Not everyone is sold that elite guard Andrew Harrison will be a stud at Kentucky. (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)
The top of the class in 2013 is one of the best in several years, with several elite players separating themselves from the rest of the pack. It was a loaded class even before players like Andrew Wiggins, Noah Vonleh and Dakari Johnson reclassified from 2014 and immediately became top-11 players. In Wiggins’ case, he moved to the top of the class.
As with every class, though, it’s almost a guarantee that not all of the “elite 11” will live up to the expectations during their time in college — especially during their freshman seasons. Although all 11 players are supremely talented and seem poised for stardom, it’s highly unlikely that it will work out that way.
Which players from that top 11 — Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh, Kasey Hill, James Young, Chris Walker and Dakari Johnson — are most likely to be busts? We polled 20 coaches and scouts to get their take. Here are the top three vote-getters:
— Chris Walker, 6-foot-10, PF, Florida
Coaches question Walker’s motor and focus. (Adidas)
Although Walker has outstanding length and athleticism, people question his motor and his motivation. He doesn’t seem to play with 100-percent effort throughout the game and can coast at times, especially when playing against lesser competition. Multiple coaches question whether he was focused enough to be a consistent competitor at the next level, while others just don’t know if he is skilled enough to make a major impact. “I’m not sure how hard he works off the court,” one coach said.
— Noah Vonleh, 6-foot-9, PF, Indiana
Vonleh decided to move back into the class of 2013 in September, and he became a member of that elite group immediately. He is a dominant rebounder and is developing his offensive game. However, coaches and scouts don’t think he has enough of a skill set offensively to make a scoring impact at the next level. He doesn’t handle the ball well and isn’t a great shooter from the perimeter. “I question his motor and effort,” one coach said. “Those other guys, to me, are relentless and show they want it badly.”
— Andrew Harrison, 6-foot-5, PG, Kentucky
— Aaron Harrison, 6-foot-5, SG, Kentucky
The twins are unbelievably talented and are two of the most unstoppable players in the class — but they have developed a reputation among scouts and coaches as being selfish and too attached to one another to be effective with other talents surrounding them. Other elite players have indicated to coaches that they aren’t sold on playing in the same backcourt with the Harrison twins. They need the ball in their hands — how will they do when they aren’t getting shots? “One of them is going to be just a guy,” one coach said. “They can’t stay being the way they are.”
Others: The only players not to garner a mention at all were Wiggins and Gordon. Some questioned Young’s attitude and mindset; others brought up the low ceiling of Johnson; Parker’s athleticism was questioned; and Randle and Hill both received mentions.
On the trail: Best individual performances
Over the weekend, Louisville-signee Terry Rozier showed why he has risen into five-star status across most ranking services.
Rozier’s exploits helped raise his stock. (247 Sports)
On Saturday, Rozier scored 68 points in an overtime win for Hargrave Military Academy (Va.) and then followed that up with 38 points and a game-winner the next day. It might have been the best weekend performance of the season by an elite player. Scout.com’s Evan Daniels was in attendance, and he couldn’t stop fawning over the outing.
“That was the highest scoring output I’ve seen since covering high school recruits and arguably the best individual performance I’ve seen in a game,” Daniels told CBSSports.com. “I’ve seen Monta Ellis go for 50 and Austin Rivers drop 40 a couple of times, but Rozier was on a different level last weekend. It was the best performance I’ve seen. He was zoned in. His second half was incredible.”
What were some of the other outstanding individual performances that we’ve seen in the last few years? We asked some coaches for their input.
Marcus Smart: “I had a chance to see him in Las Vegas two years ago, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone play as hard as he played. I loved him. He carried that team to the [Adidas Super 64] title.”
Ricky Ledo: “He scored 37 points last year in a prep school game, just scored everything.” — “He also dropped 35 points at a Hoop Group event in Plainfield, N.J.”
Rasheed Sulaimon: “It was in Vegas, and I wasn’t there for him. But he scored 28 points in one half, hit eight or nine 3-pointers.”
Austin Rivers: “Down in Orlando, I’m pretty sure it was a pool-play game. I think he went for 40. Ridiculous.”
Joe Jackson: “He beat the New England Playaz in the finals of the Super 64 in 2010. They were down 16 with four to go, and he took over. He dominated. Got fouled or scored on every play down the stretch. I told someone he was a poor man’s [Allen] Iverson.”
Recruiting update: Chris Chiozza
Chiozza is an exciting prospect in 2014. (247 Sports)
It’s hard not to like Chris Chiozza.
The junior point guard is listed at 5-foot-10 (probably smaller) but loves to push the ball in transition and plays with tremendous energy throughout the game. Playing for Team Thad in the summer, Chiozza was the catalyst for their triple-digit scoring outputs on the AAU circuit.
“What makes him so good is his competitive edge,” AAU coach Norton Hurd said. “The bigger the guy is, it puts a chip on his shoulder. Besides the height, he’s everything else you can want in a player.”
Chiozza, who transferred to White Station (Tenn.) at the end of last year, has offers from Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, Auburn, Butler, VCU, Richmond and Massachusetts. Missouri offered, but AAU teammate Anton Beard committed and the two sides amicably parted ways.
What makes the Tigers interesting is the fact Chiozza is often compared to Phil Pressey.
“You cannot keep him from getting to the basket,” Hurd said. “He’s never backing down and he makes everyone on your team better. You can give him leeway and look good as a coach.”
His recruiting is starting to pick up, too, with Connecticut, North Carolina State, Florida, Baylor and Kansas showing interest. Hurd said if one of the big schools extends an offer, Chiozza could be ready to end the process.
“If one of them offers, he’s probably committing,” Hurd said.
Chiozza is ranked No. 59 in the class of 2014 by 247 Sports.
Mailbag: Kevin Ollie, social media, Marquette
— What impact will the contract and stability of Kevin Ollie do on the recruiting front? (via @TSpagnola)
Kevin Ollie deserved the extension he received at the end of December, as Connecticut was off to a solid start despite not having much to play for. As far as recruiting, Ollie played a major role in landing two New York products for 2013, power forward Kentan Facey and guard Terrence Samuel. While neither player is a program-changer, one or both might have left had Ollie been fired after the 2012-13 season. Back when Jim Calhoun stepped down, both Samuel and Facey made it clear they might reconsider their commitments if Ollie didn’t take over. Ollie has been planting seeds in the 2014 and 2015 classes, and a new coach would have had to start from scratch.
— How much influence does social media have on a recruit? Following and tweeting trying to convince them, etc. (via @onlinerailbird)
A couple of things about people tweeting at prospective recruits. First of all, boosters are not allowed to recruit student-athletes to a particular school. A booster is anyone who gives money to the school — either via buying tickets or attending the school. And, realistically, what other sort of people are tweeting at recruits to come to school? Randoms that don’t go to that school or don’t attend games are likely not sending “Come to our school!!! You’ll be the best here!!” tweets. Also, I can’t see it having an effect on recruits. Not once have I spoken to a recruit after a commitment and he said, “Well, they tweeted at me a ton. I knew I had to go there.” Plus it’s kind of creepy. It needs to stop.
— Marquette is having some nice recruiting years. Can they contend for a title soon? (via @BrentBaackes)
Despite having no five-star recruits in 2013, Marquette has one of the better classes in the country coming into school next season. Jajuan Johnson is a smooth scorer who can knock down shots; Duane Wilson can get into the lane against pretty much anyone; and Deonte Burton is a strong wing who is very good in transition. Moreover, forward Jameel McKay is one of the best players in the junior college ranks. The only seniors on the roster are Junior Cadougan, Trent Lockett and Chris Otule. Marquette is a perennial bubble team, but next year the Golden Eagles will have as much talent — especially on the perimeter — as anyone in the Big East (besides maybe Louisville).
If you would like to ask a question for next week, simply tweet at me: @jeffborzello.
Lists and the latest intel
2014 forward Marcanvis Hymon has a top three of Memphis, Michigan State and Missouri, although Cincinnati, Oklahoma and Auburn have also offered. Arkansas and Tennessee are showing interest. … Several top-tier prospects in the class of 2014 trimmed their lists to 10 recently. … We’ll start with 247 Sports’ No. 1 prospect, Emmanuel Mudiay, who cut it to Arizona, Baylor, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, NC State, Oklahoma State, SMU, St. John’s and Texas. … West Coast forward Stanley Johnson went with UNLV, Oregon, San Diego State, NC State, Kentucky, Arizona, Louisville, USC, Syracuse and UCLA. … Jordan McLaughlin, one of the top point guards in the class, is down to UCLA, Arizona, Stanford, UNLV, San Diego State, Kansas, Indiana, Gonzaga, Connecticut and New Mexico. … Florida is making some headway in the class of 2014. The Gators offered L.J. Peak and Jordan Barnett, and I’m hearing they’re showing interest in Brandon Francis. … Oregon State won’t get L.J. Westbrook for another two seasons, as he plans to take a post-grad year at Lee Academy (Maine) next year. … North Carolina made early moves in the 2014 class by getting Joel Berry. Could Justin Jackson be next? The smooth shooter will take an official visit on March 3. … Rashad Vaughn was recently offered by Connecticut, but he is expected to visit Iowa State this weekend. Cyclones are making a strong push. … 2014 wing Kameron Chatman listed UCLA, Arizona, Connecticut, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Louisville and Georgetown.