You must be this tall to ride

When you examine the top 25 prospects in the junior class, make sure to focus on the height column.

As we and others have noted, the Class of 2015 is best in the frontcourt. But while everyone has fully digested how good the big guys are, the absence of good little guys is causing gastrointestinal distress.

And it's not just the point guard spot that's lacking. There's a dearth of the smaller wings whose influence remains very strong at the top levels of the sport.

At this moment, only one player in the top 25 stands 6-3 or shorter. One player. And even he — elite guard Malik Newman — sometimes gets listed at 6-4.

Oddly enough, and perhaps surprising given the number of impact guards populating college and NBA basketball, that's a fairly common statistic.

In the 2014 class, for example, just three top-25 players stand under 6-4; only a quartet failed to hit the 6-4 mark in the 2013 class; and in 2012, only two short-stuffs cracked the national top 25.

Some reasons exist for that beyond players' talent. For one thing, a taller prospect enjoys a more substantial margin for error than a little guy. Given that rankings are intended to project forward, taller players have a greater likelihood of achieving long-term success.

If a 6-2 shooting guard struggles with his outside shot, we may never hear from him again. Meanwhile, a 6-7 forward who doesn't shoot well still may develop into a fine utility rebounder and defensive presence. There are degrees of success and disappointment, and size mitigates at least a portion of the risk.

It's also possible that guys simply are getting over-listed. Is Tyler Dorsey, a 2015 guard, really 6-4? In the 2014 class, D'Angelo Russell likely stands on the shorter side of 6-4 as well.

Because of the reality surrounding 6-4 players, a perception has formed that players need to stand on their tiptoes and smile really big to coax an extra inch from scouts.

Newman is the only top-25 junior listed at under 6-4, but four top-25 prospects are exactly 6-4. Meanwhile, there are four current seniors listed at exactly 6-4, there were two 6-4 prospects in 2013 and a whopping five in 2012.

If you're counting at home, that's 10 total top-25 prospects listed at under 6-4 between four classes, and 15 who stand exactly 6-4.

I think we might be onto something.

But that's okay, the grassroots roller coaster allows for a little fudging. The bottom line still stands taller than all these possibly fraudulent 6-4 guards: Size matters in basketball, and the perception of size matters even more.


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