Breaking down college basketball's top 25 recruits for 2014: Nos. 5-1
5. Kelly Oubre, Kansas
The first time you watch Oubre play, you may have a hard time focusing on his game. Your eyes will naturally wander to his hair – some adaptation of a Mohawk – which is probably a good thing considering his emphasis on branding. “I’ve never been a person to follow a crowd,” Oubre told The Wichita Eagle in April. “I’ve always wanted to be different in anything I do.” Oubre is one of the best overall scorers in this class, with enough range and athleticism to provide another dimension to a Kansas offense with two strong post players in junior Perry Ellis and (No. 4) freshman Cliff Alexander. The 6-foot-7, 200-pound small forward won’t be mistaken for a Wiggins-level athlete or defender – nor does he possess Wiggins’ upside as a pro prospect – but Oubre’s scoring ability may not be far off. (A better comparison may be former Jayhawk and current Sacramento Kings shooting guard Ben McLemore.) Oubre will be a key part of a perimeter group featuring freshman Devonte Graham and sophomores Wayne Selden, Frank Mason, Brannen Greene and Conner Frankamp.
4. Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentuckylegit perimeter skills. Great court vision, solid distribution and a serviceable mid-range jump shot are all part of his repertoire. And Towns may not even be done growing yet, with Yahoo Sports reporting in April that a doctor told Towns he may have reach 7-3. (No incoming freshman has required the UK equipment staff to order larger shoes than Towns’ size 20s.) It will be interesting to see how Calipari elects to use Towns next season. Pairing his passing ability and scoring with Cauley-Stein’s rim protection will give opponents fits.
3. Cliff Alexander, Kansasthese this winter). Even if his offensive game could use some refinement, Alexander should put up elite rebounding numbers right away. Here is what Rivals recruiting analyst Eric Bossi wrote about Alexander’s glass-crashing. “Perhaps his biggest strength is his rebounding. Alexander grabs rebound above the rim and often snatches them away from opponents.” The Jayhawks lost Joel Embiid to the NBA this offseason, but with Alexander (a projected lottery pick in 2015) and second-leading scorer Perry Ellis returning, they should have the edge in the frontcourt on most nights. Texas forwards Myles Turner and Cameron Ridley will present a stern challenge, though.
2. Stanley Johnson, Arizonawas named Most Valuable Player at the FIBA Americas U-18 World Tournament in June. Johnson is considered one of the best defenders in this class and is joining a team that led the nation in defensive efficiency last season. But do not dismiss his offensive game. He improved his shooting over four years at Mater Dei (Calif.) High School, where he played every position – including point guard in his senior season. The 6-7, 230-pound Johnson has an NBA-ready body and a good feel for the game, can handle the ball and facilitate for others. Given his psychical attributes and polish, it seems unlikely Johnson will require a long adjustment period at the next level. “Nobody knows more than me that he’s going to be a real piece to our team’s success this next year,” Arizona coach Sean Miller told SI.com in May. If Johnson meets or exceeds expectations, a Pac-12 that already looks like Arizona’s for the taking may be even less competitive than previously thought.
2. Emmanuel Mudiay, N/A.
1. Jahlil Okafor, Duketold Yahoo Sports last summer that Okafor is the most skilled high school center he’s ever scouted. Scout.com recruiting analyst Evan Daniels compared Okafor to two-time All-American Jared Sullinger and said last November that Okafor is the best post scorer he has seen play in high school since former Kentucky center DeMarcus Cousins. “He can clear out space, he's got great hands, really good touch around the basket, a variety of post moves,” Daniels told SI.com. It should come as no surprise, given the superlatives used to describe Okafor, that he is the projected No. 1 pick in DraftExpress’s 2015 mock draft.