College Basketball Recruiting: Top 20 High School Seniors and Their Destinations

Dan Bodner@KYHoopsBuzzCorrespondent IAugust 29, 2011

College Basketball Recruiting: Top 20 High School Seniors and Their Destinations

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    Andre Drummond may be off the board, but college basketball's 2012 recruiting class is still chock-full of talented prospects, many of whom are still uncommitted.

    As with any recruiting class, the major questions surrounding this batch of prospects include who's going where and who's the best of the best.

    Today, we attempt to answer these questions by ranking the top 20 high school seniors in the country and subsequently predicting their collegiate destinations.

    Let's go.

20. Rasheed Sulaimon

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    Destination: Duke

    Rasheed Sulaimon made his name as one of the biggest volume scorers in the 2012 class.

    He may be the best pure shooter in the class when all is said and done because although he is a great shooter from beyond the arc, he also has an impressive throwback mid-range game.

    He has a scorer's mentality, but he is considered a combo guard and is willing to play either of the guard spots in college. With that being said, he will probably spend most of his time playing at the two-guard because he will need to tighten up his handle in order to succeed as the primary ball-handler.

    He's not the best athlete in the class, but he has a high basketball IQ and excels in the scorer's role, in addition to playing high-level on-ball defense.

    Sulaimon committed to Duke in early February over Baylor and Texas.

19. Kris Dunn

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    Destination: Providence

    In a class that initially seemed to be lacking in point guard talent, Kris Dunn has worked his way up through the rankings to establish himself as one of the elite players in the nation, in addition to being one of the top point guards.

    He is the consummate point guard, owing largely to his combination of hard work, skill and athleticism.

    In addition to being a top-level athlete, he possesses great court vision and is a phenomenal passer. He sometimes struggles with his decision-making, but he is constantly working to get his teammates involved.

    His biggest weakness right now comes in his shooting, especially from long-range, but he should be able to amend this deficiency with enough time and repetition.

    Dunn committed to coach Ed Cooley and the Providence Friars after entertaining offers from both Georgia Tech and Connecticut. 

18. Robert Carter

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    Predicted Destination: Kentucky

    Robert Carter is one of a number of top big men in the 2012 class.

    At 6'9", 255 lbs., he is an imposing low-post presence.The biggest knock on him is that he isn't a great athlete and that he consequently plays primarily below the rim.

    Nevertheless, he has established himself as a fantastic low-post defender and can provide a reliable shot-blocking threat.

    His shooting range is limited, but he is a technician around the basket with his combination of soft hands and skill. Many people believe that he may turn out to be the best back-to-the-basket scorer in the nation. He is also no slouch when it comes to rebounding, meaning he has the potential to become a double-double machine at the collegiate level.

    Carter recently cut his list of schools down to seven: Kentucky, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Georgia, Florida, Maryland and Rhode Island. He denies having any favorites at this point, but plans on making a decision sometime after he finishes all of his campus visits this fall.

    Kentucky is the highest-profile school left on his list and should be in good position to ultimately land him. However, if UK manages to steal one of the higher-rated big men in the class instead, there is a distinct chance that he ends up at Florida State.

17. Danuel House

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    Predicted Destination: Baylor

    Danuel House is one of the more exciting players that the 2012 class has to offer.

    Standing at 6'6", he has prototypical two-guard size and length, making him a tough match-up on either end of the court. He is a big-time scorer, due mainly to his outstanding shooting ability, especially from beyond the arc.

    He is also one of the better athletes in the country, as evidenced by his tremendous vertical and open-court speed. A lot of his points will come fast-break or transition baskets, including many potential highlight-reel dunks.

    Although he is a dangerous shooter, he needs to improve his shooting and play-making ability off the dribble, especially if he plans on becoming a full-time back-court player.

    House's decision may be one of the toughest ones to predict, simply because he didn't receive a ton of interest from upper tier schools until just recently. His list of schools currently stands at 10, including Arizona, Houston, Baylor, Missouri, Georgetown, Texas, Oregon, Kansas, Ohio State and Georgia Tech.

    Given that he lives in Texas, I would give the early edge to Baylor, where he could start right away on a fairly talented team.

16. DaJuan Coleman

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    Predicted Destination: Ohio State

    Schools that are looking for a true low-post player found themselves salivating at the possibility of landing DaJuan Coleman.

    At 6'8", 280 lbs., he is easily the biggest-bodied prospect in the class. His size allows him to serve as a great area rebounder and a dominant low-post scorer. His wide frame helps him to clear a lot of space, and his strength allows him to simply overpower defenders.

    He also possesses the mindset to go along with his size, and doesn't mind finishing through contact. Once in position on the block, he is almost automatic offensively due to his great hands and soft touch. Those who compare him to Ohio State's Jared Sullinger aren't too far off-base.

    His biggest concern early on was controlling his weight, but given the fact that he has actually managed to cut weight in the past six months, conditioning shouldn't be too big of a problem with the right training regimen. He is also somewhat limited offensively, as his mid-range shot is rather unreliable. This shouldn't be a huge problem, though, as long as he continues to play within himself.

    A number of schools are still in play for Coleman, but Kentucky, Syracuse and Ohio State appear to be the favorites. Some believe that he will end up at Syracuse, but it may not be the best fit with 2011 center Rakeem Christmas already on the roster.

    Given his growing friendship with Sullinger, who will likely depart from Ohio State after the upcoming season, I believe that Coleman will ultimately end up as a Buckeye.

15. Alex Poythress

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    Predicted Destination: Duke

    Alex Poythress was one of the biggest risers over the summer, transforming from an unknown to a must-have for many of the nation's elite basketball programs.

    He is a versatile 6'7" forward from Clarksville, Tenn., with a game that is equal parts talent and hustle.

    Offensively, he can play inside or out. He is an above-average ball handler and is capable of breaking down the defense on the dribble in order to get into the lane. He doesn't have a great arsenal of post moves, but he has no qualms about getting in position and banging down low.

    He isn't a premier outside shooter, but he has no problem knocking down perimeter shots when left open.

    Poythress is farther along defensively than a lot of prospects in his class, due mainly to his high motor. He is quick enough to defend on the ball, but also big enough to defend in the post. He should be capable of racking up steals and blocks in bunches.

    Poythress' list of schools currently stands at just five: Duke, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Florida and Memphis. Kentucky and Duke appear to be in the best position with him, but given his emphasis on academics, the most likely destination seems to be Duke.

14. Gary Harris

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    Predicted Destination: Purdue

    Gary Harris, a 6'4" shooting guard out of Indianapolis, Ind., is one of the better athletes in his class.

    He plays well in transition and will inevitably throw down some highlight-worthy dunks. His most impressive asset, though, is his three-point range. He can knock down shots from far beyond the arc—and do so with a good deal of consistency.

    Harris is also one of the premier defenders in the nation, owing it mainly to his length and athleticism. He does a great job of frustrating the opposition's best back-court player, and is always a threat to intercept a pass or pick the opponent's pocket.

    He says that he wants to develop into a combo guard at the collegiate level, but in order to do so, he will first have to improve his ball handling skills.

    Unlike a lot of other players in the class, Harris has played his recruitment pretty close to the vest. He has, however, listed his top five schools, which include Indiana, Michigan State, Louisville, Notre Dame and Purdue, although a few other schools may also still be involved.

    It's hard to say exactly where he may be headed, but I would give the edge right now to Purdue.

13. Cameron Ridley

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    Destination: Texas

    Texas fans can rejoice in the fact that the Longhorns managed to snag the state's second-best prospect in 2012.

    Cameron Ridley is a 6'10", 260 lbs. center with a lot of untapped potential, having only seriously played competitive basketball for a couple of years now.

    His most noticeable asset is his wide frame, which allows him to clear out space in the lane and overpower defenders when posting up. He is a great rebounder and should make an instant impact on the defensive end.

    Ridley also displays a surprisingly soft touch around the basket, making him a very efficient offensive weapon while in the post. He doesn't have great shooting range, but he can step out and knock down an open 10-foot jumper if needed.

    His biggest weakness will come primarily in his inexperience. He is still learning some of the smaller nuances of the game, so he may be a bit behind some of the other prospects in the class initially in his development.

    Ridley committed to Texas and head coach Rick Barnes in early 2012.  

12. Kaleb Tarczewski

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    Predicted Destination: Arizona

    Kaleb Tarczewski is one of the more raw prospects in the 2012 class, but he also has a ton of potential.

    Although he could afford to add some strength to his frame, he is a prototypical 7-foot center. He is also an above average athlete for his size.

    His rebounding and shot-blocking abilities make him a force around the basket defensively, but he still needs a lot of work offensively. He has a couple of reliable post moves, including a jump hook, but he will need to expand his repertoire in order to be successful at the collegiate level.

    Nevertheless, Tarczewski should be an impact player from day one simply because of his defensive presence. Any improvement on the offensive end will only be an added bonus.

    A decision should be coming from Tarczewski fairly soon. His list is down to Arizona, Kentucky, North Carolina and Kansas, but it is expected to come down to a two-horse race between Arizona and Kansas.

    Many people believe that he is leaning toward Kansas, but with his recent recruiting track record, it is hard to bet against head coach Sean Miller and the Arizona Wildcats. 

11. Brandon Ashley

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    Destination: Arizona

    Brandon Ashley is one example of a number of talented forwards with a ton of potential in the 2012 class.

    Standing at 6'8", he has great length and reach, but at only 200 lbs, he still needs to work on adding some muscle and increasing his strength.

    He is an above-average athlete and runs the floor as well as any big guy in the class. He has a lot of versatility offensively, but unlike a lot of similar prospects, he doesn't simply float around the perimeter. He knows his role and plays primarily around the rim, a place where he excels because of his great hands and sizable arsenal of post moves.

    He won't be seen taking a lot of perimeter shots, but his range extends to around 17 or 18 feet.

    Ashley also has a lot of upside defensively. He is quick and disciplined, but is also capable of becoming a reliable shot blocker. The only downside is that he may get bullied around by bigger-bodied guys until he puts on some more weight.

    Ashley chose Arizona over Kentucky, Oregon and UCLA. He will be reunited with former teammates Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson, who signed with Arizona for 2011.

10. Archie Goodwin

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    Predicted Destination: Kentucky

    While shooting guards Ricardo Ledo and Rodney Purvis have received the most attention, Archie Goodwin has enjoyed the greatest rise in notoriety over the past year.

    At 6'4", he possesses great size, but needs to add more strength to his 180-pound frame.

    His scoring comes primarily through attacking the basket. He is an adequate shooter, but his range is somewhat limited. He won't be a huge three-point threat unless he puts a lot of work into his perimeter game.

    Goodwin is one of the better on-ball defenders in the class and always plays with a high motor and a ton of energy. He's not necessarily great in any one area, but he is a well-rounded player and a true competitor.

    He cut his list to just eight schools earlier this month: Arkansas, Kentucky, Baylor, Kansas, Georgetown, UConn, Memphis and Missouri, but he won't be able to start taking official visits until he narrows the list down to five.

    Goodwin has said that he is high on Kentucky and head coach John Calipari, and the interest seems to be just as high on the school's end. Unless something drastically changes, I expect him to eventually end up in Lexington.

9. Anthony Bennett

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    Predicted Destination: UNLV

    Anthony Bennett, a native of Brampton, Canada, is a guy who has seen his stock rise immensely during the summer months.

    He is listed at 6'7", 230 lbs. and is a superior athlete. The major knock on him about a year ago was the fact that he was a bit undersized to play under the basket and didn't possess the skill set to make him a threat outside of the paint.

    However, Bennett has used the past few months to improve his face-up game and develop a pretty reliable perimeter shot. He has also improved his ball-handling, but it could still use some polishing.

    Bennett's stock will only rise as he increases his versatility because he is already an incredible athlete. Despite being a little undersized, he is an excellent rebounder because of his combination of strength and jumping ability.

    Earlier this month, he narrowed his list of schools down to 10: Kentucky, UConn, West Virginia, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Florida, Missouri, UNLV, Washington and Ohio State. Bennett has said that he wants to wait until later in the year to commit so that he has a better idea of what the coaching and player situations will look like.

    That being said, it's hard to identify any real favorite in his recruitment.  But based on team needs and the time frame of his decision, I would give the early edge to UNLV. 

8. Jarnell Stokes

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    Predicted Destination: Memphis

    Jarnell Stokes is one of a plethora of athletic big men in the 2012 class. The 6'8", 250 lbs. forward from Memphis, Tenn. is loaded with potential.

    He is an outstanding rebounder and plays with great physicality down low. He doesn't shy away from contact and has an uncanny ability to finish around the basket.

    Stokes has a wide variety of post moves, leading some college coaches to compare him to Karl Malone. He is not quite as versatile as some of the other forwards in this class, but he can still present a huge match-up problem, especially if he continues to improve upon his perimeter shooting and ball-handling.

    His top five schools include Arkansas, Memphis, Florida, Tennessee, and Connecticut. There is no real indication of where he might be leaning, but it will be hard to pry him away from Memphis, his hometown school.

7. Rodney Purvis

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    Predicted Destination: NC State

    Rodney Purvis is undeniably one of the best scorers in the nation. Measuring in at 6'4", 185 lbs., he has good size and is deceptively strong.

    He can score in a multitude of ways, but he excels in transition and in getting to the basket. He sometimes struggles with his shot, but he is a streaky shooter and can catch fire at any moment.

    Although he is probably best-suited at shooting guard, he is also more than capable of running the point from time to time. He has above-average court vision and is an underrated passer. Not to mention his speed and athleticism make him an exciting facilitator on the break.

    Despite being originally committed to Louisville, he cut his list of schools over the summer to Duke, Missouri, and NC State.

    NC State is the closest to his home in Raleigh, and the hiring of Mark Gottfried should put them in great position to eventually land him. 

6. Ricardo Ledo

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    Predicted Destination: Providence

    If you're ranking the pure scorers of 2012, Ricardo Ledo has to be at the top. The former Providence commitment has prototypical size for a shooting guard at 6'6", although he could afford to add on a few more pounds of muscle.

    He can penetrate the lane and finish at the rim, but his best asset is his shooting. He can consistently knock down shots off the catch or the dribble, and has a tendency to put up points in bunches. He is also an underrated passer and has a knack for finding the open man on the court.

    The biggest concerns with Ledo are the red flags surrounding him. Many people have questioned his attitude on the court, and the fact that he has changed high schools on four different occasions is a bit worrisome.

    Since his decommitment from Providence, he has been quoted as saying that Kentucky is his favorite, but it appears that UK is currently more interested in fellow shooting guard Archie Goodwin.

    Earlier this month, he cut his list down to Providence, UConn, Syracuse, Kentucky and West Virginia. But, more than likely, the recent commitment of point guard Kris Dunn to Providence should be enough for Ledo to renew his commitment to the Friars. 

5. Devonta Pollard

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    Predicted Destination: Kentucky

    Devonta Pollard may be the most impressive player in his class—not because of his play on the court, but because of what he's had to deal with off of it.

    Pollard's father passed away two years ago as a result of pancreatic cancer. Four months ago, the Pollard family was faced with even more adversity when their Mississippi home burnt to the ground during a tornado that ripped through the area.

    Yet, despite these tragedies, Pollard has continued to thrive on the court.

    The 6'8" forward immediately passes the eye test because of his length and athleticism, but his true strength lies in his versatility. He can score in the post or on the perimeter, and is an excellent ball handler for his size. Add to the equation the fact that he may be the most explosive jumper in the country, and you have one of the most exciting prospects in the nation.

    Pollard has not yet narrowed down a list, but the schools that have been recruiting him the hardest include Mississippi State, Alabama, Georgetown, Mississippi, LSU, Kentucky and Missouri.

    It's tough to say where he might be leaning, but Kentucky appears to be a fairly good fit. I also wouldn't count out Ole Miss or Mississippi State, as it would make sense for him to stay close to home, given his recent circumstances.

4. Kyle Anderson

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    Predicted Destination: St. John's

    Kyle Anderson is one of the more intriguing prospects of 2012. He is 6'9", but has the skill set of a point guard. He has drawn some comparisons to Ervin "Magic" Johnson because of his size and skills. Like Magic, he has great court vision and is an excellent passer.

    He is not an elite athlete, but his combination of size and skills makes him especially hard to defend. He can guard on the ball and has the ability to disrupt an offense with his length.

    Although he is often listed as a small forward, he has made it clear that he would prefer to play point guard at the collegiate level. This fact limited his school selection, but the team that lands him will be blessed with arguably the best point guard prospect in the class.

    Anderson recently narrowed his list of schools down to UCLA, Florida, Georgetown, St. John’s and Seton Hall.

    It should be noted that Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad have been seriously discussing the option of playing together in college. The only possibility of this happening would be if both players signed with UCLA. But, given Anderson's preference to play point guard, it seems unlikely that he would elect to go to UCLA, who will already be signing Dominic Artis, or Florida, who will be signing Braxton Ogbueze.

    His recruitment will likely come down to St. John's, UCLA and Georgetown, but I would give the edge to St. John's.

3. Mitch McGary

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    Predicted Destination: North Carolina

    Mitch McGary has enjoyed one of the greatest rises of any prospects over the past few months. He transformed himself from a rotational player to a star throughout the season at Brewster Academy, then only added to a growing reputation by dominating pro camps and AAU tournaments this summer.

    The 6'10", 245 lbs. big man has recently drawn comparisons to former North Carolina great Tyler Hansbrough. While it may be a lofty comparison, it doesn't seem to be too off-base.

    McGary has a big, strong body and excels at rebounding on both ends of the court. He also provides some versatility as he can score from inside or out. He can score from the post or step out and knock down a shot from the perimeter.

    His greatest asset, though, is his motor. He rarely lacks in hustle and often displays a fierce attitude on the court.

    Yet, although he can serve as an enforcer in the paint, he plays primarily below the rim and is not a great shot blocker.

    McGary is down to just six schools: Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, Michigan, Duke and Kentucky. He should come to a decision within the next month or so.

    It's difficult to say exactly where he will end up, but it will likely be a three horse race between Florida, Kentucky, and North Carolina. My best guess is that he will eventually end up at North Carolina and follow in the rather large footsteps of Tyler Hansbrough.

2. Isaiah Austin

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    Destination: Baylor

    Isaiah Austin hasn't received much pub as of late, primarily because he committed to Baylor just over a year ago. Yet, there is no doubt that he is one of the most unique athletes in his class.

    He is reminiscent of 2011's top prospect, Anthony Davis, because he is listed at 7'0" but has the skills of a guard. He can handle the ball on the perimeter and consistently knock down shots from mid-range, which makes him especially difficult to guard, given his size.

    Austin can also protect the paint and should be a prolific shot blocker. His two main weaknesses are his strength and his low-post scoring. He has a very slender frame and could get pushed around by some of the bigger guys he'll face in college.

    Baylor hit the jackpot by landing by landing Austin, and it only helps to bolster head coach Scott Drew's impressive recruiting record after netting fellow elite big men Perry Jones in 2010 and Quincy Miller in 2011.

1. Shabazz Muhammad

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    Predicted Destination: UCLA

    Shabazz Muhammad has used the past few months to unquestionably establish himself as the top player of 2012.

    He has always been an explosive transition scorer, but has managed to take his game to another level with an improved mid-range and perimeter arsenal. The lefty is now almost unstoppable from 15 feet and in.

    His best asset offensively is now his mid-range floater, which he can get off almost at will. He's not a great shooter, but he is still an elite scorer with a constant mindset of "attack."

    Like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of last year's class, Muhammad's greatest distinction comes from his intangibles, and that is by no means a knock on the rest of his game. Some players just have an undeniable will to win, and Muhammad is one of elite few. He led his AAU team to the championship game in Las Vegas last month despite playing on a nasty sprained ankle.

    Muhammad's list is still fairly long, and it includes the likes of Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA and UNLV. 

    All indications are that he is currently leaning toward staying on the west coast by choosing UCLA, but there is still more than enough time for this to change.