NCAA Basketball Recruiting: Ranking the Best True Centers in the 2014 Class
The 2014 college basketball recruiting class is filled with an impressive collection of talented big men.
In most recent years, perimeter play and perimeter players have captured the nation’s spotlight.
A year from now, we will see an invasion of amazing athletes with length and size who actually are best suited to play down low and in the paint.
Here is a list ranking the best true centers in the 2014 recruiting class.
If serious shot-blocking, daunting defense, remarkable rebounding, sensational slam dunks are high on your list, check out the videos for this influx of immense insider players.
What About Karl Towns?
Karl Towns is one of the most talented players in the Class of 2014
He is listed as a center in most recruiting websites, but he plays much of the time on the perimeter.
Has there ever been a high school player who stands 7’1” going into his senior season who holds the type of shooting and ball-handling skills that this young prodigy possesses? The answer is no.
The reason that he was not included in the main body of this list is that when he goes to Kentucky, Wildcats head coach John Calipari will probably not utilize him as a post player.
Towns will be one of the most unique hybrid power forwards we have ever seen.
10. Payton Dastrup
Payton Dastrup is a versatile and mobile big man who moved up the recruiting rankings because of an outstanding summer of 2013.
In spite of the fact that he is not a great leaper, Dastrup pulls down more than his share of rebounds.
He has a nice mid-range jumper. He will need to add necessary bulk to be able to battle underneath the boards at the next level.
One distinctive aspect about Dastrup’s recruitment is that he will not be going to college a year from now. CBSSports’ Jeff Borzello reported this past summer that, because of his Mormon faith, “Dastrup plans to take his two-year Latter-day Saints church mission right out of high school.”
This has not deterred many top programs, such as Arizona, Kansas, Florida and Ohio State, from offering him a scholarship.
9. Khadeem Lattin
Khadeem Lattin has created a unique path for himself as a top-level recruit.
Rather than leaving home and landing at one of the renowned, basketball-focused prep schools around the country, Lattin left home and spent a year abroad.
Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn reported that, as a sophomore, the 6’9” center enrolled “at the Canarias Basketball Academy on Spain's Gran Canaria Island.”
He has returned to his Houston home for his senior year, ready to display his ample athleticism.
His shot-blocking and rebounding skills are the most developed part of his game. He, weighing in at a nimble 190 pounds, will need to pack on some pounds.
8. Thomas Welsh
Thomas Welsh is another emerging high school center who is reaping the rewards of a great summer.
The Los Angeles Times’ Varsity Times Insider blogged that “His improvement has most of the Pac-12 battling to sign him.”
Welsh has good size (6’11”, 240 lbs) and a developing skill set.
Because he has a good feel for the game, Welsh makes certain plays that other big men don’t automatically pull off.
While he may never be a SportsCenter highlight guy, Welsh shows the potential to be a quality post player at the next level.
7. Quadri Moore
Cincinnati Bearcats commit Quadri Moore is big guy with a big game.
He has a surprising touch from the outside and can go down low and muscle in the paint.
One factor that has changed his game significantly was the fact that the 6’9”, 225-pound rising senior has lost a bunch of weight: 60 pounds to be exact (reported by Tom Konchalski, via Adam Zagoria on Zagsblog.com).
Because of his offensive versatility, Moore will cause matchup problems for opponents.
6. Trayvon Reed
Maryland commit Trayvon Reed is an emerging center to keep your eye on.
At 7’1”, 210 pounds, Reed is incredibly athletic. He runs the floor well and has amazing bounce.
Because he has good basketball instincts, he is a lethal shot-blocker and a skilled rebounder.
As he adds muscle and bulk, watch for Reed to be a dynamic post player as the Terrapins make their transition to the Big Ten in his freshman season.
5. Paschal Chukwu
Providence commit Paschal Chukwu is another monster in the making.
At 7’1”, 220 pounds, Chukwu has the size and frame to be absolutely frightening in the future.
NBCSports.com's Raphielle Johnson described Chukwu as “one of the best shot blockers in his class.”
Besides being a menacing and mobile shot-blocker, he cleans the glass on both ends of the court.
Chukwu is the type of rim protector with which Friars head coach Ed Cooley could build a daunting defense around.
4. Elbert Robinson
Elbert Robinson is a true wide body, standing 7’0” and tipping the scales at 320 pounds.
You might expect a young player of his size to be less than mobile. Not true with Robinson.
He is surprisingly agile and uses his massive frame well.
He is a competent passer from the post and has nice touch around the basket.
If Robinson improves his strength and conditioning in the future, watch out!
3. Goodluck Okonoboh
Goodluck Okonoboh is another Class of 2014 big who excels at making life miserable for his opponents.
Whether it is by his scary shot-blocking or his dominating defense, Okonoboh makes his presence known loudly and clearly every time he steps on the court.
He is an explosive leaper which makes him a lob-catching nightmare. He is confident and brings a forceful toughness that translates into game-time excellence.
The Courier-Journal’s C.L.Brown reported that Okonoboh had the chance to attend the 2013 NBA draft with his friend and former teammate, Nerlens Noel. His reasons for not going reflect his future plans: "I'm waiting for my turn. I don't want to spoil it."
2. Myles Turner
Myles Turner has exploded onto the national recruiting scene and is thought to be one of the best players in the 2014 recruiting class.
CBSSports’ Jeff Borzello suggests that, "Turner might have the highest ceiling of any player in the senior class. The scary thing is that Turner is only getting better."
He has a full arsenal of offensive weapons, able to score facing the basket or posting up down low.
Turner is a distinctive shot-blocker and an aggressive stopper on defense.
One of the most unique comments about Turner’s unselfish game comes from his ESPN scouting report, that says: "Turner is a willing and able passer who also will not hesitate to screen to help a teammate get open."
1. Jahlil Okafor
Without question, Jahlil Okafor is the top center and the top overall player in the 2014 recruiting class.
His ESPN scouting report describes his advanced development:
This blossoming wide-body center is blessed with size, girth, length and mobility. He owns the two most essential traits to becoming a distinguished big man: great hands and efficient feet. His hands are enormous and they are strong enough to catch any pass and yet soft enough to score inside and at the free throw line. Surprisingly his footwork is fluid enough to be in sync with his body which is rare at this juncture.
Okafor made a great international showing this summer on Team USA U19.
The scary thought is that Okafor is just starting to work on building strength and conditioning.
The sky is the limit for this young big man. To say that his future is bright is a huge understatement.