Roundtable: Call the shot

Inevitably, rankings discussions start and sometimes end with battles over the top dog. After all, getting that ranking correct easily stands as the most significant part of the process in terms of credibility.

But this roundtable is taking an unfair tack. Rather than wait for senior year rankings to settle the issue for posterity, the hoops recruiting team was asked to predict No. 1 from the Class of 2015.

At this early stage that's a far more challenging assignment, given that juniors won't suit up in college for another 21 months, but nevertheless that's this week's question.

Here are the responses:

Evan Daniels: At this point there are a handful of candidates. Malik Newman is currently No. 1 and he could certainly hold on to that spot, as he as prolific a scorer as you'll find in high school basketball. With that said, I think there are two players emerging as possible No. 1 players.

Ben Simmons, a current LSU commit, and Ivan Rabb, a 6-foot-10 power forward out of California, are having terrific junior seasons. If put on the spot, I'd probably go with Simmons as the top guy, but it's certainly close. At 6-8, Simmons is a versatile forward who can play both with his back to the basket and facing the rim. He's a strong rebounder, solid athlete and guy that can score in a variety of ways. I'll go with Simmons.

Brian Snow: My guess right now would probably be Ben Simmons. Even though I saw Simmons have a bit of an average, by his standards, showing last weekend, he has the combination of size, athleticism, skill, and upside that tends to end up in the top spot.

There are several other prospects who have a good chance, and even though I personally wouldn't have him No. 1 right now, my guess is Simmons will have enough support to land in that spot when it is all said and done.

Josh Gershon: The top 2015 prospect that I've seen at this stage is Ivan Rabb. I've yet to see Ben Simmons this year and heard he's improved as well, but I can only go on what I've seen and to me Rabb is the guy. He's got very good size at 6-9/6-10, is ambidextrous, has a perfect frame for a young post, he knows what he is and isn't out on the perimeter shooting jumpers, he rebounds in and out of his area, blocks shots, can defend either post position, has a ton of physical upside and is a very good athlete with advanced footwork for his age.

The next step for him is consistently playing hard but that goes for most young bigs, and it's an area he's made good progress in. This is an elite prospect and the best I've seen so far in 2015, although there's still an important year and a half to go until final rankings.

Rob Harrington: This is a tough one. I think Ben Simmons is the safest elite prospect in the class and have seen him play very well this season — keeping in mind that Kevin Boyle-coached players sometimes don't produce eye-popping stats — but I do wish he had a little more athletic pop. Will he best the best player to emerge from this class seven years from now? I think that depends whether he can create his own shot against elite defenders.

The one guy who absolutely can create his own shot, against anyone, is Malik Newman. Yes, undersized wings don't always thrive at the top of the sport, but I think Newman handles and defends sufficiently well to move to point guard in the NBA. I'm hoping to see progress from him this year as a facilitator, which would inspire greater confidence that he ultimately can make that transition.

Evan Daniels, Brian Snow, Josh Gershon and Rob Harrington contributed to this report.

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