Most of the players in our Super 60 rankings for the Class of 2010 have tremendous talent and potential. What really will separate the elite prospects from the good prospects over the next year or so is the desire to reach their full potential.
Although the players in this 2010 class are more than a year and a half away from making their debut in the college ranks, we see an exciting group of players. Some of these prospects have established themselves as stars on the national scene and others are evolving as we speak. We are presently in the thick of the high school season, during which teams are fighting for and focusing on their league and state titles.
This group of juniors is top-heavy with athletic bigs who can score. (Powerful post prospect Jared Sullinger (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) has been fantastic this year; he kept the No. 1 spot in the Super 60.) When a player is 16 years old and has size, it is easy for him to dominate the opposition; most players that age are still growing and physically developing. In addition to the elite bigs who occupy the top spots in the Super 60, the 2010 class has an abundance of capable scorers from the perimeter.
The 2008-09 season has given us ample opportunity to get a good read on this group of talented prospects. Let's took a look at who has made progress, leveled off a bit or emerged. It's worth pointing out that there is so much time remaining in their careers that many of these players will make tremendous improvements over the next calendar year.
Prospects on the rise
Josh Smith (Covington, Wash./Kentwood) is one of the best true centers in this class. His play this season has helped him move up two places to the No. 2 spot in the Class of 2010. He is getting double- and triple-teamed throughout each contest, but Smith still has dominated. He finishes everything in and around the basket -- frequently doing so with an emphatic dunk. He has remarkable agility and bounce with an outstanding pair of hands. Smith still has a ways to go with his conditioning, but his upside is enormous.
Perry Jones (Duncanville, Texas) is a long, athletic big who scores easily and sees the floor very well. Jones has moved up from No. 47 to No. 18 in our latest rankings. He gets limited touches on a very talented high school team, but Jones stands out running the floor for easy transition baskets and finishing drop-off passes around the basket. Developing his low-post back-to-the-basket moves will be vital to his growth. He possesses a solid midrange jumper facing the basket and is an excellent shot-blocker.
Cory Joseph (Toronto/Findlay College Prep (Nev.)) has excellent size and a mature game for a junior. Joseph, who has moved from No. 54 to No. 36, understands how to run a team with stars and still find ways to score. Joseph can connect behind the arc and hit the pull-up jumper in the midrange area. He has a tight handle and the ability to change speeds and direction.
Also moving up:
Ray McCallum (Beverly Hills, Mich./Detroit Country Day School) from No. 40 to No. 10; C.J. Leslie (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God Christian Academy) from No. 53 to No. 19; Patric Young (Jacksonville, Fla./Paxon School) from No. 50 to No. 23; Mychal Parker (Charlottesville, Va./The Miller School) from No. 46 to No. 31
Down but not out
The fact that some players have fallen in our latest rankings is more about their peers stepping up than any individual flaws. These players are still elite prospects who should be major contributors in college. Also, the players whose rankings slipped will have ample opportunity to move back up in the coming months.
Moving down: Joshua Hairston (Spotsylvania, Va./Courtland)
from No.14 to 24; Tobias Harris (Brookville, N.Y./Long Island Lutheran) from No. 18 to 27; Travis McKie (Richmond, Va.) from No. 26 to 52; Kyrie Irving (Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick) from No. 29 to 48; Dan Bejarano (Phoenix/North) from No. 33 to 43; Gerard Coleman (West Roxbury, Mass./The Tilton School (N.H.)) from No. 23 to 35
Moving into the rankings
With this being their first season as upperclassmen, many 2010 prospects have made a name for themselves this high school season. The following players have moved into the Super 60 with their play the past few months.
Justin Martin (Indianapolis/Lawrence North) is a physical, blue-collar small forward who makes winning plays when his team needs them. The Louisville-bound Martin makes his debut in the Super 60 at No. 58. He plays at Lawrence North with six other division commits, and knows his role on the talented squad. Martin is not afraid to dive on the floor for loose balls, rebounds on both ends and is a versatile defender. He slashes his way to the rim and can score through contact or make a midrange pull-up jumper consistently. He is at his best inside the arc. In time, Martin needs to develop his long-range jumper to complete his game.
Matt Derenbecker (Metairie, La./Metairie Park Country Day) is a lefty with a solid jumper. His range extends out to 22 feet and he sees over defenders with his 6-7 frame. Derenbecker is more than just a shooter; he can put the ball on the floor when defenders close out on him. He has a high basketball IQ and the talent to make the dribble pull-up. He rebounds on both ends of the floor, but to play inside more frequently he'll need to spend some time in the weight room this offseason.
Gary Franklin Jr. (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) has had a tremendous junior campaign. Franklin, who made his debut in the Super 60 at No. 49, has been consistent with his overall play. As the point guard for the nation's top team, he's proved to be a clutch performer and good decision-maker. He makes sure others get the ball when they are open and shoots lights out behind the arc and from midrange. He relies heavily on his right hand on his drives into the paint, but Franklin's extremely effective at scoring once he gets to the rim.
Also debuting in the Super 60: No. 33 Tyler Lamb (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei); No. 46 Vander Blue (Madison, Wis.); No. 50 Isaiah Epps (Plainfield, N.J.); No. 54 Markel Starks (Bethesda, Md./Georgetown Prep School); No. 56 Shaquille Thomas (Montclair, N.J./Mountain State University Academy (W.Va.))
Moving out of the Super 60
Although a few players have lost their spots in our Super 60, these players are still very skilled. If they don't reclaim their Super 60 positions, all of them are strong candidates to become members of the ESPNU 100 when they take the court as seniors next season.
Dwayne Polee (Los Angeles/Westchester) is one of the most spectacular athletes in the class, but his skills and savvy need to be developed for him to be considered a high-level recruit. Polee, a USC commit, was formerly ranked No. 56 in the 2010 class. This spring and summer will be important for Polee's growth as a player; he needs to get in the gym and spend time on his fundamental skills. His best skills are rebounding and shot blocking.
Trae Golden (Powder Springs, Ga./McEachern) is a quick guard who can score in bunches. Golden, who previously held the No. 58 position in the Super 60, needs to have the ball in his hands to impact the game. He must learn to see the floor as he scores and keep his head up for his open teammates. His play has been inconsistent of late.
Anthony Johnson (Chicago/Young) is not playing with the same level of fire and aggressiveness that he displayed over the summer, when he handled well and finished plays. Johnson has shown flashes of good play but does not sustain them. He is a terrific shooting guard, but he must do more on both ends of the floor.
Also falling out of the Super 60: Nate Lubick (Southborough, Mass./St. Mark's School) previously No. 21; Anthony Brown (Huntington Beach, Calif./Ocean View) previously No. 32; Josh Langford (Huntsville, Ala./Johnson) previously no. 36; Allen Crabbe (Los Angeles/Prince) previously No. 48; Okaro White (Clearwater, Fla.) previously No. 49
Paul Biancardi is a veteran of the coaching ranks with years of college coaching experience. He has recruited on a national level with stops as an assistant coach at Boston University, Boston College, associate head coach at Ohio State and most recently an assistant at Saint Louis University. Biancardi was head coach at Wright State University from 2003 to 2006. In 2003, he was named Horizon League Coach of the Year. He is a selection committee member for the prestigious McDonald's All-America Game and the Gatorade Player of the Year award.
Antonio Williams, Reggie Rankin, Mike LaPlante and Joel Francisco contributed to this report.