Burlison's #1: Is it Kevin Love?

Following a path from California to Georgia to Indiana to Nevada this July left Scout.com's Frank Burlison with a fairly good notion of who the best high school basketball players in the country are. The candidates? Mike Beasley, Eric Gordon, Kevin Love, O.J. Mayo and Kyle Singler...

With the Pangos All-America Camp (three June days in Cypress, Calif.), adidas Super Star Camp (1 ½ days in July in Suwanee, Ga.), Nike All-America Camp (three July days in Indianapolis) and the adidas Super 64, Reebok Big Time and Main Event tournaments (five very warm July days in Las Vegas) as the research tools, I now present the pecking order for the 20 best high school players I saw in the summer.


I've also tossed in 10 "near misses", and listed them alphabetically.


Within two minutes (or sooner) of reading this, most of you will scream "Where's Jerryd Bayless?"


The answer to that question is . . . I didn't include anyone on the Top 20 or "near misses" lists that I didn't see play in June or July.


EBO was eliminated from the adidas Super 64 before I could check out the Phoenix St. Mary's standout's team in Las Vegas and he left the Nike All-American Camp without playing because of a slight groin pulled suffered during his stint with the USA Basketball 18-under squad in San Antonio.


So there's the caveat.


Here we go...(all UCLA prospects have ** by their names)


Top 20

1. Kevin Love*** (6-9, C/PF, Sr.) Southern California All-Stars/Lake Oswego, Ore., Lake Oswego

Frank Says: Edged Gordon by the teeniest of margins. The recent UCLA commit was the most dominant player at any position.


2. Eric Gordon (6-3, SG, Sr.) Mean Streets Express/Indianapolis North Central

Frank Says: After next spring's all-star game circuit, we might be calling him the No. 1 player in the class.


3. O.J. Mayo (6-4, PG, Sr.) D-1 Greyhounds/Cincinnati North College Hill

Frank Says: "Mild Mayo bashing" seems to be all the rage now. I don't get it. He's clearly the best point guard prospect in the country and just as clearly one of the five best prospects across the board. He's not LeBron James. There is only one of those, ladies and gentlemen.


4. Kyle Singler*** (6-8, SF, Sr.) Portland Legends/Medford, Ore., South)

Frank Says: He's not quite the jump shooter a lot of people assume he is. But he's a lot better ball-handler than anyone his size playing high school basketball.


5. Mike Beasley (6-8, PF, Sr.) D.C. Assault/????

Frank Says: I guess we can't call him a "high school" player any longer (he seems destined for a prep school after apparently exhausting his high school eligibility), just like Billy Walker. There were stretches of four or five possessions in July games in which he looked liked the best player in the country. And there were comparable stretches in which you didn't notice him much at all.


6. Derrick Rose (6-3, PG, Sr.) Mean Streets Express/Chicago Simeon

Frank Says: Once he develops a consistent jump shot, the comparisons to O.J. Mayo can start in earnest.


7. James Harden (6-5, SG, Sr.) Pump-N-Run Elite/Lakewood, Calif., Artesia

Frank Says: He's been the best California prep, regardless of class, since early last season.


8. Austin Freeman (6-3, SG, Sr.,) D.C. Assault/Hyattsville, Md., DeMatha

Frank Says: His play on the defensive end is what keeps him behind Eric Gordon and James Harden right now. There isn't a better scorer in high school.


9. Greg Monroe (6-10, Combo forward, Jr.) New Orleans Panthers/Harvey, La., Helen Cox

Frank Says: The "Lamar Odom clone" separated himself from all other Class of 2008 prospects in July.


10. Donte Greene (6-8, Combo forward, Sr.) Team Melo/Towson, Md., Towson Catholic

Frank Says: He's likely to start – and star – from Day 1 as a Syracuse freshman a year from now.


11. Patrick Patterson (6-8, PF, Sr.) Boo Williams All-Stars/Huntington, W.V., Huntington

Frank Says: Only Kevin Love is a better rebounding frontcourt player.


12. Kosta Koufos (7-0, C/PF, Sr.) King James Shooting Stars/Canton, Ohio, Glen Oaks

Frank Says: For a center/power forward type, only Kevin Love has better offensive skills.


13. Samardo Samuels (6-8, PF, Jr.) Metro Hawks/Newark, N.J., St. Benedict Prep

Frank Says: His arms aren't as long as Elton Brand's but his game is comparable in a lot of ways.


14. Jrue Holiday*** (6-3, SG, Jr.) Double Pump Elite/North Hollywood, Calif., Campbell Hall)

Frank Says: He pulled away from the other West Coast juniors and moved into the Top Five in the national Class of 2008.


15. Johnny Flynn (6-0, PG, Sr.) GC Ballers/Niagara Falls, N.Y., Niagara Falls

Frank Says: He'll be in the Syracuse starting lineup every bit as quickly as Donte Green will be a year from now.


16. Nick Calathes (6-5, Combo guard, Sr.) Florida Team Nike/Winter Park, Fla., Lake Howell

Frank Says: Be it deep- or mid-range, few shoot as well as this future Gator does.


17. Billy Walker (6-5, PF, Sr.) D-1 Greyhounds/????

Frank Says: His play was (relatively) uninspired during the two times I watched him in Las Vegas. But I finished "evaluating" him a long while ago.


18. Chris Wright (6-6, SF., Sr.) Queen City Prophets/Trotwood, Ohio, Madison

Frank Says: He's finishes shots with the same kind of ferocity that Billy Walker does.


19. DeAndre Jordan (6-10, C, Sr.,) Houston Swoosh/Houston Episcopal

Frank Says: I caught him just once, briefly, in Las Vegas. He gets off the floor in traffic in a big hurry.


20. Kalin Lucas (6-0, PG, Sr.) The Family/Orchard Lake, Mich., St. Mary's

Frank Says: He's equally adept at scoring and making sure his teammates do, too.


Near misses: Larry Drew*** (6-0, PG, Jr.) Pump-N-Run Elite/Woodland Hills, Calif., Taft; J. J. Hickson (6-8, PF, Sr.) World Wide Renegades/Marietta, Ga., Wheeler; Brandon Jennings (6-1, PG, Jr.) Southern California All-Stars/Mouth of Wilson, Va., Oak Hill Academy); Gary Johnson (6-6, PF, Sr.) Houston Hoops/Houston Aldine; Taylor King (6-7, SF, Sr.) Southern California All-Stars/Santa Ana, Calif., Mater Dei); Jai Lucas (5-10, PG, Sr.) Houston Hoops/Bellaire, Texas, Bellaire; E'twaun Moore (6-3, SG, Sr.) SYF Players/East Chicago, Ind., Central; B.J. Mullens (7-0, C, Jr.) Cleveland Basketball Club/Canal, Ohio, Westchester; Delvin Roe (6-8, SF, Jr.) King James Shooting Stars/Lakewood, Ohio, St. Edward and Renardo Sidney*** (6-9, PF, So.) Southern California All-Stars/????


Inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame in April, 2005, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's national basketball expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at frank.burlison@presstelegram.com. Read more of Burlison's pieces at www.frankhoops.com

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