College Basketball Recruiting: High-Risk, High-Reward Players in 2015 Class

Brian PedersenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2014

College Basketball Recruiting: High-Risk, High-Reward Players in 2015 Class

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    2015 recruit A.J. Turner
    2015 recruit A.J. Turner247Sports

    While college basketball teams still go about hunting for their next great prospect in much the same way as a decade ago, technology has rapidly improved the way hoops fans can stay up to date on who their schools might be adding to the roster.

    Online recruiting services are everywhere, giving us tons of info on the top tier of high school—sometimes even dipping down to seventh or eighth grade—prospects Division I basketball coaches are going after.

    With all of this coverage, the blue-chip 5-star players are often well-known long before they ever put on a college uniform. It's really hard to consider someone a hidden gem anymore.

    But we're going to try anyway.

    Here's our look at some of the 2015 recruiting class' most high-risk, high-reward players. These are guys who could have tons of upside, or they could be instant flameouts.

    (Note: All rankings and ratings courtesy of 247Sports.com.)

Damontrae Jefferson

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    Position: Point guard

    Height, Weight: 5'6", 140 lbs

    Composite Rank: 112th

     

    Size and speed are two of the most coveted skills sought after by college basketball coaches. Damontrae Jefferson may not have the former, but he certainly has the latter.

    Jefferson is one of the fastest players in his class, something he makes great use of to overcome a massive height disadvantage. CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello compares him to tiny Massachusetts point guard Chaz Williams, while others have noted similarities to former Washington dynamo Nate Robinson.

    There have to be some concerns, though, about his seemingly constant movement of schools. A junior now, he's attended schools in his hometown of Milwaukee as well as in Florida, while he's currently playing for Believe Prep in South Carolina. Borzello also reported there are rumors "about his attitude on the courtas well as his behavior off the court."

Marcus LoVett

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    Position: Point guard

    Height, Weight: 5'10", 150 lbs

    Composite Rank: 61st

     

    Marcus LoVett is getting a lot of attention for his shift from being a prolific scorer, as he was as a sophomore, to one who's learning to pass more and become a distributor. He averaged 31.7 points per game as a freshman and 33.8 as a sophomore at Burbank (Calif.) Providence, but since transferring to San Gabriel Academy, he's dropped his scoring to 25.3 per game but nearly doubled his assist average to 4.5, according to MaxPreps.

    Being more diverse in his play is going to be a necessity for such a smaller player, who in college would likely find it much harder to muscle past defenders or shoot over them.

    So far, only San Diego State and UC-Irvine have offered LoVett, according to 247Sports.com, though LoVett announced via Twitter in September 2012 that he'd gotten an offer from UCLA.

Georgios Papagiannis

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    Position: Center

    Height, Weight: 7'1", 235 lbs

    Composite Rank: 127th

     

    Georgios Papagiannis has been on the radar in European circles for two years, ever since becoming the youngest player to ever participate in Greece's top professional league. Now that he's in the United States, though, he's becoming a target of colleges looking for a big man.

    According to Greek World Media, the 16-year-old Papagiannis is "getting looked at" by schools such as Arizona, Georgetown, Kansas, La Salle, Miami (Fla.), Temple, Virginia and Wichita State while he plays his junior year at Westtown School in Norristown, Pa.

    Most European players with this much early hype end up staying overseas, playing a year in the pros and then heading to the NBA. The fact Papagiannis is in America makes it more likely he'll go the college route, though the teen's advisor, Spencer Bunkley (a British 7-footer who played at Delaware and was drafted by, but never played in the NBA), has indicated Papagiannis could return to Greece.

Luis Santos

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    Position: Power forward

    Height, Weight: 6'7" 250 lbs

    Composite Rank: 102nd

     

    Luis Santos already has the kind of body that most college coaches want out of their established players. The thing is, he's probably still growing.

    At only 16 years old, odds are this Bronx-based (by way of the Dominican Republic) bruiser is going to keep getting bigger, which could be good or bad. He's shorter than what you'd normally expect from a power forward, but with room to add 20 or 30 more pounds he could become an unstoppable force in the post.

    Or he could become a sluggish, overweight player. A lot can still happen.

    Right now, the 3-star Santos doesn't have any official offers. But MSG Varsity's Dylan Butler wrote in August that schools like Auburn, Fordham, Massachusetts, Rutgers, Seton Hall and Virginia have shown interest.

    Depending on how he handles his size, that list could soon include some of the big-time schools.

A.J. Turner

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    Position: Small forward

    Height, Weight: 6'7", 155 lbs

    Composite Rank: 66th

     

    A.J. Turner was supposed to be part of the 2014 recruiting class, but last May the Michigan native announced he was reclassifying to 2015 as well as moving to New Hampshire to spend two years at a prep school. Turner said the decision, which would involve him repeating his junior year, was because he was among the younger players in the 2014 class.

    The extra year of school will give Turner more time to bulk up a very thin frame, as he weighs less than most point guards despite being far taller.

    The reclassification seems to have paid off, says CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello, who notes that Boston College, Iowa State and Wisconsin are looking hard at him, while he's also visited Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State.