Assessing the Tier II junior big men

We all know about the blue-chip frontcourt prospects occupying the upper-most realm within the junior class.

In fact, they primarily compose our national top 10. Big men such as Ivan Rabb, Diamond Stone and Stephen Zimmerman have drawn raves — and scholarship offers — for years, and they're joined by Cheick Diallo, Skal Labiessiere and others who also project as likely prep All-Americans next spring.

But this article's focus dips just a touch beneath that group. Here, I'm going to focus on those big men ranked in the national top 30 but outside the top 20. As a rule, centers and power forwards ranked in that range tend to have one or more excellent qualities while also lacking something substantial. Complete big men get ranked in the top 10, at worst.

For our purposes, then, let's examine what the Tier II national big men bring to the court and how they may be able to move up during the spring and summer travel circuit.

Doral Moore sits at No. 22. To be honest, and this is one opinion only, I think Moore makes a worthy case for the national top 15. That said, he hasn't yet performed consistently at venues such as USA Basketball and generally is regarded as a prospect not quite ready for the top 20.

But Moore's talent and intrigue are undeniable. He stands a legitimate seven-feet tall and, along with that, has long arms. He wields a soft turnaround jump shot with a high release. Whatever else happens, he'll never struggle to get that shot. He's also a fine shotblocker and potentially a top-shelf rebounder.

Just four spots separate Moore from No. 18 in our rankings, Chase Jeter. For the time being, Jeter holds a slight edge based on his superior overall defensive efforts and the fact that he has been tested more frequently against elite opponents. That definitely counts for something.

Moore carries a bit of mystery. He doesn't have a long-standing reputation on the grassroots trail — he blew up last summer — and clearly needs to get stronger, more confident and significantly more polished. He has a real go-to move scoring move with that face-up jump shot, however, and you can't teach mobility and length along with his size.

Compared with Moore, No. 23 Tyler Davis lies at the opposite end of the physical spectrum. He's a beast, a powerhouse who has pro-level weight already. And it's not fat. He's a tough guy with a mentality to bludgeon and batter, and that will give him a leg up over many of his peers his freshman season in college.

Davis also has competed on the 17-under EYBL circuit, giving him a head start as he preps for a big 2014 campaign. He's a tough evaluation at this point, though, because he missed his entire junior season due to transfer rules. How much has his offensive game progressed? Time will tell.

No. 23, Moustapha Diagne, averaged more than 13 rebounds per game this past season. He's a hard worker in the mold of 2014 achiever Angel Delgado and other rugged, less skilled big guys. Diagne is 6-8 and thus needs to be a power forward, rather than a center, and accordingly he'll need to demonstrate additional scoring wrinkles to make a move upward.

That brings us to No. 27 Chance Comanche. A fast-rising 6-11 center in Los Angeles, Comanche like most big men needs to develop offense both with his back to the basket and facing the bucket. Again, if he held those attributes, he'd already rank in the top 10.

As it is, he possesses commendable reflexes and utilizes outstanding length to block shots and pick rebounds from above the rim. He also has shown flashes of offense, and ultimately the clock on his high school career may strike Midnight before we get a true sense for how good he will be.

The next true center to appear in our junior rankings is Daniel Giddens at No. 41, so yet another clear line of demarcation exists between Tier II and Tier III. All of these guys are outstanding prospects, obviously, but the recruiting urgency certainly varies by class.

Rabb and the rest at the top will have the recruiting world at the fingertips. Tier II centers such as Moore and Davis will attract nearly the same number of scholarship offers, but they'll lack the hype. And by the end of summer, expect at least of those Tier IIs to join the ranks of Tier I.

That's travel season basketball, and it's almost here.


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