passer, using his length to see over and around defenders. He could stand to extend his shooting range to three-point territory, but he’s one of the class’ most impressive guards even without that asset.
Cliff Alexander’s combination of power and leaping ability make him the most intimidating finisher in the recruiting class. Even that talent, though, is secondary to the agile center’s rebounding prowess.
He doesn’t have an elite jump shot, but at 6’8” and 230 pounds, he’ll rarely need to leave the low block to score. Alexander’s muscle also makes him an imposing defender, though he doesn’t yet have the timing to clean up as a shot blocker.
On size alone, 7’0”, 240-pound Myles Turner would be one of the top prospects in the class. He leaps up even higher with a surprisingly well-rounded skill set that includes a remarkable shooting touch in the face-up and mid-range game.
Turner’s length and mobility also make him a top-flight shot blocker and rebounder. He doesn’t have the bulk you’d like from a back-to-the-basket center, but as he puts on muscle he’s only going to get more overpowering.
Tyus Jones is a cerebral point guard with phenomenal playmaking ability. He’s a first-rate ballhandler with amazing vision and decision-making skills.
Jones is also a quality jump shooter, though he’s more likely to find an open teammate instead. He doesn’t have eye-opening size (6’1”, 171 pounds), but his quickness more than makes up for it.
With an NBA-ready body at 6’10”, 265 pounds, Jahlil Okafor is an immovable object in the paint. That goes just as well for his ability to deter opposing shooters as it does for his talent for piling up points from the low block.
Okafor has exceptionally strong hands and terrific footwork for a player his size. He’s had some issues with turnovers, but they haven’t been able to disguise his potential as a college All-American in the making.