This is what a long offseason does to us—we are about to breakdown prospects in the class of 2015, who frankly are probably more concerned about who they are going to ask to homecoming in a few months than where they are going to play college basketball.
That being said, recruiting is a year round game for the power programs and coaches in the NCAA. The 2015 class will be on campus before we know it, so it’s worth getting to know some of the top players.
Read on to see 10 players who are catching early buzz. Recruiting rankings and bio information courtesy of Scout.com.
Las Vegas native Stephen Zimmerman is currently rated as the No. 1 prospect in the 2015 class. Accolades like that seem to follow someone around when they stand slightly less than 7’ as a young teenager.
The versatility in the lefty’s game is what stands out, especially considering his size. He can hit the three, find open teammates when double teams come and even has a soft hook shot in the lane. He is also an excellent rebounder and can take his man off the dribble.
Many of the usual heavyweights are in on his recruitment early. Kentucky, Michigan State, UCLA, Arizona, Kansas, Connecticut, Michigan and Notre Dame have all shown interest.
The question now becomes whether Zimmerman will stay out west or head further away from home when signing day comes.
While Stephen Zimmerman is currently ranked as the No. 1 prospect, Malik Newman is hot on his trail as the No. 2 man.
Newman has more flash in his game than the big man Zimmerman (largely because shooting guards often have more than centers), and he has already drawn the eyes of Duke, Florida, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Tennessee and UCLA.
The Mississippi native can effectively create his own shot off the dribble or hit long-range looks and has the skill set in place to play either guard spot. His scoring prowess will most likely put him at the 2-guard position, but that versatility is always sought after.
There may be no more coveted asset in college basketball today than a stretch forward with size and versatility. Whichever team lands Ivan Rabb will get just that.
The California native has plenty of west coast teams interested in his services (Arizona, Arizona State, California, UCLA, UNLV, Washington, Stanford and USC) as well as a handful of Midwest and east coast squads (Ohio State, Kansas, North Carolina and North Carolina State).
He is listed as 6’9” and can run the floor or patrol the paint. He is also an effective defender and will contribute in the blocked shots category immediately regardless of where he goes to school.
There may still be room for growth for Rabb, which would only serve to improve his versatility.
Five of the top 10 ranked prospects on Scout.com are currently centers, which implies that players who are barely old enough to drive who stand close to 7’ tall tend to stick out in the mind of scouts.
Center Skal Labissiere, who currently resides in Tennessee but is originally from Haiti, is the No. 4 rated player on that list and has drawn the interest of Kentucky, Georgetown, Memphis, Tennessee and Texas.
The thing that immediately stands out when it comes to Labissiere is his shot-blocking ability. He is athletic and versatile and will immediately make any collegiate defense that much better. He can also score around the basket and can play the center or power forward spot.
The position name shooting guard automatically implies that someone who excels at that position does so because of his shooting prowess, but there is much more to Tyler Dorsey’s game than just his soft touch.
His explosive first step makes him one of the best drivers of the basketball in the 2015 class, and his lengthy frame allows him to cover more ground quickly. Throw in his impressive ball-handling skills and his overall athleticism, and it will be difficult for defenders to stop him at the next level.
The California product has drawn early interest from a number of programs, including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Georgetown, Louisville, Michigan, UNLV, Stanford and UCLA. It will be interesting to see if he stays in state or ventures elsewhere.
Nothing to see here, just another versatile stretch forward that will bring athleticism and size to whichever program is fortunate enough to land this coveted skill set.
Ben Simmons is a 6’8”, 200-pound power forward who is comfortable near the basket in the paint or facing up defenders from mid-range. In fact, his dribbling ability and overall speed will create plenty of mismatches on the floor.
Those same aspects that lend versatility to Simmons’ game on the offensive end of the floor help him on defense. He is quick enough to stay in front of his man and challenges shots at the rim.
Simmons has drawn interest from a number of powerhouses, including Florida, Duke, Ohio State and North Carolina.
Jaylen Brown is the No. 11 overall prospect for the class of 2015, but he is the top rated small forward and is one of the most exciting and explosive players in this group.
He is a skilled ball-handler who gets inside the lane with ease, finishes at the rim, has soft touch and can even post up smaller defenders. Throw in the fact that he can hit long-range shots and set up teammates effectively when the defense collapses.
The Georgia native has drawn interest from many of the SEC schools, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Kentucky. Other powerhouses like Kansas, Louisville, Maryland, Georgetown and UCLA are also interested in Brown’s services.
Throw a dart at a basketball powerhouse in the Midwest, and they have almost certainly shown some level of interest in Carlton Bragg’s services.
The Ohio native has drawn the attention of Ohio State, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisville and Michigan State, and will likely stay somewhat close to home in this region. Whichever coach lands Bragg will have a versatile forward who can play either the 3 or 4-spots.
He is one of the most athletic prospects in the class of 2015 and will be a tremendous asset for any point guard in the fast break. He will also crash the offensive glass with his impressive wingspan and block shots on the defensive end.
The Chicago high-school basketball scene has produced a number of the best prospects in recent memory, and Charles Matthews may be next in line.
The shooting guard from the Windy City is lengthy and quick, two traits he uses effectively when trying to get to the basket. He often spots up as if he is going to launch the corner three and then uses his athleticism to slash along the baseline and finish at the rim.
He has the ability to post up or shoot over smaller defenders and will run right alongside some of the nation’s best point guards in transition.
Matthews has drawn interest from local schools Illinois and DePaul, as well as more national (and Midwest) programs Ohio State, Michigan State, Arizona, Kansas and Wisconsin.
The class of 2015 isn’t exactly loaded with cream of the crop point guards, which is evident by the fact that Perry Dozier is the top rated one but No. 16 overall.
However, don’t let the lack of point guard depth at the top of this class detract from Dozier’s impressive overall game. The South Carolina native is lengthy for the position and uses his wingspan and overall quickness to harass opposing ball handlers.
He is also a solid shooter from mid-range and behind the three-point arc and sets up his teammates on the break effectively. He has a solid basketball-IQ, which allows him to find the open man the majority of the time.
Dozier has drawn interest from the likes of Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson, Indiana, Kansas and North Carolina.
Follow and interact with college basketball writer Scott Polacek on Twitter @ScottPolacek.