For the second straight year in a row, the honor of top prep in our final rankings was a no brainer. With absolutely no disrespect meant towards Carmelo Anthony, we tabbed Amare Stoudemire for the honor last season and, well, you know what kind of year he had in Phoenix.
Ranking Stoudemire over Anthony (how about those choices?) was relatively painless, but selecting LeBron James
as this year's top high school prep is no-brainer of a lifetime. For the past three years, no one has challenged him for the top spot. He's the only high school player in history to ever command 90 million dollars from Nike, take a cool mil from Upper Deck just for his signature and use his NBA salary as laundry money his first year in the league.
In addition to LeBron, five other high school comrades declared for the NBA Draft and five of the six appear in our top dozen. So, without further deliberations, here is one man's definition on the top dozen high school seniors.
1. LeBron James, SG, Akron (OH): See NBA Draft Lottery.
2. Luol Deng, SF, Blairstown (NJ): Versatile, smooth and savvy. He's a leader and a multi-positional guy. Signed with Duke.
3. Ndudi Ebi, PF, Houston (TX): Talented and plays with a chip on his shoulder. Has a step out game and super long-term potential. Declared for draft and signed with Arizona.
4. David Padgett, C, Reno (NV): Efficient, skilled and crafty. Son of a coach, grandson of a coach and willing to be coached himself. Signed with Kansas.
5. Shannon Brown, SG, Maywood (IL): Super athlete. Big time perimeter talent is a strong driver and reliable deep shooter. Headed to Michigan State.
6. Kendrick Perkins, C, Beaumont (TX): One of the last guys we've heard embrace the center position. Accomplished low-post scorer. Declared for draft and signed with Memphis.
7. Charlie Villanueva, SF, Blairstown (NJ): Has many gifts and plays two forward positions, but prefers working in open space on the wing. Declared for draft and is unsigned.
8. Leon Powe, PF, Oakland (CA): Warrior who recovered nicely from serious knee injury. Will battle until opponent gives in and fouls him. Signed with California.
9. Chris Paul, PG, Clemmons (NC): "Mr. Intangible." The guy everyone enjoys playing with because he's unselfish. Don't let the "Mr. Nice Guy" act fool you. He is tough as nails on the court. Headed to Wake Forest.
10. Mustafa Shakur, PG, Wynnewood (PA): So good at finding open teammates that it is almost embarrassing if you don't find for him. Great body for position. Signed with Arizona.
11. Brian Butch, C, Appleton (WI): Blossomed into big time prospect. Steps out, scores in paint and blocks shots. A burger or two away from standing his ground inside. Headed to Wisconsin.
12, James Lang, C, Birmingham (AL): Recruiting scenario had everyone guessing all year. Has made strides with his game, but could use the college experience to continue the transformation. Declared for the draft and is unsigned.
(We will debut our Insiders.com final Top 100 from 2003 in the next few days so be on the lookout!)