2004: The Centers

With the spring AAU season literally just days away, we thought it would be a good time to take a look at the five positions and get you ready for the new year.

Center Spot Not As Strong As Others

Generally, the Class of 2004 is recognized as having terrific depth and we agree and support this assertion. However, the center position isn't quite as deep at the top, even though the power forward spot looks loaded. Also, we've thinned out the center listing by categorizing some guys like Al Jefferson and Lemarcus Aldridge as power forwards.

Our pre-spring Top 25 which will be released in a few weeks will likely feature two and possibly three centers in the Top 25. Here's a brief look at just a handful of players at this position.

How We Rank ‘Em (1-5, AAU team in parenthesis)

1. Dwight Howard: He's got a huge ceiling and until someone steps up to challenge him, we think he's a strong No. 1 at this spot. (Atlanta Celtics)

2. Greg Stiemsma: He delivered the goods as a junior and by all accounts he continues to improve. (Randolph Basketball Club, Fox Valley Skillz)

3. Randolph Morris: Body, skills and game continue to mature. The kid is smart, huge and probably not done growing. He's got a large upside. (Atlanta Celtics)

4. Stanley Branch: Up and down year as he seemed to be hurt a number of times when we were in the gym. When he wasn't, man he looked good. (New Jersey Cyclones)

5. Mohamed Tangara: A crowded Mount Zion frontcourt probably cost him some development. Regardless, he works hard and wants to get better. (Georgia Elite)

On The Rise: We just love the potential and game of James Gist. He lacks the national name some of his frontcourt peers carry, but he's long, defensive minded and his offense is coming around. This DC Blue Devil is primed for a breakout spring AAU season.

Made Big Strides This Year: Peter Prowitt won a state championship as a junior and really boosted his overall offensive numbers. We're big fans of trends here so when we see a guy take some steps forward we pay attention. Notice he and Gist will be on the same AAU team.

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