Top High School Players: Class of 2012
The 2011 high school recruiting class was one of the best in recent memory. It featured plenty of star power and impact players. Many of the players from last year’s senior class are expected to be one-and-done prospects in next year’s stacked NBA draft.
In other words, the 2012 recruiting class has big shoes to fill.
This year’s bunch is also extremely talented and features potential stars at nearly every position. Last year, many of the top recruits committed to colleges early, but that hasn’t been the case this year. Of the fifteen players on this list, only three have decided on a college, which has created suspense and made this class particularly exciting to follow.
While it’s difficult to rate players prior to their senior season, especially when many are transferring for their final year of high school, HOOPSWORLD has compiled a list of 2012 recruits to watch during the upcoming year. These players have a ton of upside and are highly coveted by some of the top college programs in the country. These are the prospects to keep an eye on next season:
Shabazz Muhammed | 6’6, Forward, Bishop Gorman - After flying under the radar as an underclassman, Muhammed has established himself as one of the elite players in the class of 2012. He is widely regarded as the best perimeter player in the class, and some believe he’s the best overall prospect of the group. He’s a phenomenal athlete who is exceptional in transition. He’s also capable of dominating in a half court set, where he uses his athleticism to blow by defenders and finish at the rim or pulls up and displays his unstoppable mid-range game. His three-point shot could use work and he tends to rely heavily on his left hand, but even when the defense knows where he’s going, they have a difficult time slowing him down. Muhammed has offers from every top program in the country, but his top schools – in alphabetical order – are Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA and UNLV.
Andre Drummond | 6’10, Center, St. Thomas More – Drummond is a man among boys on the court and easily one of the most dominant players in this class. His size, strength and skill make him nearly unstoppable and it’s not uncommon to see opposing teams throw as many as three defenders at him in an attempt to slow him down. Drummond is a physical player, but he also has touch around the basket and a solid repertoire of post moves. He’s also an excellent shot blocker who forces teams to shoot from the perimeter for fear of having their shots swatted into the stands. While his energy and effort level have been questioned in the past, he’s becoming more consistent and doing a better job dominating games from start to finish. The main questions surrounding Drummond involve his future. His high school class graduated last year, but because he’s only 18 years old, he may decide to attend prep school for another year rather than enrolling in college. He’ll likely make his decision in the next few weeks, but don’t be surprised if he’s one of the top picks in the 2012 NBA Draft regardless of the route he chooses.
Isaiah Austin | 7’0, Center, Grace Prep - Austin is one of the few prospects in this class that has already announced his college choice. The seven-footer committed to Baylor last year, which has kept his name out of the headlines and silenced some of the buzz surrounding him. However, Austin is physical freak of nature, with size and athleticism that allows him to dominate on both ends of the floor. While he’s not as built as Drummond, he’s longer and more mobile. He has also been labeled as inconsistent and accused of disappearing during games, but he has plenty of upside and Baylor has a lot to look forward to in the near future.
Mitch McGary | 6’10, Forward, Brewster Academy - Unlike other big men in this class, McGary’s effort level will never be questioned. The five-star power forward is known for being extremely active on both ends of the floor and playing with contagious aggressiveness. McGary is excellent off the dribble and can beat defenders with his jump shot or by finishing at the rim. He must continue to work on his back to the basket moves, but the fact that he’s able to dominate offensively without many post moves in his arsenal shows just how excellent he is at scoring in face-up situations. He’s also an excellent defender and is good for at least one highlight reel block every game. McGary has offers from Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Michigan, Memphis, Kansas, Texas, Arizona, Florida and Florida State among others.
Kyle Anderson | 6’8, Guard/Forward, St. Anthony – Anderson is one of the most unique players in this class. While he’s listed as a small forward, he can play all three perimeter positions. He’s extremely versatile and long, which makes him a match-up nightmare. He’s the epitome of a point forward and he’s able to impact games with his knack for scoring, exceptional court vision and high basketball IQ. Unlike the other players on this list, he’s not freakishly athletic, but he’s a game changer. Opposing teams have trouble taking him out of the game because he’s not one dimensional and he makes his teammates better. While he needs to improve his shot and add strength, he’s an intriguing player that can contribute in a number of ways. Anderson is currently considering offers from UCLA, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Georgetown and Florida.
Rodney Purvis | 6’4, Guard, Upper Room Christian Academy – Purvis is one of the most explosive players in this class. He has been appearing in highlight reels since middle school, and is already a recognizable name for most basketball fans. Last year, he made national headlines by reclassifying himself so that he could graduate in 2012 rather than 2013. That means he’s one of the youngest players in this class, but you would never know it watching him play. He’s extremely quick and excellent at getting to the rim. He finishes in traffic and is widely regarded as the best slasher in the nation. His jump shot needs work, but his athleticism and speed alone make him a scoring threat every time he touches the ball. He’s also great at finding open teammates when the defense closes in on him. Purvis decommitted from Louisville in May and is now also considering offers from Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina State.
Jarnell Stokes | 6’7, Forward, Oak Hill Academy – This has been a summer of changes for Stokes. Not only did he transfer from Central High School in Memphis to the prestigious Oak Hill Academy, he’s added a new dimenson to his game. He’s known as one of the best power forwards in the nation, but Stokes has improved his ball handling and perimeter skills. While he has drawn comparisons to Karl Malone with his array of post moves, Stokes is attempting to expand his game and play more like fellow Oak Hill alum Carmelo Anthony. He’s causes plenty of match-up problems and will continue to dominate playing alongside other top prospects at Oak Hill. Whether he’s playing inside or out, Stokes is an exceptional talent and currently lists his top six schools as Memphis, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Florida and Connecticut
Ricardo Ledo | 6’5, Guard, Notre Dame Prep – There may not be a better scorer in the nation than Ledo. He can take his man off the dribble and finish at the rim. He can knock down mid-range jumpers. He can shoot from long range. Ledo can put up points in spurts and take over games with his scoring ability. Because he’s able to put the ball in the basket so easily, Ledo sometimes settles for difficult shots or forces things on offense. With that said, he’s still a top talent and quite possibly the best shooting guard in the country. At one point, Ledo was committed to Providence, but now he is also considering offers from Kentucky, Connecticut, Syracuse and Florida.
Brandon Ashley | 6’8, Forward, Findlay College Prep – Ashley has the physical frame and length to dominate on both ends of the floor. He has a terrific leaping ability and a nice repertoire of back to the basket moves. On defense, he uses his excellent timing to block and alter shots. Ashley has been on the radar for awhile now and made a name for himself as a talented, well-rounded big. He must continue to improve his consistency, but there’s no question he has amazing upside. Ashley is considering offers from Arizona, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Oregon, Syracuse, Texas and UCLA.
Archie Goodwin | 6’5, Guard, Sylvan Hills – Going into this summer, Goodwin was considered a notch below Purvis and Ledo, but he’s been playing exceptional basketball in recent weeks. After dislocating his wrist several months ago, it looked like Goodwin’s stock would remain the same or plummet. However, he healed at a tremendous rate and proceeded to submit his name into the argument for best guard in the class. Goodwin has drawn comparisons to fellow Arkansas native Joe Johnson because of his versatility and scoring ability. He can drive to the basket and shoot the ball well. His long arms allow him to disrupt the passing lanes and guard bigger players. He needs to bulk up, but that will come with time. Goodwin is considering offers from Kentucky and Arkansas.
DaJuan Coleman | 6’10, Center, Jamesville-DeWitt – Take one look at Coleman and you’ll demand to see his birth certificate. Not only does he tower over his high school peers, his 280-pound frame and amazing strength make him nearly impossible to stop in the paint. Coleman has several go-to post moves and he’s a defensive presence. He has been playing varsity basketball and football since eighth grade and he’s known to be one of John Calipari’s favorite players in the class of 2012. He is considering offers from Kentucky and Syracuse.
Robert Carter | 6’8, Forward, Thomasville – Not only are basketball scouts intrigued by Carter’s size and athleticism, the 250-pound power forward is also being scouted as a football player. He has NBA and NFL potential so it’s up to Carter which sport he wants to pursue a career in someday. Carter has excellent footwork, an array of post moves and a solid midrange game. While he tends to settle for jump shots, he’s dominant when he catches the ball in the paint. His agility is also impressive for his size, which allows him to run the floor (or sack quarterbacks). He’s one of the most polished offensive big men in this class, and continues to improve thanks to his great work ethic. Carter is considering offers from Kentucky, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Clemson and Virginia Tech.
Cameron Ridley | 6’10, Center, Bush – After committing to Texas in January, Ridley hasn’t received as much attention as his undecided peers. His name hasn’t been in the headlines as often as others, but he has played well against top competition this summer. Ridley is a true center with impressive size and length. His excellent hands allow him to dominate the glass on both ends of the floor and he’s improving as post scorer. He has excellent energy and is constantly making plays with and without the ball. With LaMarcus Aldridge, Dexter Pittman and Tristan Thompson, Texas has had its share of raw big men with unlimited upside in recent years and Ridley fits that same mold.
Rasheed Sulaimon | 6’3, Guard, Strake Jesuit College Prep - Few players have helped their stock as much as Sulaimon has in recent months. Like Goodwin, he has entered the discussion for best guard in the country this summer thanks to a number of dominant performances. He’s a versatile scorer who uses his quickness and athleticism to get the basket. Sulaimon is excellent at finding open teammates on the drive, and he can also step back and knock down jumpers. While he is a shooting guard now, there is a strong possibility that he will make the switch to point guard at the college level. The Duke-commit has already shown that he can defend both positions and possesses the court vision to be a top floor general. He’s a very smart player with a high basketball IQ so he shouldn’t have any problems with Mike Krzyzewski.
Kaleb Tarczewski | 7’0, Center, St. Mark’s School – Tarczewski has a reputation for being very coachable, which makes the seven-footer even more attractive to prospective programs. He has an excellent motor and athleticism, but he’s still trying to improve his consistency and realize his potential. He has spurts of dominance, but then tends to disappear at times. With that said, he has a great work ethic and many around the high school game say that he has improved more than any other player over the last two years. As he continues to improve, expect him to become more of a force on both ends of the court. Tarczewski is currently weighing offers from Kansas, Arizona, North Carolina and Kentucky.
Other Players to Watch: Devonta Pollard (6’7, Forward, Kemper County), Gary Harris (6’4, Guard, Hamilton Southeastern), Shaq Goodwin (6’8, Forward, Southwest Dekalb), Alex Poythress (6’7, Forward, Northeast), Marcus Paige (6’1, Guard, Linn-Mar), Marcus Smart (6’3, Guard, Marcus), Anthony Bennett (6’8, Forward, Findlay College Prep), Trey Dickerson (6’1, Guard, Montclair)