Friday, September 27, 2013
Inside the rankings: ESPN 100 review
By Paul Biancardi
When we analyzed the 2014 ESPN 100, we found upside in the front court as eight of the top 10 players in this class played the center or power forward position.
When we look at the top of those respective positions it’s easy to be impressed. Jahlil Okafor (Chicago/Whitney Young) continues to hold the top spot because he is the best and most polished low post player in this class. Okafor has transformed his body; he is lighter on his feet and now possesses more stamina than ever before. In the lower half of the paint, he has perfected a jump hook over his left shoulder and he is improving his up-and-under move as counter. He demands double teams inside and reads where the help is coming from and has the vision to find the open man.
Other standouts in the class include Cliff Alexander (Chicago/Curie), the No. 3 overall player and No. 1 power forward, who won us over with his high motor and tenacity on the glass and paint scoring. When it comes to putting points on the board, the shooting guard and small forward positions are deep and talented. North Carolina commit Justin Jackson scores the ball at a high level and is lethal from mid-range. Seton Hall commit Isaiah Whitehead (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) has improved his approach to the game and had a breakout performance at the Elite 24.
At this point, the class lacks a true superstar, but it has plenty of talent and potential. Here's a look at players who made the biggest moves in our rankings:
Five who moved up
Five who moved in
- Myles Turner (Bedford, Texas/Trinity) went from No. 10 to No. 2 because of his play this summer. Turner is the best long-term prospect and the best shot blocker in the high school game. Offensively, he possesses a soft touch and an impressive 3-point shot.
- Stanley Johnson (Fullerton, Calif./Mater Dei) climbed his way inside the top 10 to No. 9 with his effort and productivity. A power driver with a much improved jumper, Johnson is a consistent rebounder. Summer is a grind but Johnson got stronger as it went on.
- Kelly Oubre (Fort Bend, Texas/Findlay Prep) made a significant move, shooting up 10 spots to No. 10, because he consistently makes highlight reel-worthy plays. Ourbe is a dynamic blend of athletic ability, skill and versatility.
- D'angelo Russell (Louisville, Ky./Montverde), the No. 12 overall player, is dangerous with and without the ball. If you leave him alone, the future Buckeye will make you pay.
- No one made a bigger jump than Devin Robinson (Chesterfield, Va./Christchurch), whose ranking went from No. 74 to No. 28. A good 3-point shooter and a playmaker, he exudes potential.
- No. 44 Robert Johnson (Richmond, Va./Benedictine) is a true combination guard who competes and displays poise. The Indiana commit can run the point is good enough from deep to keep you honest.
- No. 68 a href="http://espn.go.com/college-sports/basketball/recruiting/player/_/id/124498/tadric-jackson">Tadric Jackson (Tifton, Ga./Tift) will bring speed and scoring on the perimeter to Brian Gregory and Georgia Tech. An off-the-charts athlete, he is constantly in attack mode and is talented enough to play the point. Jackson is a perfect fit, as Georgia Tech wants to push the ball and he can lead or finish the fast break.
- No. 70 Jonah Bolden is a long, athletic forward brings size and skill to the floor. The Australian is more of a finesse player than physically imposing, beating opponents with his long and mid-range shooting and impressive passing ability.
- No. 72 Lourawls Nairn (Bel Aire, Kan./Sunrise Christian) has the ability to create and push the tempo, which may be unmatched in his class. Nairn loves to go fast -- in fact, the faster the pace the more he thrives.
- No. 86 Isaac Haas (Piedmont, Ala./Hokes) has a massive body that is made to bang inside, set screens, rebound and be a physical presence in the painted area. The Wake Forest commit runs well for his size.