Frank Burlison's Top 25 Prospects for 2006

After evaluating players during stops at six national events in June and July, Frank Burlison offers up his pecking order of the Top 25 high school prospects in the Class of 2006. You haven't been following high school basketball at all if you can't guess who he selected No. 1. Some of his other choices and rankings within the 25 may surprise you, though.

With August slipping away from us ever-so-rapidly, it's time to lock in my Top 25 seniors for the coming high school season.


The criteria used in shaping the list were the performances I watched at a half-dozen "national" events in June and July: the USA Basketball Youth Festival (in San Diego), the adidas Superstar Camp (in Suwanee, Ga.) and the Nike All-America Camp (in Indianapolis), along with the three July 22-26 tournaments in Las Vegas – the Reebok Big Time; the adidas Super 64; and the Main Event.


Fifth-year (prep school) players were excluded from consideration.


Ready . . . set . . . here you go!


1. Greg Oden (Indianapolis Lawrence North) 6-11

Comments: After the considerable offensive improvement he displayed in June and July, his game has become nit-pick proof.

2. Spencer Hawes (Seattle, Wash., Prep) 6-10

Comments: As he displayed in July at the Nike All-America Camp, the Peach Jam Tournament and the Main Event, there isn't a player with better offensive skills on the high school level – O.J. Mayo included.

3. Brandan Wright (Brentwood, Tenn., Prep) 6-10

Comments: His rebounding and shot blocking abilities are nearly the equal of Oden's. And that qualifies as a heap of praise.

4. Wayne Ellington (Merion, Pa., The Episcopal Academy) 6-4

Comments: He is as clearly the top prospect at his projected college position (shooting guard) as Oden is at center.

5. Kevin Durant (Rockville, Md., Montrose Christian) 6-9 1/2

Comments: Once he gets stronger and realizes that his effectiveness in the low post is just as critical to his success as a player as his ability to launch 3-pointers, he'll be as good as anyone in this class.

6. Mike Conley (Indianapolis Lawrence North) 6-1

Comments: OK, so there may be players with more "upside" as college and, eventually, NBA prospects. But get this straight up front: He is the best point guard in the Class of 2006 – hands down.

7. Brook Lopez (Fresno, Ca., San Joaquin Memorial) 6-11

Comments: He gets the slight edge right now as the No. 1 prospect in a very good California senior class.

8. Tywon Lawson (Mouth of Wilson, Va., Oak Hill Academy) 5-11

Comments: The comparisons to Raymond Felton when he shows up in Chapel Hill in about a year with have plenty of merit.

9. Robin Lopez (Fresno, Ca., San Joaquin Memorial) 6-11

Comments: No one in the Class of 2006 improved any more from June until the end of July than did this half of the Stanford-bound twins.

10. Chase Budinger (Carlsbad, Ca., La Costa Canyon) 6-7

Comments: He might be competing for Olympic gold some day – in volleyball – while earning NBA paychecks.

11. Deshawn Sims (Detroit, Mich., Pershing) 6-7

Comments: A eye-catching performance at the Nike All-America Camp was repeated a few weeks later in Las Vegas during the Big Time Tournament. Getting his commitment (over Syracuse and Michigan State) was quite the coup for Michigan coach Tom Amaker.

12. Stanley Robinson (Birmingham, Ala., Woodlawn) 6-9

Comments: If Brandan Wright isn't the best senior prospect in the South, then this is the guy.

13. Gerald Henderson (Merion, Pa., The Episcopal Academy) 6-5

Comments: His jump shot is the only part of his game that isn't already dynamic.

14. Duke Crews (Hampton, Va., Bethel) 6-6

Comments: No matter how long I ponder the question, I can't come up with the name of a high-level prospect that played harder than Crews did in July.

15. Lance Thomas (Newark, N.J., St. Benedict) 6-8

Comments: Ditto the comments about Gerald Henderson.

16. Vernon Macklin (Chatham, Va., Hargrave Military) 6-9

Comments: He teamed with Duke Crews to give the Boo Williams All-Stars a pair of rebounders second only to the Lopez Twins on EBO/EA Sports on the traveling team circuit.

17. Daequan Cook (Dayton, Ohio, Dunbar) 6-5

Comments: Along with Gerald Henderson, he is one of the two best 6-5 or shorter "finishers" in the senior class.

18. Sherron Collins (Chicago, Ill., Crane) 5-11

Comments: If someone suggests to you that Collins is the quickest player in the senior class, take them at their word.

19. Thaddeus Young (Memphis, Tenn., Mitchell) 6-8

Comments: Early exits at the USA Basketball Youth Festival in San Diego (with an ankle sprain) and in the adidas Super 64 Tournament in Las Vegas (when his team was upset in the first round of the playoffs) kept me from watching him as often as I wanted to.

20. Derrick Caracter (Elizabeth, N.J., St. Patrick) 6-9

Comments: Consistency of effort and physical conditioning are his only roadblocks to becoming an exceptional college player at Louisville – and if anyone can remove those barriers, it's Rick Pitino.

21. Javaris Crittenton (Atlanta, Ga., Southwest Academy) 6-4

Comments: He seems to be making the transition from "scorer" to "true point guard" fairly well, which has to please his future college coach, Paul Hewitt.

22. Darrell Arthur (Dallas, Texas, South Oak Cliff) 6-8 1/2

Comments: He was one of the most "up and down" players of the summer. At times he was spectacular; at others, you almost forgot he was on the floor.

23. James Keefe (Rancho Santa Margarita, Ca., Santa Margarita) 6-8

Comments: No one aspect of his game "wows" you. The sum of the individual parts does, though.

24. Quincy Pondexter (Fresno, Ca., San Joaquin Memorial) 6-6 ½

Comments: Once his jump shot becomes consistently accurate and he learns to play on balance all the time, there will be few more promising wings in college.

25. Phil Nelson (Keizer, Ore., McNary) 6-8

Comments: There are a lot of better all-around players right now but his phenomenal deep shooting ability – and the "P" word is certainly apt – gets him the final spot.


An April inductee into the USBWA Hall of Fame, Frank Burlison is's National Basketball Expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at Read more of Burlison's pieces at

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