Two weeks ago, amongst the best rising seniors in the country, small forward Michael Gilchrist made a statement at the NBA Players Camp. Gilchrist, whose team finished undefeated and camp champs, was named the best prospect in attendance.
Gilchrist, and until someone can change our opinion, is the best high school prospect in the country. Period, end of story. No discussion needed.
What sets him apart? Let's begin with his competitive drive. He's got a sharp winning edge about him and when you combine that with his skills in transition, all-out effort and the ability to create for himself and others, you have an elite prospect. Plus, there's room for improvement. Gilchrist is nowhere near a finished product with his perimeter game. His ceiling is high and we expect significant progress and production from him in the coming years.
We're a long way – as we should be – from writing a definitive book on the Class of 2011. Some feel it's a class that is going to replenish the talent pool in college basketball. However, for that to happen, the pool of rising juniors needs deepen. What is particularly strong about this current group is the potential star power up top.
Tony Wroten, No. 1 after last summer, has the potential to climb up higher. As he turns himself into a passer first he takes a page out of the O.J. Mayo book on big guard play. Rakeem Christmas, our selection at No. 5, is the best shot blocker in high school basketball. The offense will come (he's shown signs) and when it does, he'll be even tougher to deal with.
No.'s 6-10 are elite caliber players. Marquis Teague is ahead of where his brother was (by a wide margin) at the same time. His brother just went to the Hawks in the first round of the NBA Draft. Johnny O'Bryant is ranked high based on the flashes he's shown and where we think he can be.
Quincy Miller, a Chi-Town native, has done everything required of a player wanting to achieve Top 10 status. No matter the event, he's been at or near the top of the list of prospects and he ruled the Nike Hoop Jamboree.
Brad Beal was the captain of the 16-and-under gold medalists from Team USA. One of the nation's most efficient players, he was great during the high school season and has been on a tear.
The Top 10 concludes with LaQuinton Ross. Injured most of the spring and early summer, Ross has been a high-profile guy in 2011 since entering high school. Like many ranked higher and right around him, he'll be chased all summer long.