Saturday, July 30, 2011

High School Basketball Starting 5 for the 2011-2012 Season

ANDRE DRUMMOND: Class of 2011

Written by: Prospect-Central

Last week I wrote about my pre-season All-American teams for the high school classes of 2012 through 2015. This time I am compiling a team regardless of class.  This squad features 2 seniors, 2 juniors and 1 sophomore.  This team was formed by not only assessing their current play throughout the spring and summer, but also figuring in their future potential as well.  This team is a combination of how I think they will play this upcoming season as well as how I think they will project down the road.  No one category is weighted more than the other.  This is my subjective view of course, so feel free to disagree.  For anyone that knows high school basketball, they will notice one glaring omission from the team...Andre Drummond.  I left Drummond off this group of players because his future for this upcoming year is uncertain.  Without getting into the nitty gritty of details, Drummond has a slew of options which include playing over seas (highly doubtful), or even possibly entering college for the fall semester (Uconn is heavy favorite).  He also can return to St. Thomas More (or any other high school) for his post graduate degree.  What ever he decides to do, I have no idea, but he certainly would have been a selection for this team and more than likely will be the #1 pick in either the 2012 or 2013 NBA draft.  Anyways, without further a due, I give you high school basketball's starting 5 for the 2011-2012 season...otherwise known as the "DEF SQUAD!!!"

 TYUS JONES pg / 6'0'' 170 / Apple Valley, MN / So.
The point guard position was the most difficult position for me to choose.  There are only a few elite point guards in the nation deserving of this spot in my opinion, so it buckled down to not only their proven track record, but a "gut" instinct as well.  I might take some slack for this selection, but Tyus Jones will be my floor general for this team as of right now.  Tyus Jones is the definition of a point guard.  I watched him win a gold medal last month at the FIBA Americas U16 championship, where despite being one of the youngest players on the floor, he played extremely well.  When he is on the court, you know who is in charge, plain and simple.  He plays well beyond his sophomore status and has even drawn comparisons to Jason Kidd when he was in high school.  He is not as big as Kidd was, but the way he controls his team and uses his amazing court vision to get everyone involved, is really a sight for soar eyes and resembles a younger Kidd.  Along with his excellent court awareness and tremendous passing ability, Tyus is more than capable of scoring the rock.  He recently had a 41 and 32 point performance at the prestigious Nike EYBL AAU summer league a few weeks ago, and has shown signs of continuing that type of play.  Being a point guard however, his main responsibility is to make smart decisions and basically be the extension of the coach on the floor.  Tyus has displayed these characteristics and then some.  What Tyus Jones has shown so far in his short basketball career, has more than warranted him a spot on the "Def Squad".  On a side note, I was extremely close from choosing Andrew Harrison for the coveted starting point guard position.  Harrison is a Junior out of Fort Bend, TX. and currently the 8th ranked player in the class of 2013 by ESPN and my 5th ranked player.

SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD sg / 6'5'' 215 / Las Vegas, NV / Sr.
After the 2010-2011 high school basketball season ended, Shabazz Muhammad was considered to be one of the best scorers in the nation regardless of class.  Shabazz is a senior now and after his dominating performances throughout this summers AAU circuit (too many to mention), he is no longer considered one of the best scorers in high school...he IS the best scorer!!!  Listed as a small forward because of his size for the position at the high school level, Shabazz has honed his ball handling skills enough to where he can easily play the shooting guard position.  Even though he is predominantly left handed, his handle is still extremely tight and he is able to use it to get his shot off anywhere in the building.  And what a shot it is!!!  He has picture perfect form and can get hotter than Vegas in July.  He has a super quick first step which gives him the option to either take his defender to the hole where he finishes with authority or pull up for the quick J which is usually $$$$.  Besides his tremendous skill level and envious physical attributes, what truly sets Shabazz apart from from your normal star athlete is his excellent mental makeup and contagious work ethic.  You would think being rated the #1 player in the class of 2012 by Rivals would allow him to take his foot off the accelerator slightly.  If anything, it has done the opposite.  He is constantly in the gym or weight room trying to get bigger and better.  Because of his burning desire to improve coupled along with his tremendous talent, you can see why he has drawn Dwayne Wade and Kobe Bryant comparisons. It is a heated debate as to who the best player in the country is, Shabazz or Andre Drummond.  I don't think I have the "cojones" enough to go on record right now and say who will have the best pro career, but it would be hard for me to bet against Shabazz.  Currently projected as the #1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft, it is clear Shabazz Muhammad has all the tools necessary to become a superstar.

JABARI PARKER sf / 6'8'' 220 / Chicago, IL / Jr. 
The latest phenom to come out of the Chicago area and high school power house Simeon Career Academy, Jabari Parker is an absolute joy to watch and an extremely talented young basketball player.  It is simply astonishing that this young man is only 16 years old.  I am pretty sure there is not a college coach in America that wouldn't take Jabari on their team right now.  The versatile wing is about as polished as a high school basketball player can be.  He really excels in all facets of the game.  Your team needs a bucket...Jabari's your man.  Your team needs a defensive stop...Jabari gets a steal.  Your team needs a facilitator...there's Jabari with the assist.  It really doesn't matter what is asked of this young man, because like UPS, he delivers.  While Jabari was a dominant player during his sophomore year, he was no where near the level he is now.  Jabari has gotten much leaner since his season ended in March and subsequently is way more explosive than he once was.  This new found athleticism along with his all ready highly developed skill set, has shown players and coaches alike, that he is one of the best ballers in the nation.  Jabari recently won a gold medal at the FIBA Americas U16 championship where he was named MVP of the tournament.  Since then, he has been throwing up audacious numbers in all the regular AAU summer events, including the Nike EYBL and the Adidas Super 64.  Overall, Jabari Parker is an extremely gifted young basketball player and more than likely a future NBA lottery pick.

JULIUS RANDLE pf / 6'8'' 240 / Dallas, TX / Jr. 
The term "beast" is used far too often when describing an athlete who dominates his sport so physically and ferociously.  Well....I am guilty as charged because Julius Randle is a BEAST!!!  He is a physically imposing human being despite the fact he is only going into his junior year.  He can not only dominate a game by using his menacing strength and sheer force, but he is also blessed with a very nice skill set as well.  This rare combination of size, skill and athleticism has him drawing Chris Webber comparisons even before his first game as a junior.  I can't say I disagree with the comparison either.  When watching Julius play you can clearly see the similarities.  Julius imposes his will on his opponents like no other player in the high school game today.  Not only can he dominate on the low block with an assortment of post moves, he is a high flyer, who is more than capable of creating his own shot off the bounce.  He is also blessed with a nice shooting touch, as is evident by his excellent foul shooting (over 80%).  Julius recently attended the LeBron James Skills Academy, where he was regarded as the best high school prospect at the camp.  He has also been playing a number of AAU tournaments where he has not shown any signs of slowing down.  Julius Randle is yet another member of the "Def Squad" whose future has NBA lottery written all over it.

 MITCH McGARY pf/c / 6'10'' 250 / Chesterton, IN / Sr.
If you stopped following high school basketball around March, and this is the first thing you've read about the subject since then, I am sure you have no idea who Mitch McGary is.  Four months ago McGary was barely in ESPN's top 100 (78th) and now he is ranked 5th in the class of 2012 and is one of the hottest names in all of high school basketball.  He literally appeared from thin air like he was a magician performing a magic trick!!!  If you watch his game, it is clear why he sky rocketed up the rankings.  I know he is listed as a power forward, which I actually really like and think he will play at the next level because he is so agile for the position, but I had to get pf Julius Randle onto the "Def Squad".  Drummond was left off the team due to the previous mentioned reasons and McGary more than has the size to play the position, so I don't think it's too much of a stretch for him to be chosen at this spot.  Bottom line is I needed him on the team.  The "kid" (McGary is a year older than his senior class) possess a tremendous physique to go along with his superior athleticism, excellent ball handling, nice stroke and overall high basketball IQ.  You would be right to think that having all of these elite attributes would be enough for McGary to help mold himself into a legitimate NBA prospect.  The only problem is, I left out one crucial aspect of McGary's game...MOTOR!!!  I am not talking about a little V6 either.  When McGary plays, it is clear he is running with a V12 engine.  I cannot stress this enough, how much McGary's tenacity on both sides of the ball will take him to an elite status.  I have heard McGary draw Tyler Hansbrough comparisons.  While I don't entirely hate that comparison, McGary (legitimate 6'10'' almost 6'11'') is bigger than Tyler at 6'9'' and I feel more athletic than the current Pacer.  I know it's only an inch difference in height, but an inch that moves you from 6'9'' to 6'10'' is a BIG inch in the world of basketball.  It's one thing to have a tremendous motor when that's all you are working with and don't really have any skill or athleticism to back it up.  But when you are blessed with the gifted skill set and finesse McGary has, along with his elite size and excellent athleticism, there is no wonder why he is possibly considered as high as the #2 pick in the 2013 NBA draft.

ANDREW HARRISON pg / 6'5'' 205 / Houston, TX / Jr.

RODNEY PURVIS pg/sg / 6'4'' 185 / Raleigh, NC / Sr.

KYLE ANDERSON pg/sf / 6'8'' 215 / Fairview, NJ / Sr.

ISAIAH AUSTIN pf/c / 7'0'' 200 / Mansfield, TX / Sr.

NERLENS NOEL c / 6'10'' 215 / Everett, MA / Jr.

EMMANUEL MUDIAY pg / 6'3'' 175 / Arlington, TX / So.

CHRIS THOMAS sg / 6'5'' 190 / Denver, CO / Jr.

ALEX POYTHRESS sf / 6'7'' 220 / Clarksville, TN / Sr.

ANTHONY BENNETT pf / 6'8'' 230 / Brampton Ont., CAN / Sr.

KALEB TARCZEWSKI c / 7'0'' 225 / Claremont, NH / Sr.

ANTHONY BARBER pg / 6'2'' 165 / Hampton, VA / Jr.

RICARDO LEDO sg / 6'6'' 180 Providence, RI / Sr.

ANDREW WIGGINS sf / 6'7'' 210 / Toronto Ont., CAN / So.

AARON GORDON pf / 6'7'' 220 / San Jose, CA / Jr.

DaJUAN COLEMAN c / 6'10'' 280 / Dewitt, NY / Sr.

MARCUS PAIGE pg / 6'1'' 160 / Marion, IA / Sr.

ARCHIE GOODWIN sg / 6'5'' 180 / Little Rock, AR. / Sr.

DEVONTA POLLARD sf / 6'7'' 210 / De Kalb, MS / Sr.

JAHLIL OKAFOR pf/c / 6'9'' 260 / Chicago, IL / So.

DAKARI JOHNSON c / 6'10'' 250 New York, NY / So.

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