2005: Wing Forwards

Our five part series continues with evaluations of nine (nine!) potential WF targets for Kansas. From Brandon Rush to Julian Wright to Marcus Johnson - we've got it covered.

Julian Wright, 6-7 WF, Homewood (IL) Flossmoor

Wright is a remarkably versatile wing and could easily be rated as a top ten player nationally. He scores inside and out, handles the ball well for his size and is a terrific passer. His shot is slightly unconventional but doesn't lack for arch and rotation. He doesn't always put prolific scoring numbers and there has been some concern about him having a relatively quiet year.

Still, Wright has the potential to affect the game in almost every aspect. He's tight lipped, but several close to him have hinted that KU -- whose staff has made him a priority since they were at Illinois -- leads Depaul, Illinois, and Arizona and that a commitment could come as early as April or May.

Joe Darger, 6-6 WF, Riverton (UT) High

One of the premier wings on the West Coast, Darger is a fundamentally sound throwback type player. He shoots very well from the perimeter and is a clever passer off of the dribble. Joe isn't an elite level athlete but isn't exactly slow-footed either.

Kansas was out in the fall but schools like BYU and Utah are putting significant pressure on him to commit early. As a potential top 50 player nationally, he is keeping his options open and is also considering UConn, Gonzaga, Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA among others.

Marcus Johnson, 6-5 WF, Los Angeles (CA) Westchester

Johnson is one of the premier athletes in the country and has earned a reputation for his electrifying jams. He can use his quickness to cause problems on the defensive end but he has to shake his justified reputation as a brick layer from the perimeter.

He's top 50 for now, but his stock is starting to slip. USC, UCLA, Arizona, Kansas, and Louisville are all chasing the early favorite Syracuse at this juncture.

Joe Krabbenhoft, 6-6 WF/WG Sioux Falls (SD) Roosevelt

A top 50 player nationally who is hailed as the best player from South Dakota since current NBA star Mike Miller. Krabbenhoft is a deadly shooter from midrange and deeper and rebounds well for a wing. He is finally recovering from a broken foot and will see his first action of the year in the near future.

He visited Kansas in December and they will be out to watch him play before the season ends. He claims to have an offer on the table from the Jayhawks but it is likely conditional, and he'll probably make his college choice from Kansas, Minnesota, Marquette, and Notre Dame this spring.

Micah Downs, 6-6 WF, Bothel (Wash.) High

One of the premier catch and shoot players in the country, Downs needs to diversify his game and add more off of the bounce. He can handle, but gets knocked around because of his slender build. Perhaps most surprising is the intensity with which he hits the glass for a slender wing, but he still has to prove he can cut it physically at an elite level program.

Kansas was in attendance last week and had to like what they saw as he reportedly grabbed 25 rebounds. Michigan State, Washington, UCLA, Pepperdine and Washington State look to be the other schools that are most involved

Gerald Green, 6-7 WF, Houston (TX) Gulf Shores

Despite his tremendous package of size and athleticism tied together by a pretty bow that has 23 foot range, Green is a bit of an unknown. He put in work for the Houston Superstars 3 Stripes at the Great American Shootout in Denton, TX but was only slightly above average at ABCD camp and the Las Vegas Big Time.

He's put up big numbers this year and is a potential riser in the class of 2005, if he proves he can be consistent. He claims offers from several big time programs including Kansas, Oklahoma, Miami (FL), Arizona and others but whether or not those offers are true is up for debate. He can really stroke it though, so he is one to keep an eye on down the road.

Chad Millard, 6-8 WF/BF, Manchester (NH) Trinity

A rare home grown talent from the Granite State, Millard is a popular recruit because he plays differently than you would expect. With his size and frame -- although it is slender -- observers expect him to spend his time down low but he has plenty of face-up talent. He can shoot from all over the court, is an above average passer and can play up tempo or in the half court set.

More than likely he will look to make an early decision and has been taking unofficial visits whenever possible. He's most coveted by Missouri and quasi local schools like Provicence, Boston College and UConn but he's also generated legit interest from Kansas, Syracuse, Louisville, Florida and North Carolina State. If he's still available in the summer and has improved his handle, he could draw closer scrutiny from the elite.

Brandon Rush, 6-7 WF/WG, Durham (NC) Mt. Zion

The most gifted athlete of all the Rush brothers, Brandon has developed into arguably the premier talent in the class of 2005. He is a crowd favorite thanks to a level of athleticism normally reserved for the latest Playstation game, but has skills to match when he chooses to compete. His jumper is feathery and his handle is on point, but he still lacks consistency and fights occasional stretches of listless play.

Brandon needs to add weight and a killer instinct, but the NBA is watching closely because of his versatility and he may be tempted to make the direct leap. He got out of Kansas City and is repeating his junior year which was a big first step towards taking responsibility for his future and wants to go to college at this juncture. Kansas showed mild early interest but the real player appears to be Louisville trailed by Arkansas, Indiana and Oklahoma.

Tyler Smith, 6-6 WF, Pulaski (TN) Giles County

Smith burst onto the national stage with a terrific summer as a rising sophomore in 2002. He's a big time athlete with a college ready body and has spent the last few years going from dunker to athlete to straight up player. The range on his jumper and his ball handling still need some tweaking but he is a top 15 type prospect for good reason.

Kansas has been out to see him on several occasions and he has already indicated that he would like to make the trek out to Lawrence. Tennessee, Florida, UCLA and others are poised to put up a significant fight for his services.


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