By Chris Le
The 2007 high school basketball recruiting class was one of the most talented and deepest in recent memory. A large handful of this year’s crop of incoming freshman will make an immediate impact—perhaps as much as the previous rookie class of Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr. and Kevin Durant. Okay, maybe that’s a little excessive. Last year’s freshmen class was top-heavy with once-in-a-generation type NBA prospects, but this season showcases a wide field of recruits with game-changing potential. These newcomers will definitely be in their respective teams’ starting lineups from day one and possibly some All-American lists by season’s end.
You won’t have any trouble remembering these names because you’ll be hearing them a lot in the upcoming months.
(In no particular order)
Derrick Rose, PG, Memphis – The very moment he steps on the court for his first college game, he becomes a top 5 point guard in the nation. He has a perfect blend of size (6’4”), speed and tops it all with freakish athleticism not commonly seen in a point. Think Dwyane Wade with more of a point guard’s mentality. A possible top 5 pick in the NBA draft. Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6G_RRGHzfA
Eric Gordon, SG, Indiana – Watch out. This kid can drop 30 points faster than Martina Hingis can erase a line of coke. He will instantly become among the most prolific scorers in the country with an assortment of offensive tools. Expect him to drive at will and make it hail from beyond the arc, even NBA range. Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNQRKsZYXZ8
OJ Mayo, PG, USC – While I’m not in love with his upside potential, he is, at the moment, an extremely developed player. Sort of a tweener—half point, half two guard—Mayo has vision coupled with a nifty knack for scoring. He won’t push USC into the National Championship game, but he’ll elevate the program into the national spotlight and, as he intended, become a star in the process. You gotta love Los Angeles. Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5gEcVYuC8I
Kevin Love, C, UCLA – Last year’s most dominant player in high school basketball brings his game to UCLA. With Love, the Bruins could have all the necessary elements to finally win a National Championship. Though he leaves much to be desired in terms of speed and explosiveness, he sucks in rebounds like a black hole, is unstoppable in the post and possibly the best outlet passer since Bill Walton. An instant double-double machine. Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxtiacYhWS0
Kyle Singler, SF, Duke – As a freshman, he becomes Duke’s best player. By all accounts, there isn’t anything Singler, who shared Oregon Player of the Year Honors with Kevin Love, can’t do. He’ll be all over the court this year and bring Duke back to prominence—and the Sweet 16. Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOrmXKJIbV0
Michael Beasley, PF, Kansas State – He may not have the name recognition of OJ Mayo or Kevin Love, but many analysts, including those at rivals.com, had Beasley as the number one prospect in the nation. The MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game, Beasley has an offensive arsenal comparable to Carmelo Anthony, and he may have the same impact at Kansas State as Anthony had at Syracuse. Hopes are high for K-State because of Beasley and fellow high-flying freshman Bill Walker. Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hYfDCxUX9I
Kosta Koufos, C, Ohio State – Koufos is given the unenviable task of filling the gargantuan shoes of Greg Oden. But if anyone can follow the Bill Russell clone, it’s Koufos, who isn’t quite the defensive wall that Oden was but is more polished offensively. At 7 feet, 230 pounds, Koufos has size to spare but has a soft touch and three-point range not often seen in a big. Without Koufos, Ohio State probably falls off the face of the planet; with him, they merely fall out of the top 25. Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCWR1bzG3rI
All images courtesy of Rivals.com