|Class of 2017: Power Forwards / Centers|
Written by: Prospect-Central
Last summer Prospect-Central released its inaugural High School Basketball Freshmen Watch List. The Class of 2016 was the first to be featured, and it's safe to say it was a complete success. Like all initial lists for incoming freshmen basketball players, more names emerged as the season unfolded, but for the most part PC was right on the money.
If there was ever a freshmen class to begin a basketball journey with, no doubt it would be the Class of 2016. To say the class is loaded would be a severe understatement. The talent laced from head to toe is truly remarkable, as it's shaping out to be one of the greatest classes of all-time.
Now it's time to introduce the next crop of incoming freshmen ready to take the high school world by storm. It would be unfair to compare this group of freshmen to last years class, but there're still a number of excellent players ready to prove themselves on the high school hardwood. By all indications, the Class of 2017 seems ready for the challenge.
This years Freshmen Watch List features ten players, plus thirty honorable mentions for point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, and posts. Because these players are still growing into their bodies, labeling them by position was more for organization than anything else, so don't be surprised if their positions change as the years go by.
Since the 2013-14 high school basketball season is right around the corner, more names should emerge between now and then, but for the time being these are some of the best incoming freshmen the Class of 2017 has to offer.
As I stated before, it would be unfair to have the same expectations for this class as last years, but it still doesn't hurt to start paying attention to some of these players now. Come this time next year, most of these recruits should be on the radar of every college program in the country. With that being said, this is Prospect-Central's HS Basketball Class of 2017 Freshmen Watch List. * Below are 40 freshmen post players from the Class of 2017. Names are in no particular order.
DeAndre Ayton pf/c / 6'10'' 205 / San Diego, CA
Here he is ladies & gentlemen. The crown jewel of the Class of 2017. DeAndre Ayton! Even though last years freshmen class appears to be slightly stronger than this years class, DeAndre Ayton more than makes up for it. While the likes of Thon Maker & Harry Giles, III are leading the way for the Class of 2016, I wouldn't blink an eye if Ayton becomes the top overall prospect in HS regardless of class. Born July 23rd, 1998, the newly turned 15-year old doesn't just scream upside, he screams NBA lottery pick. A native of the Bahamas, Ayton has been one of the best players in the Class of 2017 for a while now, but it was only a few months ago when he took over the top spot from California's other stud, Cody Riley. Don't get me wrong, Riley's indeed an elite talent, but the size, skill, and athleticism of DeAndre Ayton is simply too hard to ignore. Forget the fact he's a projected 7-footer, Ayton already has the length of a franchise changing big man. Having great size is one thing, but having the physical tools to do what you want to do on the basketball court; that's something entirely different. First of all, Ayton's extremely mobile for his size; running the floor with ease, while covering some serious ground in the process. Once he gets position around the basket, that's all she wrote. He rebounds at a high level, has strong hands, a soft touch, and major bounce. His ball skills are exceptional, showing the ability to face up his defender, and stretch the floor with his jumper. He even has 3-point range. On the defensive side of the ball; he's a human eraser, blocking shots all the way out to the perimeter. He needs to work on developing some post moves, but as far as elite prospects for the next level are concerned, DeAndre Ayton's as good as they come. He's been balling on the AAU circuit with Team Bibby & Greg Strickling Basketball, and was enrolled at Balboa City last year, but might be headed to Lincoln High (San Diego, CA) for his freshman season. USC & UCLA are showing early interest, but Ayton's a fan of Big Blue Nation. If he continues developing his game at his current pace, he'll obviously be league bound, but what type of player will he become? If I had to compare his game to somebody in the NBA, Anthony Davis has to be a name that comes to mind. The only difference is, DeAndre Ayton has two eyebrows :)
What a surprise; another player from Georgia (smh). In total, there're seven players on PC's c/o 2017 Freshmen Watch List from the Peach State, and that doesn't even include all of the honorable mentions selected. In this section alone, three post players are being featured from Georgia, all of whom are arguably Top 25 recruits in the class. Victor Enoh might not be the most skilled big man on this list, but he vary well could be the most physically imposing freshman in the country. That's obviously just an opinion, but you can rest assure no one will be stealing lunch money from this rising 9th grader. He's the combination of strength, energy, and athleticism all rolled up into one, and when he steps foot onto the basketball court, he's truly a man amongst boys. With his explosiveness and power, Enoh dunks everything around the rim like it was going out of style. I'm not sure if he's from the planet "Love Tron" like Darryl Dawkins, but when he attacks the basket with force and aggression, you can't help but think of "Chocolate Thunder." You might even go as far as to call his dunks, "The Rim-Wrecking, Heart-Stopping, Rump-Roastin', Bun-Toastin', Get-Out-of-the-Wayin', Backboard-Swayin', Game-Delayin', If-You-Ain't-Groovin'-You-Best-Get-Movin', Super-Spikes!" Besides throwing it down with authority, Enoh's a force on the boards and blocks shots from all angles. Once he develops his all-around skill set, he should be a serious problem for years to come. He's been tearing it up on the AAU circuit with Atlanta Rockafellas, and he's headed to Greenforest Christian Academy (Decatur, GA) for his freshman year. When it comes to recruiting, Mississippi State's showing early interest, but it's only a matter of time before other programs follow suit. It's safe to say Victor Enoh's indeed a high-major D1 recruit!
Isaiah Stokes pf/c / 6'7'' 245 / Memphis, TN
As the saying goes, "If he looks like a Stokes, walks likes a Stokes, and talks like a Stokes; chances are he must be a Stokes then!" As if you didn't know already, Isaiah Stokes is the younger brother of Jarnell Stokes, who of course is a star power forward for the University of Tennessee, and projected NBA draft pick whenever he decides to declare. As far as the younger Stokes is concerned, he appears to be headed in the same direction as his older brother, the only difference is he might end up being even bigger (smh). Already standing 6-foot-7, roughly 245 pounds, Isaiah Stokes has ridiculous size to say the least. Even though he's been a well known recruit in the Class of 2017 for a while now, it was actually last September as an 8th grade football player when his name really started to blow up. Obviously people are infatuated with size, so after this crazy photo of Isaiah started to circulate across the internet, the secret was officially out. The reason Stokes is such an intriguing prospect in basketball however, doesn't have to do with the fact he's so big, but rather how skilled he is compared to his size. His game actually resembles Jarnell's to some degree, and with his big body, strong hands, and nimble feet, Isaiah's a force on the blocks, imposing his will against smaller defenders. Despite his size, he has decent bounce around the rim, showing the ability to finish through contact with either hand. He also has a nice mid-range game, feathery touch around the basket, and smooth stroke out to about 15-feet. He'll need to focus on conditioning as the years go by, but he's certainly a big-time talent none the less. He's been balling on the AAU circuit with Team Penny, and under the tutelage of head coach Anfernee Hardaway, has really started to take his game to another level. He's playing both basketball & football at Lausanne Collegiate (Memphis, TN) for his freshman year, and should make his presence felt from day one. Memphis Grizzles big man Marc Gasol actually played for Lausanne back in the day, as did Jerry West's son Johnnie West, so Isaiah will have his work cut out for him if he wants to go down as one of the best players to come through the program. Since Isaiah and his brother are so close, Tennessee obviously has the early edge when it comes to recruiting, so don't be surprised if he eventually signs with the Volunteers. Even though he's an elite prospect in basketball, he has a chance to be just as special in football. While he's a standout defensive lineman in high school, he'll probably be too tall to play the position effectively in college. With his size & mobility, coupled with his strength & athleticism, he has all the makings of a shutdown offensive tackle imo. I know that's not as fun as playing basketball, but it might be more of a sure thing. Regardless of the sport he plays, it's hard not to be stoked over the future potential of one Isaiah Stokes.
Wendell Carter, Jr. pf / 6'9'' 215 / Atlanta, GA
With so much talent from the Class of 2017 coming out of Georgia, it's only a matter of time before "Sweet Georgia Brown" starts ringing in your ears. If there's so much talent in the state however, I wonder what that says about Wendell Carter, Jr's game? As of right now, Carter, Jr. just might be the top overall freshman in the country from Georgia. Needless to say, he's a big-time recruit with a crazy amount of potential, and could very well be at the top of his class all through high school. He's a skilled big man, with excellent hands, solid athleticism, and a nice feel for the game. He uses his length quite effectively on the blocks, scoring with drop-step dunks and jump hooks with ease. He can even handle the rock a little bit, and has range out to about 17-feet. With his size & length, he does a good job rebounding the basketball, as well as blocking shots in the paint. His motor tends to run hot & cold, and he can lose focus on the court at times, but that's somewhat expected with players his age. He's played with a number of teams on the AAU circuit over the years, including Atlanta Rockafellas, Atlanta Xpress, and the Birmingham Storm just to name a few, and he's headed to Fulton Leadership Academy (Atlanta, GA) for his freshman year of high school. Even a blind man can see Wendell Carter, Jr. has some serious game. He should progress quite nicely over the next few years, as he tries to represent the Peach State to the best of his ability. And on that note, I leave you with the sweet words of the legendary Ray Charles; "Georgia - Ooh Georgia - the whole day through - Just an old sweet song - keeps Georgia on my mind."
Cody Riley pf / 6'8'' 235 / Chatsworth, CA
I've never told this to anyone before, but Cody Riley was the inspiration for Prospect-Central. After watching Riley dominate a few tournaments as a 6th grader a couple years ago, I was truly in a loss for words. His size, skills, and athleticism for his age was off the charts, as he quickly earned my respect for being one of the most talented middle school basketball players I had ever seen. Riley was so impressive, I felt the need to tell anyone who would listen just how good he really was, and thus Prospect-Central was created. Thankfully Riley has more than lived up to the hype, or PC might have been founded on false pretenses :) While DeAndre Ayton has taken over the top spot in the Class of 2017, Cody Riley's certainly not far behind. Put it like this; if Ayton's the crown jewel of the class, Riley might just be the crown itself. Born December 12th, 1997, Riley has the size & skill you just don't see from players his age. Since he's slightly older than some of his classmates, a number of players should catch up to him from a physicality standpoint, but they're gonna have to put in some serious work if they want to touch him in the skill department. Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, he now resides in California, reppin' the Golden State to the fullest. With his size & strength, the lefty's obviously a handful in the post, but he's probably most effective facing the basket. He can put the ball on the floor, has a really nice mid-range game, excellent footwork, and can even stroke the 3-ball. Since he's so strong, he has no problem finishing through contact, plus he's an absolute beast on the boards. Despite the fact he's such an offensive threat, he still does a good job creating for others with his vision & passing. If he doesn't grow anymore, he might project as a perimeter player down the road, so he'll have to work on his lateral quickness in order to guard the super athletic wings at the highest level. Because the game comes so easy to him, at times it looks like he's just going through the motions, so he'll have to work on playing with a consistent motor as well. He's been absolutely killing it on the AAU circuit with the immensely talented California Basketball Club, which of course recently won an 8th grade National Championship. He's headed to Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, CA) for his freshman year, and will no doubt dominant the competition. USC, Arizona, and Kansas have already offered, but you can expect every big-time college program to come knocking. Up until now, Cody Riley has been sensational. What he does from this point forward however, will ultimately determine the type of player he becomes.
Throughout the years, the state of Illinois has been at the top of the list when it comes to producing elite basketball players for the next level. To this date, 216 players born in Illinois have made it to the NBA. Since the only states to top that are California & New York, I think that's pretty good to say the least. Nearly all of the talent from Illinois comes out of Chicago, so it's somewhat surprising the only player from the Prairie State featured on PC's c/o 2017 Freshmen Watch List, hails from East St. Louis. By no means am I saying Jeremiah Tilmon will play in the league, but if he ever does reach the highest level one day, he'll join LaPhonso Ellis, Darius Miles, Cuonzo Martin, and Bill Garner as the only high school players from East St. Louis to do so. Lets not get ahead of ourselves though. There's a lot of time between now and then, so the 6-foot-9 freshman is gonna have to put in some serious work in the lab, if he wants to turn his dreams into reality. While he might not be as well known as some of the other recruits in the class, there's no question Jeremiah Tilmon's one of the top rising 9th graders in the country. With his size & length (7'0'' wingspan), Tilmon already has the physical tools of a high-major big man, but the scary thing is, he's probably still growing. Despite his size, he appears to be a very fluid athlete, running the floor with ease, while scoring easy buckets in transition. He finishes strong around the hoop, shows a soft touch on put backs, has decent handles for a big, and a nice overall feel for the game. He does a really good job rebounding the basketball, especially on the offensive glass, and his shot blocking abilities are quite impressive. Last but not least, he has a very effective jump hook, which actually might be his bread & butter. He needs to work on catching the ball in traffic, as well as developing a more consistent stroke, but the future's certainly bright for Jeremiah Tilmon. He's been ballin' on the AAU circuit with 14U MoKan Elite, and he's headed to Darius Miles alma mater, East St. Louis High School (East. St. Louis, IL) for his freshman year. Indiana & Purdue are starting to show interest, but you can expect Illinois to put the full-court press on very soon. Since University of Tennessee's head coach Cuonzo Martin played high school ball in East St. Louis also, don't be surprised if the Volunteers start catching feelings as well. It might be all for nothing however, since Tilmon has his eyes set on University of Kentucky. Doesn't that sound familiar? Regardless of the college he decides to attend, Jeremiah Tilmon has to show what he can do at the high school level first. And that's just what's about to happen!
Austin Wiley pf / 6'8'' 215 / Birmingham, AL
When it comes to the state of Alabama, it's hard not to think of anything but football. Be that as it may, Bama still produces its share of talented basketball players, despite being overshadowed by the Goliaths of the Gridiron. As of right now, the top player in each class from Alabama are as follows; Crimson Tide commit Riley Norris (2014), the underrated Danjel Purifoy (2015), and of course the top player in the state regardless of class, Joshua Langford (2016). So, where does incoming freshman Austin Wiley land in the discussion? By all indications, he'll have a serious chance to be right up there with Langford, as the prize possession from the state of Alabama. Even though his best playing days are clearly ahead of him, the youngster still has to be considered one of the top 9th graders in the country, bar none. While his physical attributes are everything you look for in a baller, he's much more than just size & length. He has some budding post moves, soft touch around the basket, finishes everything at the rim, and does a good job rebounding the basketball. His offensive game might be slowly coming around, but you can rest assure he's already a force on defense. He clogs the lanes extremely well, shows excellent timing when blocking shots, plus he has the mobility to stay in front of his man. As he continues to get stronger and his overall skills begin to expand, it's safe to say he'll have a very bright future in the game of basketball. He's already a pretty big name on the AAU circuit with Southeast Elite, and his stellar play should only continue in high school. If I was Anthony Grant, the head coach for Alabama, it's pretty obvious what I would do. All my eggs are going into this basket, it's just that simple. You can't let talent like this leave the state! So, what have we learned about the young phenom Austin Wiley? It appears he might to do some big things in the Yellowhammer State over the next four years of high school basketball. Even if that's not the case, the big wheels keep on turning, and no matter what happens in his life, he'll always have Sweet Home Alabama!
Paul 'P.J.' Washington pf / 6'7'' 210 / Frisco, TX
In this day & age, finding elite recruits for the next level has taken on a life of its own. Subsequently, some of these players have been in the spotlight years before they even step foot onto the high school hardwood. Paul 'P.J.' Washington is one of those players. A well known name within the grassroots community, both P.J. and his game have grown tremendously in just a few short years. While he's always been one of the better players in his class, he wasn't always this big. He's grown about 4-inches in a little over a year, and now the 6-foot-7 freshman is looking to show off his new physique at the high school level. Since he just turned 15-years old in August, he's also one of the younger recruits in the c/o 2017, but you certainly wouldn't know by watching him play. He's a skilled face-up 4, with a nice inside-out game, smooth stroke, and consistent 17-foot jumpshot off the bounce, or the catch-and-shoot. He has a solid feel for the game, moving well without the ball, and does a good job using his body to create position on both sides of the floor. He's also pretty active on the glass, and can even get after it on defense side of the ball. Like a lot of young players, he tends to play in spurts at times, so he'll need to develop a consistent motor as the years go by. Even though he's obviously a big boy, his size will ultimately determine his future position. If he doesn't grow anymore, he might project as a wing down the road, so he'll need to improve on his lateral quickness & athleticism, in order to make the transition as smooth as possible. He's been an absolute force on the AAU circuit with Team Celtics Select for a while now, and under the guidance of his father & coach Paul Washington, Sr., his game should only get better as time goes by. I have no idea how Deion Sanders does it, but P.J. will be high-stepping it to Prime Prep Academy (Dallas, TX) for his freshman year of high school. He'll join forces with the dynamic duo of Emmanuel Mudiay & Terrance Ferguson, and will no doubt make his presence felt early and often. It's early in the recruiting process, but don't be surprised once high-majors start lining up at the door, for the services of one Paul 'P.J.' Washington.
Potential, Potential, Potential! That's just one way to sum up the game of incoming freshman Abayomi Iyiola. Otherwise known as "Bay Bay", Iyiola might be slightly under-the-radar when it comes to impact recruits from the Class of 2017, but that'll surely change over the next few years, if not sooner. Contrary to the picture on the left, Iyiola's not possessed by the devil, but he sure gives his opponents hell on the basketball court. By no means a finished product, Bay Bay's just beginning to scratch the surface on the type of player he can become. There's a lot of things to be intrigued about his game, but lets start with the fact he's long, wiry, and plays above the rim. Despite his size, he's an extremely fluid athlete, showing the ability to get up & down the floor with ease. His offensive game might be a work in progress, but he still has pretty decent ball skills for his size, and a nice presence in the post. When it comes to rebounding the basketball, Bay Bay's an absolute force, snatching up boards likes they're going out of style. Like a lot of young, developing big men, it's probably on the other side of the ball where he really hangs his hat. With his length, instincts, and athleticism, Iyiola has all the tools necessary to be a serious rim protector at any level. He needs to continue to develop his offensive skill set, as well as add some muscle to his frame, but he's certainly shaping out to be another excellent basketball player from the state of Georgia. He's been running with the Georgia Stars & Atlanta Rockafellas on the AAU circuit, and he'll join forces with previously mentioned Victor Enoh at Greenforest Christian Academy (Decatur, GA) for his freshman year of high school. Now that's a scary frontcourt to say the least! As far as recruiting is concerned, if he continues developing his game at his current pace, you can expect the offers to pour in over the upcoming years. Obviously there's no guarantees in life, but Abayomi 'Bay Bay' Iyiola has a chance to be a very special player.
Matur Maker pf/c / 6'10'' 195 / Martinsville, VA
No picture? No video? No problem! There's only two things you need to know about incoming freshman Matur Maker; (1) He's the younger brother of arguably the top sophomore in the country Thon Maker; (2) He's rumored to be even better than Thon was at the same age. What more needs to be said after that! Before we get too carried away with ourselves though, it seems like younger brothers are always hyped-up to be the better prospects, and as we all know, that's just not the case. With that being said, if there's even a smidgen of truth to the rumors about Matur's size & skill level, then there's a good chance he'll end up becoming an elite recruit from the c/o 2017 at the very least. It's been over two years since Prospect-Central first introduced Thon Maker to the world, so it's only fitting PC does the same with his brother. Even though Matur might be somewhat of a mystery within the United States, he's been making some serious noise back in Australia. Despite his age, he's already been selected to Australia's U18 Metro State Team training squad. That might not sound like much, but it's a pretty significant accomplishment for someone so young. Even though Matur doesn't have the fanfare of his older brother, he appears to be following in his footsteps none the less. Before Thon came to the U.S. in 2011, it was in Australia where he met his coach and current guardian, Edward Smith, at a sports program for Sudanese youth. Not only did Smith add Thon to his family, he took in Matur as well. Since he knows both players game's inside & out, it's safe to say his opinion carries some weight. So, what does he think of Matur's potential? Smith said of the younger Maker; "he's going to be tremendous also." Matur will join Thon at Carlisle School (Martinsville, VA) for his freshman year, and assuming he's as good as advertised, I can't imagine a more formidable frontcourt in all of high school. There have been a lot of brothers over the years who became pretty big names in the game of basketball. If Matur can hold up his end of the bargain, these two have a chance to become the cream of the crop. Either way, the world will meet their Maker's soon enough!
C/O 2017 Freshmen Watch List Honorable Mentions (PF/C's)
James Banks pf/c / 6'9'' 205 / Atlanta, GA
Ira Lee pf / 6'8'' 210 / Hidden Hills, CA
Preston Horne sf/pf / 6'6'' 200 / Ashburn, GA
Abule Abadi pf / 6'6'' 210 / Sunrise, FL
Malique Burton c / 6'10'' 270 / Cleveland, OH
Isiah Jasey pf/c / 6'8'' 210 / Killeen, TX
Victor Uyaelumno pf/c / 6'11'' 195 / Miami, FL
Russell Smith pf / 6'7'' 205 / Dallas, TX
Malik Williams pf/c / 6'9'' 185 / Fort Wayne, IN
Jordan Riley pf / 6'6'' 220 / Durham, NC
Mitchell Robinson pf/c / 6'9'' 195 / Pensacola, FL
Ismail Charles pf / 6'6'' 210 / Hartford, CT
Joshua Linder sf/pf / 6'8'' 210 / Warren Robbins, GA
Moses Brown pf / 6'6'' 220 / Queens, NY
Brandon McCoy pf / 6'9'' 200 / Sacramento, CA
Dontaus Eke sf/pf / 6'9'' 190 / Detroit, MI
Mohammad Bamba pf / 6'8'' 190 / Canaan, NH
Jacob Hughes c / 6'9'' 200 / Orange, CA
Chryshawn Wilson pf / 6'6'' 230 / Florence, SC
Emmani Wood pf / 6'6'' 210 / Suffolk, VA
Kenneth Nwachukwu pf / 6'8'' 200 / Miami, FL
Malik William pf / 6'7'' 200 / Orlando, FL
Kelvin Calhoun c / 6'7'' 230 / Lakewood, OH
Foster Sarell c / 6'7'' 240 / Tacoma, WA
Darian Scott sf/pf / 6'7'' 200 / Las Vegas, NV
Edra Luster pf / 6'8'' 200 / Oakland, CA
Landon Badgley pf / 6'7'' 190 / Arlington, TX
Will Weems pf / 6'7'' 195 / Belleville, MI
Evan Logino pf / 6'6'' 220 / Philadelphia, PA
Zach Brown c / 6'10'' 240 / Miami, FL
C/O 2017 Freshmen Watch List
PG's - SG's - SF's