Coming out of the summer, since the inception of our company in 2002, Scout.com comes out with a Top 10 rising sophomore list. If you know anything about our coverage, you understand that we are quite patient with the younger kids and aren't into long lists of youthful players.
Instead, we prefer to give you a glimpse into the top talents we've seen in the last few months, share a Top 10 list and keep everything in perspective. What you see now might not be what you see six months from now. The danger in "ranking" players at this young of an age has many layers.
For starters, kids mature physically and emotionally at different rates. It's never a great idea to be the top ranked kid and be physically maxed out. History has told us that's a recipe for disaster. Another pitfall is drawing a parallel between success in a 14-and-under division and equating that to increasing effectiveness on a year-by-year basis as one ascends in competition level.
Too often, a prospect will read his name on a list and complacency sets in. We'd like to be the first to caution against that. You should play this game because you love it not because of a desire to see a certain number next to your name. Compete each time, work on your game and offer up honest assessments of where you stand. Seek advice from the guys who came before you and help the ones behind you. That's how you become a great player and ascend up this list.
Over the next three years we look forward to covering this group with great anticipation. A quick glance at the top ten players reveals a few strengths in the group: centers and small forwards.
No. 1 Andre Drummond, C/PF: Young for his age, Drummond will repeat his sophomore season and talented enough that he's already being billed as a pillar in the USA Basketball program. If you missed him at the AAU Nationals you missed a mix of Amare Stoudemire and Dwight Howard. As it stands now, there's little debate about the top spot.
No. 2 Dajaun Coleman, C: This guy is a beast. Think Derrick Coleman meets Zach Randolph. Get him the ball in the paint and he hits more regularly than the corner slot machine at Ceasar's Palace. Already impacting against older guys.
No. 3 Isaiah Austin, C: He recently transferred to Grace Prep in Arlington, Tex. Don't let the Kareem Abdul Jabbar goggles throw you, he's defense first. Already 6-11, what's not to like about this young big.
No. 4 J.P. Tokoto, SF: He's amongst the most skilled and productive in what should be a bumper crop of small forwards. He's got the package on and off the court not to mention the size and skill. Competition will be great for the top wing spots and Tokoto will be pushed.
No. 5 Amile Jefferson, SF The next big thing to come out of Philadelphia (aside from Rakeem Christmas) is this guy. He's multi-talented and we aren't even sure what long term position he'll occupy. He's got some Lamar Odom ability, a great attitude, aptitude for the game and plenty of room to grow as a prospect and player.
No. 6 Shabazz Muhammad , SF The most accomplished of the young guys in terms of winning on the circuit and high school level. He's got quick reflexes inside and will keep transitioning to more on the perimeter as he improves.
No. 7 L.J. Rose, PG The early leader in terms of points, Rose has special qualities. He's an accomplished passer and as a rising sophomore ran with the big boys on the circuit and blended right in. The state of Texas has kicked out some great home grown ones and he could tops since T.J. Ford.
No. 8 Justin Anderson, SF He came off the bench for Montrose Christian and Boo Williams as a freshman. Chances are if you were in the building and heard a roar it was Anderson throwing down a dunk or pinning a shot on the glass. He's instant energy and can be electric.
No. 9 Tony Parker, C/PF We're rooting for him to keep getting taller because if he does look out. We're big on Zach Randolph comparisons with this class (only because of similar frames) and this kid is wide and aggressive. Needs to get more bounce inside but he's a for sure finisher.
No. 10 Jordan Price, G The state of Georgia rounds out the Top 10 with a guard. The Atlanta Celtics organization touts this young man and he has major game. He's also in the toughest spot on this last as the man to be named to the Top 10. Size and athleticism will help him in his quest to keep his place.
With every list of this kind, you inevitably leave off good players. We'll be the first to admit we haven't seen enough to have a great grasp on 2012 just yet. However, we've seen some guys you need to familiarize yourself with if you want to be a true junkie.
2012 Watchlist (25 More To Keep An Eye On)
As you cruise through the 2012 database you'll find very few 5 star prospects, a handful of 3 star guys and most players are listed with a single star. As the season begins and we begin to write the next chapter with players, we'll increase values as they are earned.