The late Al McGuire once said "The best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores." Even with his comedic take on first-year college players, McGuire would have been impressed with the 15 high school freshmen ESPN Recruiting is breaking down in our first story highlighting the most talented prospects in the Class of 2013.
If these players continue to improve as sophomores, it could be scary for their opponents. It can be very difficult to project how good a freshman can become because of the amount of time they still have remaining to play in high school. Some will rise and become elite players and others will not improve the way that we think they will. There are many terrific freshmen from around the country, but this group of 15 landed on ESPN Recruiting's radar. We have witnessed dominating performances from these young up-and-comers and they have made a great impression. This list of fantastic freshmen is just a starting point, and throughout the next four years our evaluations of the Class of 2013 will become much more extensive. Here's an early look at 15 freshmen to watch.
Austin Colbert PF/C (Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick):
At 6-foot-8, Colbert is a thin post player who oozes potential and upside. He is a good shot-blocker right now and moves well up and down the court. He has good hands and feet and has a natural feel for the game. He is developing scoring moves in the paint and definitely needs to get stronger. In time he will obviously improve and right now is probably the best center prospect in the class.
Chris Davenport, SF (Atlanta/Southwest Atlanta Christian): Considered the top freshman prospect in the fertile state of Georgia, Davenport has had a chance to develop and gain experience while getting his feet wet in his first year of high school basketball. The 6-7 combo-forward plays more of an inside role with his high school team, which is going to benefit him in the long run. He also is athletic enough and has an effective perimeter game that will be intriguing to the high majors. Davenport attends the high school that produced NBA superstar Dwight Howard.
A.J. Davis, SF (Atlanta/Greater Atlanta Christian): As the son of former NBA player Antonio Davis, A.J. has been exposed to the highest levels of basketball since birth. Long, skilled and athletic, Davis has tremendous upside and is being developed and groomed to have a great future. The 6-6 wing comes off the bench in a reserve role for his senior-laden high school team, but Davis shows glimpses of what is to come as his minutes and role increase in the coming seasons.
Aaron Gordon, SF (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty):
Aaron, who is the younger brother of recent UCLA transfer Drew Gordon, possesses all the tangibles to be special. He has a terrific frame, standing 6-5, and is very athletic, as well. He is much more skilled than his older sibling and projects to the 3-position at the next level. Gordon handles it well in transition and makes very good decisions. His jump shot is decent. By the time his frame fills out, Gordon should be special heading into his junior campaign.
Thomas Hamilton Jr., PF (Chicago/Whitney Young): Hamilton is an extremely skilled post player for such a young age. The 6-8 post prospect can put the ball on the floor effectively and get to the basket or create for others. He is also a decent shooter with range to 20 feet. He also has solid post moves already. He is the son of former Chicago King great Thomas Hamilton.
Aaron Harrison SG/PG (Houston/Strake Jesuit): Aaron and his twin brother, Andrew, might be the top freshman prospects in Texas. Aaron Harrison, who stands 6-4, can play both guard positions, but he appears more comfortable off the ball mainly because of his ability to shoot. Harrison can knock down jumpers with regularity from beyond the arc. He also hits pull-ups and finishes acrobatic shots in the lane. He shoots over smaller defenders and is capable of putting up big numbers in a short period of time.
Andrew Harrison PG/SG (Houston/Strake Jesuit): This combination guard has great size and strength. Like his brother, Andrew can play both guard positions. He is a terror with the ball in his hands; Harrison can make scoring plays for himself or make others better with his drive and quick and deep dribble penetration. He plays in attack mode on every catch and can hit 3s off the catch or dribble when he is not in the lane finishing at the rim.
Kasey Hill, PG/SG (Eustis, Fla./Mount Dora Bible School): Hill attacks the basket with his great first step and matching speed and quickness. The 6-1 guard simply gets to the rim at will, where he can finish over or around taller defenders with either hand and tremendous body control. He has the ball on a string and possesses excellent court vision. Hill must work to improve his jumper but all other areas of his game are right on schedule for Hill to be considered a special player.
Kuran Iverson, G/F (Windsor, Conn./Northwest Catholic): Iverson is an incredible young talent with tremendous upside. He is a 6-7 guard with all the physical tools -- length, quickness, athleticism and agility. He handles and creates for himself and others like a point guard, shoots it pretty well when his feet are set, sees the floor and plays above the rim.
Goodluck Okonoboh PF (Boston/Tilton School): Alex Oriakhi's first cousin has many of the same physical skills -- including the explosiveness to block shots and finish in traffic -- and he has shown them in just his freshman season against kids four or five years his senior. Offensively, the 6-7 Okonoboh has some face-up skills, giving him intriguing mismatch potential down the road.
Jabari Parker, SF (Chicago/Simeon): Parker is a jack of all trades. He has a big body but is skilled enough to play every position on the floor except for point guard (though he could play point forward at 6-6). He is a solid ball handler and a decent shooter to 18 feet. Parker is a solid rebounder and a good passer with a good basketball IQ.
Roschon Prince, SG (Long Beach, Calif./Poly): Prince is one of the best-looking prospects out west for his class. He has that prototypical wing-type frame, with long arms, and he's very bouncy. He played football in the fall, which hurt his skill development, but his savvy is beyond his years. He plays both ends very well and has a real knack for this game. He explodes in transition and is a very good rebounder. If he can tighten up his stroke and perimeter handle, he'll be an excellent shooting guard prospect.
Julius Randle, PF (Dallas/Prestonwood Christian): Standing at 6-7, 225 pounds, Randle is a very athletic and powerful low-post player. He is a lefty who has developing post moves. Randle is reminiscent of a young Chris Webber at the same stage. He has limited range on his shot right now but he scores well inside 10 feet, mostly on dunks.
Noah Vonleh, SF, (Georgetown, Mass./Haverhill High School): While still fairly raw, Vonleh has the tools to project as a major prospect down the road. A 6-5 swingman with huge hands and feet, he appears to still be growing. He's a natural slasher with terrific instincts on both ends of the floor. Vonleh must continue to develop his perimeter skills, especially his jumper.
Johnathan Williams III, SF (Memphis/Southwind): Williams is as talented as any prospect in the 2013 class. His combination of size, skills, athleticism and basketball IQ is what separates him from his peers and makes this young man special. The left-hander draws a favorable comparison to a young Lamar Odom with his ability to play all five positions on the court. This young player's development should be exciting to watch; if he stays hungry and humble, the sky's the limit.