At the 2006 Nike Hoop Jamboree, Jeremy Tyler showed off the best footwork these eyes have ever seen in a rising 9th grader. At that point, there was little doubt he would track as an elite player.
Tyler's meteoric rise has been mostly unchallenged. He's toed the line with older, more experienced bigs and come out looking like the big timer he is. As he continues his ascent through high school basketball and onto the college stage, he'll need to find an outlet for his intensity. Sometimes too vocal, he's prone to losing focus on the task at hand.
As a prospect, we've seen Tyler comfortable beasting kids inside and minutes later he's playing in front of the basket stroking 3-pointers. When it comes to high school big men a case can be made that he possess potentially a bigger ceiling than his counterparts in grades above him.
While we're quick to heap praise on Tyler there are other kids tracking as elite prospects with him. Before Bill Hensley died last spring he wondered if the next LeBron James was located in his backyard of Ft. Wayne, Ind.
DeShaun Thomas was talented enough that Kelvin Sampson and Thad Matta both watched him just games into his freshman season at Bishop Leurs. When we finally caught up with Thomas in May, we didn't see the next LeBron but we did witness an unusually strong combo forward who could score and physically overmatch his opponents.
Speaking of overmatched, 2010 guards have been rendered helpless against Brandon Knight. Sitting in the stands at RBK U, high-major coaches marveled at his skill set and overall talent. For now, he's king of the guard prospects in his class.
While Thomas is tops in the Midwest, Jereme Richmond is No. 1 in the hearts of Illini fans. The future Champaign small forward has all the tools to project as an impact recruit at his position.
Tristan Thompson's July adventure swept him through Philly for RBK U where the Canadian announced his presence. An import at St. Benedict's, those who have seen him play can attest to his size and skill package.
Kendall Marshall ran the point, as a freshman, for the ever-powerful Boo Williams AAU juggernaut. Now, if you didn't know that Marshall had just one varsity season under his belt you would have been inclined to inquire if he was a senior. He's got a long way to go physically but that'll come. His approach and poise at the position are uncanny.
Before breaking his foot, Jared Sullinger was dominating 15-and-under competition. Our first impression left us thinking of him as a cross between Richard Hendrix and Donnell Harvey. Two weeks after seeing him, Ohio State must have been on the same page because they offered the Columbus native and took his commitment.
Rounding out the Top 10 are three kids who made the list for different reasons. Dominique Ferguson, a potential combo forward, was injured last year. A face-up forward with a great body, Ferguson has promise at either forward slot. Trae Golden seemingly drew rave reviews wherever he was seen and made headlines when college basketball's heavy hitters began showing up to watch him play.
Year in and year out we seem to have more kids on our underclassman lists before the start of their sophomore seasons. With more names comes the temptation to put order on the class. At this point in the calendar we prefer to move slowly with the Class of 2010. We've ranked out 10 prospects to watch and have a database that grows daily with names.
However, you'll only see star values on the first 10 kids in the class. Why? Because though we've seen some kids a great deal already it simply makes sense to us to take our time and not set expectations for too many kids. By being conservative, our goal is to give kids a chance to grow their games and reputations. Sometimes, despite what they are able to accomplish on the court, soaring expectations early on make it difficult for many to live up to the early "hype."
As the season progresses we may add more stars to other players. Until then, it's our hope everyone stays hungry and keeps things in perspective!