As college basketball rosters develop for the 2012-2013 season and school starts in the coming weeks, even the most casual fan can take a moment to familiarize themselves with the top recruits on the horizon.
There are two primary ways to break down the class’ most intriguing stories, which are the existence of an “elite eight” at the head of the class, and the No. 1 player debate.
The No. 1 player is no longer the consensus pick of 6-8 small forward Jabari Parker. The super-skilled wing forward has muscle-bound power forward Julius Randle, and powerful “bully” combo guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison of the Houston-area all nipping at his heels. It’s debatable if the ideally suited NBA frames of the Harrisons and Randle exceed the long-term potential of Parker at this point, and if those players can bypass him in the near future.
Of course that’s all a moot point if Canadian wing forward Andrew Wiggins joins the class, which has been rumored and endlessly discussed. Given that reclassification is prevalent in high school hoops at present, the top prospect line should be written in pencil, and not pen as fans await Wiggins’ decision. Without Wiggins, it’s fair to say any of the four players can reasonably argued to be No. 1.
The Harrisons are generally thought to be a knock-down, drag-out fight between Kentucky and Maryland, while Parker and Randle have conducted quiet recruitments, and have not had any pipeline to the media in terms of updates of schools. All have their pick of any college in the land.
There are eight players that are substantially ahead of the others in the class, and to go with those already mentioned are combo forward Aaron Gordon of the Bay Area, early Florida commits in in-state stars point guard Kasey Hill and Chris Walker, and lengthy scoring wing forward James Young of Michigan. At this stage in their development, those eight are clearly the top players in the class, as Hill has demonstrated high-caliber burst, Walker is a tremendous athlete inside, Gordon’s motor is unquestioned and Young has the frame to be a mismatch when on the attack.
Any number of prospects can fill out the last two spots in the Top 10, with crafty lead guard Anthony “Cat” Barber, gazelle-like big man Isaiah Hicks (an early North Carolina commit, pictured above), and versatile 6-6 Rondae Jefferson, who can play and defend three positions at the high school level. Another possible bet to join the ranks, top priority LSU recruit Jarell Martin, who emerged as a 6-9 athlete that finishes above the rim over the spring and summer.