For several years now it has been known that the class of 2016 is one of the truly special classes to come down the pike in several years. Here is a look at the best of the best in this absolutely loaded class.
This class is loaded with elite level athletes, so in one respect it was difficult to sort through, but the choice was easy. The answer to the best athlete in this class is Josh Jackson. The five-star prospect who will not sign early is one of the truly special athletes in the class and someone who has become one of the elite prospects in several years, and mostly due to his athleticism.
What is so special here is that not only is Jackson an incredible leaper, but he is phenomenal at moving laterally, and also is strong and extremely coordinated. A lot goes in to being an elite athlete, more than just jumping high, and Jackson possesses every single one of those traits.
Also considered: Miles Bridges, Seventh Woods, Dennis Smith, Troy Baxter
This was honestly an easy decision. The clear winner here is UCLA commitment Lonzo Ball. Ball is one of the most creative and impressive passers seen in several years, and his ability to get others open shots is unmatched by any other prospect in this class.
What is most amazing about Ball is his outlet passing. If he gets a rebound or the ball is thrown to him in the backcourt it is immediately whipped up the court right on a dime to a streaking teammate. This puts amazing pressure on a defense and gets his teammates easy buckets in transition before the defense can be set.
Also Ball is excellent with his vision in the half court, and just has an innate sense for what is going to happen on a basketball floor at all times.
Also considered: Josh Jackson, De’Aaron Fox, Te’Jon Lucas, Xavier Simpson
There is no better skill to have in the game of basketball than being able to shoot, and there is no belter shooter in this class than Seton Hall pledge Myles Powell. The stocky four-star shooting guard tore up the summer circuit for the New Jersey Playaz, and showed why he will be an immediate impact guy.
Though Powell isn’t a great athlete, isn’t super tall, and isn’t super quick, he can flat out put the ball in the basket. He is always on balance with his footwork, and from there he has a quick and smooth release. That allows Powell to get his shot off against taller and more athletic defenders without a problem, and when he shoots it, it usually goes in.
Powell was at his best at the Nike Global Challenge where he led the event in scoring, and during the EYBL shot an impressive 38.5 percent from deep. Overall no player in the class stretches the defense more than Powell.
Also considered: Terrance Ferguson, Kyle Guy, Shamorie Ponds, Jarron Cumberland
This was a tough category to get a defined winner, but at the end of the day the nation’s top prospect is also the top rebounder. Duke pledge Harry Giles comes away with the title as the best rebounder in the class.
What is so impressive is that Giles is equally impressive rebounding the ball out of his area as he is inside of his area due to his long arms, impressive anticipation, and excellent athleticism.
Rebounding is the skill that translates the most from high school to college and college to the NBA, and the numbers speak for themselves. Giles pulled in an impressive 11.4 rebounds per game during EYBL play, and when the chips were in the center of the table and things mattered the most, he pulled in 14 rebounds per game during bracket play.
Also considered: Edrice Adebayo, Udoka Azubuike, Schnider Herard, Tyrique Jones
Best Perimeter Scorer
This combines the ability to shoot from deep, get into the lane off drives and score, and also score in the mid post and out. No player in the class does that better than Duke pledge Jayson Tatum.
Tatum isn’t an elite athlete, but he is plenty good as an athlete, and when you combine that with very long arms, good size, and a good feel for where to go on the court, he just has all the tools you want in a scorer. Tatum can make shots from deep, but absolutely is at his best attacking and getting into the mid-range.
He scored an impressive 21 points per game during the EYBL regular season and Peach Jam combined, and did while shooting 49 percent from the floor and 88 percent from the foul line. There is simply no more dangerous scorer in this class than Tatum
Also considered: Dennis Smith, Rawle Alkins, Frank Jackson, Markelle Fultz
Best Shot Blocker
There is no Nerlens Noel caliber shot blocker in this class, but still there are several players that can really protect the rim. None better at doing it than Jarrett Allen.
Allen is a legit 6-foot-10 with very long arms, high level athleticism, and good timing when it comes to blocking shots. Also he has the unique ability to block shots when guarding the ball as well as coming over from the weakside and helping out a teammate by blocking a shot.
For Allen, who still needs to get stronger and more consistent with his offensive game, he can hang his hat on his ability to rebound and protect the rim, and right now no other prospect show the ability to intimidate an offense in the paint more than Allen.
Also considered: Ike Anigobu, Jethro Tshiumpa, Schnider Herard, James Banks
Best Perimeter Defender
While some players in this class can really guard, or have the potential to be elite on that end of the floor, none come close to Josh Jackson. Jackson is one of the best perimeter defenders not only in this class, but in recent memory as well.
There is no doubt that Jackson’s elite, elite athleticism plays a big role in this. He moves very well laterally, can help out others who get beat by blocking a shot, and also has the ability to make up for things if he does get on beat on a rare occasion.
Also what Jackson has is an unbelievable amount of competitiveness and toughness. He takes it personal if someone tries to score on him and is determined to not let that happen. His mindset, his athleticism, and his physical traits such as long arms make Jackson one of the best defenders on the perimeter in some time.
Also considered: Bruce Brown, De’Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith, Xavier Sneed
Best Low Post Scorer
This is an interesting category and one that many players were considered, but at the end of the day Michigan State pledge Nick Ward gets the honors. The Ohio native was tremendous during the high school year and for All-Ohio Red in the EYBL, and proved himself to be the best scorer and low post operator in the class.
Ward has tremendous footwork, great touch, and the ability to score with either hand around the rim. Also he can turn and face some and hit the 10 foot jump shot just off of the block.
While Ward isn’t a great athlete, he is getting a little more explosive which has helped him finish over taller players. Still it is his feet and refined post moves that make him the player he is, and someone you can throw the ball to and ask him to get you a bucket in a one-on-one situation on the low block.
Also considered: Harry Giles, Omari Spellman, Dewan Huell, Marques Bolden