Best underclassmen in July
Now that the July evaluation period has come to a close, we have a chance to look back and see who stood out during the month.
Who was the best underclassman you saw in July?
Paul Biancardi: Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison (Houston/Travis). The reason why I'm putting both of these guys is because they are identical twins who are definitely going to school together and who had big-time performances all July. Andrew is a big point guard who distributes the ball with great instincts, with his box score often showing more assists than points. He can play an up-tempo, fast-break game or execute a half-court offense. Aaron is a scoring guard by nature, who get buckets in many ways, but what stands out is his NBA range. He is confident and comfortable in taking and making big shots. He had a stellar performance helping the Houston Defenders win the AAU Super Showcase, and whichever program lands these two winners will hit the Daily Double!
Joel Francisco: Noah Vonleh (Haverhill, Mass./New Hampton School) has the prototypical wing-type frame with freakishly long arms and a budding offensive game, and should be considered among the top players in the 2014 class. He snatches rebounds in traffic andcan lead the fast break, and is one of the more potent finishers off the bounce. He also has a terrific burst off the dribble, where he can score through contact, but can also drain the 3-point shot. Overall, in my opinion, he is a top-five prospect in the country, regardless of class.
Mike LaPlante: Each of the top three players in the 2013 class had an outstanding July. Nerlens Noel (Everett, Mass./The Tilton School) was dominant in leading BABC to multiple championships, while Jabari Parker (Chicago/Simeon) showed why many consider him to be the most skilled player in the 2013 class. Although Noel is the ultimate winner and Parker may be the next Grant Hill, Julius Randle (Dallas/Prestonwood Christian) was the best individual player I saw in July, regardless of class. He was nearly impossible to contain with only one defender. His combination of size, skill level, athleticism and energy separates him from his peers. He has a chance to be special and has a unique game that should translate to the highest level.
Reggie Rankin: Parker, who was the MVP of the gold-medal-winning U16 national team, had a tremendous summer. Parker has transformed his body and game as quick as any player I have seen going from being a very good power forward to an elite small forward. He affects the game in so many positive ways. He scores inside and out to the arc, rebounds and his passing and basketball IQ may be his greatest assets. He is in great shape, has added explosiveness and looks to have grown about an inch or so. Parker is unselfish and seems to be a great teammate as well. He has had consistent, dominating performances at every stop this summer without missing a game. I have been hearing from some college coaches that he reminds them of Carmelo Anthony on the offensive end of the floor and I think Parker could have the same impact that Anthony had as a college freshman.
Adam Finkelstein: Parker is the type of guy whose talent jumps out at you the first time you see him. He aces the eye test with a powerful and explosive 6-foot-8 build. His versatile skill set allows him to score the ball from all three ranges and he's equally advanced with his passing and rebounding. However, what really sets him apart is his mental approach to the game. He balances tremendous poise with unrelenting confidence, which allows him to pick his spots and let the game come to him but still take the game over whenever the situation warrants it.
John Stovall: Noel is the best shot-blocker I have seen come through high school basketball in a long time. He literally takes away the rim and the shots he doesn't block or alter he still affects because his opponent thinks he is going to block the shot. He has great length, impeccable timing and has learned the art of blocking shots without fouling. Offensively, he is vastly improved with a right-handed jump hook that is getting better all the time. Noel can also catch within 15 feet and take many post players off the dribble to the basket. He is a walking triple-double and is probably the main reason BABC was considered one of the best travel teams this year.
Dave Telep: Parker is the best prospect in high school basketball, but don't take my word for it. Veteran college basketball coaches, on more than one occasion, tossed around comparisons to Hill and Anthony. Those guys aren't just NBA players, they're some of the best prospects we've seen at the small forward position in recent memory. His body is where it needs to be, he can do bits and pieces of just about everything imaginable and he owns a competitive desire to keep ascending. There's not an ounce of complacency to him and he's the best prospect in the Class of 2013. He's the standard-bearer among all underclassmen.
Paul Biancardi is the national director of basketball recruiting. Adam Finkelstein is a frequent contributor, both in player evaluations and event coverage. Joel Francisco is a recruiting coordinator and has been evaluating high school prospects for over 20 years. Michael LaPlante is a recruiting coordinator who has over 20 years of coaching and recruiting experience. Reggie Rankin, a recruiting coordinator, has coached in the Mid-American, American East, WAC, SEC, Big 12 and Atlantic 10 conferences over a span of 14 seasons. John Stovall, a recruiting coordinator, has worked as director of scouting for Prep Spotlight Scouting Service and magazine for 15 years. Dave Telep is the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com.