Harrison Barnes, 6-7, Small Forward, Ames High School, 2010
Joe Jackson, 5-11, Point Guard, White Station High School, 2010
Jackson is about as aggressive a point guard as youll find, as hes constantly looking for an angle to get to the basket. Hes outstanding in transition, but is also a terrific shot-creator in the half-court, showing tremendous ability to change speeds, and excellent ball-handling skills on top of that. He can get to almost anywhere he wants on the floor, driving either left or right, and being extremely flashy with the ball, often finishing with pretty floater or an emphatic dunk. He is clearly one of the premier scorers at the high school level, and should be able to translate that to the college level as well thanks to his athleticism, instincts and skill-level.
Jacksons aggressiveness looking for scoring opportunities comes at a cost, though, as he appears to have a serious case of tunnel vision once he starts driving the lane, and often looks quite selfish ignoring open teammates. He goes through too many possessions where he is the only one on his team touching the ball, and is prone to taking some very bad shots. Hes clearly much more of a combo guard at this stage than a true point, although you cant argue with his productivity.
As a shooter, Jackson is somewhat of a mixed bag, as on one hand he shows an excellent mid-range game, pulling up sharply off the dribble, but hes quite streaky with his feet set from the perimeter. Hell need to improve this part of his game at the college level, as he wont be able to make a living at this diminutive size as a slasher the way he does in high school.
Defensively, Jackson can be an absolute pest when he puts his mind to it, moving his feet exceptionally well and doing a great job staying in front of his matchup. He comes up with plenty of steals and even a handful of blocks, showcasing just how impressive an athlete he is. His poor size and frail frame limits his potential somewhat long-term, though, which is something well have to keep an eye on moving forward.
Talent-wise, there is no disputing the things Jackson brings to the table, although there are some question marks about whether or not he has the mentality to transition into being the type of player who makes his teammates better. Super athletic scorers like him are definitely en vogue these days, though, as players like Aaron Brooks and Louis Williams can confirm. Hes rumored to be leaning strongly to committing to his hometown school of Memphis, which would unquestionably be a huge get for incoming head coach Josh Pastner.
Kendall Marshall, 6-4, Point Guard, Bishop OConnell, 2010
Committed to North Carolina
Marshall is a point guard with very distinguished strengths and weaknesses. On one hand he has great size at around 6-4, but at the same time, he has an old mans body and a very poor wingspan. Marshalls feel for the game is off the charts, though, as he plays the game at an extremely unique pace, nothing like you would expect a 17-year old to. He shows outstanding court vision and creativity finding his teammates in transition and in the half-court, operating masterfully on the pick and roll, and being a very talented ball-handler. Hes a very sneaky slasher, showing very little in terms of explosiveness, but regardless able to get to where he needs to on the floor thanks to his terrific sense of timing and his understanding for how to utilize angles effectively.
Marshall shows a pretty ugly, flat-footed stroke from the perimeter, which has traditionally made him a very streaky shooter, but he seems to be able to just throw the ball into the basket thanks to his excellent touch. The progress he makes with this part of his game will likely go a long ways in deciding how good of a prospect he ends up being long-term.
Defensively, Marshall doesnt have much lateral quickness to speak of, but he again knows how to use his tremendous smarts and timing to get the job done.
It will be fascinating to see how Marshalls game translates to the college level, as it appears that he has a chance to be a very special player for Roy Williams at North Carolina, especially as he approaches his upperclassmen seasons. Marshall may not have the athleticism or upside to jump to the NBA as early as some of his counterparts in this class, which will probably be just fine by the Tar Heel faithful, and actually makes him a much more valuable get in the long-term. Watching him practice and interact with his teammates, it appears that Marshall has an excellent work ethic and all-around outstanding intangibles, which only adds to the picture.
DaJuan Coleman, 6-8, Center, Jamesville-Dewitt, 2012
Coleman stands out first and foremost thanks to his massive frame, which looks a lot more like that of a 25-year old than someone who is only 15. Hes carrying quite a bit of baby fat on him at this point (not a surprise considering his age), but is clearly a presence on both ends of the floor thanks to the natural strength he brings to the table. Coleman has excellent hands and pretty nice touch around the basket, showing a solid feel for operating inside, and not really looking out of place against (very highly touted) players who are two years older than him. Hes not much of an athlete at this point, lumbering noticeably up and down the floor, and not possessing much lift around the rim.
Whats interesting about Coleman is that he appears to be a very serious, intense young player, which really bodes well for his future. He competed extremely well and didnt back down from anyone, running the court as hard as he could, and really trying to throw his body around in the paint. Its still way too early to draw any long-term conclusions from what we saw, but if Coleman continues to grow and maintains that same intensity level we saw both here and at the LeBron James Skills Academy, he could have quite a future ahead of him.
Roscoe Smith, 6-7, SF/PF, Oak Hill Academy, 2010
Smith has a very narrow frame, but brings tremendous energy and solid athleticism to the table, being the type of player who fills up the stat-sheet with blocks, steals and offensive rebounds, while picking up plenty of baskets in transition in the process. He has excellent lateral quickness, allowing him to switch onto perimeter players with ease guarding the pick and roll, while also attacking the passing lanes and getting his hands on pretty much everything in his area. Clearly hes the type of player who has a nose for the ball.
Offensively, Smith likes to play primarily facing the basket, where he can attack his matchup with a very quick first step from the perimeter, getting to the rim with some very long strides, often to finish with a dunk. He fancies himself as being more of a small forward than a power forward at this point, and shows some questionable shot-selection forcing things somewhat from the perimeter, mainly in the form of hurried shots off the dribble. He does have decent form on his jumper, though, and should be able to develop his range in time.
Smith needs to continue to improve his ball-handling skills as well, as he at times looks a bit out of control with his dribble. His lack of strength also makes it difficult for him to finish around the basket on occasion. At times youll see Smith post up his man on the block somewhat , mostly to shoot turnaround jumpers or turn and get by his man thanks to his quickness.
On the other end of the floor, while Smith clearly fills up the stat-sheet, he often does it at the expense of his teams defense, as he tends to bite on pump-fakes and gambles excessively in the passing lanes. His fundamentals on this end could clearly stand to improve. He plays with a frenetic energy, though, which clearly rubs off on his teammates, and was about as vocal as youll find in the games we saw him playpounding his chest after every big play. No one is going to need to tell him to play hard once he gets to college, which is definitely a big plus.
A couple of the recruiting analysts we spoke with pointed out some concerns about potential red flags surrounding Smiths character, which may not be that much of a concern considering his age, but could be something to look out for moving forward.
Tony Wroten Jr., 6-4, PG/SG, Garfield, 2011
When at his best (such as at an epic showdown with the incredibly deep and talented Mac Irvin Fire AAU team, or against an equally imposing Memphis Magic Elite squad), Wroten looks like a cant miss prospect, one of the smartest and most creative prospects weve ever evaluated at the high school level. He sees plays developing on the court that many NBA point guards would miss, and surprises his teammates on a regular basis with incredible passes right into the heart of the defense for easy baskets.
On more than one occasion youll watch Wroten thread the needle with a bullet pass that doesnt appear to be anywhere close to anyone on his team, only to see a streaking teammate emerge at the very last moment to grab the ball and calmly lay it in. This ability to anticipate is an extremely special quality that could hint at a very promising future for this 16-year old, and probably shows up most often right now with his ability to get in the passing lanes, which he does at an amazing rate.
In addition to being able to make these magical plays on a whim, he is unique in the way hes able to make simple plays as well. When truly dialed in, Wroten plays the game at an outstanding pace, passing the ball ahead unselfishly in transition, making terrific post-entry passes, reading the floor constantly, and just showing a savvy that belies his age. His IQ is simply off the charts, as everything comes so easily for him, which may be part of the issue.
Mixed in with the good were plenty of bad moments this summer as well, which surely contribute to the general lack of enthusiasm you find amongst many recruiting analysts regarding his development these days. Wroten clearly isnt the most athletic guy in the world, and he could definitely stand to put in some work in the weight room in order to maximize his conditioning level.
Far more concerning though is the general apathy he shows in many games he participates in, particularly those where there isnt as much at stake. Wroten loves to compete under the bright lights, but when hes playing in just another ordinary game, he can look extremely average. In these moments hell try to do far too much with the ball in his hands, going one on one excessively and exposing his somewhat mediocre first step and near-non-existent right hand in the process. There are some concerns that he may have gotten too much hype too early in his career, which may be causing some red flags to emerge.
More than anything, though, Wroten needs to work on his shooting mechanics significantly, as he shoots a very flat, ugly jumper that gets very poor results. He can make some spot-up jumpers from time to time, but really doesnt have much of a mid-range game, which is sure to emerge as a much bigger issue later in his career as the competition stiffens.
Its going to be very interesting to see how Wrotens game continues to evolve over time, as there are many who feel like hes not improving at the same rate as some of his counterparts, which has caused him to drop somewhat in the recruiting rankings as of late. We personally cant ignore the amazing feel he brings to the tableshowing passing skills reminiscent of Deron Williams at timesbut its not hard to see where the criticism is coming from. Wroten cannot buy into his own hype at this stage in his development, as he still has a great deal of work left to put in before he reaches his full potential. It will be fascinating to evaluate his progress a year from now.
C.J. Leslie, 6-8, Power Forward, Word of God Christian Academy, 2010
Leslie has elite physical tools at his disposal, as he is a freakish athlete with length who is extremely versatile and active. He regularly outquicks opponents to the offensive glass, bouncing up and down off the floor like a pogo stick before anyone else can react, and making his presence felt as a shot-blocker as well for these same reasons. Leslie will grab a rebound and take the ball coast to coast himself, weaving in and out of traffic impressively in the process. Without the ball, hes capable of beating the entire opposing team up the floor in transition, only to finish with an emphatic jam at the rim. His body control and overall fluidity is extremely impressive, and definitely puts him in an elite class as far as physical attributes are concerned.
Leslie showed a propensity to post up his man in the paint, not displaying any incredible footwork, but looking quick and aggressive enough to get the job done. He played extremely hard throughout the scrimmage, something that has reportedly been an issue for him in the past, but looked like anything but in the short time we were able to evaluate him.
Leslie isnt a great shooter, but he does show potential in this areaif he continues to improve on this part of his game, he could be downright scary. Right now hes clearly stuck between the 3 and the 4 spots, but considering the direction the game is headed in, thats really not that much of an issue in this case. More concerning are the red flags that many recruiting analysts warn of, thoughhes reportedly not the smartest, serious or most focused guy in the world, but that is supposedly improving. Hopefully thats indeed the case, as his upside is truly off the charts if he can keep things together. It will be very interesting to see how things play out.
Josh Selby, 6-3, PG/SG, Lake Clifton, 2010
Selby is a scoring machine of a combo guardthink of a cross between Eric Gordon and Jerryd Bayless-- showing a narrow frame and somewhat short arms, but making up for it with tremendous athleticism and scoring instincts. He is about as intense a player as youll find on the offensive end, showing an insatiable hunger for putting the ball in the basket. He is a terrific slasher and shot-creator, possessing terrific speed in the open floor and excellent leaping ability, as well as great body control and the ability to change speeds and directions on the fly.
He can create his own shot at a very high level, and does a great job creating separation from his defender with his excellent pull-up jumper, also showing 3-point range on his shot. His mid-range game is extremely advanced for his age, and is indeed one of his best attributes. He creates and makes tough shots off the dribble with the greatest of ease, and also has a very nice floater in his arsenal he likes to go to if he cant just cram a dunk down the throat of his defender. He even showed a little bit of a post-up game, just further emphasizing his versatility as a scorer.
Selby is a tough guy who doesnt take no for an answer, playing the game with a chip on his shoulder, as if he has something to prove every time he steps on the court. While that is a great quality to have, it also gets him into trouble at times, as he tends to play by himself far more often than youd like. Selby tends to run into brick walls fairly regularly, being somewhat turnover prone and at times looking downright selfish. While billed as a point guard by most of the scouting services at this stage, he is clearly far more comfortable looking for his own shot than running a team, and probably would be better served playing off the ball at the college level if winning games is what his coaching staff is most interested in.
Selby can drive and dish and shows some raw ability to find teammates with nifty passes, but thats obviously not what hes most interested in doing. He shows questionable body language and distinct immaturity at times when he goes a possession or two without touching the ball, something that many have raised question marks about, as hes a fairly emotional guy and may be a little rough around the edges. Thats the kind of stuff you may be able to live with considering how talented a scorer Selby is, but is something to look out for moving forward.
Selby was initially committed to Bruce Pearl at Tennessee, but decided to reopen up his recruitment shortly after the LeBron James Skills Academy. He claims to be wide open at this point, with schools like Kentucky, Louisville and UConn rumored to be some of his most noteworthy suitors.