NCAA Basktetball Recruiting: Ideal Landing Spots for Top Stars in 2015 Class

Brian PedersenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2014

NCAA Basktetball Recruiting: Ideal Landing Spots for Top Stars in 2015 Class

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    Elijah Thomas is rated as the 10th-best prospect in the 2015 recruiting class.
    Elijah Thomas is rated as the 10th-best prospect in the 2015 recruiting class.Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    Nearly all of the top high school basketball recruits from the 2014 class have inked their letters of intent, getting the table set for next fall's influx of nebulous newbies and potential one-and-done collegiate superstars.

    That means it's time to turn the spotlight toward the Class of 2015, with college coaches efforting to get early commitments from the nation's top prep juniors.

    One of the highest-rated 2015ers came off the board last week when point guard Tyler Dorsey of Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco committed to Arizona. Dorsey is rated No. 4 overall by 247sports.com's composite ranking. No. 5 Ben Simmons, a power forward from Montverde (Fla.) Academy, committed to LSU in October.

    That still leaves 10 of the top 12 players up for grabs, with roughly eight months until they're officially able to sign.

    With that in mind, here's our look at the top uncommitted players and where they'd do best to end up playing their college ball.

    (NOTE: All rankings and ratings courtesy of 247sports.com.)

Jaylen Brown

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    247sports.com Composite rank: 12th

    Position: SF

    Dimensions: 6'7", 207 lbs.

    Most ideal destination: Georgia Tech

    Jaylen Brown is among the longest wing players in the 2015 recruiting class and, as a result, he's highly coveted. He has offers from numerous schools, including the likes of Ohio State, Louisville and Kansas.

    But the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that Brown has spent a lot of time over the years playing at Georgia Tech in various youth camps, a relationship that could lead to the Yellow Jackets landing their top target for the first time in many years.

Charles Matthews

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    247sports.com Composite rank: 11th

    Position: SG

    Dimensions: 6'6", 172 lbs.

    Most ideal destination: Kentucky

    John Calipari seems intent on sticking with his recent recruiting approach of grabbing as many of the top players as possible each year and then hoping they meld together. That strategy will likely land him Charles Matthews, a flashy shooter from Chicago who is also getting strong interest from Illinois, Kansas and Michigan State.

    Matthews stands out from most players his size because of his knack for defense and the ability to play both guard positions, according to CBSSports' Jeff Borzello.

Elijah Thomas

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    247sports.com Composite rank: 10th

    Position: PF

    Dimensions: 6'9", 240 lbs.

    Most ideal destination: SMU

    The top prospect from the Lone Star State is going to be a hot commodity until he makes a commitment, and maybe even after that. Elijah Thomas already has the size he needs to compete at the college level, and the offers have been rolling in.

    Thomas most recently visited SMU, according to 247sports.com. The Mustangs made a surprise appearance in the upper level of recruiting when it signed 2014 No. 2 Emmanuel Mudiay out of Dallas. Grabbing back-to-back class' top Texas player would be quite a coup for Larry Brown in his latest foray into the college game.

Carlton Bragg

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    247sports.com Composite rank: 9th

    Position: PF

    Dimensions: 6'8", 180 lbs.

    Most ideal destination: Ohio State

    It was apparently Carlton Bragg's dream to get a scholarship offer from Kentucky, which happened last week. But the Cleveland product has had offers on the table from several others schools for quite some time, including Ohio State.

    Bragg has a chance to be an impact guy for the Buckeyes in the way that LaQuinton Ross has, though he'll need to pack on a lot of weight and muscle.

Skal Labissiere

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    247sports.com Composite rank: 8th

    Position: C

    Dimensions: 6'10", 198 lbs.

    Most ideal destination: Memphis

    Possibly the best prospect to come out of Memphis since Anfernee Hardaway, Skal Labissiere is going to test the relationship between Kentucky's John Calipari and his former assistant and current Memphis coach Josh Pastner.

    Labissiere is long and lean and resembles the likes of past Calipari players Marcus Camby, Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel, albeit a little smaller. But Memphis is Pastner's turf now, and with him getting the Tigers program back to where it was before he took over, look for Labissiere to be a centerpiece of that continued resurgence.

    Something to note on Labissiere: He's missed several games this season with a rather odd injury, a stress fracture of the spine. Whether that affects the overall interest of one team or another remains to be seen.

Cheick Diallo

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    247sports.com Composite rank: 7th

    Position: PF

    Dimensions: 6'9", 208 lbs.

    Most ideal destination: St. John's

    Steve Lavin has always been known as a great recruiter, and assuming he's still at the helm—an 0-4 start in Big East play doesn't help his cause—it would serve him well to grab the top New York City-area prospect. It's not something he's done of late; in fact, Seton Hall has commitments from New York's three highest-rated 2014 players.

    Diallo has the look and feel of the kind of players St. John's has been bringing in under Lavin, the athletic-yet-raw kind who have so much upside and just need a push. Playing for the city school might be the best place for him.

     

Diamond Stone

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    247sports.com Composite rank: 6th

    Position: C

    Dimensions: 6'10", 246 lbs.

    Most ideal destination: Marquette

    The best Wisconsin-based players always seem to be in a tug-of-war between Marquette and Wisconsin, and Diamond Stone is no different. The already filled-out big man from Milwaukee has offers from both schools, among others.

    Marquette's current lineup features two players that look and play like Stone, beefy senior forwards Davante Gardner and Jamil Wilson. Why not keep that trend going?

Ivan Rabb

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    247sports.com Composite rank: 3rd

    Position: PF

    Dimensions: 6'10", 198 lbs.

    Most ideal destination: Arizona

    Sean Miller showed he's the recruiting king of California when he got Stanley Johnson, the top-rated Golden State player in the 2014 class, to sign with the Wildcats in November. It marked the fourth straight year Miller signed the highest-ranked player from California.

    Ivan Rabb could make that five years in a row if the Oakland wing chooses to follow the same route Bay Area forwards Brandon Ashley and Aaron Gordon took.

Stephen Zimmerman

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    247sports.com Composite rank: 2nd

    Position: C

    Dimensions: 6'11", 225 lbs.

    Most ideal destination: Arizona

    Stephen Zimmerman looks and plays a lot like Arizona's current center, sophomore Kaleb Tarczewski, a traditional post player who eats glass and finishes when he gets the ball down low. He got his first scholarship offer in the summer between eighth and ninth grade, according to the Las Vegas Sun, when then-new UNLV coach Dave Rice tried to get a jump on the local kid.

    Arizona has had a good track record of grabbing standouts who play in Las Vegas, mostly from nearby Findlay Prep.

Malik Newman

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    247sports.com Composite rank: 1st

    Position: PG

    Dimensions: 6'3", 174 lbs.

    Most ideal destination: Kentucky

    Malik Newman has been on the radar of the nation's elite programs since his freshman year, which is fortunate for him because his high school team isn't able to make the national spotlight game rounds. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Newman's Callaway, Miss., team is on probation this season, the result of a bench-clearing brawl during the 2013 state championship game.

    While Callaway couldn't travel out-of-state or play in tournaments this season, Newman already grabbed plenty of national attention last summer during the Nike Peach Jam, according to CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello.

    Newman has offers already from nine schools, but all of 247sports.com's Crystal Ball predictors say he's almost a guarantee to be the next point guard to spend a year at Kentucky before going pro.