[color]LAGUNA NIGUEL, CA[/color] – The best prospect in the high school Class of 2012 I saw over the course of late last spring and June through August was a near-absurdly powerful and explosive post player.
Of course, by the time the fall rolled around Andre Drummond was enrolled at the University of Connecticut and, deep into the winter, was showing off the same kind of rim-shaking dunks in a Husky uniform that he turned loose on overmatched preps on the camp- and travel ball-circuit last summer.
Drummond’s decision to bypass another year of prep school, become a college freshman and – with relatively certainty – find himself one of the first three selections in the 2012 NBA Draft stripped the Class of 2012 of its most imposing element.
Don’t fret, though – Drummond was far from the only player whose on-court work during the summer impressed the heck out of me.
And, for point of reference, I’m not easily impressed.
After all, I’ve seen 95 percent – give or take a percent in either direction – of every outstanding player, as a prep, from the late 1970s to the present.
Yep. That includes fellows such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Isiah Thomas, James Worthy, LeBron James, Amare Stoudemire, Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
Will any of the following 15 players that made up my “All-Summer/2011” cut eventually become guys whose names will fall into that aforementioned group?
Check back with me in four or five years . . .
As for the criteria for the “All-Summer/2011” squad, any player that was currently enrolled in a U.S. high school or prep school that I saw in person from Memorial Day Weekend (the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League in Los Angeles) to the Elite Hoops 24 Hoops Classic (on Venice Beach) in late August was eligible.
That’s simple enough, right?
Here we go, then, with players listed in three groups of five – with my estimation of their height (sorry, I’m always leery of the sizes listed on rosters) along with their high school or prep school, the travel team they played for and the events at which I evaluated them:
*Andre Drummond (6-9+, Middletown, CT, St. Thomas More/Connecticut Basketball Club)
Where I saw him: Pangos All-American Camp/adidas Super 64/adidas Nations
My thoughts: Depending on how motivated he is – or how motivated NBA decision makers believe he is – he very well could be the first player selected in the next NBA Draft. If it is really important to him, he could be a player in the mold of Amare Stoudemire and Blake Griffin.
*Marcus Smart (6-3+, Flower Mound, TX, Marcus/Texas Assault)
Where I saw him: adidas Super 64
My thoughts: He was the best floor leader, one of the toughest-minded competitors and as good a perimeter defender as I saw in July as he led his Texas Assault squad to the adidas Super 64 at Rancho High in North Las Vegas. I think he’s the best point guard prospect in the Class of 2012, although others think he’s more suited to play off the ball. Signed with: Oklahoma State.
*Kyle Anderson (6-8, Jersey City, NJ, St. Anthony/New Jersey Playaz)
Where I saw him: Nike Elite Basketball Youth League (L.A.)/Las Vegas Fab 48/adidas Nations/Elite 24 Hoops Classic
My thoughts: What some may mistake for “slow” or “too casual” are really the fluidity and the no-wasted-motion approach from the best passer in the senior class, from either the point, wing or post. Signed with: UCLA.
*Jabari Parker (6-7, Chicago, IL, Simeon/Mac Irvin All-Stars)
Where I saw him: Nike EBYL (L.A.)/Las Vegas Fab 48
My thoughts: The consensus of thought is that he’s the best prospect in the Class of 2013 and you can count me among that consensus (although there a few other juniors among these 15 players that I believe aren’t far behind him). There isn’t much he can’t do very well on a court. I’d be surprised if he isn’t wearing a Duke uniform during the 2013-14 season.
*Shabazz Muhammad (6-5, Las Vegas, NV, Bishop Gorman/Dream Vision)
Where I saw him: Pangos All-American Camp/adidas Super 64/Elite 24 Hoops Classic
My thoughts: The most prolific – and relentless – scorer anywhere on the high school level. He borders on the nearly impossible to contain once he has the ball in the low post or within 15 feet of the rim and he is 1-on-1 with a defender. I’ve a hunch he’ll be playing for UNLV or UCLA a year from now.
*Aaron Gordon (6-7+, San Jose, CA, Mitty/Oakland Soldiers)
Where I saw him: Nike EBYL (L.A.)/Pangos All-American Camp/Las Vegas Fab 48
My thoughts: Clearly the best junior in the western portion of the U.S. of A! His strength, explosiveness and enthusiasm for attacking the rim are such that the Blake Griffin comparisons will likely be running amok this spring and summer.
*Marcus Paige (6-2, Marion, IA, Linn-Marr/All-Iowa Attack)
Where I saw him: Nike EBYL (L.A.)/Pangos All-American Camp/Elite 24 Hoops Classic
My thoughts: The lefty is as “pure” a point guard as there is in the national senior class. He’ll draw a lot of comparison with another left-handed playmaker of note – Kendall Marshall of the University of North Carolina – but he’s not as big as the Tar Heel and is a much better jump shooter and, potentially, defender. Signed with: North Carolina.
*Samuel Dekker (6-7, Sheboygan, WI, Lutheran/Wisconsin Playground Warriors)
Where I saw him: adidas Super 64
My thoughts: One of my favorite surprises of the July evaluation period. He peppered his performances in Las Vegas with mid- to deep-range jumpers – off the dribble or catch – and rim-loosening, high-flying, long-gliding dunks. He could be the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year in March of next year. Signed with: Wisconsin.
*Ishmail Wainright (6-5+, Rockville, MD, Montrose Christian/Kansas City 76ers)
Where I saw him: Las Vegas Fab 48/Pump-N-Run Best of Summer (Anaheim, CA)
My thoughts: Other than Marcus Smart, I didn’t see a player who did more – at both ends of the floor – to help his team win than this guy. He guarded everyone from point guards to centers while helping the 76ers win titles in Las Vegas and Anaheim and his team’s offense always flowed from his decision making.
*Rasheed Sulaimon (6-2+, Houston, TX, Strake Jesuit/Houston Hoops)
Where I saw him play: Nike EBYL (L.A.)/Elite 24 Hoops Classic
My thoughts: There wasn’t a jump shooter I like better in the summer – he get’s NBA-caliber lift on the shot with NBA 3-point-caliber range as well. He has the ability to be a top-flight defender. Signed with: Duke.
*Yogi Ferrell (5-11, Indianapolis Park Tudor/Spiece Indy Heat)
Where I saw him: adidas Super 64/adidas Nations
My thoughts: He had the best combination of jump shoot and quickness with the ball among all of the point guards I saw in the summer. He’s easily the key member of Tom Crean’s recruiting class. Signed with: Indiana.
*Andrew Harrison (6-4, Richmond, TX, Ford Bend Travis/Houston Defenders)
Where I saw him: adidas Nations/Elite 24 Hoops Classic
My thoughts: Until another player can convince me otherwise, this half of the best set of twins (with Aaron) is the best “point guard-type” in the Class of 2013. He can get the ball just about anywhere he wants it off the dribble, at any time and against any defender.
*Grant Jerrett (6-9, La Verne, CA, Lutheran/Belmont Shore)
Where I saw him: Pangos All-American Camp/Las Vegas Fab 48/Elite 24 Hoops Classic
My thoughts: Possesses the best footwork and low-post savvy of any power forward/center-type on the high school hoops right now. Some observers in Southern California would like to compare him to Tim Duncan. I’ll be a tad more conservative than that and say he reminds me a lot of Spencer Hawes when the Philadelphia 76ers’ starting center was a McDonald’s All-American at Seattle Prep High before spending a season with the University of Washington Huskies. Signed with: Arizona.
*Nerlens Noel (6-9, Tilton NH, Tilton Prep/Boston Area Basketball Club)
Where I saw him: Nike EBYL (L.A.)/Elite 24 Hoops Classic
My thoughts: Negates the interior offense of any team he takes the court against – truly one of the outstanding shot blockers to come down the pike in several years. Age-wise, he should be a high school senior but will be back terrorizing overmatched prep big men a year from now as a member of the Class of 2013.
*Anthony Bennett (6-7, Henderson, NV, Findlay Prep/Dream Vision)
Where I saw him: Nike EBYL (L.A.)/Pangos All-American Camp/adidas Super 64/Elite 24 Hoops Classic
My thoughts: The most powerful – in the sense of sheer strength and vertical explosiveness – of the “combo forwards” in the Class of 2012. He’s a much better jump shooter than many realize. The import from Canada is expected to sign with UNLV or the University of Florida in the spring.
Frank Burlison is one of the most respected basketball writers and basketball talent evaluators in the anywhere. He’s an original (1978) member of the McDonald’s All-American Selection/Advisory Committee and was inducted into the United States Basketball Writers’ Association Hall of Fame during the 2005 Final Four in St. Louis. You can catch his writing, player evaluations and comments on the sport – on all levels – at www.BurlisonOnBasketball.com and via his Twitter account – FrankieBur. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org