The 2011 recruiting class has a decent crop of big prospects who fit the bill of the modern prototypical center who can run the floor and step out to the perimeter.
But the majority of this top five actually remind me of a throwback center.
The kind that mans the paint, boxes out, and poses a big problem down low on opponents' attempts to penetrate.
Other rankings will probably differ, but these are the prospects who are beginning to realize their potential, or recruits that have elevated their already high ceiling.
One of the more unfinished—but brimming with potential—prospects in the 2011 class is Malcolm Gilbert.
He’s a fast-riser front-court player, and could be a dominating force in the post.
Gilbert’s best trait right now is blocking shots, but once he adjusts to his constantly changing body (he added about 25 pounds in one offseason), watch out!
I guess that’s to be assumed when a recruit has one of the longest wingspans in the 2011 class.
Gilbert appears to have his priorities figured out. He cites the importance of a reputable business or engineering program as one of his deciding factors.
With the right coaching—primarily for his footwork and defensive scheme alignments—the sky is the limit for this East Coast native who has interest from practically every Top-10 program and a host of others.
If I had to predict one favorite at this point based on pure speculation, I think one of the East Coast, upper-tier programs might be it.
One of the true powerhouse preps programs in the metro Detroit area, Country Day High School continues to produce major D-I—and even NBA—talent.
Chris Webber, Shane Battier, and most recently, a couple five-star recruits in Ray McCallum Jr. (Detroit) and Dashonte Riley (Syracuse) are some of the more notable alumni.
The next big name to add to the list is the big, athletic prospect Amir Williams.
There isn’t one particular aspect of his game that noticeably leads, or lags, the others.
Williams is explosive under and around the rim with dunks, put-backs, and shot-blocking, and he attacks the glass with authority. His future team will especially appreciate his deftness as a passer, too.
Many of the elite programs have jumped into the fray for William’s services, including Michigan State, Ohio State, Kentucky, and Duke.
Prediction: Duke or Michigan State
The Blue Devils recently had Williams in for a visit.
But when it’s all said and done, I think he’s just as happy to stay close to home and play for either the Spartans or Wolverines.
Status: Louisville (“Weak” Verbal)
Much to the chagrin of Louisville Cardinals fans, Chandler has all but de-committed from his previous verbal commitment to Rick Pitino.
He recently announced his desire to “open things up” with his recruitment.
If it’s a true case of a young kid having reservations about one of the more important decisions, he will make in his young adult life, that’s fine; it happens.
But far too often, this happens in college recruiting. With shadowy figures, boosters, and unscrupulous family, friends, and agents looking to leverage a young player’s talent for their own benefit, it’s hard not to speculate when this happens.
Does that mean this is what happened with Chandler’s recruitment? In no way, shape, or form am I qualified to even insinuate it was.
But it deserves a closer look.
Chandler is a very talented post prospect with unusually advanced front-court skills for a high school player—such as polished footwork.
He could be an impact player early in his freshman year. His strength is good to very good, allowing him to be a presence on the boards, too.
Sleeper: Ohio State
One could easily argue Christmas’ skills indicate a No. 1 overall ranking. His size, combined with rare athleticism and coordination, is simply stunning.
He runs the floor like an athletic small forward and has incredible hops, which, paired with his size, is going to be a nightmare for the opposition.
Once he’s in a D-I strength and conditioning program, his offense will catch up with his defense.
The main knock on Christmas is a sometimes apparently disinterested approach on the court. However, once he’s on a team with a motivating coach who can light a fire under him, he will be on his way to establishing himself as one of the top big men in college basketball.
The Hoyas might be on their way to establishing the program as a desirable destination for top-ranked centers.
Plus, with Greg Monroe likely playing in the NBA when Christmas announces his decision, it only makes sense.
While another Florida university (FIU) might be the trendy sleeper pick here, I think he would choose to play in a marquee program such as the one Billy Donovan has built in Gainesville.
But don’t underestimate Isaiah Thomas’ charm with recruits and their families.
If there were ever such a thing as a “basketball gene,” then it’s safe to say it’s the dominant one in the Plumlee bloodlines.
When it’s all said and done, three Plumlee brothers will have played at the D-I level. The eldest, Miles, and middle sibling, Mason, are both at Duke.
Marshall is a fast-rising prospect who many classify as an old-school, throwback-type center. However, his ability to take his man out to the perimeter demonstrates some new-school skills, too.
He can knock down the open jumper out to 15 feet, but he’s just as happy to bang down low. Coaches and fans will appreciate his intensity, unselfishness, and effort each and every game.
The easy pick might be Duke, but I have a feeling the younger Plumlee might go with Tom Crean, who was a key recruiter during his stint with Tom Izzo at Michigan State.