NCAA Basketball Recruiting: Ranking the Top 20 Scorers in the 2014 Class

Thad Novak@@ThadNovakCorrespondent IAugust 23, 2013

NCAA Basketball Recruiting: Ranking the Top 20 Scorers in the 2014 Class

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    NCAA basketball has been flirting with record-low scoring numbers in recent years, making point production a priority for recruiters around the country.

    Whether they’re low-post bruisers or long-range gunners, there are plenty of imposing offensive weapons to be found in the recruiting class of 2014.

    One of the best examples of the latter category is Texas product Kelly Oubre. The small forward may be one-dimensional, but one dimension multiplied by many three-point baskets equals a big-time scoring threat.

    Read on for more on Oubre and the rest of the most intimidating scorers available in next year’s recruiting pool. Note that one consideration here is how well a player's skills will project at the college level, which is why some highly productive high school scorers (e.g., Stanley Johnson) are absent from this list.

20. Josh Perkins

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    The class of 2014 has plenty of impressive scoring point guards, and none of them are any faster than Josh Perkins. He can turn a fast break situation into a basket in the blink of an eye, and at 6’3”, he’s not a half-bad finisher in traffic, either.

    Perkins also creates a few extra opportunities for himself in transition as one of the top ballhawks in the class. He’s a respectable half-court scorer (though he does more passing in those situation), including a good, though not great, three-point touch.

19. James Blackmon Jr.

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    Formerly committed to Indiana, James Blackmon Jr. has recently reopened his recruiting. That means that some school is going to land a terrific jump shooter, because Blackmon has one of the best three-point shots in the class.

    He’s a bit streaky, but when he’s hot, the 6’2” guard can really light it up. He’s not a top-drawer athlete (an issue not helped by his lack of size for the 2-guard spot), but he can put points on the board in a hurry.

18. Devin Booker

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    As you might expect from the son of a former major-college guard (Missouri’s Melvin), Devin Booker has terrific basketball instincts. The 6’5” shooting guard excels at playing off the ball and getting open for catch-and-shoot opportunities.

    Despite his considerable muscle, though, Booker isn’t nearly as dangerous as a finisher. However, he’s a respectable ball-handler who can be counted on to read the defense and attack off the dribble when that’s where the opening is. 

17. D’Angelo Russell

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    D’Angelo Russell is an outstanding ball-handler for a 2-guard, giving him plenty of chances to finish around the rim. Even so, he gets most of his points with his ultra-smooth jump shot.

    The Ohio State commit is a wonderful three-point shooter who also knows when to go for the mid-range shot instead. He’d be even higher on this list if he weren’t so unselfish, as his playmaking skills often help his team at the cost of his own point totals.

16. Jordan McLaughlin

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    Jordan McLaughlin is the best pure penetrator in the class of 2014. The 6’0” point guard can get good looks at the rim no matter how ready the defense thinks it is to contain him.

    McLaughlin is also a strong jump-shooter who can get his points beyond the arc or in the mid-range. However, he’s not nearly as talented at creating openings for his jumpers as he is at darting into the paint.

15. Kelly Oubre

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    He doesn’t do much other than shoot three-pointers, but Kelly Oubre can shoot three-pointers with the best. With his 6’7” length and quick release he’ll be awfully tough to contain, even for college small forwards.

    Oubre has the athletic ability to put his length to good use in the paint, too. However, at this stage he’s far more likely to opt for the long-range launch than the drive to the rim.

14. Justin Jackson

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    Justin Jackson isn’t the strongest small forward out there, but he uses his 6’7” length to finish at the hoop when he gets an opening.

    He gets even more good out of his wingspan as a jump-shooter, as it’s next to impossible for opposing perimeter defenders to challenge his shots.

    The future Tar Heel is at his best in the mid-range, but he’s a solid three-point threat to go with it. He’s also a fine rebounder for his position, which gets him a few extra points on second-chance shots.

13. Karl Towns Jr.

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    Weirdly enough, the best three-point shooter in the 2014 class stands 7’1”, 235 pounds. Karl Towns Jr. can catch and shoot over anyone, and he’ll hit those shots at a prodigious rate.

    As skilled a jump-shooter as he is, though, the Kentucky commit does very little else. He’s not nearly the post-up threat his length would suggest, but he’ll still get his share of buckets inside on pure size advantage.

    Weirdly enough, the best three-point shooter in the 2014 class stands 7’1”, 235 lbs. Karl Towns Jr. can catch and shoot over anyone, and he’ll hit those shots at a prodigious rate.

    As skilled a jump-shooter as he is, though, the Kentucky commit does very little else. He’s not nearly the post-up threat his length would suggest, but he’ll still get his share of buckets inside on pure size advantage.

12. Emmanuel Mudiay

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    Emmanuel Mudiay is the biggest and strongest point guard in the recruiting class, and he’ll get plenty of votes for being the best. He’s also a first-class scorer, mostly by using that size and strength to get into the lane.

    Mudiay isn’t an elite three-point threat, but he’ll bury mid-range shots all day. Like many combo guards, he calls his own number most often in the highest-pressure situations.

11. Dion Wiley

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    Even before his senior year of high school, Dion Wiley has already shown that he knows how to use screens and find openings for his jump shot.

    That’s good news for Mark Turgeon, because the Maryland commit is a big-time scorer in the catch-and-shoot game.

    Wiley is also a solid finisher inside, thanks mostly to the strength he packs on a 6’4”, 195-pound frame. He doesn’t have the three-point range you’d like to see from a top shooting guard, but he can score from pretty much anywhere inside the arc.

10. Isaiah Whitehead

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    There are plenty of dangerous penetrating guards in this recruiting class, but none who can finish like Isaiah Whitehead.

    The 6’4” New Yorker specializes in absorbing contact while getting the shot to fall, and he converts plenty of the ensuing free throws to boot.

    Whitehead isn’t quite as deadly from three-point range as he is around the rim, but he’ll still knock down a few treys. He’s even better in the mid-range, where he really knows how to attack opponents who are worried about keeping him out of the lane.

9. Tyus Jones

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    Tyus Jones is most recognizable as a top-of-the-line playmaker and one of the two best point guards in the 2014 class.

    However, he’s also one of the better three-point shooters among this crop of floor generals, not to mention a sensational scorer when he needs to be.

    Jones isn’t a monster athlete at 6’1”, 171 pounds, but he can still penetrate effectively. He’s particularly dangerous in pick-and-roll situations, where he can drive or pull up and drain the jump shot.

8. Craig Victor

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    At 6’7”, Craig Victor has borderline size for a power forward. You won’t find that out by looking at his point totals, though, because the Arizona commit has one of the best collections of low-post moves in this class.

    Whether he’s playing with his back to the basket or in the face-up game, Victor knows how to beat bigger opponents down low. He’s got impressive touch from inside the paint, but his shooting range needs a good bit of work.

7. Myles Turner

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    Few centers can run the floor as well as Myles Turner, especially not ones who can match his 7’0”, 225-pound frame. In addition to piling up transition baskets, Turner does plenty of scoring in half-court sets.

    Although his shooting range is limited, he’s got a respectable mid-range game and a devastating low-post skill set. He’s particularly dangerous in face-up situations, thanks in no small part to an extraordinary (and all-too-rare) talent for using the glass.

6. Rashad Vaughn

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    Rashad Vaughn is one of the class’ most impressive physical specimens at the 2-guard spot. The 6’6”, 200-pound wing can score at the rim (unsurprisingly), and he’s got a soft shooting touch to go with his strong arms.

    Vaughn hits his share of three-pointers, even if it’s not his primary weapon. As effective a shooter as he is, though, he doesn’t have quite the same knack for getting himself open as some of the other elite guards here.

5. Theo Pinson

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    There are better three-point shooters in this class than Theo Pinson, but that’s about the extent of the North Carolina commit’s weaknesses.

    The 6’6” small forward is an all-world athlete who can power to the rim regardless of contact from bigger defenders.

    Pinson knows how to put a defender on a string, as he’s able to attack the paint or pull up for mid-range jumpers at will. He’s the kind of player who wants the ball in his hands with the game on the line.

4. Trey Lyles

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    When it comes to low-post repertoires, there isn’t a player in the class of 2014 who can touch Trey Lyles. The country’s most polished back-to-the-basket scorer is also one of its most prolific.

    The 6’8” Indianapolis product also boasts an enviable jump shot, letting him pull bigger defenders out of their comfort zones. He doesn’t quite have three-point range yet, but he’s awfully tough to handle from anywhere closer to the hoop.

3. Grayson Allen

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    Grayson Allen is a Duke-bound shooting guard, which should be a pretty good indication of where his expertise lies. Like so many of Coach K’s top recruits, Allen is a devastating three-point shooter.

    Unlike some long-range specialists, though, the Florida product is also effective attacking the paint, showing athleticism to balance his catch-and-shoot game.

    Allen also deserves particular credit for his ability to play without the ball and get open to use his terrific shooting touch.

2. Jahlil Okafor

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    Any discussion of Jahlil Okafor has to start with his size. The 6’10”, 265-pound behemoth is the most physically imposing player in the class by a substantial margin, and that alone makes him a devastating low-post presence.

    On top of his ability to hold his position down low, Okafor has excellent footwork and the strong hands to reel in any pass and power up a shot.

    Even better, the big man has already started to develop a legitimate mid-range game, and his progress there hasn’t hurt his foul shooting any, either.

1. Daniel Hamilton

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    There isn’t a high-school shooter in the country who’s any more cold-blooded than Daniel Hamilton. He will take any shot in any situation and make a good proportion of them.

    The 6’6” UConn commit is a high-flying finisher who has the body control to avoid charges in the lane. He’s also an imposing jump shooter, and if he’s not the best pure three-point marksman in the class, he’s not going to hurt his team in that department, either.