College Basketball Recruiting: The Best Attribute of Each 2015 5-Star Player
College basketball recruiting has shifted its focus to the class of 2015, and those high school seniors-to-be have plenty of excitement in store. The class is deep in outstanding big men, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few top-notch perimeter players to be found among the 5-star prospects.
Jaylen Brown, for one, is the kind of all-around athlete who opens coaches’ eyes in a hurry. The Georgia-based small forward generates highlight-reel slams in abundance, but even his dunking prowess takes a back seat to his ability to control the game on defense.
Read on to find out more about Brown’s talents as a stopper, along with the single most impressive quality in the portfolios of the rest of Rivals.com’s 5-star recruits in the class of 2015.
20. Tyler Davis: Raw Power
Plano product Tyler Davis is reasonably described as Texas-sized. The 6’9” center weighs in at a daunting 270 pounds, and he knows how to use his mass.
Davis can manhandle taller, skinnier opponents on both ends of the floor, getting position on offense and shoving the other guy out of it on D.
He doesn’t yet have much shooting range to speak of, but he can still do plenty of scoring by carving out space for himself down low.
19. Isaiah Briscoe: Aggressiveness
His version of a Napoleon complex has given him an attacking mindset that makes him one of the top scoring threats in the class.
Briscoe excels at powering his way to the rim, flipping shots past bigger defenders a la Louisville star Russ Smith. Also like Smith, he racks up points at the free-throw line, where he gets huge numbers of chances by inviting contact as he drives the lane.
18. Thomas Bryant: Rebounding
As more and more big men look for success on the perimeter, the classic rebound-magnet power forward is becoming harder to find.
Thomas Bryant has the size (at 6’10”, 220 pounds) and the mentality to become the next standard-bearer for that disappearing archetype.
Bryant scraps and claws for rebounds with a desire that belies his already lofty place in the estimation of college coaches. He’s also got very good mobility for his size, making it tough for slower opponents to put a body on him.
17. Chase Jeter: Potential
Athletic center Chase Jeter has an encouraging build—6’10”, 215 pounds—and a nice balance of offensive and defensive skills. None of those skills is all that polished as of yet, but that’s less of a concern because Jeter has shown he’s eminently coachable.
The Las Vegas standout has already improved his shooting touch appreciably, and his scoring numbers are only going to get more impressive as he adds range to his burgeoning low-post game.
He also doesn’t turn 17 until September, meaning he probably has more physical development ahead of him than most of his classmates.
16. Doral Moore: Hands
Even as a true 7-footer, Doral Moore doesn’t really stand out for his size in this towering recruiting class. He has an easier time making his mark with an often-overlooked asset that can make or break a low-post prospect: a pair of sure hands.
Offensively, Moore—an effective if light interior presence—does a terrific job of fielding entry passes, and he displays a shooting touch well beyond that of most big men his age.
On D, his tight grip helps him control rebounds even if he can’t get ideal position, and he’s also effective at getting a paw on opponents’ shot attempts.
15. Charles Matthews: Mid-Range Game
There are plenty of guards in the class of 2015 who can drain three-pointers more consistently than Charles Matthews. Once he gets inside the arc, though, the Kentucky commit can pour in points with anyone.
Matthews’ mid-range jumper is deadly accurate, and he can set it up in a variety of ways.
He moves exceptionally well without the ball, and if a defender who manages to chase him through screens gets too aggressive, the Chicagoan is happy to beat him off the dribble and get his points in the paint instead.
14. Jalen Brunson: Three-Point Shot
Jalen Brunson—like his ex-NBA father Rick—has basketball IQ to spare, but he’s still not that far above the other top point guards in his class in that department. His jump shot, on the other hand, leaves the rest of his competitors in the dust.
Brunson, pass-first PG though he is, is a legitimate weapon from the three-point line. The southpaw also has the too-rare virtue of knowing when to take his own shot and when to hold back and make a play for one of his teammates instead.
13. Luke Kennard: Scoring
Pick a way to rack up points, and you can bet that Luke Kennard does it well. The Ohioan is a brilliant three-point shooter, but he’s no standstill marksman.
Kennard is a nifty ball-handler who can create plenty of his own shooting looks or attack the paint. He’s even a respectable rebounder thanks to his 6’5” length, letting him add some second-chance points to his already gaudy totals.
12. Chance Comanche: Quickness
It’s one thing for a big man to have straight-line speed, knowing how to use his long stride to get up and down the floor. It’s much rarer to combine that trait with the ability to change direction in a tight space, as Chance Comanche does.
The 6’10” Los Angeleno gets the most out of his length as a shot-blocker by closing on shooters that a slower center couldn’t reach.
He’s also quick at getting off the ground, giving him extra chances to tip and control rebounds as well as helping him power home dunks over smaller foes.
11. Jaylen Brown: Defense
As long as the likes of Kevin Durant and LeBron James top the NBA's scoring charts, there’s going to be a market for small forwards who can lock down a great offensive player.
Jaylen Brown has plenty of scoring punch in his own right, but even that pales in comparison to what he can do as a defender.
At 6’7” and 215 pounds, Brown has a guard’s quickness and a forward's toughness. He augments his athleticism with solid fundamentals and with a level of intensity that few high schoolers show while the other team has the ball.
10. Carlton Bragg: Agility
With 220 pounds on his 6’9” frame, Carlton Bragg has the strength to go through plenty of high school big men. He’s even better, however, at going around them.
Bragg’s mobility lets him play on the perimeter with confidence (helping him make the most of his solid jump shot) while remaining a threat to duck into the post.
He covers a similarly large amount of territory as a defender, terrorizing smaller scorers with his shot-blocking.
9. Elijah Thomas: Post Scoring
A bruiser at 6’9”, 250 pounds, Elijah Thomas has the build to hold his position against practically any defender. The Texan youngster pairs that physicality with an impressive shooting touch, albeit without much range yet.
Thomas rarely strays far from the rim, but his ability to finish effectively with either hand lets him score even against defenses that are waiting for him.
He also benefits from having the soft hands to reel in rebounds and entry passes that get anywhere near him.
8. Cheick Diallo: Post Defense
Cheick Diallo’s shot-blocking acumen belies his unremarkable 6’9” height. The New York native is one of the top rim protectors in the class, but unlike many rejection specialists, he’s not limited to making plays from the help side.
Diallo’s physical 225-pound build helps him hold his ground as an on-ball defender, where he also displays surprising lateral quickness.
That same high level of activity serves him well as a rebounder, where he does an outstanding job of limiting opponents to one shot (blocked or otherwise).
7. Tyler Dorsey: Transition Offense
In a class that’s short on superstar ball-handlers, you won’t find a better player to lead the fast break than Tyler Dorsey.
The Californian combo guard has blazing speed with the ball in his hands, and his 6’4” length helps him finish over the few guards quick enough to keep up with him.
Dorsey is also a skilled passer who’s happy to hand out a highlight-reel assist if the defense overplays him. Arizona fans, though, might question Dorsey’s decision-making skills now that he’s decommitted from the Wildcats and reopened his recruiting.
6. Skal Labissiere: Shot-Blocking
Long and lean at 6’11”, 200 pounds, Skal Labissiere is a defensive centerpiece in the Anthony Davis mold. With quickness, reach and exceptional timing, the Haitian import turns away shots in bunches.
Labissiere’s soft hands allow him to control many of those deflected shots himself to gain possession for his team. As you might guess from his slender build, he has great mobility for his height, which makes him a force in transition defense as well.
5. Ben Simmons: Versatility
Combo forward Ben Simmons is a legitimate primary scoring option who can generate points inside and out. The LSU commit's post moves are rapidly improving, and he’s a deadeye jump shooter from the mid-range (and a good one from farther out).
Simmons is also an outstanding ball-handler for a forward, able to lead the fast break or pick apart a defense with his passing from the wing. The defenders strong enough to muscle up on the 6’8”, 225-pound Aussie are too slow to stay with him, and vice versa.
4. Stephen Zimmerman: Face-Up Game
Although 7’0”, 230-pound Stephen Zimmerman is certainly a load to handle with his back to the basket, there are others in this class who can do even more damage as pure post scorers.
Where Zimmerman stands alone is when he can turn and face, using his combination of quickness and shooting touch to put defenders on their heels.
Zimmerman’s shooting range extends all the way to the arc, giving him ample room to drive past slower defenders or set up a teammate with a pass. Closer in, he maintains the soft touch on his shot and uses his long arms to great effect.
3. Diamond Stone: Interior Scoring
Many top-level college offenses pile up points in transition but falter when playing in the half-court. Whatever team lands Diamond Stone shouldn’t have to worry about that problem, as the 6’10”, 250-pound titan is a one-man offense in the paint.
Stone blends terrific footwork and immense power to overwhelm defenders off the catch. He’s also a solid mid-range shooter, making him a genuine threat to step back and bury a turnaround when the defense is playing him to dunk.
2. Ivan Rabb: Post Presence
A borderline NBA-level athlete already, 6’11” Ivan Rabb changes the game just by being on the floor.
On defense, his length and quickness make him a lethal shot-blocker who forces opponents to stay out of the paint. Offensively, he has an advanced repertoire of back-to-the-basket moves that command double-teams on a routine basis.
Rabb also knows how to make the most of the attention he commands, forcing swarming defenders to send him to the foul line or corralling the rebound after he alters an opponent’s shot.
1. Malik Newman: Outside Scoring
Malik Newman is an impressive finisher, to be sure, but at 6’3”, even an athlete of his caliber can be stopped by bigger defenders at the rim.
When he’s playing on the wings, though, there is no defense for his mix of sleight-of-hand dribbling and quick-release jump shooting.
Newman has ample range to knock down treys with impunity, along with the quickness to blow by defenders who crowd him at the arc.
He’s also developed a polished mid-range game featuring an array of pull-up and step-back moves to keep foes off-balance.