College coaches are always looking to get a head start on the recruiting process. This summer, many prospects from the 2012 recruiting class drew attention from big-time college coaches. Here's a look at the top prospects ranked in the ESPNU Terrific 25 player rankings.
A new No. 1
At 6-10, 250 pounds, Andre Drummond (Hartford, Conn./St. Thomas More) is a giant on the court, and his skills match his size. That combination has caused the massive center prospect to move from No. 9 to the top spot in our latest player rankings.
Drummond dominated the competition on the summer circuit, and was able to win games for his team in a variety of ways. He's very long and athletic, but he's as much of a basketball player as he is an athlete.
He demonstrated incredible versatility for such a young big man. His midrange jumper is a consistent weapon in his arsenal, but it's hardly the only one. He's very aggressive on both ends of the floor. Drummond will do what it takes to get to the hoop; that often means going through, around and over defenders. He runs the floor and challenges and blocks shots on the defensive end.
Drummond's game is very advanced for his age. Many things he attempts on the floor come very easily to him, but he does have some improvements to make. The area he needs to improve most is probably his strength and conditioning. If he commitments himself to the weight room, this kid has nearly unlimited upside.
Centers of attention
Drummond is not the only big man getting attention in the 2012 class. In fact, the top four prospects in the new edition of the Terrific 25 play on the low blocks.
Formerly No. 1, DaJuan Coleman (Syracuse, N.Y./Jamesville-DeWitt) has an impressive body, at 6-8, 280 pounds, and highly advanced offensive skills. Coleman, who drops to No. 2 in our revised rankings, also boasts deceptive athletic ability for his huge frame.
Holding strong at the third spot, Isaiah Austin (Mansfield, Texas) is a different type of player than Drummond and Coleman. The top two players in the class are more physically imposing. Austin is more of a versatile and wiry athlete. Austin is still polishing his back-to-the basket skills, so most of his points come on short jumpers and putbacks. Defensively, the 6-11 Austin can dominate the paint as well as any player in the class.
No. 4 Perry Ellis (Wichita, Kan./Wichita Heights) is a power forward with small forward skills. But he's also big, strong and athletic. He probably could work on his jumper. Still, his overall skill package is very aggressive.
To see this many talented big men only entering their sophomore year of high school is a surprise. Generally, guards develop more quickly than post prospects, so the sheer volume of low-post players at the top of this class means it could be a very impressive one. And the talent goes well beyond the four we mentioned. Wannah Bail (Sugarland, Texas/The Village School), Elijah Macon (Columbus, Ohio/Marion-Franklin) and Ricardo Gathers (LaPlace, La./Reserve Christian) also ooze potential.
The top perimeter prospect in the 2012 class is SF Shabazz Muhammad (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) and Justin Anderson (Richmond, Va./Montrose Christian).
Muhammad, who is ranked No. 5, is a tremendous athlete who plays with great aggression. He's tremendous in transition. He's a scorer more than a shooter. I witnessed him drop 36 points in the U-16 title game at the Tournament of Champions.
Anderson's strength is his athletic ability. The No. 6 prospect in the 2012 class is a versatile player who gets a lot done both inside around the paint and from the perimeter. His 3-point shot is a work in progress. Anderson kind of reminds us of current Atlanta Hawk Josh Smith.
The top lead guards in this class both come from the talent-rich state of Texas: No. 7 J-Mychal Reese (Bryan, Texas) and No. 8 L.J. Rose. The two show differing approaches to the position. Reese is an excellent scorer who takes the ball to the basket. He is extremely quick with the ball and can knock down open 3s. Rose, on the other hand, is a pass-first point guard. He has a tremendous feel for the game and makes his teammates better.
Terrific 25 notes
SF Winston Shepard (Henderson, Nev./Findlay Prep) is an intriguing prospect. We love his versatility and athletic ability. He can play the 3 and the 4, and he really can create matchup problems. Savon Goodman (Philadelphia/Academy of the New Church) is a true scorer with excellent size. The 6-5 SG is one of this class' best marksmen. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (Indianapolis/North Central) has impressive strength. At 6-3, 200 pounds, he overpowers smaller high school guards.
Reggie Rankin covers high school recruiting for Scouts Inc.