|Class of 2016: Small Forwards|
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 small forwards 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!!!
V.J. KING sf / 6'6'' 180 / Akron. OH
V.J. King is to basketball what William Shakespeare is to running, "Poetry in Motion!!!" A silky-smooth baller who's constantly under control, V.J.'s maturity on (and off) the basketball court is well beyond his years. While he has the ball handling and vision to play either guard position, he's probably most effective on the wing due to his length and ability to stretch the floor with his jumper. Has range well beyond the arc. Deceptive athleticism allows him to get to the rim with ease. Uses his length quite effectively on the defensive side of the ball as well. Like a lot incoming freshmen V.J. needs to get stronger, but appears to have a nice frame to build on. Plays his AAU ball with All-Ohio Red and last year as an 8th grader played varsity basketball for United Faith Christian Academy (Charlotte, NC), who's coached by the legendary Muggsy Bouges. He finished the season with an impressive 10.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg & 1.7 apg. V.J. and his family moved to Ohio in late June, where he'll attend St.Vincent-St.Mary's his freshman year (LeBron James alma mater). In my opinion, V.J. King's a Top 5 player in the Class of 2016 and definitely a high-major D1 recruit.
BLADRICK VEAL sf / 6'6'' 180 / Baton Rouge, LA
Another smooth wing capable of playing either guard position, Bladrick Veal's game is a joy to watch. Bladrick's length along with his handles, vision, athleticism and jumper, should make him a tough player to check come the 2012-13 high school basketball season. Very skilled offensive player. Can score in the post, off the dribble-drive and has range out to the arc. Has some nice floaters in his arsenal as well. Above the rim player in every sense of the word. Even though he can light it up on the offensive end, Bladrick still shows the willingness to share the basketball. Needs to continue to get stronger, while still retaining his athleticism and quickness. Plays his AAU ball for LA Kream Team as well as LA Leadership. Dropped a ridiculous 50 points, 16 rebounds & 11 assists in the Louisiana Junior High School State Championship game last year. Bladrick's also an excellent student, as was evident by his 3.4 GPA at Crestworth Learning Academy. Definite high-major D1 potential.
TERQUIN MOTT sf / 6'5'' 200 / Philadelphia, PA
Originally from the Class of 2015, Terquin "Buddha" Mott is a very productive post player who has the skill-set to play on the wing as well. Shows an excellent touch around the basket and the ability to hit a consistent 17-foot jump shot. He can also knock down the 3-ball given time and space. Uses his strong lower body to carve up defenses and passes well out of double teams. Finishes above the rim and is a solid rebounder for his position. Very good defender and above average shot blocker. Needs to tighten up his handles to truly excel on the wing however. Terquin "Buddha" Mott plays his AAU ball for Team Final and should be one of the better freshmen to emerge from the City of Brotherly Love in the Class of 2016.
JOSH JACKSON sf / 6'6'' 180 / Detroit, MI
There have been some pretty big names to emerge from the Motor City over the years and Josh Jackson may be the next on the list. While he's originally from the Class of 2015, he would probably be one of the better prospect in his age group even if he didn't reclassify. An excellent scorer in a variety of ways, Josh has shown a proficient mid-range game as well as the ability to hit the 3-ball. Tight handles and quick first step makes him extremely hard to keep out of the lane. Shows nice athleticism when exploding to the rim. Obviously needs to get stronger, but that should come with time. He's been playing up a grade on the AAU circuit with the 16U All-Ohio Red and Michigan's 16U The Family. I have Michigan ties myself, so I'm not exactly sure how I feel about him playing with an Ohio based team as well (lol). Josh will attend Detroit Consortium his freshman year, and should make his presence felt from day one. A big-time athlete with the skill-set to match, Josh Jackson will be a sought after recruit from the Class of 2016.
HARRY GILES III sf/pf / 6'7'' 200 / Winston-Salem, NC
A combination forward with tremendous length, Harry Giles III is another player on this list who's absolutely oozing with potential. Has the size, athleticism and skill-set to make him a very intriguing prospect down the road. Very effective in the post with his length and soft touch, or on the perimeter with his handles and mid-range jumper. Terrific at starting the fast break off of defensive rebounds and finishes well above the rim. Needs to continue to add strength as well as work on his range from beyond the arc. Played AAU basketball for Team Felton and now runs with the CP3 All-Stars. Over the past two years, Harry led Flat Rock Middle School to consecutive undefeated seasons and two county championships. He'll join forces with Top 15 player from the Class of 2014 Theo Pinson and play for Wesleyan Christian Academy as a freshman. Hary Giles III definitely has all the tools needed to become a really nice player.
MARIO KEGLER sf / 6'6'' 185 / Jackson, MS
Possibly the Top incoming freshman from the Magnolia State just may be Mario Kegler. A bouncy low-block scorer that can finish through contact, Mario has displayed a nice inside-out game. He uses his size & strength on the block and he can step back and hit a consistent 15-foot jumper as well. Shows nice ball handling skills for his size and doesn't force the issue. Does a good job rebounding the basketball then running the floor. Very smooth in transition. Will not be surprised if he grows a couple more inches as well. Like a lot of young players, Mario needs to really focus on his education, but seems to have a solid work ethic and enjoys learning. Plays his AAU ball for MBA Select and he'll join Top 5 player in the Class of 2015 Malik Newman and play for Callaway High School (Jackson, MS) as a freshman. Mario has said he's interested in Mississippi State and University of Texas. He should be more than ready to play big-time college ball once he graduates high school.
BEN COUPET, JR sf/pf / 6'7'' 190 / Chicago, IL
An exceptional athlete who's just beginning to scratch the surface, Ben Coupet, Jr. has to be considered one of the best incoming freshmen from the Windy City. Long and rangy with room to grow, Ben can play in the post or on the perimeter. He can score from the elbow with his jumper and attack the hoop off the bounce. He's also shown a nice jump hook as well as a crafty euro-step. Rebounds at a high rate and uses his length quite effectively on defense by blocking shots and creating steals. Needs to become more consist from deep as well as tighten up his handles, but there's a lot to like about his future potential. Plays his AAU ball for the well renown Mac Irvin Fire and last year as an 8th grader led Beasley Academic Center (Derrick Rose's old middle school) to a Chicago City Championship. Ben will attend Simeon Career Academy as a freshman, but probably won't play varsity since Simeon never plays freshmen (Jabari Parker was the exception). Interested in Louisville, Kentucky, Kansas and Ohio State. Even if he doesn't play varsity this year, you better not sleep on Ben Coupet, Jr!!!
Since Class of 2014's Andrew Wiggins is basically a lock for NBA stardom, our friendly neighbor to the North's next Canadian star just might be Justin Jackson. Originally from the Class of 2015, Justin Jackson is another player I feel would still be one of the better prospects in his age group even if he didn't reclassify. Has the size, strength and skill-set to play anywhere on the floor. An excellent ball handler with range out to the arc, he's a mismatch waiting to happen. Very unselfish player despite being a constant scoring threat. Has the vision and passing skills of a guard. Needs to work on developing some post moves, but the skies the limit as far as how good he can become. Plays his AAU ball for YAAACE out of Canada and he played with the 17U Canadian national team at the FIBA World Championships in Kaunas, Lithuania this summer. I watched all of Canada's games via web-stream, and I have to say Justin was phenomenal despite playing two-years up in competition. He finished the tournament with a solid 11.2 ppg & 6.0 rpg. Justin's definitely on the radar of college coaches, as he's already receiving interest from some schools. His dream colleges are Arizona and Kentucky. Whether he stays in Canada for his freshman year or travels to the States, Justin Jackson will be sure to make his presence felt wherever he attends school.
Straight from the Volunteer State, Braxton Blackwell has the size, athleticism and potential of a big-time prospect. He's another smooth looking wing who's extremely versatile. Legitimately can play the 1-4. Excels in transition or a half-court setting. Doesn't force the issue and seems to make good decisions when handling the ball. Excellent at starting the fast break from rebounding. Has a nice mid-range game as well. Uses his length on the defensive side of the ball by constantly playing the passing lanes. He needs to work on his long distance shooting, but there's no question Braxton Blackwell is a baller to definitely keep track of. He's been an established name on the AAU circuit for a while playing for the Atlanta Celtics and he'll join forces with Top 25 player in the Class of 2014, Jalen Lindsey and play for Christian Presbyterian Academy (Nashville, TN) his freshman year. Another high-major D1 talent from the Class of 2016, Braxton Blackwell has a very bright future.
TROY BAXTER sf/pf / 6'7'' 190 / Tallahassee, FL
Another long and rangy wing with exceptional athleticism, Troy Baxter should be considered one of the Top incoming freshmen from the state of Florida. While he has a fluid jumper with range out to 17-feet, he's probably best at playing in transition right now. Gets up and down the floor really well. A very quick leaper, Troy scores a number of baskets from offensive rebounds and drop offs from penetrating guards. Good shot blocker because of his length, athletic ability and timing. He needs to work on his handles as well as add some weight to his frame, but he's clearly a very talented baller. Plays his AAU ball for Nike Team Florida as well as the Florida Rams. While Florida has generally been known as a football state, it's starting to produce a number of excellent basketball players, and now you can certainly add Troy Baxter to the mix!!!
WILLIE JACKSON sf / 6'5'' 190 / Garfield, OH
JERRY MYLES sf / 6'5'' 190 / Davenport, IA
HARRISON HENDERSON sf/pf / 6'7'' 190 / Irving, TX
CHASE NOMA'AEA sf / 6'5'' 175 / Las Vegas, NV
TREVELL BECK sf / 6'6'' 175 / Cleveland, OH
RAEKWON BUSH sf/pf / 6'5'' 210 / Gretna, LA
CAMERON McGRIFF sf / 6'6'' 195 / 6'6'' 195 / Grand Prarie, TX
TAGE LIHN sf / 6'6'' 190 / Copenhagen, DEN
DWAYNE RUSSELL sf / 6'5'' 190 / Jacksonville, FL
WADE SIMMS sf/pf / 6'6'' 200 / Shenadoah, LA
VANCE JACKSON sf / 6'6'' 190 / Altadena, CA
TERRANCE FERGUSON sf / 6'5'' 180 / Flower Mound, TX
DARON HENSON sf / 6'6'' 170 / Pasadena, CA
GILBERT THOMAS, JR sf/pf / 6'5'' 215 / Houston, TX
JALEN JOHNSON sf / 6'6'' 195 / Inniswold, LA
FRESHMEN WATCH LIST
POWER FORWARDS / CENTERS