Friday, June 14, 2013
5 things to know about the 2016 class
By Dave Telep
The new player rankings are out, and that means the 2016 class of rising sophomores enters our rankings for the first time with our debut of the 2016 ESPN 25. It’s still extremely early for this group, but here are five things you need to know about the Class of 2016.
1. Giles is a generational talent
Only a rising sophomore, Harry Giles is already one of the best prospects in the country regardless of class.
Having seen No. 1 prospect Harry Giles (Winston-Salem, N.C./Wesleyan Christian) since the fall of his freshman season, I’ve already been able to watch him in numerous settings. The basketball part with him is easy. He’s a combo forward in the making who is now 6-foot-9 and not even close to being done growing. Watch him once and you know he passes, handles, thinks, rebounds, converts -- really, does whatever you need -- at the highest level. Get to know him, and you understand that the talent meshes with humility, the desire to improve and the drive to achieve. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had these early thoughts about a player, but to me, Giles has an opportunity to be one of the special talents of his generation.
2. Gotta love those wings People are falling hard for the 2016 class already, and one of the big reasons is the proliferation of talented wing players. No. 3 rising sophomore Josh Jackson (Southfield, Mich./Consortium College Prep) is a college defender right now; picture a more offensively gifted Corey Brewer. No. 4 V.J. King (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary) can score inside the arc and at the rim. If he adds a 3-point shot and a dose of athleticism, look out. No. 5 Jayson Tatum (St. Louis/Chaminade Prep) is merely a fawn in the woods at this point who is growing into his game and has a high hoops IQ. No. 6 Terrance Ferguson (Dallas/Prime Prep) made the USA Basketball U16 team because of his proficiency knocking down jumpers, though he’s capable of more. And as good as Ferguson is, fellow Texan De’Aaron Fox (Katy, Texas/Cypress Lakes), ranked No. 13 in the ESPN 25, may track him down in his own state. We can go on and on here, but I’ll leave it with just one more: No. 16 Braxton Blackwell (Nashville, Tenn./Christ Presbyterian) is listed as a power forward but he might be a replica of UCLA point forward Kyle Anderson when it’s all said and done.
3. Athletes making early impact I’m not a big YouTube or mixtape guy. Having said that, do yourself a favor and Google the freshman year highlights of No. 14 Seventh Woods (Columbia, S.C./Hammond). Then call up No. 11 Malik Monk (Lepanto, Ark./East Poinsett County) highlights and compare the level of athleticism between the two. Woods is a top-five talent in this class; he’s just not polished yet. He owns Derrick Rose/Russell Westbrook athleticism, and I’m not exaggerating. Oh, and he’s only 14 years old. Monk, meanwhile, has a brother who played receiver at Arkansas, and Malik is even more athletic than Marcus. Finally, maybe you were watching “SportsCenter” one night last month and saw the highlight of the high school star who caught an alley-oop and did a 360 windmill. That play finished ahead of Roy Hibbert’s block at the rim in the Eastern Conference finals. The dunker? No. 24 rising sophomore Kwe Parker (Fayetteville, N.C./Trinity Christian).
4. So young it’s tough to call them underrated, but ... You get the sense that even recruiting junkies aren’t in tune yet with Jackson and No. 2 prospect Thon Maker (Martinsville, Va./Carlisle School). We hear plenty about Giles and Woods and a few others, but these guys are elite prospects. Maker is a skilled, foreign-born big man who specializes in smiling, shot-blocking and shooting. Jackson, meanwhile, is funny, long and supremely gifted. There are also guys outside our top 25 who within a month’s time will rocket up the charts.
5. No time to rest Among recruiting analysts, there’s a wave of positive emotion that’s rolling with the Class of 2016. Though always careful to anoint the next class as the “next best class,” this group is ridiculously talented. USA Basketball’s feeder team, the U16 squad, invited 20 members of the 2016 class to try out for the team, and the consensus was that they featured the most talent the program has had in one class in a long time. Here’s the point: Whether you’re Harry Giles, Parker or someone like No. 18-ranked aircraft carrier Caleb Swanigan (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead), this is not the year to coast and rest on your reputation.