While a few years ago the top high school prospects could be making an almost immediate impact on the NBA, due to new regulations, they have to wait at least a year before entering the league. It will be a few years before these players will be making a splash in the NBA, but for now they are stirring up major interest in the high school and NCAA scene.
One thing to note in the Class of 2012 is the lack of point guards. Many top 25s are completely devoid of point guards. Marcus Paige is ranked from 20-30 in most lists, though he is currently on the rise.
The 6’1” lefty point guard is known for running a strong half-court offense, his effective jump shot and great court vision. He can really run a team that revolves around a strong half court, as well as contributing strongly through his step back jumper.
Where he falls a little short is playing tight defense on a faster player than him, running the fast break offense and his strength in general. Though the latter can be expected to fill in as he grows, his lack of explosiveness is his major weakness.
He has trouble capitalizing on defenders’ mistakes and blowing by his man to create a layup opportunity. Overall, he will definitely be in the top three point guards of his class and will most likely end up pretty high in the NBA draft if he enters as soon as possible, when there won't be much competition at his position.
McGary is the quintessential power forward.
Currently ranked in the top three of almost all lists, usually top three, he blew up over the AAU season. McGary has great size for a PF at 6’10” and is known for his endurance and overall strength.
He is a tremendous rebounding force on offense and defense, yet has the handles to run the fast break to some extent, and he also has the shot to force defenders to stick closely to him.
He has what you want most in a forward: versatility.
No matter how many years he decides to play in college, he will most likely be a mid to high lottery pick in the NBA draft. His only real weakness is a slight lack of speed. He can’t quite keep up with some of the more athletic forwards on fast breaks, but his endurance often makes up for it; he never seems to stop running.
Isaiah Austin is widely regarded as the premier center in the class of 2012.
With tremendous size at seven feet with 7’5” wingspan, handles, and a jumper, he is truly a force to be reckoned with.
His frame needs a lot of filling out, he is still very slender and has trouble earning positions in the post. So, you may be wondering—if he can’t score easily inside as a center, then why is he on this list of notable players in the class of 2012?
This is answered immediately when you watch him play.
He has the skill set of a small forward, playing around the perimeter on offense. He plays like a seriously over sized small forward, using his handles—which are truly remarkable—for his size and dropping jumpers over smaller defenders.
He also has incredible timing for blocks and rebounds on defense, which is highlighted when he defends smaller players, especially outside of the post area, where he mercilessly swats jump shots. Overall, he needs to find his position and learn how to use his body better. His slender frame is expected to fill out as he gets older, and he will no doubt be a wild card pick in the draft.
Almost universally the No. 1 overall-rated player, the explosive wing is nearly unstoppable on offense.
This 6’6” lefty small forward is unstoppable from the 20-foot range. He is easily one of the most athletic players from this year, and with his size and explosiveness, he can force a defender back far enough to open up room for a step-back jumper or blow by and finish with a flourish at the rim.
Muhammad is known for being a pure scorer who is completely unstoppable when his shots are falling. He doesn’t need flashy handles, instead, he favors simple, but effective, short dribbles combined with long strides to carry him up to the rim to finish.
His major weakness is that when his shot isn’t falling, he has a lot of trouble deciding when to pass and getting the rest of the offense involved. He often takes over a quarter of his team’s field goal attempts, which means when he isn’t knocking shots down, he can be detrimental to the team.
His passing will hopefully evolve as he does as a player, and his athleticism, speed, and explosiveness will no doubt carry him into the highest levels of play.