After a summer of high-profile camps, events and summer leagues, it is very evident the Class of 2010 has established itself as one with super talent and good size. Eight of the top 10 prospects in the ESPNU Super 60 measure 6-foot-6 or taller, and most are only 16 years old, which means the growth plates in their bodies are still open for room to add inches to their frames.
With two more years left for these players in high school, if they show a real commitment to improve and a strong work ethic in the off-season, this class will certainly shine on a national stage.
Five or six high-level players are at each position in the class, which is rare. Traveling around the country this past summer, the ESPN Scouts Inc. staff found 21 players who stood out enough to jump into our Super 60.
But it's the frontcourt that clearly leads the 2010 class. When you evaluate their overall size, length, power, athleticism and skill package, it's a group with super promise -- between 6-12 of these prospects have NBA potential. As we all know, having it and reaching it is an entirely different story.
Let's take a look at who has dominated thus far, who has moved up the charts and who are some of the new kids on the block.
On top of the Super 60
Six-foot-8 power forward Jared Sullinger (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) has been crushing opponents and simply makes his team win. When he is in the game, you know it.
We have evaluated him since he won the 15-under Nationals in Detroit in July 2007 to just recently in last week's Boost Mobile Elite 24, and continue to be impressed by the longtime Ohio State pledge. His AAU team All Ohio-Red surrounds him with good players and makes sure he gets touches, which is important for his development.
The art of the low post game is becoming a rare sight in basketball. For such a young player, Sullinger demonstrates almost a mini-clinic with his back to the basket as he sets up shop. The mechanics of the low post game take position and patience. Sullinger knows where he is on the floor, which block he is on and where he wants the ball. He gives his passer an excellent target as he gets a low base and makes and maintains contact as he catches the pass. His head is up to locate his defender and he is ready to score with his soft touch, drop step, jump hook or turnaround jumper.
Six-foot-3 scoring point guard Brandon Knight (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Pine Crest) ranks No. 2 in the class. A one-man fast break, he'll rebound the ball and take it himself or receive the outlet pass and go. Either way, he's putting pressure on the defense by advancing the ball with a high-speed dribble and terrific vision.
Knight also accelerates to the basket on his penetration and knows how to finish when he gets to the rim. He possesses a strong middle game on his penetration to the basket as he pulls up in the lane and knocks down the shot with good body control and a soft touch. In a two-man game he is dangerous because he attacks off the ball screen and scores or finds the screener rolling or popping. Defensively, he keeps his man out of the lane with his athletic ability, proud demeanor and high motor.
The versatile 6-8 forward Tristan Thompson (Brampton, Ontario, Canada/St. Benedict's) competes every time he steps on the floor. Extremely active and athletic, the Texas commit ranks third in the 2010 class. He dominates his opposition above the rim and in the paint, rebounding the ball like a man and going after every miss on both ends of the floor. He already produces highlight-reel dunks, but the upside for his all-around game is tremendous.
Six-foot-9 center Joshua Smith (Covington, Wash./Kentwood) and new ESPNU Super 60 addition Harrison Barnes (Ames, Iowa) round out the top five. Smith is a physically imposing low post player who tries to dunk everything he touches. With his combination of size and strength, he is one of the best in the class at finishing around the basket. The 6-6 Barnes was fantastic at the Nike Global Challenge. He has economy of motion to his game along with superior skills and athleticism. He'll cut hard when freeing himself to get open, and when there is space between him and his defender, he'll rise up with his long frame and shoot the jumper with confidence to about 20 feet.
Super 60 newcomers
Six-foot-5 SG Andre Dawkins (Chesapeake, Va./Atlantic Shores Christian) enters the ESPNU Super 60 with a bang at No. 11. This big, strong, physical Duke commit may have one of the best shooting strokes in his class. He stretches the defense out because he is a consistent long-range shooter who displays great confidence in his abilities. More than just a shooter, Dawkins hits the offensive glass and is an underrated ball handler.
New England native Gerald Coleman (West Roxbury, Mass./Tilton School) is a terrific all-around scoring guard and enters the Super 60 at No. 23. The 6-3 lefty is always attacking the basket and putting constant pressure on the defense.
He can stroke it from 3-point land or pull up for the mid-range J. Coleman excels at penetrating to the basket as he avoids defenders with good body control before finishing in the paint or above the rim.
Entering at No. 25, 6-9 PF Adreian Payne (Dayton, Ohio/Jefferson) oozes potential. Extremely long and athletic, he uses those qualities in his game. Payne's a defensive presence -- he's an excellent shot blocker, and when he doesn't block the shot, he certainly changes it. He rebounds on both ends of the floor, especially offensively where he gets his share of put-backs.
A great summer at the Nike Peach Jam and AAU nationals jumped 6-7 SF Travis McKie (Richmond, Va.) to No. 26. A big-time finisher in transition and the half-court, he plays with a high motor while putting the ball on the floor driving to the basket.
He also demonstrated range on his jumper to the arc.
Six-foot-2 point guard Kyrie Irving (Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick) has a great feel and poise for his position and the entire game. Entering the Super 60 at No. 29, he loves to run the break with the ball in transition and makes great decisions as he attacks the basket. He scores or sees the assist in a spilt second. When he penetrates his way to the basket, he displays good body control for the pull-up jumper or the one-handed floater against the bigger defenders.
After displaying tremendous shooting range this summer, 6-5 SG Dan Bejarano (Phoenix/North) enters at No. 33. He is a prolific shooter with a smooth release and good elevation as he rises over his defenders. He emerged at the Nike Hoop Jamboree in June with the ability to catch and shoot the 3-pointer with accuracy.
Class of 2010 movers
Also making big strides this summer was 6-7 combo forward Tobias Harris (Dix Hills, N.Y./Half Hollow Hills West), vaulting 20 spots to No. 18 overall. A matchup nightmare for defenders, he possesses the ball skills to use a catch-sweep-go move, shoot the jumper from the perimeter and score inside. With his aggressive play Harris scores a good percentage of his points from the free-throw line.
Strong play at the adidas It Takes 5ive Classic, adidas Super 64 and adidas Nations moved 6-5 SF Trey Ziegler (Mount Pleasant, Mich.) up to No. 27 from 50. A perimeter player with very good size and a strong basketball IQ, he is comfortable knocking down the mid-range jumper and can stretch it to the arc. He beats people with his penetration to the basket and sees potential for assists while doing so. Ziegler is a gifted talent who needs to give a consistent effort to reach his potential, but the game is starting to be important to him and it shows.
Improving from No. 53 to 35 is 6-4 SG Anthony Johnson (Chicago/Whitney Young). One of the more complete players in the class, he possesses two important qualities. One, he can score with the long-range jumper or the drive to the basket. Two, he makes others better with his court vision and unselfish style of play. Johnson needs to work on getting stronger -- push-ups, dips and pull-ups would be a great start.
As with all recruiting classes and players, the Super 60 can and will change over the course of this season, and as it grows into the ESPNU 100 by the spring. We at ESPN Scouts Inc. will be constantly following and evaluating all talent in all the classes.
Paul Biancardi, who spent 2007-08 as an assistant coach on Rick Majerus' staff at Saint Louis, is the sole national recruiting director for ESPN Scouts Inc. He has 18 years of coaching experience at the Division I level. He was an assistant at Boston University, Boston College and Ohio State before becoming the head coach at Wright State, where he earned Horizon League Coach of the Year honors in the 2003-04 season.
Reggie Rankin is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc.