ESPN's basketball recruiting analysts have unveiled the first ESPNU 100 rankings for the Class of 2012, and to nobody's surprise much-hyped big man Andre Drummond of St. Thomas More (Conn.) maintains a vice grip on the No. 1 spot.
New England prep school talent is littered throughout the list, including Brewster Academy's Mitch McGary (4), St. Mark's Kaleb Tarczewski (9) and Nik Stauskas (100), Notre Dame Prep's Ricardo Ledo (13), South Kent's Anrio Adams, Hotchkiss' Mike Tobey, and Bridgton Academy's Kareem Canty. But what sticks out the most in this list is the number of quality big men, including Drummond, Tarczewski and McGary.
Dave Telep has previously opined that Drummond -- already profiled several times in Sports Illustrated, and tabbed by some as a once-a-generation talent -- can separate himself widely from the rest of the pack when he chooses to. Now, he writes, it's time to turn it up a gear:
ESPN analyst John Stovall summed it up best in a recent meeting when he said Drummond and [Isaiah] Austin clearly have the biggest ceilings as prospects. However, both can no longer live on potential and it's time they begin producing to meet their level of expectations. These two bigs are NBA prospects and have physical attributes and talents no one else in the class possesses. The next step is proving it beyond a shadow of a doubt. They're built like pros, they look like pros and we don't need them to play likes pros -- though it's not too much to ask for consistent, impactful efforts.
ESPN's Paul Biancardi has similar thoughts:
Drummond is a physical specimen who has a college/NBA-ready body and has the complete package for a post player. He's a great athlete who scores by finishing a break at the rim, or with his skills in the high or low post. You notice his passing instincts whether he has his back to the basket or is facing the action. Drummond has the speed to outrun defenders, and the length and timing to block shots and rebound. Overall, he has an outstanding combination of size and skill level. He'll need to challenge himself on a daily basis to get better, but he has the potential to be a dominant college freshman.
Telep and Biancardi also make note of Brewster's McGary, who has seen his stock explode since transferring into the Wolfeboro, N.H. prep school from his native Indiana and re-classifying. Perhaps nobody's made a bigger leap so far, as Telep writes:
We've postulated for a long time that 2012 would be the year of the big man and our No. 4 prospect is far and away the fastest-rising player in America. Mitch McGary (Chesterton, Ind./Brewster Academy) reclassified to the 2012 class and enrolled at Brewster Academy, which has paid off. Armed with an attitude and a restructured body, the Indiana native made the biggest leap onto our list.
Biancardi similarly praises the big man's frenetic energy on the court:
McGary has always been a solid prospect, but the high-energy power forward has used the spring evaluation period to catapult up the rankings. He has become one of the better rebounders in the 2012 class and can stretch the defense with his ability knock down the face-up jumper out to the 3-point line.
Not to be forgotten either is the 7-foot Tarczewski, still a developing prospect but still an ever-intriguing post player drawing praise as a true five. Biancardi writes:
Because of his size and ability to dominate the paint, Tarczewski might be the top true center prospect in the 2012 class. Whereas most big guys want to show their guard skills, he understands his strengths and rarely deviates from them. Tarczewski has shown consistent improvement every year throughout his high school career and earned his top-10 ranking.
Telep discussed the new rankings in a live chat this afternoon, a transcript of which can be found here.