There's no question the single most talented prospect in the Class of 2009 is Renardo Sidney. The now-Californian has freakish talent and high level ability. His size and tools simply aren't replicated in a body like he's been blessed with.
Since he burst onto the scene two springs ago, the Class of 2009 has been headlined by what this big fella can do. There would be nothing wrong with any list leading with Sidney.
Having said that, Scout.com, at this stage in the process, is touting Derrick Favors as its No. 1 junior. The 6-foot-9 worker out of Atlanta was the centerpiece of the Celtics championship in Vegas but there's more to the story.
Favors, in our minds, is the most efficient young big man in high school basketball. He knows where his bread is buttered – in the post – and plays to his strengths. Remarkably, since the spring we haven't seen anyone go at him and emerge victorious and that means young or old guys.
What Favors does so well is be efficient. His touches inside produce points. He's an expressionless, almost happy go lucky kid. In addition to the offensive efficiency, he's a dominator on the defensive side.
He's not Dwight Howard but he's from the same general area and his approach to how he handles his business has been extremely impressive. In short, he's played with a hunger that's been admirable and there's no question he's a big time prospect.
The Favors-Sidney Saga will play itself out over the next year. Why? Because if Sidney achieves the self-motivation needed to be a truly special prospect, and remember he's got the talent to do it, the conversation will swing back his way.
Heck, we haven't even mentioned the triumvirate trailing behind the two big behemoths. Xavier Henry out of Oklahoma is as talented as they come on the wing. He's been playing "up" against the older guys the last 2 summers and if you didn't know he was 2009 there would have been no distinguishing marks. You'd have thought he was college-bound a year ago.
And then there's DeMarcus Cousins. The top prospect out of the state of Alabama in his class possesses all the raw material to one day lay claim to the No. 1 spot himself. He's been more than a load on the 16-and-under circuit recently. The kid's an aircraft carrier inside.
Finally, New York's finest has the best small forward body we've seen since LeBron James. Lance Stephenson, provided his back issues aren't chronic, has the body to absorb contact and dish out punishment on his own drives. He's a tank going to the bucket and like Henry; he's played with the older guys and made his mark.
Since the spring, we've been enamored with Jamil Wilson. The last big timer out of Racine was a fella named Caron Butler. Wilson possesses the special talent to transcend the small forward position as a ball-handling, athletic specimen who can truly play inside and out.
Rounding Out The Top 10
Dominic Cheek, while playing with the Playaz, showed he's an elite level wing. We contend that while a Top 10 talent, he's even more prospect than player at this stage and that speaks to his tremendous upside. Every time we see him at a different venue he's grown an inch!
Most won't value Deshawn Painter the same way we do. Frankly, he's a long way from locking down his position in the Top 10. Yet he's shown considerable flashes of what the future is likely to look like and a year from now we'd expect him to be a near unanimous choice for anyone's list.
Among the most successful members of the class has been Kenny Boynton. His sustained scoring success has been well documented. Long term the question will be: point man or wing weapon? Every now and then he'll show the point potential but at this stage, he's tracking as an elite bucket maker.
Finally, our last spot goes to Dexter Strickland. A year ago, Strickland was plastered all over recruiting lists as a shooting guard and rightfully so. Since the end of the high school season he's shown the willingness and ability to transform to the point guard position. Again, there's work to be done but on the flip side there's a ton of raw material to work with.