Jayson Tatum is the new No. 1 in the 2016 player rankings.
A 6-foot-8 wing out of St. Louis (Mo.) Chaminade, Tatum jumped from No. 2 up to the top spot with a solid, but impressive spring playing with the St. Louis Eagles on the Nike EYBL circuit.
Tatum stands out because of his scoring ability, overall skill level and versatility. For his size, Tatum is a very good ball handler and for stretches can play with the ball in his hands. He has tremendous vision and is a talented passer.
Over the years Tatum’s scoring attack as improved. He’s able to go off the bounce and make pull-up jump shots with ease, but he’s also a good finisher at the rim, a capable shot maker from three and is developing a back to the basket game.
Tatum was a standout at the recent Kevin Durant Skills Academy and one NBA scout told Scout.com that he was one of the best players there.
"He's 6-8, very skilled and knows how to player," the NBA scout said. "He stood out from the group despite being one of only a couple of underclassmen."
Tatum averaged 18.9 points and 6.5 rebounds a game with the Eagles in the EYBL. He went for 26 points and 11 rebounds a game at Chaminade during his junior his season.
When considering the top spot for the 2016 class, the Scout.com crew considered four players. To go with Tatum, Josh Jackson, Harry Giles, the former No. 1, and Thon Maker were also under consideration.
In reality, the final decision came down to Tatum and Jackson and it was close. Jackson, a 6-foot-6 wing out of Detroit (Mich.) Consortium, is a do-it-all perimeter player. A very good athlete, Jackson can score it from all three levels, has the potential to be a lock down defender and is terrific in transition.
Unfortunately Scout.com has yet to see Giles at full strength the past year, as the 6-foot-8 versatile combo forward is still recovering from a surgery to his ACL, MCL and meniscus. Giles hit the court late in the spring, but clearly wasn’t his normal self. Giles was slotted at No. 3 overall.
Prior to the injury, Giles was recognized as one of the best long-term prospects in high school basketball. Giles took June off of the circuit and is expected to participate in the USA Basketball Trials in the third evaluation period.
Maker, a 7-foot multipurpose big man, put forth a strong effort this spring playing for Team Loaded. Maker is long, athletic and mobile. He’s a very good shot blocker and rim protector, but he’s also quite skilled and can face the rim for jump shots or score over defenders in the paint.
Top 10 Has Newcomers
While the top of the 2016 top 10 was the same cast of characters as last go around, the bottom half of the top 10 had some shake ups.
Dennis Smith, Kobi Simmons, Derryck Thornton and T.J. Leaf are all new names to Scout.com’s 2016 top 10. While they are new to the top 10, all four were ranked in the top 25 last time we updated rankings.
Smith has a terrific first step, is a tremendous all-around athlete and his jump shot is improving. He’s a nightmare to try and defend when he gets in transition and is a great finisher for a guard.
Simmons, at 6-foot-4, is a true combination guard that can fill the role as scorer or distributor. He’s very quick and is a high-level athlete. Much like Smith, Simmons is tough to stop in transition. He’s an improved mid-range scorer and has good vision.
Thornton has especially picked up his play as of late. He led NBPA Top 100 Camp in assists and was the Most Outstanding player at the Stephen Curry Select Camp last week. Thornton has a very good feel for the game, sees the floor well and is crafty with the ball.
Leaf jumped up three spots from No. 13 to No. 10. A 6-foot-10 forward, Leaf is a very good athlete and runs the floor with ease. He has good hands and touch and is a very good scorer both facing the rim and with his back to it.
Off to Quick Start
At this stage there are only four committed players in Scout.com’s updated top 75.
Jamie Dixon and Pittsburgh lead the way with a pair of commitments. Mustapha Heron, Scout.com’s No. 16 ranked prospect, and shooter Maverick Rowan, who is ranked No. 43, are both committed to Pittsburgh.
UCLA holds the highest rated commitment to date, as point guard Lonzo Ball ranks No. 14 overall. The other player committed on the list is No. 39 Frank Jackson. He’s committed to BYU.