The 10 Names You Need to Know in the CBB Recruiting Class of 2019
The April evaluation period tips off this weekend, which means that college coaches from all over the country will be watching the next crop of college basketball stars on the grassroots circuit.
While the class of 2019 just finished their sophomore seasons of high school basketball, this is an important spring and summer for elite prospects from that group, as many of them will start recruiting wars among the nation's top programs.
Even though these players have a little bit to go before they star on the college level, this class is tracking to be a potentially deep group with a strong amount of star power. Many of these players could even be one-and-done NBA draft prospects if things continue to track in the right direction.
So here's a look at 10 names to get familiar with in the class of 2019. Before you know it, these guys will be playing in All-American games and trying to help college programs win a national championship before moving on to the pros.
This list of prospects was ranked based on how much you should be paying attention to them as well as their overall ability as long-term prospects. Obviously, there is a ton of time to go with this class and some of these names will filter out of the top 10 in the national rankings, but all of these players have a bright future in basketball in the next few years.
10. Cassius Stanley, Small Forward
What we know: Oozing with elite athleticism that helps him play well above the rim on the wing, the 6'5" Stanley is already one of the best dunkers in all of high school basketball, thanks to some monstrous highlights on YouTube. Besides hitting his head and shoulders on the basket while trying to complete plays around the basket (as seen above), the California native is a versatile player on both ends of the floor as he's capable of defending multiple positions.
What we'll learn: This spring and summer are important for Stanley because he's established himself as a potential top-flight prospect, but he needs to stabilize his overall production. In some games Stanley can float and not work as hard as some other elite prospects, so it would be nice to see him come out and compete during every game and possession since he is a 5-star prospect. Stanley's perimeter jumper has also been shaky at times as he was only 4-of-22 from three-point range in 23 Nike Elite Youth Basketball League games last year.
Top-end potential: If Stanley can improve his perimeter jumper and start to show a higher motor, then there's no reason he can't end up among the elite players in his class. Already playing at the highest level both in the EYBL and with his high school team, Stanley has proven that he's capable of playing with anybody, but he has to prove that he's consistent enough to be a star.
9. Bryan Antoine, Shooting Guard
What we know: Part of a well-established class of 2019 duo with 5-star shooting guard Scottie Lewis, the 6'4" Bryan Antoine is an impressive combo guard who is comfortable playing on or off the ball. A strong athlete who is also very skilled, Antoine can handle the ball and make plays for others as a passer while also showing prowess as a scorer, both driving to the hoop and shooting from the outside.
What we'll learn: Playing on or off the ball might be Antoine's main question when he reaches the college level since he's shown an ability to do a little bit of both. If Antoine can handle pressure as a ball-handler while also being able to guard some quicker guys on the perimeter, then he could stick at point guard. He's also a gifted scorer from all three levels, so he might be better suited to just constantly try to get buckets.
Top-end potential: The fun thing about Antoine's development is that we get to see him develop alongside another special wing talent in Lewis. Seeing these two sophomore stars rise through the ranks together has been a lot of fun, and it also helps the duo push each other to be great. It'll be interesting to see if Antoine and Lewis try to play together at the college level like they have in AAU and high school, but Antoine is well-equipped to be a star in his own right if he continues to improve.
8. Matthew Hurt, Power Forward
What we know: The younger brother of Minnesota freshman forward Michael Hurt, Matthew Hurt has shown flashes of being one of the most skilled big men in the country while also displaying a deceptive amount of bounce near the rim. The 6'9" Hurt can knock down shots from all three levels of the floor, but he also gets quickly off the floor to snare rebounds and block shots. Hurt played two grade levels up last summer and showed that he could handle his own on the 17U level in the Adidas Gauntlet with D1 Minnesota.
What we'll learn: Adding strength is going to be a huge key to Hurt's overall development since he is still very skinny and susceptible to getting knocked around by bigger and stronger players in the post. As Hurt continues to progress through his high school career, he's going to also need to tighten up his overall skill level if he hopes to continue shooting perimeter jumpers and handling the ball at the next level.
Top-end potential: Not many underclassmen high school big men can do the things that Hurt does on the perimeter, but with his size and leaping ability, teams are also going to want him to protect the rim and secure rebounds. Many of the nation's elite programs like Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and UCLA have already made Hurt a recruiting priority as he has the potential to be a big star at the college level.
7. Chol Marial, Center
What we know: You don't see many 7'2" high school sophomores and that is part of the reason that Chol Marial is such an intriguing prospect over the next couple of years. Already an elite shot-blocker thanks to his size and wingspan, Marial is a force around the basket at the high school level because he's a decent athlete to go along with his great natural size.
What we'll learn: Marial played against a lot of younger competition in the Under Armour Association last spring and summer, so seeing him compete against other top big men will be something to watch for over the next couple of months. Size and length should help Marial compete defensively as he battles for rebounds and blocked shots, but he'll have to show that his offensive game is more than catching lobs and easy putbacks around the rim.
Top-end potential: You can't teach 7'2" with decent athleticism, so Marial is already ahead of the curve when it comes to his development, thanks to his special gifts as a young big man. Offense will be the big area for Marial to improve over the next few seasons, as he'll have to develop some go-to moves while adding strength so that he can establish post position and make plays. Defensively, Marial has a chance to be special and that could mean that he's a productive player even if he doesn't fully develop on offense at the college level.
6. D.J. Jeffries, Small Forward
What we know: One of the best prospects to emerge from the Memphis area over the last several years, the 6'7" D.J. Jeffries has the makings of a matchup nightmare, thanks to his offensive skill level and athleticism. Equipped with an ability to score from all over the floor, Jeffries is a potential double-double threat every time he steps on the floor, thanks to his ability to hit the glass and make plays.
What we'll learn: Jeffries is playing up on the 17U level for Team Thad this spring in the Under Armour Association, so we'll get to see how the versatile forward does matching up against older competition that is more physically mature than him. If Jeffries can continue to be a force on both ends, then he'll maintain his 5-star status for the next few seasons as he begins to draw a lot of recruiting attention.
Top-end potential: In a class that features a lot of big men and perimeter-oriented wing players, Jeffries stands out because he's a combo forward who can play inside or outside. That type of versatility should help Jeffries greatly at the next levels as he'll need to continue to improve his perimeter skill level when his competition begins to get bigger. Already off to a strong start this spring, Jeffries has a lot of upside if he continues to increase his skill level.
5. Scottie Lewis, Small Forward
What we know: The other half of the star duo with class of 2019 guard Bryan Antoine, the 6'5" Scottie Lewis is the more electrifying athlete of the two. With a startling ability to rise above the rim and finish thunderous dunks in traffic, Lewis is one of the most fun-to-watch players in all of high school basketball. Also showing promise in terms of his overall scoring package, Lewis has shown that he's more than a bunch of dunks. He's also capable of knocking down jumpers and being a menace on the defensive end.
What we'll learn: This spring and summer mean that Antoine and Lewis are once again playing together for Team Rio in the Under Armour Association, as the duo will be marked men in the talented league. It will be interesting to see Lewis try to score and put up numbers while defense hone in to stop him. Playing with the ball in his hands could also be something to watch with Lewis since so many guards are now seeing if they're capable of becoming new-age scoring lead guards.
Top-end potential: Not many players have a better collection of size, length and athleticism on the wing than Lewis, and those attributes and his overall skill level mean that he could push for the No. 1 overall spot in the class of 2019. While there are many top-tier athletes listed here, Lewis can do the types of things around the hoop that nobody else on this list is capable of doing—and that is what makes him potentially special.
4. Vernon Carey, Power Forward
What we know: The son of former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Vernon Carey, the younger Carey is focusing on the hardwood as he's developed into an impact big man. The 6'9" Carey might have a build similar to an offensive tackle like his father was, but he's not just a post player. Carey also has the skill level to step out and make jumpers as he's shown an ability to stretch the floor a little bit. At nearly 250 pounds, Carey is also a load to handle on the interior as his great size enables him to be a force on the glass.
What we'll learn: Carey has shown a lot of varying skills on the floor, but he's never shown that he's elite at one particular area besides rebounding. While talented as an offensive player, Carey doesn't have a go-to move in the post or an area on the floor where he can always go to get a bucket. Once Carey gets more comfortable figuring out his vast array of offensive abilities, it'll be intriguing to see how he plays and how he scores most of his baskets.
Top-end potential: The nice thing about Carey is that we already know that he's capable of playing with another elite big man since 5-star center Balsa Koprivica (more on him in a moment) has been his teammate at the high school and AAU levels. But Carey also has the ability to branch out and be a star on his own once he fully figures things out on the offensive end. Developing post moves and consistent scoring will be key, but Carey could be a load on the interior thanks to his great size and strength.
3. Balsa Koprivica, Center
What we know: Gifted with great natural size and feel, Balsa Koprivica is already a major presence on both ends of the floor. Advanced as a defender at the high school level since he is also mobile for a 7-footer, Koprivica can erase shots and gobble up rebounds with the best of them. Koprivica has also shown some things on the offensive side of the ball, as he has a very high skill level around the hoop while flashing a workable jumper.
What we'll learn: Playing up on the 17U level of the Nike EYBL with Nike Team Florida should be a major test for Koprivica this spring and summer, as he'll get to play against many of the nation's best big men on the grassroots circuit. Koprivica has shown that he can do significant damage against competition that is the same age, but how will he fare against older competition that will force him to play with more physicality? If Koprivica handles the transition, then he should be fine for the future.
Top-end potential: With his high degree of skill and tremendous natural size, Koprivica has the potential to be an elite two-way center. Being a 7-footer means that Koprivica has the size to be able to rebound and defend at the highest level, but he's also capable of being the type of back-to-the-basket scorer that constantly draw double-teams and fouls. How Koprivica handles the pressure of double-teams and constant physical play is going to be the deciding factor in his advancement through the ranks.
2. Charles Bassey, Center
What we know: The 6'10" Charlie Bassey has found a home in San Antonio as the Nigerian big man has a special feel for the game for a young center. Gifted with vice-grip hands, unique passing ability and nifty footwork, Bassey is already showing flashes of skill that aren't often seen in underclassmen bigs. Also an intelligent defender who can wall up and block shots or rebound in traffic, Bassey has the natural size and skill level to be a major factor on the interior.
What we'll learn: Bassey is gifted for a young center, but he also has to adjust to playing more in the post as defenses collapse on him. Facing constant double-teams is going to be something that Bassey has to adjust to as he goes through higher levels of basketball, and his vision and passing ability should help him navigate that. Like most other young big men, Bassey also needs to add some strength in order to maximize his post positioning against older players.
Top-end potential: Still figuring out how to adjust to the speed and athleticism of the American game, Bassey has a world of potential that could be unlocked if he continues to develop his post game. Not many big men have hands as good as Bassey's, and he already has the length and athleticism to be a presence on the defensive end. If Bassey can develop a go-to post move and add to his offensive skill level, then he could end up being a double-double machine at the college level before moving on to the pros.
1. R.J. Barrett, Shooting Guard
What we know: The top sophomore in the nation has certainly lived up to the hype over the last few months as R.J. Barrett has been great at multiple high-level events. Already a mainstay with Canada's national basketball team across multiple youth levels, the 6'7" Barrett played a high-profile national schedule with Montverde Academy and thrived this season while displaying some jaw-dropping athleticism and a developing perimeter game. Not many wings are as athletic with so much body control, and it's the kind of thing that can make Barrett special.
What we'll learn: As the No. 1 prospect and hunted man in a deep class of 2019, Barrett is going to have to continue to develop his overall skill level if he wants to maintain the top spot. One of the intriguing things we'll learn about Barrett going forward is which position he'll be most comfortable at as he progresses through higher levels. Barrett has shown an ability to play on the wing off the ball, but he's also shown a lot of comfort as a passer and ball-handler. If Barrett can show that he can be a primary ball-handler, then it could change the trajectory of his expectations.
Top-end potential: Since Barrett has the potential to be an elite defender who plays multiple positions on offense, he has a chance to be a special talent who doesn't stick around college for very long. With Barrett's athleticism, length and feel for the game, he has a chance to be a coveted two-way wing who can completely change the game on both ends of the floor. If Barrett shows a consistent perimeter game and he's also able to handle the ball, it could change a lot of what he ultimately becomes.
All recruiting rankings and star rankings courtesy of Scout.com. All reporting obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.