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Do High School 'Stars' Lead To NBA Success?

As high school rankings gain added intrigue for college basketball fans in the one-and-done era, I couldn’t help but wonder how often the recruiting experts get it right. Do the stars correlate with not only collegiate success, but professional success as well? Of course there’s the LeBron James and Kevin Durant breeds, both five-stars, but also those who slip through the cracks such as Damian Lillard, a former two-star.

I decided to take each playoff roster and break down how each player was ranked by the Rivals.com database coming out of high school. The database was created in 2002, so any player who came out of high school earlier would not be qualified. As a result, I broke my findings into multiple categories.

First, I made seven categories with 5 Stars, 4 Stars, 3 Stars, 2 Stars, 0 Stars, and a pair of “Not Applicable.” The “N/A (Age)” category described players who graduated high school earlier than 2002 and therefore were not in the database. The “N/A (Int’l)” category was used to differentiate international prospects, who aren’t ranked by Rivals.com.

I then split the NBA players into three groups from this weekend’s set of games: Starters, reserves who played over 10 minutes of action, and the rest of the roster.

What the results showed are that most of the time, the rankings held true. Of the 80 NBA Playoff starters this weekend, 29 were ranked as 5 Stars out of high school. The next highest category was the “N/A (Age)” category, which certainly would have had more 5 Stars if the database had been older. For example, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, David Lee, and Zach Randolph were just some of the McDonald’s All-Americans who likely would have been considered 5 Stars.

Another 12 starters were International prospects, 11 were 4 stars, and seven were 3 Stars. Damian Lillard was the lone 2 Star not only in a starting lineup, but also in the entire playoffs. George Hill and Jimmy Butler were the only 0 Stars be in a starting lineup.

When it came to the reserves who played over 10 minutes and the rest of the playoff roster, the results were fairly mixed. There were more players who were too old for the Rivals database in both categories, while the 5 Stars, 4 Stars, and 3 Stars were somewhat even.

As a whole, the NBA playoffs consists of 51 5 Stars and 50 “N/A (Age).” The next highest category was in the 4 Stars, with 35 total, followed by 29 International prospects and 28 3 Stars. There’s a smaller chance for 2 Star and 0 Star prospects to make an NBA roster, but it’s far from impossible.

It’s safe to say that the recruiting experts usually get it right. Sure, there are some misses, but five star prospects are usually the top NBA talents. There are bound to be some “busts” and underrated prospects who outperform expectations, but the experts are right more often than not. At the same time, it doesn’t mean a 5 Star is guaranteed an NBA deal, or a 0 Star has no shot at earning an NBA contract.

This was certainly an interesting research project, but would be even more interesting 10 years from now when most of the league has a high school recruiting profile. Will there be another Damian Lillard?

Interesting Notes:

-The only starting lineup that consisted of purely 5 Stars was the Charlotte Bobcats. Josh McRoberts was the biggest surprise, who left Duke after his sophomore year, but has has developed into a key piece for Charlotte.

-Houston was the next closest team to have the full 25-star starting lineup, with a total of 24 stars. Patrick Beverly, a 4 star prospect, was the lone starter for the Rockets who wasn’t a 5 Star.

-Some surprising 3 Stars included Stephen Curry, Paul Millsap, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Roy Hibbert.

-The “sleepers” are usually point guards. Of the eleven 0 Stars, five were point guards (Hill, Jeremy Lin, Norris Cole, Patty Mills, C.J. McCollum).

The Complete Results Are Below:

Starters
5 Stars: 29
4 Stars: 11
3 Stars: 7
2 Stars: 1
0 Stars: 2
N/A (Age): 18
N/A (Int’l): 12

Reserves Over 10 Minutes
5 Stars: 9
4 Stars: 11
3 Stars: 10
2 Stars: 0
0 Stars: 3
N/A (Age): 16
N/A (Int’l): 8

The Rest
5 Stars: 13
4 Stars: 13
3 Stars: 11
2 Stars: 0
0 Stars: 6
N/A (Age): 16
N/A (Int’l): 9

Total
5 Stars: 51
4 Stars: 35
3 Stars: 28
2 Stars: 1
0 Stars: 11
N/A (Age): 50
N/A (Int’l): 29

Atlanta Hawks
PG: Jeff Teague (4 stars, Wake Forest)
SG: Kyle Korver (N/A, Creighton)
SF: DeMarre Carroll (3 stars, Missouri)
PF: Paul Millsap (3 stars, Louisiana Tech)
C: Pero Antic (N/A, Yugoslavia)

Reserves Over 10 Minutes
PF: Elton Brand (N/A, Duke)
SG: Louis Williams (5 stars, High School)
PG: Shelvin Mack (3 stars, Butler)
PF: Mike Scott (3 stars, Virginia)

The Rest
SF: Cartier Martin (4 stars, Kansas State)
C: Mike Muscala (0 stars, Bucknell)
PG: Dennis Schroder (N/A, Germany)

Indiana Pacers
PG: George Hill (0 stars, IUPUI)
SG: Lance Stephenson (5 stars, Cincinnati)
SF: Paul George (3 stars, Fresno State)
PF: David West (N/A, Xavier)
C: Roy Hibbert (3 stars, Georgetown)

Reserves Over 10 Minutes
PF: Luis Scola (N/A, Argentina)
SG: Evan Turner (4 stars, Ohio State)
C: Ian Mahinmi (N/A, France)
PG: C.J. Watson (3 stars, Tennessee)

The Rest
PF: Lavoy Allen (3 stars, Temple)
SF: Chris Copeland (0 stars, Colorado)
PG: Donald Sloan (4 stars, Texas A&M)
SG: Rasual Butler (N/A, La Salle)

Brooklyn Nets
PG: Deron Williams (4 stars, Illinois)
G: Shaun Livingston (5 stars, High School)
G: Joe Johnson (N/A, Arkansas)
F: Paul Pierce (N/A, Kansas)
C: Kevin Garnett (N/A, High School)

Reserves Over 10 Minutes
SF: Alan Anderson (N/A, Michigan State)
C: Andray Blatche (5 stars, High School)
SG: Marcus Thornton (3 stars, LSU)
C: Mason Plumlee (4 stars, Duke)
PF: Mirza Teletovic (N/A, Bosnia)

The Rest
C: Jason Collins (N/A, Stanford)
PG: Jorge Gutierrez (3 stars, Cal)
SF: Andrei Kirilenko (N/A, Russia)

Toronto Raptors
PG: Kyle Lowry (5 stars, Villanova)
SG: DeMar DeRozan (5 stars, USC)
SF: Terrance Ross (4 stars, Washington)
PF: Amir Johnson (4 stars, High School)
C: Jonas Valanciunas (N/A, Lithuania)

Reserves Over 10 Minutes
PG: Greivis Vasquez (4 stars, Maryland)
PF: Patrick Patterson (5 stars, Kentucky)
SG: John Salmons (N/A, Miami (FL))

The Rest
PF: Tyler Hansbrough (5 stars, North Carolina)
PF: Chuck Hayes (N/A, Kentucky)
PG: Nando de Colo (N/A, France)
SG: Steve Novak (3 stars, Marquette)
SF: Landry Fields (3 stars, Stanford)

Golden State Warriors
PG: Stephen Curry (3 stars, Davidson)
SG: Klay Thompson (4 stars, Washington State)
SF: Andre Iguodala (4 stars, Arizona)
PF: David Lee (N/A, Florida)
C: Jermaine O’Neal (N/A, High School)

Reserves Over 10 Minutes
SF: Harrison Barnes (5 stars, North Carolina)
F: Draymond Green (3 stars, Michigan State)
PF: Marreese Speights (4 stars, Florida)

The Rest
PG: Steve Blake (N/A, Maryland)
SG: Jordan Crawford (3 stars, Xavier)
PF: Hilton Armstrong (3 stars, Connecticut)
C: Ognjen Kuzmic (N/A, Yugoslavia)

Los Angeles Clippers
PG: Chris Paul (5 stars, Wake Forest)
SG: J.J. Redick (4 stars, Duke)
SF: Matt Barnes (N/A, UCLA)
PF: Blake Griffin (5 stars, Oklahoma)
C: DeAndre Jordan (5 stars, Texas A&M)

Reserves Over 10 Minutes
PG: Darren Collison (4 stars, UCLA)
SG: Jamal Crawford (N/A, High School)
SF: Danny Granger (N/A, New Mexico)

The Rest
SF: Hedo Turkoglu (N/A, Turkey)
C: Ryan Hollins (0 stars, UCLA)
SF: Jared Dudley (0 stars, Boston College)
SG: Willie Green (N/A, Detroit)

Memphis Grizzlies
PG: Mike Conley (5 stars, Ohio State)
SG: Courtney Lee (3 stars, Western Kentucky)
SF: Tayshaun Prince (N/A, Kentucky)
PF: Zach Randolph (N/A, Michigan State)
C: Marc Gasol (N/A, Spain)

Reserves Over 10 Minutes
SG: Tony Allen (4 stars, Oklahoma State)
SF: Mike Miller (N/A, Florida)
PG: Beno Udrih (N/A, Yugoslavia)

The Rest
SF: James Johnson (4 stars, Wake Forest)
PF: Ed Davis (5 stars, North Carolina)
C: Kosta Koufos (5 stars, Ohio State)
PF: Jon Leuer (4 stars, Wisconsin)
SG: Nick Calathes (5 stars, Florida)

Oklahoma City Thunder
PG: Russell Westbrook (3 stars, UCLA)
SG: Thabo Sefolosha (N/A, Switzerland)
SF: Kevin Durant (5 stars, Texas)
PF: Serge Ibaka (N/A, Congo)
C: Kendrick Perkins (5 stars, High School)

Reserves Over 10 Minutes
SF: Caron Butler (N/A, Connecticut)
PG: Reggie Jackson (3 stars, Boston College)
PF: Nick Collison (N/A, Kansas)
PG: Derek Fisher (N/A, Arkansas-Little Rock)
C: Steven Adams (5 stars, Pittsburgh)

The Rest
C: Hasheem Thabeet (4 stars, Connecticut)
SG: Jeremy Lamb (4 stars, Connecticut)
SF: Perry Jones (5 stars, Baylor)
PF: Grant Jerrett (5 stars, Arizona)

Chicago Bulls
PG: Kirk Hinrich (N/A, Kansas)
SG: Jimmy Butler (0 stars, Marquette)
SF: Mike Dunleavy (N/A, Duke)
PF: Carlos Boozer (N/A, Duke)
C: Joakim Noah (4 stars, Florida)

Reserves Over 10 Minutes
PG: D.J. Augustin (4 stars, Texas)
PF: Taj Gibson (4 stars, USC)
SF: Tony Snell (3 stars, New Mexico)

The Rest
C: Nazr Mohammed (N/A, Kentucky)
PF: Lou Amundson (N/A, UNLV)
SF: Ronnie Brewer (4 stars, Arkansas)
PG: Jimmer Fredette (3 stars, BYU)
PG: Mike James (N/A, Duquesne)

Washington Wizards
PG: John Wall (5 stars, Kentucky)
SG: Bradley Beal (5 stars, Florida)
SF: Trevor Ariza (5 stars, UCLA)
PF: Nene Hilario (N/A, Brazil)
C: Marcin Gortat (N/A, Poland)

Reserves Over 10 Minutes
PF: Trevor Booker (3 stars, Clemson)
SF: Martell Webster (5 stars, High School)
PG: Andre Miller (N/A, Utah)

The Rest
PF: Drew Gooden (N/A, Kansas)
PF: Al Harrington (N/A, High School)
PG: Garrett Temple (3 stars, LSU)
SF: Otto Porter Jr. (4 stars, Georgetown)
C: Kevin Seraphin (4 stars, France)

Portland Trail Blazers
PG: Damian Lillard (2 stars, Weber State)
SG: Wesley Matthews (4 stars, Marquette)
SF: Nicolas Batum (N/A, France)
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge (5 stars, Texas)
C: Robin Lopez (5 stars, Stanford)

Reserves Over 10 Minutes
PG: Mo Williams (N/A, Alabama)
PF: Thomas Robinson (4 stars, Kansas)
SF: Dorell Wright (5 stars, High School)

The Rest
C: Joel Freeland (N/A, England)
SG: Will Barton (5 stars, Memphis)
C: Meyers Leonard (4 stars, Illinois)
PG: Earl Watson (N/A, UCLA)
PG: C.J. McCollum (0 stars, Lehigh)

Houston Rockets
PG: Patrick Beverley (4 stars, Arkansas)
SG: James Harden (5 stars, Arizona State)
SF: Chandler Parsons (5 stars, Florida)
PF: Terrence Jones (5 stars, Kentucky)
C: Dwight Howard (5 stars, High School)

Reserves Over 10 Minutes
PG: Jeremy Lin (0 stars, Harvard)
SG: Francisco Garcia (4 stars, Louisville)
C: Omer Asik (N/A, Turkey)

The Rest
PF: Josh Powell (N/A, N.C. State)
PF: Donatas Motierjunas (N/A, Lithuania)
SF: Jordan Hamilton (5 stars, Texas)
SF: Omri Casspi (N/A, Israel)
SG: Troy Daniels (3 stars, VCU)

Miami Heat
PG: Mario Chalmers (5 stars, Kansas)
SG: Dwyane Wade (N/A, Marquette)
SF: LeBron James (5 stars, High School)
PF: Udonis Haslem (N/A, Florida)
C: Chris Bosh (5 stars, Georgia Tech)

Reserves Over 10 Minutes
PG: Norris Cole (0 stars, Cleveland State)
SG: Ray Allen (N/A, Connecticut)
C: Chris Anderson (N/A, Blinn College)
SF: James Jones (N/A, Miami (FL))

The Rest
PF: Rashard Lewis (N/A, High School)
SF: Shane Battier (N/A, Duke)
C: Greg Oden (5 stars, Ohio State)
PG: Toney Douglas (4 stars, Florida State)

Charlotte Bobcats
PG: Kemba Walker (5 stars, Connecticut)
SG: Gerald Henderson (5 stars, Duke)
SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (5 stars, Kentucky)
PF: Josh McRoberts (5 stars, Duke)
C: Al Jefferson (5 stars, High School)

Reserves Over 10 Minutes
SG: Gary Neal (3 stars, Towson)
SG: Chris Douglas-Roberts (4 stars, Memphis)
C: Cody Zeller (5 stars, Indiana)
PG: Luke Ridnour (N/A, Oregon)

The Rest
C: Bismack Biyombo (N/A, Congo)
PF: Anthony Tolliver (3 stars, Creighton)
PF: D.J. White (5 stars, Indiana)
PG: Jannero Pargo (N/A, Arkansas)

San Antonio Spurs
PG: Tony Parker (N/A, France)
SG: Danny Green (4 stars, North Carolina)
SF: Kawhi Leonard (4 stars, San Diego State)
PF: Tim Duncan (N/A, Wake Forest)
C: Tiago Splitter (N/A, Brazil)

Reserves Over 10 Minutes
SG: Manu Ginobili (N/A, Argentina)
PF: Boris Diaw (N/A, France)
PG: Patty Mills (0 stars, St. Mary’s)
SG: Marco Belinelli (N/A, Italy)

The Rest
PF: Matt Bonner (N/A, Florida)
C: Jeff Ayres (formerly Jeff Pendergraph) (3 stars, Arizona State)
SF: Austin Daye, Gonzaga (5 stars, Gonzaga)
PG: Cory Joseph (5 stars, Texas)

Dallas Mavericks
PG: Jose Calderon (N/A, Spain)
SG: Monta Ellis (5 stars, High School)
SF: Shawn Marion (N/A, UNLV)
PF: Dirk Nowitzki (N/A, Germany)
C: Samuel Dalembert (N/A, Seton Hall)

Reserves Over 10 Minutes
PG: Devin Harris (N/A, Wisconsin)
SG: Vince Carter (N/A, North Carolina)
PF: Brandan Wright (5 stars, North Carolina)
SF: Jae Crowder (3 stars, Marquette)

The Rest
C: DeJuan Blair (4 stars, Pittsburgh)
PG: Shane Larkin (4 stars, Miami (FL))
SG: Wayne Ellington (5 stars, North Carolina)
C: Bernard James (0 stars, Florida State)

Notes From The 2014 Nike Hoop Summit

Five bigs could conceivably become the first five picks of the 2015 NBA Draft. All five of them (Jahlil Okafor, Myles Turner, Karl Towns Jr., Trey Lyles and Cliff Alexander) have been here this week in Portland at the Nike Hoop Summit and all five have radically divergent styles.

Okafor: The highly polished and graceful post scorer.

Turner: The raw athlete with the length to become a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

Towns: The two-way, multi-dimensional seven-footer.

Lyles: The classic face-up power forward.

Alexander: The bruising hard hat big.

While Alexander has the least amount of talent and upside by a comfortable margin, the other four are remarkably close in terms of talent and how someone ranks them is an indicator of what they value most and least from a big.

Jahlil Okafor continues to look like the most skilled post prospect we’ve seen in years, with a blend of advanced footwork and quickness in spin moves to lose his defender. Okafor almost plays like an ice hockey player in the smoothness of his movements, yet he rarely leaves the ground unless he’s right at the rim and that is more length than lift.

Okafor lacks verticality in the post and not having a reliable jump hook is a liability when he goes to work against a defender as long and athletic as Turner or Towns.

Okafor won’t impact the game too significantly unless he’s the focal point of a team’s halfcourt offense. The World Select Team played a pressing halfcourt zone, which didn’t allow Okafor to get to work until late in the second quarter when they switched to man.

For most of the game, Okafor looked far more ordinary than I’ve seen him on other occasions. 

Myles Turner looks stronger and is also one inch taller since I last saw him in August. He is active on defense and a disruptor to anyone coming into the lane.

Turner is an injury concern due to how awkward he runs and lacks fluidity in his movements. Turner left the game in the second half with an injured ankle.

Turner already has a respectable jumper and hit one in the game just inside the three-point line, but it is doubtful he ever becomes a significant scorer.

Karl Towns had a better looking shot during the practice sessions than nearly anyone on the USA roster. He has the type of range on his jumper that most bigs don’t develop into very late in his career. Towns has the potential to be the best all-around big of this group because he projects as having the capacity to develop every critical aspect of his game.

Towns doesn’t have the athleticism of Turner or skill level of Okafor, but he can be a more active version of a healthy Andrew Bynum, who coincidentally went to the same high school in New Jersey. Similar to Bynum, his lack of seriousness in his approach to the game is concerning. Some players are capable of maximizing their potential regardless, but the fear that he plateaus in his development is legitimate.

Trey Lyles has the complete toolbox for a face-up big. He’s smooth and has a sophisticated game in the 10-20 feet range in the halfcourt. Lyles was more confident and aggressive here than he was at adidas Nations, but he still tends to disappear and has lapses of playing too soft.

Cliff Alexander is not especially skilled or athletic, but does all a lot of little things like boxing out, setting a big screen, etc., that add up to an effective big in aggregate.

Even though Alexander the best rebounder right now of the group, I’m far less bullish on him, but I also believe bigs with his type of skill-set are far less valuable.

Most of the perimeter prospects are not quite at the same level at this point, though Emmanuel Mudiay, Stanley Johnson and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk have been the most intriguing over the course of the week.

Emmanuel Mudiay was the best perimeter shooter of the week, which is particularly scary since he’s one of the biggest and strongest point guards with truly elite talent to emerge in recent years.

Mudiay can lose his man with ease off the dribble with sudden bursts of quickness and power that has some Dwyane Wade to it, but he too often dribbles sloppily into a black hole in the halfcourt and that part of his game will need to mature significantly in order for him to become an NBA starter.

Mudiay will play for Larry Brown at SMU and he’s absolutely capable and talented enough to play his way up draft boards all the way to No. 1 if he shows improved decision-making.

Mudiay had 12 points in the first half and dictated play for the World Select team, before finishing with a game-high 20 points. Mudiay had the most consistently impactful performance in the game and has the intangibles to become a franchise player.

Stanley Johnson is fearless going to the basket with the physicality of a football player. He was the toughest and most active player on the USA roster and is impossible to guard when he’s hitting from three because of how good he is driving the lane.

Johnson had a frustrating game, however, going 1-for-6 from the field.

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk was a late addition to the roster and it was the first time nearly everyone has seen the 16-year-old out of Ukraine. Mykhailiuk appeared out of his element physically at times, but the purity of his shot and natural instinct were always there.

He turned the ball over on his first touch of the game curling around a screen, but had a nice assist on his next touch.

Mykhailiuk struggled badly with his three-point shot attempts in the first half as the speed of the game.

Mykhailiuk is a legitimate 6’6 and he already is an impressive athlete for his age. Mykhailiuk can dunk with ease on an alley-oop to himself off the backboard and his quickness in creating for himself off the dribble may become his most special ability.

Other Notes

Justise Winslow & Kelly Oubre: These two southpaw wings are extraordinarily similar on the superficial levels. They’re about the same the same height and have similar skill-sets, though Winslow is a little stronger. Both are physically more mature than most of the other players. Oubre has a better perimeter shot but appears prone to mental lapses and erratic misses, while Winslow is extremely serious and will clearly maximize his potential with his work ethic.

Winslow has enough skill and athleticism to convert on most of the opportunities his high motor creates.

With the possible exception of Tyus Jones, both players had the best games of any of the USA players with Winslow scoring 16 and Oubre finishing with 14.

Damien Inglis: One of the better perimeter shooters during the practice sessions, Inglis is an extremely long 6’8 due to his 7’3 wingspan. Inglis should become a useful 3 & D rotation player and has enough length and a wide frame to add strength to play small ball 4.

Inglis had good vision on a first quarter drive, finding Towns for an easy dunk. His playing time and usage was limited with Mudiay dominating the ball in the first half, but had a nice run in the second half.

Tyus Jones: A pure point guard with all of the leadership qualities you want from the position, Jones will undoubtedly have an outstanding college career at Duke. In terms of his NBA potential, it is difficult to gauge how special his skills are because he’ll need to be in order to become a start at that level due to his modest physical profile.

Jones is all runners and drive & kicks without a reliable jumper or sufficient athleticism to get to the rim.

Jones had a particularly strong second half with several key assists and steals to help USA pull away on their way to the 84-73 win.

Theo Pinson: Consistently a disruptor on the perimeter on both sides of the floor with his motor and length. The erratic nature of his game is alternately a benefit and detriment.

Jamal Murray: He picked his spots well with a strong shooting performance, hitting a pair of top of the arc three-pointers in the first half. There’s a lot of Leandro Barbosa in his game.

Clint Capela: The only player from this game that will be in the 2014 NBA Draft, Capela had two moments of impressive play for every seven frustrating ones throughout the week. Big project but he could certainly develop into a rotation big.

Scouting The McDonald's All-American Game

The 2014 McDonald’s All-American Game was played in Chicago on Wednesday, featuring some of the top high school prospects in the country Although there shouldn’t be a lot of stock put into an All-Star game environment, there were plenty of observations to be confirmed. There will be an abundance of one-and-done prospects to watch next season.

Names that fans should definitely remember are Emmanuel Mudiay (SMU), Stanley Johnson (Arizona), Jahlil Okafor (Duke), and Myles Turner (Uncommitted). These four prospects clearly have NBA potential, while Cliff Alexander (Kansas), Trey Lyles (Kentucky), and Karl Towns (Kentucky) should be thrown into the next tier as well. Mudiay might have the most star potential because of his scoring ability and upside. Johnson is a proven winner while Okafor and Turner are skilled big men that are hard to find.

Scouting reports collected from the game and other events are below:

Cliff Alexander, PF, 6-foot-9 (Kansas): Despite playing with a wrist injury, Alexander flashed the athleticism and length to make an instant impact. He had nine points (4-11 FG) and 11 rebounds but easily could have had more points after missing some lob attempts. If he develops a post game and adds some bulk at Kansas, he should be one of the top freshmen in the country. There’s plenty of upside for this athletic power forward.

Grayson Allen, SG, 6-foot-4 (Duke): Allen certainly didn’t have his best shooting day with only four points (2-6 FG, 0-2 3FG), but that’s what he can do at the next level. He’s a shooter who is starting to become an overall scoring threat that can slash to the bucket as well. After winning the dunk contest, it’s evident that he has the athletic ability to compete at Duke. He may not play big minutes as a freshman, but could be a quality four-year contributor.

Joel Berry, PG, 6-foot-0 (North Carolina): Berry isn’t an elite athlete, but is a smart point guard with a high basketball IQ. After getting his shots blocked on a couple drives to the basket, Berry implemented a floater to compensate for his struggles to finish inside. He finished with seven points (3-6 FG, 1-2 3FG) and four assists. He’s an overall solid point guard prospect who can defend as well, but may not see the floor very much during his freshman season with Marcus Paige returning.

James Blackmon Jr., SG, 6-foot-2 (Indiana): The shooting specialist took some questionable shots on Wednesday but still had a nice performance. Blackmon Jr. finished with 13 points (5-11 FG, 1-4 3FG) but can work on impacting the game in other areas. He’s a knock-down shooter who can contribute immediately because of his jumper.

Devin Booker, SG, 6-foot-5 (Kentucky): Another shooting specialist, Booker had eight points (3-8 FG, 2-3 3FG) with a pair of three pointers. His calling card at this point is in his shooting ability, but he has the physical tools to expand his game. Booker takes quality shots and could start from day one if James Young declares for the draft.

Justin Jackson, SF, 6-foot-7 (North Carolina): Jackson was a co-MVP for good reason. He had a game-high 23 points (11-14 FG, 1-2 3FG), five rebounds, and two assists. Jackson can be a quiet scorer, but seems to have a nose for the basketball in transition and put-back situations. He’s a lengthy small forward without an ego and is a decent ball handler as well. Jackson needs to add strength, but he’ll be a great addition to North Carolina’s bench next year. He’ll have plenty of upside to develop into an all-around sound player for the Tar Heels.

Stanley Johnson, SF, 6-foot-7 (Arizona): With the likely departure of Aaron Gordon, Johnson will be the perfect replacement. Their games differ immensely, as Johnson is a scorer who can shoot or attack the basket. He has the physical ability to get by a defender and finish at the basket. In addition, he uses a right to left crossover where he hesitates and can pull up for the jumper or attack off the bounce. He’s won four state titles at Mater Dei and is a proven winner. Johnson even played some point guard this past season and is an underrated passer. He had eight points (4-10 FG, 0-3 3FG) with four rebounds and although those numbers may not be overly impressive, Johnson should be one of the best freshmen in the country next season.

Tyus Jones, PG, 6-foot-1 (Duke): A solid point guard prospect, Jones excels in pick-and-roll situations. He used a screen to shed a defender and then spun into a floater for a highlight play on Wednesday. Jones will be a good floor general who had seven points (3-5 FG, 1-1 3FG) and 10 assists in the game compared to only one turnover. He isn’t a great athlete, but has a high basketball IQ and is a gifted passer. Jones could start immediately but will compete with Quinn Cook for the starting job over the summer.

Kevon Looney, F, 6-foot-8 (UCLA): The first trait that pops out about Looney is his length. He has extremely long arms and is a good athlete who can play either forward spot. The UCLA bound forward can handle the ball and has a solid jumper from mid-range. He will need to add strength and a consistent jumper from deep to become a lethal scoring weapon. Looney should provide an instant impact due to his rebounding ability while he has plenty of upside. He had six points and 11 rebounds on Wednesday.

Trey Lyles, PF, 6-foot-10 (Kentucky): A skilled big man, Lyles had eight points (3-7 FG, 0-1 3FG), eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals. He can face up and knock down the mid-range jumper or use his moves on the block. Lyles is a versatile big with plenty of potential at Kentucky.

Emmanuel Mudiay, G, 6-foot-5 (SMU): Mudiay could very well end up being the top freshman in the country next season. He’s a great athlete who excels in isolation situations. As a point guard who plays at a good pace, he changes speed to keep defenders off balance. He can also play off the ball because of his size, length, and scoring ability. Mudiay had a highlight play to end the first half after using a hesitation dribble to freeze the defender and followed with a soaring one-handed slam down the lane. Later, he had an athletic up-and-under finish for a layup. He finished the night with 15 points (6-15 FG, 0-3 3FG) and six assists. If he adds a three-point jumper, he’ll become nearly unstoppable. Mudiay is a smooth operator who has the athleticism and skill set to become the leading scorer at SMU next season.

Jahlil Okafor, C, 6-foot-10 (Duke): The game’s co-MVP finished with 17 points (8-15 FG) and seven rebounds in the win. He’s an old school, back to the basket center who looks for contact down low. Okafor isn’t a great athlete, but uses his size to box out and fight for position. He also displayed decent touch from eight feet. Most sites rank him as the top prospect in this class and he should start at Duke from day one. If he can finish over length at the next level, there’s no doubt he’ll make a huge impact next season.

Kelly Oubre, SF, 6-foot-7 (Kansas): Oubre struggled from the field, shooting 3-of-13 and 0-of-5 from behind the arc to finish with 11 points and seven rebounds, but he’s shown the ability to excel at Kansas on previous occasions. He’s a lengthy wing who can hit threes from the wing. Oubre’s size makes him a mismatch against other small forwards and his athleticism helps him attack the glass. He’ll be a nice replacement for Andrew Wiggins.

Theo Pinson, SF, 6-foot-6 (North Carolina): Pinson had the play of the night with a dunk over a defender in transition. He clearly has the athleticism, although the only other point he had was from a free throw. Pinson has the upside to become a star, but needs to add a consistent jumper to compliment his mid-range game.

D’Angelo Russell, SG, 6-foot-4 (Ohio State): Russell will provide much-needed scoring for Ohio State next season. He’s a smooth operator who had 11 points (5-10 FG, 1-2 3FG) and four assists. Russell can play either guard spot but excels in mid-range when he can pull-up off the dribble.

Karl Towns Jr., C, 6-foot-11 (Kentucky): Towns Jr. is a versatile center who can stretch the floor. He has soft hands and touch to dominate down low while he can also knock down three-pointers. The future Wildcat had six points (3-6 FG, 0-1 3FG), five rebounds, and two blocks on Wednesday. He can work on his assertiveness because his size and skill set should allow him to dominate.

Reid Travis, PF, 6-foot-8 (Stanford): Also a tremendous quarterback prospect, Travis seems to be sticking to basketball at Stanford. He’s a strong power forward who had eight points (4-8 FG, 0-2 3FG) and five rebounds in the All-American game. Travis battles down low and competes on the glass because of his energy. He tried stretching the floor, but still has a shaky jumper. Travis is an undersized power forward who finds a way to dominate on the block.

Romelo Trimble, PG, 6-foot-2 (Maryland): Trimble is a good ball handler with a nice crossover. He struggled in the All-American game without a field goal and had two points on 0-of-4 shooting, but had some nice passes where his teammates couldn’t convert. Trimble can get to the basket and should challenge for a starting role at either guard spot.

Myles Turner, C, 7-foot-0 (Undecided): The only uncommitted prospect in the game was also one of the best. He had an efficient seven points (2-3 FG, 1-1 FG) to go with seven rebounds. His size and length help him on the defensive end as Okafor had trouble scoring against Turner. The 7-footer can stretch the floor out to the three-point line and he’s extremely versatile on the offensive end. He’s an all-around center who still possesses plenty of upside. Turner mentioned that he’ll name a decision date after sitting down with his family after the Jordan Brand All-American Game. Texas and Kansas have been two teams frequently mentioned as the favorites in Turner’s recruitment.

Tyler Ulis, PG, 5-foot-9 (Kentucky): Ulis isn’t a typical Kentucky prospect, as he’s only 5-foot-9 and isn’t a great leaper, but will be an instant fan favorite in Lexington. He’s extremely quick and has a great handle for the ball. Ulis can hit the three but is a quality distributor who can run a team. He had five points (2-5 FG, 1-2 3FG) and three assists, but seemed to make a bigger impact than the box score may show. The future Wildcat can also harass opposing ball handlers due to his energy and quickness. If the Harrison twins declare for the draft, Ulis should be ready to step in and start immediately.

Rashad Vaughn, SG, 6-foot-6 (UNLV): Vaughn is an elite athlete and scorer at the shooting guard position who should make an instant impact at UNLV. He was 5-of-11 from the floor, and 2-of-5 from deep, en route to a 14-point, 5-rebound performance. Vaughn already has the size, athleticism, and skill set to succeed at the next level as he’ll only need to improve his consistency while continuing to improve.

Thomas Welsh, C, 6-foot-11 (UCLA): This wasn’t the ideal environment for Welsh as he was the only player held scoreless, but still showed why he was invited to the game. He’s a good passer out of the post, as he had two assists in eight minutes to go with two rebounds. Welsh is a more traditional big man who prefers his back to the basket although he can knock down the mid-range jumper. He isn’t a great athlete, but has soft hands and has the competitiveness to rebound.

Isaiah Whitehead, SG, 6-foot-4 (Seton Hall): Whitehead will be one of the most talented freshmen to play at Seton Hall. He’s a scorer who attacks the rim and can get to the free throw line. Whitehead had six points (2-5 FG, 0-1 3FG) in only nine minutes of action on Wednesday. He’ll make an instant impact as a scoring guard next season.

Justise Winslow, SF, 6-foot-6 (Duke): Winslow has the makings for a perfect glue guy. He’s a good defender who can play multiple positions. Winslow is extremely unselfish and seems to take pride on the defensive end. Offensively, he’s a quality passer who can attack off the bounce. Winslow had nine points (4-6 FG, 0-1 3FG) and three rebounds.

The AAU System And How The NBA Could Fix It

Because there is no professional structure to youth basketball in the United States, a poorly organized and often self-defeating culture has developed in its place. If AAU basketball is bad for business, the NBA has the power to fix it and instead look to the models of Europe.

Notes From 2013 Adidas Nations

Jahlil Okafor, Kevon Looney and Stanley Johnson were the most impressive prospects of adidas Nations, but Theo Pinson, D'Angelo Russell, Myles Turner and Reid Travis were the ones to grind their way to the championship.

Grassroots Basketball Since 'The Last Shot'

Grassroots basketball has changed dramatically in the 18 years since “The Last Shot”, a book about Stephon Marbury and several of his Lincoln High teammates was published. Summer league teams and All-Star camps, in their infancy in 1994, are now the main avenue for even low and mid-major players to be identified by college coaches.

Two More All-Prep Teams

Unlike your typical high school varsity team where you have players who aren't completely committed, prep school teams are almost always comprised of prospects training to play at the next level.

High School Dream Teams

While Team USA is imagining playing the 1992 edition, we put together mythical teams featuring the best players over the past 10 years from specific high schools.

RealGM Interview: Jabari Parker Of Simeon

RealGM recently spoke with Jabari Parker, who shared his thoughts about 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship, international experience and his young career.

Decade Look Back – Where To Scout Future College Players

While there is no question that the AAU circuit is the place to go to see elite high school talent in action, we were curious to see if there was any similar locus of talent among high school or prep school teams.

Nike Hoop Summit 2012

This game was boom and bust for the top high school recruits, and a few international players stole the spotlight.

Reviewing The 2012 McDonald's All-American Game

Shabazz Muhammad deservedly won the MVP award, but Alex Poythress had the most surprisingly outstanding game. How did the other players distinguish themselves?

Basketball Players In The NFL

On how the growing number of college basketball players playing the tight end has changed the NFL and why it may lead us to never see another Charles Barkley.

The Bigger Issues Of The Jereme Richmond Story

Jereme Richmond wasn’t the first player, and he won’t be the last, set up for failure by the current system of developing young basketball players in the United State.

Individual Evaluations Of The 2011 Nike Global Challenge

Estimating conservatively, 20 high school players that will play in the NBA participated in the 2011 Nike Global Challenge. From Aaron Gordon and Andrew Wiggins to Jabari Parker, Nerlens Noel and Julius Randle, how did they fare individually?

2011 Nike Global Challenge, Day 3

In a highly competitive championship, Archie Goodwin and USA Midwest outlasted Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Team Canada.

2011 Nike Global Challenge, Day 2

Notes on Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Aaron Gordon, Sim Bhullar, Nerlens Noel, Brandon Ashley and more from the semifinals.

2011 Nike Global Challenge, Day 1

Andrew Wiggins stole the show on Day 1 of the Nike Global Challenge as Canada and all three USA teams advanced to the semifinals.

The Limiting Nature Of How Young Talent Is Developed In The USA

Many blamed the youth development system for Team USA's loss in the Women's World Cup. Those same arguments can be applied to the consequences of American basketball players raised on an AAU-dominated system.

Welcome To The New RealGM

RealGM is pleased to be releasing the initial, beta phase, of our new basketball website with dozens of brand new features.

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