The NBA is a very successful business. Every year, ESPN and other websites rank recruits. Eventually, these recruits are signed by a top basketball program and drafted within a year or two. The following players have been ranked very highly; therefore, they have earned spots on top programs across the country. Looking back on previous High School rankings, they are actually pretty predictive of future talent. For example, the 2013 High School class featured Andrew Wiggins at 1, Jabari Parker at 2, and Julius Randle at 3. In 2011, the top prospects were Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond. Clearly, these players have developed into NBA talent and they were scouted correctly since 9th grade.
High school players do not just become notable in that time period. Since middle school, many athletes are already scouted; LeBron James was receiving phone calls and bribes since he was in the 7th grade. The recruiting process is not always respected, but it yields successful professional talent. Every year college coaches, whether Coach K or Bill Self, flock to gymnasiums to see young talent out perform other athletes in the athletes hometown. This list encompasses my predictions and thoughts on the top High School basketball players in the country. Let's start at 15.
15 Nick Richards
The Kentucky signee is 6-11 and 239 pounds. Hailing from Queens, NY, Richards attended The Patrick School. He is an athletic center who had offers from Syracuse and also Arizona. After watching his hoop mixtape, he shows a lot of promise. Richards is versatile and can play big in the paint: after all, he is nearly 7 feet tall. While many people claim the age of the big man is over, there will always be an NBA need for tall guys who can move around the court well. Richards can play aggressively and body defenders down low. Look for him to be a Kentucky weapon in the next year, or two, and count on him being a lottery pick at some point in the very near future.
14 Troy Brown Jr.
Brown shows real promise. He is a 6-7 forward who succeeded at Centennial High School. He can post up well and shoot from the perimeter. Troy will be playing on Oregon next year, but he yielded offers from Ohio State, Alabama, Kansas, Georgetown, Arizona, California, and the college in his hometown of Las Vegas: UNLV. Brown will look to become an immediate contributor on the Oregon team after a big year for the program. He shows good athleticism and can drive the ball well. Additionally, look for Brown to be dunking the ball a lot. With the right mentors and coaches, Troy Brown will be a top draft pick within no time. Until then, just remember that I said so.
13 Billy Preston
Kansas was smart to offer Preston a spot on the team. At 6-10, Billy is a beast. He attended Oak Hill Academy, also known as the breeding ground for top NBA talent. In case you live under a rock, Oak Hill has brought the NBA some serious talent; Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, Josh Smith, Stephen Jackson, Brandon Jennings, Michael Beasley, and yeah, Kevin Durant went to Oak Hill. Preston appears to have good handles for someone of his height.
He is crafty and has the ability to race away from defenders, whether down low or just in terms of a step back for a shot. He has serious potential and should be great help to Bill Self's offensive and defensive approach.
12 Lonnie Walker
Walker reminds me of Justin Jackson. The 6-4 guard got offers from Villanova, Syracuse, Kentucky, and Arizona, but he ultimately choose University of Miami. Walker is already being projected as a top 10 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by various websites. He shows maturity and has great speed. According to many he is the "real deal" and possesses talent that people see as similar to Mario Chalmers or Tony Parker. Regardless of speculation, he appears to have some sick moves and a unique ability of driving to the basket. All too often, NBA players fall back into a shooting mode. Lonnie is a true guard and can dish out a sweet pass if he needs to. Look for Adam Silver to call his name very soon.
11 Brandon McCoy
Brandon McCoy is near 7 feet; standing at 6-11, McCoy will attend UNLV next fall. While he may be a little frail, McCoy has great size for both ends of the court. Offensively, he has a nice down low touch. Defensively, he can both offenses and block shots easily. He has a good form on his jump shot, something not always noticeable by big men. McCoy can make shots from mid-range and he possesses an ability to be able to run fairly quickly down the court during a fast break. For a big man, he is known to have good handles. McCoy will be an immediate impact for a failing UNLV program and a star player for a program that needs help.
10 Kevin Knox
The 6-9 forward will be a nice addition to the Kentucky team next fall. The Tampa Catholic High alum will most likely be drafted next year. According to projections, he already being thought of as an immediate impact and lottery pick. He received an offer from Duke, but seems to have felt more compelled to go skip out on Coach K's offer. He is a versatile big man. Knox has a smooth shot and can dribble very well.
He can slow down a game or speed it up just as quickly; Knox is good at controlling a game and making sure his teammates and him are on the same wavelength. He is a good passer and an accurate outlet passer. Knox is a strong defender.
9 Mitchell Robinson
Robinson will play for Western Kentucky next year. While the top recruit possesses extreme skill, he got offers from lower level schools; Western Kentucky, of course, DePaul, Massachusetts, Murray State, and Texas A&M. Either way, ESPN considers him the 10th best Senior in the world, so I wouldn't doubt him one bit. Robinson is 6-11 and he can do a lot on the court. The McDonalds All American is ranked 1st in the state of New Orleans and 3rd for his position globally. He plays great defense and can lock down defenders pretty well. For his height, he is not frail; Robinson seems to have worked out a lot in High School. While Western Kentucky may be irrelevant, look for them to make the NCAA Tournament and potentially win a game or two.
8 Jaren Jackson Jr.
Currently projected as the 7th pick in next year's NBA Draft, Jaren Jackson should be an immediate impact player for Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans. He is 6-11 and shows unbelievable potential. Jackson can shoot the ball very well and can even make the three ball. At his height, he completely defies what his position is supposed to be. Jackson is also very physical. He can body defenders down low and score in any way if he needs to. He was known to be readily available for many Alley-oop's in college, and he looks to be ready for the next level. He is the son of former NBA Player Jaren Jackson and is being compared to a taller version of Chris Bosh.
7 Gary Trent Jr.
The 6-5 guard, like Jackson, is the son of Gary Trent, the former NBA player. His son, on the other hand, seems to have a better shot at succeeding at the professional level. Trent is scheduled to play on the Duke squad next fall and will look to build on his shooting skills with Coach K. He got offers from Arizona, Kentucky, and other good programs, but the Minnesota boy chose Duke. He has a good wingspan and can shoot from virtually anywhere on the court, within reason.
Trent is a good passer and a solid rebounder. Look for Coach K to use him early on in the season, as he seems to have potential to be a star player within the first one or two seasons.
6 Colin Sexton
Sexton is an athletic and promising 6-2 guard. He will play at Alabama next year and attended Pebblebrook High School. He is a very good defender. In his senior season, Sexton once recorded 7 steals in one game. He shows immense maturity and received an offer from Coach Roy Williams at the University of North Carolina Chapel-Hill. Roy usually only gives scholarships to players ranked lower, because he knows the top guys just want to play straight in the NBA. Sexton has great scoring and passing abilities and reminds a lot of folks of Goran Dragic. Within one-two years, Sexton will be in the NBA. After that, I will just say "I told you so". His maturity and care for the game gives him great potential.
5 Trevon Duval
Duke did very well in this past recruiting class. Not only did they get Sexton, but they got Duval. The fact that Coach K captured the ESPN 4/5 ranked players is priceless. Duval is a guard, like Sexton, and is explosive. He has a 6-8 wingspan, but is only 6-2. He can control a game and get to the rim easily. Even though he is young, scouts are considering that he is similar to NBA guard Jeff Teague. Duval can play up on bigger defenders and is very assertive on the defensive post. He can rebound very well for a 6-2 guard and looks to be have insane potential. According to ESPN and other websites, Duval should be a household name very soon. Is this true? Maybe, but let's give him some time. Either way, I trust that he can make a legitimate impact soon.
4 Wendell Carter
Carter attended Pace Academy. After receiving offers from Georgia, Alabama, Georgia Tech, and even Harvard, Carter decided to go with Duke. He is 6-10, 260 pounds, and he has a 7-3 wingspan. Carter is a good dunker and great help to guards on a fast break. He cuts very well down low and shot 70% from the field in the Nike EYBL game. Wendell is an aggressive defender, but he can foul a little too much.
It seems Duke has dominated this draft class. While Coach K may be unhappy with how the past year has turned out, he will have a cushion to lean back on. Carter is a leader and a mature athlete who can immensely help his teammates around him.
3 DeAndre Ayton
The 7 foot center is ranked 99 overall by many recruiting websites. He has fantastic coordination and is very stable in the post. Ayton received offers from virtually everywhere but decided to sign with University of Arizona. He has nice strength and even better footwork. He shot 82.1% from the free throw line in the Nike EYBL game and is a reliable down court presence. Ayton can make accurate passes and be a team leader. He is good at communicating with his teammates and being available for a down low layup or dunk. Ultimately, he is a good shot at being a top 3 NBA pick very soon and will look to impress Wildcats fans next year. Look for Ayton next fall.
2 Michael Porter Jr.
Porter burst onto the scene as a top recruit in middle school. In 10th grade, he lit up the internet with unbelievable dunks. He decided to sign with Missouri, something unlikely of the number 1 recruit in the country. He received offers from Indiana, Oklahoma, and Virginia, but ultimately Nathan Hale High School and him decided Missouri was a good fit for him. He 6-10 but plays the court short. Porter has been compared to Joe Johnson and Kevin Durant. He has a great stroke and can shoot the ball nicely. In the Nike EYBL game, he shot 81.2% from the free throw. He is an efficient scorer and is ranked 100 on NBADraft.net. Next year, he is likely the number 2 or number 1 pick, and possesses immense maturity.
1 Mohamed Bamba
Since I am from the Philadelphia region, I saw Bamba at a local grocery store. The guy is really nice. But I don't mean to talk about his off the court character, as important as it is to professional success. Bamba has an insane reach. At 7 feet tall, he is very coordinated. Bamba is a menace in the paint and can block shots amazingly. He will attend Texas, but received offers from Duke, Michigan, and Kentucky. He is being compared to Marcus Camby in any ways, by scouts. Mohamed led the Nike game with 13.9 RPG and shot efficiently at 63.8% from the field.
Bamba will be a great help to a so-so Texas team. The Longhorns are very excited to have him and he will be an immediate relief for the team. Bamba will be an NBA stud. When he is, read this article. Just remember.