Scout.com talked to more than 100 college coaches to get their take on who was the best player they saw during their July travels.
For recruiting purposes, July is a vital month for college coaches.
The month consists of three five-day evaluation periods, where coaches can be on the road evaluating and gathering information on players.
The final evaluation period concluded at 5 p.m. on Sunday. On Monday and Tuesday, I reached out to more than 100 head coaches and assistants to get their take on who they thought was the most competitive, most underrated and best overall player they saw during the month.
The third of this three-part series focuses on the players that the coaches voted on as the most underrated.
COACHES VOTE SIMMONS BEST PLAYER
Unlike the voting for the most competitive and most underrated player in the country, selecting the best player in the country appeared to be an easy task for college coaches.
was the clear cut choice by college coaches as the best player in the country, regardless of class. Out of 115 votes, Simmons received 42. Jaylen Brown
checked in at No. 2 on the list with 26 fewer votes.
So what makes Simmons, a 6-foot-8 forward, so special?
One college coach said it was everything from his physical features to his mental make up.
“I love his body,” the coach said. “He’s very athletic and I love how he plays the game, which I think he is trying to play the right way. He has a motor and is the best finisher out there.”
“Most ready to go compete in the NBA, Simmons and Jaylen Brown,” another college coach told Scout.com.
commit, Simmons was a dominant force at the LeBron James
Skills Academy during the first evaluation period and that strong play carried over to the Nike Peach Jam, where he averaged 17.8 points, nine rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.8 steals a game for E1T1.
Perhaps the most talked about game of Peach Jam was when E1T1 faced off against Team CP3, which put Simmons on the same floor as 2016 sensation Harry Giles. While the two didn’t necessarily match much, Giles said he was impressed with Simmons’ play.
|Giles (left) & Simmons (right)
“I think he's good because he's really strong and can do just about everything,” Giles told Scout.com about Simmons. “He ran the show against us.”
As Giles mentioned, Simmons is capable of playing with the ball in his hands. He showed that kind of court awareness, skill and passing ability throughout the summer.
"He's an impressive mix of power and skill,” a NBA scout who watched Simmons at the LeBron James Skills Academy said. “He's adaptable to guard multiple positions and is just as dangerous full court with the ball as he is with his touch around the rim. He’s probably a consistent jump shot away from locking up top three status in a future draft."
BROWN, MAKER GET DOUBLE DIGIT VOTES
Both Brown, a 6-foot-7 small forward out of Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler, and Thon Maker, a 7-footer from Martinsville (Va.) Carlisle School, finished with double digits votes. Brown collected 16, while Maker received 11 votes from college coaches.
An elite level athlete, Brown is a strong, physical driver, has potential to be a lock down defender and is an improving long-range shooter. College coaches drooled over his physical gifts and competitive nature.
|Brown is set to rise from No. 4 in Scout.com’s 2015 rankings
“You could put Brown in a NBA game now and he’d be like ‘OK,’ a college coach told Scout.com. “He could hold his own in a NBA game right now. He’s an animal. Last time I saw him play it was like he was out there with a bunch of little kids.”
“He has a great combination of size and athleticism,” another college coach said. “He has the body of LeBron [James] at this stage and imposed his physical will on opponents.”
One college coach even voted for Brown in all three categories of the survey -- most competitive, most underrated and best overall player.
“He's underrated in my opinion until you have him top two,” the high major assistant coach said. “My favorite player to watch since I've been doing this and maybe the best.”
What makes Maker such an impressive prospect and player is size and length, mixed with his skill, mobility and motor.
“There isn't anybody like him,” one coach explained. “He has great length, athleticism and skill. He is Kevin Garnett minus the bravado and brashness, but plus in the category of skill and grace. How many seven footers can beat you off the dribble and finish like he does?”
|Maker received the third most votes
Another coach raved about Maker’s versatility.
“In Vegas, he dominated in all phases of the game,” the coach said. “His defense affects almost everything his opponents want to do. What he doesn’t block or deflect, he changes. On offense, he just keeps getting better.”
After Brown and Maker, Isaiah Briscoe received the fourth most votes with seven. Giles checked in at No. 5 on the list with six votes. Malik Monk, Skal Labissiere, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell
, Josh Jackson
and Jalen Brunson
were the only other players to receive multiple votes.
Based on what I saw this July, I thought three players stood above the rest. I agree with the coaches top two picks in Simmons and Brown. Each consistently performed at a high-level every step of the way. While I think it's very close, I would have gone with Simmons as the best overall player. His size, matched with his skill and versatility make him a special prospect and his effort at Peach Jam was unmatched by anyone this July, in my opinion. Brown certainly had his moments, including a 28-point outing, where he clearly outplayed 2016 wing Josh Jackson in a head-to-head match up. Brown's physical attributes are impressive and he's a downright explosive athlete. Where I differ with the coaches would be at No. 3. While I thought Thon Maker was impressive every time I saw him in July, Jayson Tatum is who I would have put No. 3 if I was ranking the best players of July. Standing 6-foot-8, Tatum flashed his ball skills, mid-range scoring ability and overall feel for the game at the LeBron James Skills Academy. Then at Peach Jam he put up video game like numbers in the 16's division.