Justin Jackson, Justise Winslow, and Stanley Johnson are at the top of the small forward depth chart. Figuring that out was easy, in fact it was a foregone conclusion, however figuring out the order of the three of them proved to be very complex.
When submitting initial depth charts there was not only no consensus on how the three should be ranked, but everyone had a different order. All three got votes for being number one at the position group, and all three got votes for being number three at the position group.
The reason for that is simple, all three prospects are elite, and all three of them bring a little something different to the table.
In the end it was North Carolina commitment Justin Jackson who won out and got the top spot. Jackson was incredible during the high school year at the Flyin to the Hoop event coming home on the all-tournament team, and then he followed it up with a big time spring.
At 6-foot-6 with very long arms, Jackson is as good as any wing in the country at scoring the ball. Jackson's main weapons are his mid-range jumper as well as his floater. Both of them make him so tough to guard because he has the length to finish over the post players and the quickness to get around guards. Other wings have a hard time keeping him in front because he is so smooth with his dribble and he knows how to change speeds.
Unlike so many other high scoring wings, Jackson isn't a shot jacker, in fact far from it. Jackson almost has to be encouraged to shoot the ball more. Also he isn't someone who settles for many three point jumpers, however the ones he takes he makes at a good clip.
With his efficiency, his length, and his understanding of the game, Jackson proved himself to be one of the elite in the country and came home with the honors of top small forward.
While Jackson grabbed the top spot it was Johnson who just edged out Winslow for the No. 2 position on the depth chart. It was another tough decision, but Johnson just has so much going for him.
At this time last year we had our questions about Johnson. Would he outgrow the small forward position and move to power forward, could he shoot it well enough to be a wing, and would he stay in elite shape. He answered all of those questions and then some.
Johnson started his high school season in style with a dominant performance at the Chicago Elite Classic, and then never slowed down for Santa Ana (Cal.) Mater Dei. Then when it came time for the EYBL, Johnson put a young Oakland Soldiers squad on his back. Averaging 18.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, Johnson was as dominant a player as there was on the EYBL circuit. He showed improvement shooting the ball, improvement dribbling the ball, and he stayed as hungry and competitive as any player on the circuit.
That skill improvement combined with his desire and toughness made it a no brainer that Johnson would move up in the rankings, and it eventually led him in to the top 10.
Just outside the overall top 10 and the No. 3 small forward is Winslow. The consummate team player and winner, Winslow brings more to the floor than just his numbers that are read in a box score.
That isn't to minimize his tangibles, Winslow is athletic, has an ability to score from the mid-range and in, can really handle the ball, is an excellent passer, and rebounds extremely well for wing. However it is intangibles that standout even more.
He is as well rounded a player as there is in the country. Winslow leads his team on and off the court and is the engine that drives things despite being a wing and not a true point guard. He still needs to improve his three point shooting, and that was the one little separator, but every coach in the country would love to have a player like Winslow with his complete game on his roster.
Overall when it comes to ranking guys like Jackson, Johnson, and Winslow there is no right answer, all three of them are elite prospects. However it will be fun to watch this trio battle it out and put everything on the line for their teams all July long, as each is a big time competitor and each will make a college very happy.