To help yours truly with this comprehensive rundown, I've collected the thoughts of three of the top prep basketball experts in the business. Scout.com's Director of Basketball Scouting, Dave Telep; United States Basketball Writer's Association Hall of Fame member and Scout.com's National Basketball Expert, Frank Burlison; and Sam Hosey, Jr. of Prep Spotlight Magazine, who of course is better known to Michigan State basketball watchers as Da' Chairman.
So without further ado, here is the latest rundown of the top players from the Class of 2006 currently on the Michigan State recruiting radar.
Class of 2006:
1. Greg Oden
7'0" 240, Center-Indianapolis Lawrence North (AAU: Spiece Indy Heat)
Oden is the cream of the crop among 2006 big men, hands down. He is ranked as the number one overall prospect in the 2006 class by the Scout Network's Dave Telep. Oden is a terrific talent who at times seems to coast because his is rarely challenged. Don't mistake that for laziness however, Greg is a tireless worker, and his toughest critic.
Oden is talented enough to head right to the NBA, and will almost assuredly become the top pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, provided that David Stern and the NBA Players Association do not institute the much talked about age restriction in their next collective bargaining agreement. Despite his NBA potential however, Oden has not wavered from his intent on attending college. His list of schools has also remained rock solid, which in no particular order are: Wake Forest, Indiana, Ohio State and Michigan State.
Frank Burlison has watched Oden numerous times over the past two year's including this past weekend in San Diego at the USA Youth Festival/International Sports Invitational. Frank had this to say about the nation's #1 high school basketball prospect:
"He's clearly the number one prospect in the country when you combine his size and his ability to impact the game at both ends of the floor," Burlision said. "The thing I've noticed is how much he has improved his passing ability and just his feel for offense. He finds cutters. He finds shooters. When double and triple teams come, he has a pretty good ability to turn anticipate the double team and feed the ball to the open guy."
Telep: "He is cast in mold as the best player in the country. He still translates well with the NBA guys and it would be hard to improve or damage his stock at this point."
2. Deshawn Sims
6'7" 230, Power Forward-Detroit Pershing (AAU: The Family)
Deshawn's game is very polished. He's size suggests small forward, but his skills have power forward written all over them. His back to the basket game is complete with solid footwork, drop steps and jump hooks. He can face up the defender and drain jumpers consistently up to 19 feet. He doesn't dominate at times like you would expect a player of his caliber to, but like Oden, Deshawn's toughest critic is himself and there is little question that his game will continue to improve for the foreseeable future.
Sims will be a solid contributor right away wherever he decides to play college ball. Michigan and Michigan State are both heavy in the mix for his services, and his decision will likely come down to those two programs. While all indications are that Deshawn, a lifelong Wolverine fan, is leaning heavily toward Ann Arbor, nothing has been set in stone as of yet.
I asked Da'Chairman for his thoughts on Deshawn's game and his recruitment:
"He enjoyed his visit to Michigan State more than he thought he would, and he has had Michigan State on his mind a little bit more as a result. . . . I think that what Amaker wants to do offensively, he'd be a perfect fit. With that said, a kid like Deshawn could play and do well anyplace. . . . In Michigan State's system, you saw how well Alan Anderson did last year. Sims is a similar type player. A little bit more of a post (player), but he can step outside and hit the 17-foot jump shot."
Dave Telep scouting report describes Deshawn as "Versatile and strong. He began as an inside player but has taken his game to the perimeter where he's powerful and athletic. Aggressive in his style, he's one of the tops in his class and the state of Michigan."
Telep is a big fan of Sims' talent and believes that all that is missing from his game right now is consistency.
"He has been up and down this spring and early summer", Telep said. "To solidify himself in that Top 50, all he's really gonna have to do is just get more consistent."
6'6" 175, Small Forward-Brahman Area Sec., Brahman, MN (AAU: Howard Pulley Panthers)
Dahlman is a smooth player with a good stroke and a solid floor game. The Spartans have been after him for quite some time and all current indications are that the frontrunners for his services are Michigan State and Iowa.
While Dahlman has struggled a bit at times early this spring and missed part of one tournament because he was taking one of the all important college academic tests, Dave Telep is one who thinks it is way too early to judge Dahlman's development during this current summer basketball season.
Telep: "While it is probably not the summer he would have scripted, there is still plenty of time. We have turned up the calendar on this so far that you can't make a decision on Isaiah Dahlman prior to July."
Hosey: "He's pretty good. A lefty. I saw him last year at the Nike (All American) Camp. I was sitting among a bunch of coaches, and everyone was really impressed with Isaiah's cerebral approach to the game. He doesn't try to do too much and plays within himself. Fortunately for Isaiah, playing within himself means playing pretty darn' good."
4. Ramar Smith
6'3" 185, Shooting Guard-Detroit King (AAU: The Family)
Ramar is an explosive wing player with the toughness to attack the hoop and the confidence to hit a clutch three with the game on the line. He is the best player in the state of Michigan in the 2006 class and will likely only get better in his final high school season. Ramar is also a very solid defender; a real game changer that controls the flow of play on both ends of the floor.
Hosey: "Ramar has reestablished himself as thee guy. For a while there last year he played well, but wasn't the dominating force he was as a freshmen and sophomore; but with the way he has played this spring, including last week in France (on a Nike touring team), he is back."
5. Leon Freeman
6'4" 195, Shooting Guard-Belleville, MI (AAU: The Family)
Leon was hampered by a painful toe injury earlier this spring, yet when I saw him – bad toe and all – during the Spiece Run N' Slam in early May, his athleticism and skill were evident. He does a nice job in the paint and is a good rebounder for his size. When healthy, he has an explosive first step and is a tremendous leaper. Because of those traits, he plays bigger than 6'4" and would likely fill the swingman role at the D1 level quite nicely, especially if he adds a little bulk to his frame.
Hosey: "The kid has loved Michigan State since he came to midnight madness two years ago. He just has some things (academically) that he is working towards. . . . If he can take care of that, there's a great chance that he will end up there (East Lansing)."
6. Tom Herzog
7'0" 210, Center-Flint Powers (AAU: Michigan Hurricanes)
Herzog is much more than just your typical project big man. He is a game changer as a defender due to his innate shot blocking ability. His timing and reach make him a terror in the paint for opposing offenses. He is also, despite his wiry frame, a good rebounder with good footwork offensively. Tom has a great feel for the game, and is coachable, with a work ethic that coaches crave at all levels.
Burlison: "Good fundamentals, good footwork, and has an idea of how to play in the post. Pretty good shooting touch and decent hands, but is just physically weak. He'll need to get stronger and run a little bit better and get more aggressive, but he is definitely a high division one prospect. The only thing that will stop him from being a good college player will be how strong he can get."
Telep: "Every time I see Tom I see something that I like. At this time what we're waiting for is the proverbial light to go off, to where he goes from prospect to a guy who's a big producer. That hasn't happened yet, but he has shown flashes of his capability."
6'10" 245, Power Forward-Proviso East (AAU: Ferrari Youth)
Another pretty polished big man. Not in the Oden class, but definitely on the level of Herzog. Brian has solid footwork and has good quickness around the basket. He is also a solid rebounder and passer with a high basketball IQ. He recently listed Illinois as his leader, but Michigan State remains in the hunt for the services of Brian; who hails from the same high school as current Spartan, Shannon Brown.
Hosey: "I think Carlwell is a great fit for Michigan State, not only because of his skills, but because of his personality. He is a fun loving kid. Like Marquise Gray, he's charismatic and fun to be around."
Telep: "I think Brian has been one of the biggest movers of the spring. I've been completely impressed with him every time. He's on the verge of having a break-out summer and I wouldn't be surprised to see Brian become one of the biggest hits of the month of July."
6'7" 210, Small Forward-Canton McKinley (AAU: King James Shooting Stars)
Coming from a school with a rich football tradition, Raymar has flown under the radar in many circles until recently. Nevertheless, he is making the most of his summer season, and will remain a hot commodity until his commitment date. A small forward in the mold of Alan Anderson, Raymar is a solid player, with a toughness and maturity to match. The Spartans, Wolverines and Buckeyes are all vying for his signature at this time.
Telep: "Raymar has made some strides in his game. We (Scout.com) currently have him in our Top 100 (No. 58 overall). His agility is a big asset in playing that small forward/power forward combination."
Hosey: "Raymar is tough. He defends well. He rebounds well. He can put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket. His shooting range goes effectively out to around 16 feet. Raymar is a winner who doesn't get wrapped up in ranking and stats.
"(Raymar) has known Eric Snow (a Canton McKinley and MSU alum) all of his life and he came up last year for a reunion weekend with J. Rich (aka Jason Richardson) and Zach (Randolph) and really had a great time. Every time I talk to him, I always get a vibe that he likes Michigan State quite a bit."
You can read more Scout.com reports from Dave Telep by visiting his website, here .
Frank Burlison top-notch college and prep basketball reports for the Scout Network can be found at, here .
Sam Hosey Jr., and his boss, Vince Baldwin, keep fans abreast of high school hoops in the Midwest on the best site of its kind anywhere.
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