Thursday, November 18, 2010
The big six
By Adam Finkelstein
At this time last year, there was some elite talent left unsigned in the class of 2010, including the likes of Brandon Knight, Josh Selby and C.J. Leslie. This year, we have seen an unprecedented amount of early signings, including all of the top-30 ranked players in the country and all but six members of the ESPNU 100. With such slim pickings left on the board, those six prospects will be in very high demand over the next few months.
SF DeAndre Daniels (Woodland Hills, Calif./IMG Academy)
Player rank: 35 | Position rank: 11 | Grade: 95 | Stars: 4
Height: 6-7 | Weight: 191 pounds | Evaluation
Why they want him: Daniels is an elite scorer from the wing with a solid skill set and excellent size and length. He is equally effective in transition or half-court sets and has a very smooth release on his jumper, which he often is able to get off over the top of contesting defenders. Beyond his physical tools and developed skills, Daniels has an instinctive knack for putting the ball in the basket that can't be taught.
Recruiting update: Daniels hasn't taken any of his five official visits yet and reportedly doesn't intend to until after the first of the year. The IMG gym has been a busy place this fall, as a long list of prestigious high-majors coaches have made their way through to watch the California native. He remains wide open, having not yet officially trimmed his list.
SF Ben McLemore (St. Louis, Mo./Oak Hill)
Player rank: 38 | Position rank: 12 | Grade: 95 | Stars: 4
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 185 pounds | Evaluation
Why they want him: McLemore is an explosive swingman who can score points in bunches. He shoots the ball well to the 3-point line and excels in the open court, where he makes plays above the rim with an acrobatic flair. His overall ball skills are emerging at a rapid rate, and he has an undeniable upside thanks to his length, athleticism and quickness.
Recruiting update: McLemore was originally schedule to choose from among his final five before the end of the signing period, but now it appears his recruitment will extend a little longer. He reportedly has now trimmed his list to Kansas and Missouri, and will return home to St. Louis this weekend before making a verbal commitment to one of those schools Saturday.
C Adjehi Baru (Richmond, Va./The Steward School)
Player rank: 45 | Position rank: 5 | Grade: 95 | Stars: 4
Height: 6-9 | Weight: 225 pounds | Evaluation
Why they want him: Baru has a terrific motor and infectious energy level. He plays the game incredibly hard, sprints the length of the floor and has a great nose for the ball coming off the glass. He also is deceptively skilled for an energy guy, showing good patience with his back to the basket, and is a very good passer for a big man.
Recruiting overview: Not much has changed for Baru over the past 10 days as he continues to consider Maryland, Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Charleston. While he wasn't able to make a decision prior to the conclusion of the early signing period, he reportedly might be ready to make a verbal commitment in the relatively near future.
C Michael Chandler (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North)
Player rank: 51 | Position rank: 8 | Grade: 94 | Stars: 4
Height: 6-10 | Weight: 225 pounds | Evaluation
Why they want him: Chandler is a true center who combines a big, strong body with relative athleticism for a player of his size. He scores around the rim in a variety of different ways (finishes, jump hooks, transition) but also runs the floor and has some deceptive springs. He can clog the lane defensively while blocking shots in his area and cleaning the glass capably on both ends.
Recruiting overview: Chandler went into the period committed to Xavier but ultimately did not sign with the Musketeers, and then said he would consider UConn, Providence and Oregon. UConn is now rumored to be the favorite; his close friend and former summer teammate Ryan Boatright signed there earlier this week.
SG Trevor Lacey (Huntsville, Ala./S.R. Butler)
Player rank: 52 | Position rank: 16 | Grade: 94 | Stars: 4
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 200 pounds | Evaluation
Why they want him: There are two things Lacey is well-known for -- winning and scoring. He has two state championships on his résumé heading into the season, and came out and dropped 50 points on opening night of his senior campaign, drilling nine 3s in proving why he is also one of the best shot makers left on the board.
Recruiting overview: While Lacey has announced his final five of Alabama, Auburn, Connecticut, Kansas and Kentucky, he doesn't appear to be in any hurry to make a decision. Auburn and Alabama were rumored to have the inside lane moving into the spring, but don't be surprised if Lacey decides to take all his visits before making a decision.
Angelo Chol (San Diego, Calif./Herbert Hoover)
Player rank: 64 | Position rank: 11 | Grade: 93 | Stars: 4
Height: 6-8 | Weight: 210 pounds | Evaluation
Why they want him: Chol is a hybrid 4-man with an infectious high motor. He has a defined go-to move in the low post with his lefty jump hook and an evolving face-up game. Defensively, he is a tremendous shot-blocking presence and a terrific rebounder on both sides of the court.
Recruiting overview: Chol might not know where he is going yet, but he knows when he is announcing. The date is Feb. 17, and while he reportedly doesn't have any leaders as of yet, he already has been to Alabama and Kansas and has scheduled trips to North Carolina (Jan. 2), Arizona (Jan. 29) and Washington (Feb. 12).
Three players at each position from outside the ESPNU 100 who are worth watching.
Centers: Desmond Hubert (Cream Ridge, N.J./New Egypt), Matt Gorski (Richmond, Va./Cosby) and Kevin Johnson (Woodland Hills, Calif./William Howard Taft).
Power Forwards: Eric Katenda (Cheshire, Conn./Cheshire Academy), Jamari Traylor (Chicago, Ill./IMG Academy) and Chris Bryant (Tallahassee, Fla./James S. Rickards).
Small Forwards: Jarion Henry (Dallas, Texas/Kimball), Kevin Thomas (Brampton, Ontario/Christian Faith Center Academy [NC]) and Devin Langford (Huntsville, Ala./Lee).
Shooting Guards: Bobby Parks Jr. (Memphis, Tenn./Melrose), LeAntwan Luckett (Ridgeland, Miss./Ridgeland) and Phillip Greene (Chicago, Ill./IMG Academy).
Point Guards: Jordan Daniels (Etiwanda, Calif./Etiwanda), Kiwi Gardner (Manteca, Calif./Westwind [Ariz.] Prep Academy) and Patrick Lucas-Perry (Grand Blanc, Mich./Powers Catholic).
Adam Finkelstein has been a coach or scout at the high school, college and pro levels. He was an assistant coach in Division I by the age of 24 and worked as a scout for Marty Blake, the NBA's director of scouting.