|Class of 2016: Shooting Guards|
Written by: Prospect-Central
Even though the 2012-13 high school basketball season is a long ways away, Prospect-Central has put together a "Freshmen Watch List" for some players that might make an immediate impact come the fall. While there's no guarantee any of these players will live up to their high billing, it's safe to say more than a few should perform very well during their freshmen year of high school basketball.
There are ten players chosen and fifteen honorable mentions for point guards, shooting guards and small forwards. Since "True" centers are so hard to come by, power forwards and centers are lumped into one position. While the players are labeled a certain position, some of them will probably play different positions depending on what their high school team needs. Many of these players are still growing, so that will change the position they play as well.
As always, there are many more players worth mentioning, but unfortunately there has to be some snubs. While I'm not exactly sure if some of the ballers featured will play up to their potential or not, I do know the Class of 2016 is extremely talented and by the time they graduate high school should be one of the better basketball classes from the past decade. Below are twenty-five freshmen shooting guards from the Class of 2016. Names are in no particular order. At the end of the article click for the other players on Prospect-Central's Class of 2016 Freshmen Watch List.
Click NAMES for Videos!!!
JOSHUA LANGFORD sg/sf / 6'5'' 205 / Huntsville, AL
There might be some debate as to who the best players are from the Class of 2016, but there's no debating who the best prospect is from the state of Alabama, Joshua Langord!!! Might be the top scorer in the entire class as well. Can score in the post, off the dribble-drive, or the catch-and-shoot. Despite his large physique, Langford is extremely explosive off the bounce. Gets to the rim with ease and finishes through contact. Improved ball handler and passer who's more than capable of handling pressure defenses. Excellent rebounder for his position and is willing to do whatever it takes to win. Very high motor and never takes a play off. Plays his AAU ball for the Atlanta Celtics as well as Team Penny (coached by Anfernee Hardaway). Langford will attend Madison Academy (Madison, AL) for his freshman year of high school and should make an immediate impact from the rip. If college coaches are smart, they would have offered him a scholarship yesterday.
MUSTAPHA HERON sg/sf / 6'5'' 190 / Meriden, CT
A rising prospect out of the Nutmeg State, Mustapha Heron's game is just like his dreads...Long!!! The southpaw seems to have a polished perimeter game for his age, displaying a very effective pull-up jumper. Utilizes his length against smaller players very well, while relying on his ball handling and quickness against larger opponents. Does a terrific job starting the fast break from rebounding. Solid athlete who finishes above the rim. Confident player that doesn't appear to get rattled very easily. Started his AAU career with the Gauchos (New York, NY) and now plays on the 17U Connecticut Basketball Club despite only being 14-years-old. Will attend Capitol Prep (Andre Drummond's 1st high school) come the fall. With Mustapha Heron on the squad, I'm sure his high school coach will be singing "Hakuna Matata!!!"
NYRHIQUE SMITH sg / 6'2'' 175 / Asbury Park, NJ
Cool as the other side of the pillow is a perfect way to describe the game of Brick City's own NyRhique Smith. A silky smooth baller with the vision and ball handling of a point guard and the scoring instincts of a shooting guard. Able to get to the rack almost effortlessly. More crafty than explosive with a well rounded offensive repertoire. Solid mid-range game with the ability to stroke the 3-ball. Excellent basketball IQ. Uses his length quite effectively on the defensive side of the ball as well. Plays for the New Jersey Playaz on the AAU circuit and is considering attending St. Anthony's, St. Benedict's, St. Peters Prep & Hudson Catholic. NyRhique Smith is definitely a freshman to keep an eye on.
The younger brother of New Orleans Hornets star Eric Gordon has really begun to step out of his older brothers shadow. Already possessing a gown mans physique, Eron is a physical guard with a solid skill-set and excellent athleticism. His father Eron Gordon, Sr. said Eron is actually a better player than Eric was at the same stage. His brother likes what he sees as well. Eric said, "He has a better knack for scoring than I did. He can give you 25, 30 points in many different ways. He hits the jump shot. He takes the ball to the basket. He's got a mid-range game. He really mixes it up." While that may be true, Eron's jumper is still a work in progress, as he's currently trying to fix the release point of his shot. He can definitely stroke it, but his form somewhat resembles Shawn Marion's. Plays his AAU ball for the Eric Gordon All-Stars (go figure) and he'll be attending Indiana's powerhouse North Central High in the fall. Already has two scholarship offers from Indiana & Purdue. The future is extremely bright for the young Eron Gordon.
TYUS BATTLE sg / 6'4'' 175 / Edison, NJ
The "Kid Mamba" is yet another player emerging from Brick City ready to make some serious noise his freshman year of high school. Tyus Battle is a smooth guard who's terrific at getting in the lane and creating for himself or his teammates. Has an instinctive feel for the game to go along with his excellent physical attributes. Has nice range on his jumper and can finish above the rim. Outstanding work ethic with a great mental approach to the game. Needs to add some weight to his frame, but that should come with time. Plays his AAU ball with both the 16U Team Final squad as well as the 16U New Jersey Road Runners. Tyus was going to attend Gill St. Bernard's School his freshman year, but has decided to keep his options open. Wherever he ultimately ends up, he should be able to contribute from day one. Likes the idea of wearing Carolina Blue one day and he's definitely on pace to making that a reality.
MARK VITAL sg / 6'3'' 180 / Lake Charles, LA
Flying out of the Bayou and I do mean flying, is the athletic Mark Vital. With his tight handles, quick first step and tremendous hops, Mark is a highlight reel waiting to happen. He's terrific at slashing to the rim and truly excels in transition. Creates good separation from defenders with his explosiveness. While he tends to rely on his athleticism to score, he has shown a nice 17 foot pull-up jumper and the ability to make plays in a half-court setting. Appears to be a solid on the ball defender as well. He does need to work on his left hand though, as he tends to go right too often. Plays his AAU ball with Southern Elite and he'll attend Washington Marion High School (Lake Charles, LA) his freshman year. If he continues to develop his overall game, Mark Vital should be another nice prospect from the Class of 2016.
ADRIAN MOORE sg / 6'4'' 180 / Conway, AR
When you start dunking a basketball in the 6th grade, it's safe to assume you're going to be decent athlete. Calling Adrian Moore a decent athlete would be an understatement however. Very explosive leaper who plays well above the rim, Moore has the size and quickness to play either guard position. Shows a solid mid-range game and rebounds well for his position. Underrated defender who plays good on ball defense. Adrian needs to tighten up his handle, but he has an excellent work ethic so I'm sure that will come with time. Plays on possibly the best 14U AAU team in the nation Dunk Dog Elite. Should contribute right away at Conway High School. Scott Drew and Baylor University have been sending Adrian recruiting letters since the 7th grade and there are a number of other big-time college programs interested as well.
DEVONTE GREEN sg / 6'3'' 180 / Manhasset, NY
The brother of former UNC Tar Heel and current San Antonio Spur Danny Green, Devonte is originally from the Class of 2015, so he's slightly older than some of the other players featured. That really shouldn't matter though because he can flat out get buckets. He's got a sweet stroke with range out to the arc. Does a nice job creating space and getting his shot off in traffic. Excellent at using his ball handling, speed and quickness to get in the lane and create plays for himself or his teammates. Solid athleticism and finishes above the rim. Pretty good defender as well. Plays his AAU ball for Team Scan and last year as an 8th grader played high school basketball for Our Savior New American (Centereach, NY). He actually had a nice season despite still being in middle school and I imagine he'll play even better this year. Would like to follow in his brothers footsteps and eventually attend UNC.
There really isn't too much the Missouri native can't do on the basketball court. A multi-dimensional baller with terrific length, Jayson Tatum is capable of playing either guard position as well as on the wing (which is probably the position he'll mainly play). Has an exceptional basketball IQ and a nice feel for the game. Does a good job creating plays for himself or his teammates off the dribble-drive. Rebounds well for his position and can knock down an open jumper. Once he adds a bit more athleticism to his game, there's no telling how good Jayson can become. If he doesn't grow anymore (which isn't likely), I can see him being like Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams to some degree. Plays his AAU ball for W.I.T.T.S. Elite and will attend Chaminade Prep (St. Louis, MO) his freshman year (even though his father Justin Tatum is the head coach of nearby Soldan High School). Dreams of being a Buckeye one day, and if I was Thad Matta, I'd have a scholarship ready and waiting.
JAKOLBY LONG sg / 6'4'' 185 / Edmond, OK
A solid looking baller from the Sooner State, Jakolby Long is considered by many as the best prospect from Oklahoma in the Class of 2016. Always an excellent slasher, Jakolby is really starting to develop his perimeter game as well. His ball handling and jumper are beginning to tighten up as he displays the versatility needed to play either guard position. Very good at creating penetration and finishing through contact. Shows a willingness to pass the ball. Does a nice job using his length on both sides of the floor and his athleticism seems to be steadily improving. Jakolby plays his AAU ball for Athletes First and over the next four years should be a name heard about quite often on the Oklahoma high school basketball scene.
JAMES "MJ" WALKER sg/sf / 6'4'' 195 / Rex, GA
MALIK CROWFIELD sg / 6'4'' 175 / LaPlace, LA
UNIQUE McLEAN sg / 6'2'' 175 / Brooklyn, NY
REGGIE GARDNER sg / 6'3'' 175 / Bowie, MD
ZACK NORVELL sg / 6'4'' 175 / Chicago, IL
MALIK MONK sg / 6'3'' 180 / LePanto, AR
A.J. LAWSON sg / 6'4'' 175 / Bryan, TX
KOBI' JORDAN-SIMMONS sg / 6'4'' 170 / Alpharetta, GA
KWE'SHAUN PARKER sg / 6'2'' 175 / Fayetteville, NC
DEANDRE HUNTER sg / 6'4'' 170 / Philadelphia, PA
NICHOLAS SHEROD sg / 6'3'' 175 / Richmond, VA
DRAKE DAVIS sg/sf / 6'4'' 195 / Baton Rouge, LA
TRACEY BURNETT sg / 6'3'' 175 / Huntsville, AL
TYONE MALONE sg / 6'4'' 180 / Springfield, MA
CHRISTIAN ELLIS sg / 6'3'' 185 / Tracy, CA
FRESHMEN WATCH LIST
POWER FORWARDS / CENTERS