College Basketball Recruiting: 3 Best Players at Every Position in 2015 Class
Malik Newman - prospect-central.blogspot.com
Summer is not the offseason for aspiring high school basketball players. This is the time when up-and-coming hoops stars get to display their talents in front of a full selection of college coaches and their staffs in gyms from Vegas to Orlando.
With the July evaluation period behind us, it's a great time to take a look at the recruiting class of 2015.
Here are the top three players at each position among the rising juniors.
If you have not seen these young guns ball, make sure to watch the videos on each slide.
No. 3 PG Bryant Crawford
Bryant Crawford is a prototypical point guard who runs the show with ease, and he is a more than capable scorer.
His outstanding floor vision helps him distribute the ball on both the break and in half-court sets.
Though defense and rebounding are not Crawford’s strong points yet, the 6'2" rising junior shows signs of being a future lockdown defender.
ESPN’s Dave Telep reported (subscription required) early this summer that the D.C area product, at the Team USA U16 tryouts, was "the most reliable half-court floor general and one of the best distributors in camp. The lone 2015 point guard at the tryout, Crawford's maturation was evident early."
No. 2 PG Jalen Brunson
Chicago area’s Jalen Brunson is a nice blend of setup man and scorer.
The 6’2” point guard plays the game under control, regardless if he has the ball on the break or if he is maneuvering in a half-court set.
Illinois Prep Bulls-eye’s Roy and Harv Schmidt stated:
Being the son of an NBA player (former Chicago Bull Rick Brunson), Jalen has a strong work ethic and an extremely high basketball I.Q. He plays with the utmost confidence and with a greater level of maturity than what we see from many high school seniors. And he has the ability to make all of his teammates better.
No. 1 PG King McClure
Dallas area’s King McClure may be more of a combo guard than a pure point. But do not think that means the 6’3” rising junior is lacking when it comes to being an elite-level floor general.
McClure plays with the same intensity and drive of a young Russell Westbrook.
He relentlessly attacks the rim and has no trouble finishing after contact.
While he is not a sniper from beyond the arc, McClure is developing a capable long-range jumper that will help him round out an already excellent PG package.
No. 3 SG Tyler Dorsey
While L.A. area’s Tyler Dorsey is currently listed as a SG, do not be surprised over the next few years if he transitions from playing primarily off the ball to running the team from the point.
For now, Dorsey is a fearless driver who challenges anyone when he takes the ball into the lane.
His multi-faceted skill set and size (6’4”) make him a nightmare to guard at this level.
Because he was already his current height before he started high school, Dorsey is comfortable playing as a taller backcourt player.
No. 2 SG Charles Matthews
It’s a little scary to think about what’s ahead for Chicago’s Charles Matthews.
The 6’5” wing already dominates the competition with his ability to attack the rim. Beyond slashing to the basket, Matthews has a full arsenal of ways to put points on the board.
As Matthews continues to fill out his lean frame, he will become absolutely frightening by the time he moves on to the next level.
CBS Sports’ Jeff Borzello called him “one of the most explosive guards in the country.”
Though it is not likely he will make the full transition to the point, Matthews is more than capable of bringing the ball up or running the show when needed.
No. 1 SG Malik Newman
Regardless of which of the major class of 2015 lists you look at, Malik Newman is one of the top players in the country.
Newman, like Dorsey and Matthews, is more than capable of playing either backcourt position. For now, his more productive place is definitely as a scorer.
He puts up points in bunches and can do so from all over the court.
Because he has no problem creating his own shot, he excels at being able to freelance in either the open court or in a half-court set.
Newman has already shown the kind of potential that makes you think about what he’s going to do beyond his short stay at the collegiate level.
No. 3 SF Brandon Ingram
Brandon Ingram is a lights-out shooter with length (6'7").
Watching him play reminds one of another recent Kinston, N.C., product: former UNC forward Reggie Bullock.
While his game is mostly knocking down threes and other outside shots, Ingram has nice slashing skills that keep opponents honest.
ESPN’s Dave Telep said (subscription required) that Ingram "is a gifted shooter who makes 3s like they are layups."
He also said, "More than a shooter, though, Ingram handles the ball with assurance and drives nicely into a pull-up jumper. He demonstrates vision and unselfishness, using his length to make passes."
No. 2 SF Derrick Jones
There are few prospects in the class of 2015 who are as athletic as Philly’s Derrick Jones.
He is freakish in what he can do for his size in the open court. As he fills out and adds muscle to his lean frame, Jones will be nearly unstoppable on the break.
He is explosive in getting to the rim and has no trouble finishing after contact.
Because of his overall agility, Jones could be a vicious defender. Think Scottie Pippen.
No. 1 SF Malachi Richardson
Malachi Richardson is transitioning from being a SG with length to a SF with guard skills.
Richardson is truly a triple threat. He can shoot from beyond the arc, confidently put the ball on the deck and deliver the ball to open teammates.
ESPN’s Paul Biancardi, Reggie Rankin and John Stovall said Richardson (subscription required) "plays with a steady pace and is an excellent catch-and-shoot player from beyond the 3-point arc. He has the size, confidence and quick trigger to shoot over smaller defenders."
Stovall added (subscription required) "Richardson is a big-time wing who can score and shoot. He has great size and always seems to step up in big games."
No. 3 PF Carlton Bragg
Cleveland’s Carlton Bragg already has a college-ready physique (6’9”, 220 lbs) going into his junior year in high school.
With his size, the amazing part about Bragg’s game is that he is not simply a low-post banger.
ESPN’s Paul Biancardi stated (subscription required) Bragg is:
A long athlete with shot-making ability whose best attribute is knocking down trail 3-pointers. He is ready to shoot and is a hard matchup for bigger players because he is too mobile and skilled. Bragg's ability to score with the jumper and his effort to chase down rebounds and block shots with conviction is noticeable. He is starting to impact the game on a consistent basis and is turning from prospect into a player.
Because Bragg combines elite skills with a tireless motor, the sky is the limit for this man-child.
No. 2 PF Ben Simmons
Australian PF Ben Simmons can do it all.
Like Bragg, Simmons' multi-dimensional game is more than a little surprising.
ESPN’s Paul Biancardi exclaimed (subscription required) that Simmons "combines bounce, scoring ability and shooting skills with excellent instincts for the game at the power forward position."
Biancardi also said, "He is dangerous because he can shoot it from behind the arc and from the high post or score with a post-up in the paint."
Because of his face-up skills, Simmons creates matchup nightmares.
No. 1 PF Ivan Rabb
It is great to see someone as skilled as Oakland’s Ivan Rabb play as hard as he does.
That may be one of the reasons he is currently No. 1 on ESPN's Top 60 for the class of 2015.
Stovall also said, "He is a little raw offensively, which may hurt him some when the 2015 rankings are revisited, but make no mistake: Rabb's ceiling is so high you can't even see it!"
Building strength and adding some bulk will push Rabb’s game to another stratosphere. When his body matures and fills out, watch out.
No. 3 C Elijah Thomas
Thomas is a dominant low-post banger. He has already grasped some of the finer points of playing down in the basement.
It’s not a huge surprise Thomas is an excellent rebounder.
ESPN’s Joel Francisco stated the obvious (subscription required):
Thomas is a large human being with very broad shoulders and long arms. When the ESPN 60 big man sets up on the low block or flashes middle while executing a high-low set, he is tough to stop. He snags rebounds and catches everything in the paint due to his magnetic hands.
No. 2 C Diamond Stone
Milwaukee’s Diamond Stone (best name on this list) surprises people who watch him play for the first time.
At 6’10, 229 pounds (after losing 23 pounds), most people think Stone would be chained to the low post. But, he is just as likely to face up and hit shots from mid-range jumpers to bombs from beyond the arc.
Make no mistake about it. Stone is a force on the block. He has a full array of moves near the basket that help him to beat his opponents in so many ways.
Late in July, ESPN’s Reggie Rankin reported (subscription required) Stone "has displayed a much better motor and is running the floor extremely well in addition to his excellent skill in the post and ability to hit shots to the 3-point arc."
He added, "Stone's rebounding and shot-blocking have increased as well."
No. 1 C Stephen Zimmerman
He is capable of scoring with either his back to the basket or dropping shots from outside. Opponents have to be ready for Zimmerman to put the ball on the floor and make a move.
ESPN’s Paul Biancardi said (subscription required "This lefty has size, skill and shot-blocking talent, which makes him a factor on every possession."
"Zimmerman loves to operate in the mid-post where he utilizes his strong face-up game or on the low block, scoring via a jump hook over his right shoulder," he said. "His instincts are to score first but his quickness and willingness to pass the ball makes him an elite offensive player regardless of class."
At 6’11”, 215 pounds, Zimmerman needs to add muscle and mass to his lean frame. When he puts on a few more pounds, he will be even more dominant than he is today.