Now that the July evaluation period has come to a close, we have a chance to look back and see what stood out during the month.
Who was the best senior you saw in July?
Paul Biancardi: Danuel House (Sugar Land, Texas/Hightower) is on his way to becoming a household name after having a terrific July. He is an impressive, efficient scorer who produces on both ends of the court. He can knock down long-range and midrange jumpers, as well as drive to the basket with excellent body control. House will not hunt shots, but rather read the possession and give it up for a better shot when available. Defensively, he can guard any of the three perimeter positions and the offers are pouring in for the Eddie Jones-type of scorer.
Joel Francisco: Marcus Smart (Flower Mound, Texas/Marcus) came into July known as a wing forward who impacts the game in multiple ways, but after July he is now a blossoming point guard who steamrolled the competition at the adidas Super 64. Smart can play the 1,2 or 3 at the next level due to his savvy, strength, athleticism and assassin-like mentality. He handled the point guard duties with aplomb as he attacked the rim and rarely turned the ball over despite making spectacular passes. Defensively, he is a ball hawk, and he had one of the more spectacular blocks of the summer when he denied SF Winston Shepard (Fresno, Texas/Findlay Prep) at the rim on a dunk attempt. Overall, Smart should be a McDonald's All-American, and if I had to choose a point guard heading into the 2011-12 season, he would be the smart choice.
Mike LaPlante: Nobody had a better summer than Kyle Anderson (Fairview, N.J./St. Anthony), who had a phenomenal July highlighted by his outstanding play at the EYBL Finals at the Nike Peach Jam. The multitalented 6-foot-8 playmaker is a winner who makes other players around him better. While averaging nearly a triple-double (18.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg and 8.1 apg), he took a less talented team and led them to the quarterfinals in Augusta. Because of his size and skill level Anderson, who has an old school game, has drawn comparisons to Jalen Rose and Magic Johnson.
Reggie Rankin: Shabazz Muhammad (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) is a tough, physical, consistent and super athletic wing who is an elite-level performer. He stands out above his competition in most every game, despite entering each contest as a marked man. Muhammad is the player other players want to say they competed or played well against, which is the ultimate respect. He excels in transition, is a good rebounder and relentless rim-attacker whether he is slashing, posting up or posterizing a defender with a powerful dunk. The hard-working lefty has improved his overall shooting and ballhandling. Whenever Muhammad competes, rest assured he will play with maximum effort and energy, and stuff the stat sheet.
Adam Finkelstein: Muhammad may very well be the best high school basketball player in the country, but Andre Drummond (Middletown, Conn./St. Thomas More) showed this summer why his ceiling is so high. His physical tools are among the best we've seen from a big man in the past five years, his motor was far improved and his game has evolved with the ball in his hands. Although he still tends to play to the level of his competition, he absolutely dominated opposing bigs at the adidas Super 64, not just controlling the paint but also consistently making plays with the ball in his hands in the middle of the floor.
John Stovall: Mitch McGary (Chesterton, Ind./Brewster Academy) has to be in the discussion of top senior, if only because he is probably the hardest playing player in the class. McGary has worked to improve his skill level in the past year and he can now put the ball on the floor effectively for a post player and hit the occasional 3, and is an excellent passer. McGary consistently impacts the game like few in the class and he is definitely the most consistently productive big in the 2012 class. McGary will be a consensus top-10 player but may not participate in all of the postseason games due to the fact he is a fifth-year senior. He is being pursued by every elite-level program in the country that needs a post player and if he continues to improve, McGary will be a pro sooner rather than later.
Dave Telep: Muhammad was the one guy who brought it each and every time he stepped on the floor. In the senior class, there isn't a bigger headliner, and with the accolades comes the pressure to deliver. Shabazz had to be "on" every night, and if he wasn't, he gave it his all. His athleticism, because of a stringent workout program, took another leap forward. He went for 30-plus more than any senior in the class that I know of and you could count on him for a highlight reel's worth of plays per outing.
Paul Biancardi is the national director of basketball recruiting. Adam Finkelstein is a frequent contributor, both in player evaluations and event coverage. Joel Francisco is a recruiting coordinator and has been evaluating high school prospects for over 20 years. Michael LaPlante is a recruiting coordinator who has over 20 years of coaching and recruiting experience. Reggie Rankin, a recruiting coordinator, has coached in the Mid-American, American East, WAC, SEC, Big 12 and Atlantic 10 conferences over a span of 14 seasons. John Stovall, a recruiting coordinator, has worked as director of scouting for Prep Spotlight Scouting Service and magazine for 15 years. Dave Telep is the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com.