After every July evaluation period, college basketball recruiting junkies put an eye towards their favorite school’s current recruiting class. It’s hard not to take an early look out a little bit further, though, and dig into the underclassmen stars who will be making an impact as college freshmen.
There already is significant excitement in the 2014 recruiting class, as many members of the basketball community already are familiar with 6-7 wing forward Andrew Wiggins, the native of Canada who recruiting analysts and NBA scouts already believe is the best overall prospect current in the high school basketball ranks. He plays in West Virginia for Huntington Prep, and is believed to be weighing Kentucky and Florida State (where is father played). A player with athleticism and explosiveness as calling cards, Wiggins looks like he’s ideally forged to be a long-time NBA player.
All summer long, it’s been rumored that Wiggins will jump up to the 2013 recruiting class, a move many top stars have made the last few years. With Wiggins being the same age as many 2013 stars, it would make sense for him to do so. If he does reclassify, the top of the 2013 class is still deep and talented, though lacking in the “sure thing” pizzazz that Wiggins represents. Two lead guards on opposite borders of the country, Tyus Jones of Minnesota and Emmanuel Mudiay (pictured) seem poised to fill the gap at the head of the class if Wiggins does reclassify. Jones is the Chris Paul of the high school ranks, while Mudiay is a long, sleek and attacking point guard that has some Russell Westbrook in him.
If Jones and Mudiay don’t do it for fans in terms of excitement, then two Windy City big men, Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander have the post prowess to turn heads. Okafor has a FIBA Americas U17 gold under his belt, and his nearly immovable at over 250 pounds solidly on his 6-9 frame. Alexander has the explosiveness near the hoop to make him unstoppable in drawing fouls and converting, and he has some nasty to his game. At 6-9, 230 pounds, Alexander projects as an elite-level power forward when he refines his skills and harnesses his talent.
An X-factor in the 2014 class is burgeoning combo forward Noah Vonleh. He was a road warrior all spring and summer, taking on all comers in adidas and Nike sponsored events. He’s caught in a no man’s land between small forward and power forward, but at 6-8 he has time to clarify his ultimate position. A long, gazelle-like mover who can just as easily start breaks as he can finishing them, Vonleh can also ascend to the head of the class if Wiggins is gone.
As mentioned above, the core of the best players in the class already have two summers of undefeated play in international competition under their belt. The 2013 class is far from in the books, and certainly has not decided how the top player is, but 2014 has the makings of something special, at present.