Top 25 Rising Juniors (Class of 2004)

Just as the class of 2003 was prefaced, I want to make it clear again that this list is based upon nothing more than which players I thought performed the best in games I watched this summer. The only difference is that the following Top 25 is composed of rising juniors. And 2004 is a loaded class if ever there was one.

As of 08/05/2002

If I leave someone out it's either because I didn't see him play or he wasn't quite worthy of the Top 25 in my estimation. As I said yesterday, these lists are just for fun and shouldn't be taken so seriously. It is not gospel, instead it is just a nice way to waste time and entertain yourself with new names to remember for later years. Some of these kids have tremendous upsides and many have already committed to major college basketball programs.

Quick note for Arizona fans: I did not have the privilege of watching Wildcat commit Juwann McClellan play this summer. From everything I've been told about his game, he's sure to be a consensus top 10 player nationally as he continues to develop his already-mature game.

In honor of the greatest and best player who ever lived, Jerry Sokolowski of Toronto, Ontario, I will now begin the post-summer Top 25 from the class of 2004…

1. Daniel Gibson, 6-2 CG, Houston-Great shooter that plays under control. Very smooth with the ball in his hands. Can take over a game with his shot and scoring prowess. Has an air of confidence that says, "Yeah, I know I'm good, try to stop me."
2. Mohammed Tangara, 6-9 PF, McDonough, GA-Perhaps the most aggressive player in all of high school basketball. Challenging him for a rebound is not the smartest idea. This kid is a beast but needs polish on his offensive game. Gigantic upside.
3. Shaun Livingston, 6-6 PG, Peoria, IL-Playmaking point guard has deceptively good athleticism and an effective, yet ugly, shot. First step is excellent and once he gets into the lane, he's tall enough to finish over his smaller defenders or find an open teammate. Once he bulks up from his present "buck-oh-nine", he'll be virtually unguardable.
4. Ra'Sean Dickey, 6-8 PF, Clio, SC-See: Tangara, with a much better offensive game. Whoever gets this guy will have an improved team from Day One once he gets on campus.
5. Jesse Holley, 6-3 SG, Newark, NJ-Terrific shooter with an NBA-ready mid-range game. Scores from all over. Had consecutive games of 26 points on a combined 16-25 shooting (6-7 from three-point land) while in Las Vegas. Good, strong body for someone his age as well.
6. Sebastian Telfair, 6-0 PG, Brooklyn, NY-No one that I've ever seen is as flashy but at the same time effective with his playmaking and passing as "Bassy" is. This is one NYC point guard that lives up to the hype. His shot looks great but something must be mechanically wrong because his shooting percentages are in the toilet. In Vegas, he made some passes I know that I'll probably never see again. They were that good. Probably has the biggest presence about him of anyone not named Lebron James on the high school level. Take one look at Telfair and you just know he's a player.
7. Darius Washington, 6-1 CG, Orlando, FL-Very impressive in the times I watched him in Las Vegas. Not exactly sure with the numbers but he put up at least 30 points twice on the way to the Big Time finals, including a game-winning 18-footer against the loaded Pump ‘n Run (CA) team. Clutch performer with great scoring ability.
8. Kalen Grimes, 6-8 PF, Florissant, MO-Physically, he's a clone of Ra'Sean Dickey. As a basketball player, Grimes probably has the better inside post moves offensively while Dickey's the better rebounder. Another big upside guy.
9. Marvin Williams, 6-8 WF, Bremerton, WA-Offensive rebounds and blocking shots are the staples of his game. Tends to hang out on the perimeter a bit much for a guy his size but when he does go in, he usually winds up dunking one of his teammates' missed shots. He can shoot from outside but he'll be better off underneath in college. Very athletic and very strong. Played on the Seattle Rotary Select AAU team featuring Josh Heytvelt and Lyndale Burleson.
10. Rajon Rondo, 6-2 CG, Louisville, KY-Outplayed Duke commit DeMarcus Nelson one night in Vegas to the tune of around 30 points. He's a good shooter with a nice handle and quickness. Very shifty. Makes things happen and hits big shots.
11. Le Marcus Aldridge, 6-11 C, Dallas-In the games I watched him play he didn't take over as much as I thought he would but it was obvious what kind of talent he possessed, not to mention his size. Shot blocker with good post moves whom makes a very high percentage of his shots because he gets in so close.
12. DeMarcus Nelson, 6-3 CG, Vallejo, CA-Nelson is headed to Duke to play in college and he'll bring with him a football player's body and aggressiveness. No guard hits the boards like Nelson does (averaged over 15 per game as a sophomore!). Nelson scores in bunches and will likely play a lot more at the two in college. Defense needs work.
13. Mike Williams, 6-8 PF, Camden, AL-True power forward that gets it done under the boards. Showed a nice mid-range touch on a consistent basis also. Played on the same AAU frontcourt with Jackie Butler and class of 2005 SF Tyler Smith.
14. Juan Diego Tello Palacios, 6-8 PF, Centereach, NY-Inside-only player with a massive body (260-pounds, all muscle). Still learning the game and is a bit raw but has a lot of potential.
15. Corey Brewer, 6-7 SF, Portland, TN-Only weighs about 165-pounds but he's a very good athlete with a shot. I was very impressed by him at Nike.
16. Jason Horton, 5-11 PG, Cedar Hill, TX-Very steady point guard that rarely makes a mistake. By far his biggest asset was his on and off-the-ball defense. He can score but he seemed like he didn't know he was that good, which is completely the opposite of local rival Daniel Gibson.
17. Eric Payne, 6-3 SG, Tulsa, OK-I watched this slasher/scorer play one night in Los Angeles and he had 31 points against a GREAT on-the-ball defender in Enrico Tucker. He was on fire from all over. Figuring it was "just one of those nights", I went to watch him the next morning only to see him drop 25 on someone else. Later that day, he "only" scored 23 on a variety of nice drives to the basket for dunks while sprinkling in a few threes. Oklahoma and North Carolina are recruiting him the hardest, he said.
18. Glenn Miles, 6-4 SG, Birmingham, AL-Another member of the ultra-talented Southeast Pump ‘n Run team featuring Butler, Williams and Smith. Miles is the lights-out shooter of the bunch and his size and strength make guarding him a chore. One of the better scorers I watched all summer.
19. Tim Pierce, 6-6 SF, Oakland, CA-He and 2003 PG Ayinde Ubaka made each other look really good in transition for their Oakland Slam N Jam AAU team. Pierce is a top-shelf scorer with a nice outside shot. He's pretty strong, too.
20. Randolph Morris, 6-10 PF/C, Palmetto, GA-He was very impressive in Las Vegas and played inspired basketball on both ends of the court in the games I watched him play. He's athletic and he rebounds very well. Good defender in the post.
21. Steve Neal, 6-3 WG, Minneapolis-Tremendous athlete with a scorer's mentality and a muscular body. Will be a very good defender if he decides to be in college. Has all the tools to become a bona fide star.
22. Dwight Howard II, 6-9 PF, East Point, GA-Very skilled big man. Can do a lot with the ball once he gets it. In looking at my notes, one of the first things I wrote about Howard was, "Very good!!". I guess he left an impression. Could be a top 10 guy by the end of his HS year.
23. Enrico Tucker, 6-0 PG, San Diego-Almost undoubtedly was the best on-the-ball defender I saw all summer. One of only two juniors to make the All-Tournament teams at both the Eastern Invitational and Full Court Press All-West camp. Tucker came into his own this summer after being seen mostly as a football prospect (1,750 yards as a RB last year). Double-digit assist guy that finds the open man. One game I watched he nearly had a triple-double and the next time out he held the much stronger and taller Lodrick Stewart in check defensively while handing out an impressive 12 assists in leading his IEBP Ballers AAU team to a blowout win. Doesn't get the credit he deserves because he lives in San Diego as opposed to LA.
24. Josh Heytvelt, 6-9 WF, Clarkston, WA-Does a little bit of everything on the court and he does all of it the right way. Heytvelt is a way above average passer for a big man while also hitting the glass hard for rebounds. He's a good scorer but that wasn't his role on his AAU team for the most part. He makes everyone around him better because he's so fundamentally sound. He'll be a steal for whoever signs him in college.
25. Jermaine Bell, 6-10 PF, Syracuse, NY-Long, tall lefty with a smooth shot and an inside game to match. This kid is former UCLA standout Jerome Moiso minus 15 pounds. His shot from outside is beautiful, as are his post moves. Personally led his AAU team to a 25-point comeback victory over Pump ‘n Run by blocking shots, hitting 18-footers and scoring on baby-hooks from close range. Another potential top 10 prospect.

Others worthy of mention:
Jerrell Houston, 6-7 WF, Memphis, TN
Chester Giles, 6-10 C, Seattle
JamesOn Curry, 6-2 PG, Burlington, NC
Draelon Burns, 6-2 WG, Milwaukee
David Pendergraft, 6-4 SF, Brewster, WA
Rudy Gay, 6-6 SF, Baltimore County, MD
Jordan Farmar, 6-2 CG, Los Angeles
Ron Coleman, 6-5 SF, Romulus, MI
Marcel Jones, 6-7 SF, Santa Ana, CA
Lyndale Burleson, 6-3 PG, Renton, WA
Ty Morrison, 6-7 SF, Phoenix (Trevor Browne)
Andre Allen, 5-8 (190) PG, Memphis

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