Breaking down college basketball's top 25 recruits for 2015: Nos. 25-21
The top high school basketball players in the country typically get significant playing time during their first college seasons. Over the next few weeks, SI.com will look at how each player in the 2015 Recruiting Services Index Top 25, a composite of several recruiting services, fits in with his new team. Here are Nos. 25-21:
25. Thomas Bryant, C, Indiana
Bryant verbally committed to Indiana on an ESPN broadcast in April, shortly after the Hoosiers completed a surprising season in which they posted 20 wins and qualified for the NCAA tournament despite featuring only one rotation player taller than 6’7’’. The Rochester, N.Y., native had garnered scholarship offers from programs such as Kentucky, Ohio State and Syracuse and ultimately chose Indiana because, he said, it was the “best decision for me.”
Bryant finishes effectively around the basket, protects the rim and is a strong rebounder. As a senior at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, he averaged 17.3 points, 11.6 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game, according to MaxPreps. Bryant also has some range on his jump shot; he connected on 32.1% of the three-pointers he attempted during his final year on the Elite Youth Basketball League circuit and his last high school season. Yet what distinguishes Bryant is an attitude and energy that Hoosiers coach Tom Crean believes is “infectious.” Bryant, who measured last year at 6’9’’, with a 7’5 ½’’ wing span, should start at center in Bloomington this season, and his presence should relieve Crean of the need to deploy small-ball lineups to counter bigger opponents. The defensive attention Bryant will command on the blocks will also free more space for one of the best crop of perimeter marksmen in the country.
The Hoosiers will surround Bryant with a first-team All-Big Ten selection (Yogi Ferrell), a projected first-round NBA draft pick (Troy Williams) and four players who shot at least 40% from deep last season. On the other end, Thomas’s shot blocking ability should bolster a defense that allowed opponents to to make a Big Ten-high 54.3% of their two-point attempts during conference play, and convert more than 60% of their attempts around the rim overall, according to hoop-math.com.
24. Perry “P.J.” Dozier, SG, South Carolina
Dozier emerged as one of the nation’s top prospects even though he played through part of junior high and his first two years of high school with a torn ACL. According to NBCSports.com, Dozier suffered a knee injury sometime before turning 13 that resulted in a torn ACL and MCL. Though he underwent surgery on the MCL, Dozier opted to delay having a procedure to repair the ACL out of fear it would stunt his growth. Dozier told the website he “forgot” about the injury after a few years but ultimately elected to have surgery the September before his junior season at Spring Valley (S.C.) High.
After releasing a top-five list of Georgetown, Louisville, Michigan, North Carolina and South Carolina the summer before his senior season, Dozier committed to the Gamecocks on the first day of the early signing period in 2014. Dozier has strong ties to South Carolina; his father and uncle played at the school during the 1980s and his sister is on the women’s basketball team.
The 6'6" Dozier is a skilled ballhandler and passer but possesses the requisite length and athleticism to play on the wing. Though he’s not considered one of the better long-range shooters in this class, Dozier is proficient at beating defenders off the dribble, slashing to the basket and attacking in transition, and his combination of size and athleticism offers defensive versatility on the perimeter. This season, Dozier will join a backcourt rotation that brings back rising juniors Duane Notice and Sindarius Thornwell. It’s not clear how Martin plans to use his highest-ranked recruit, but he recently referenced former Kansas State standout Jacob Pullen when asked about Dozier, according to The Post and Courier.
23. Tyler Dorsey, SG, Oregon
If you watched the United States take on Greece in the FIBA U19 World Championship earlier this month, you may have found yourself wondering why Dorsey scored 23 points for a European team and not the USA. Luke Winn outlined the hurried process that cleared Dorsey to join the Greek roster in time for the start of the tournament, which allowed him to court another heralded prospect and also set himself up to face Sean Miller, the Arizona coach he had once planned to play for.
In Jan. 2014, Dorsey issued a verbal commitment to the Wildcats, but the strength of his pledge was called into question after Arizona received a commitment from five-star prospect Justin Simon in May of that year and continued to pursue other guards. Dorsey decommitted in June amid speculation that his desire to play point guard in Tucson would be thwarted by other players. He reevaluated his recruitment and, after considering offers from several programs, committed to Oregon the following February (but never signed his NLI). Even though he finished his senior season with averages of 34 points and 10.4 rebounds, led Maranatha High to a sectional championship and was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in California, Dorsey was not invited to the McDonald’s All-American Game in 2015.
Oregon will need Dorsey to help replace departing guard Joseph Young, who led the Pac-12 in scoring last season. Dorsey appears likely to spend more time off the ball early in his college career, given that the Ducks added Villanova graduate transfer Dylan Ennis this spring. Either way, Dorsey’s explosiveness and ability to create separation from defenders will help Oregon maintain the offensive potency it has established under coach Dana Altman the past two seasons, when it ranked in the nation’s top 20 in adjusted efficiency, according to kenpom.com. Even though they missed out on Jamal Murray, the Ducks will boast one of the strongest backcourts in the Pac-12.
22. Carlton Bragg, PF, Kansas
Fortunately for Bragg, Kansas’s only regular-season matchup with Kentucky this season will take place on Jan. 30 at Allen Fieldhouse. Had the two teams been set to meet at Rupp Arena, Bragg probably would have faced a chorus of boos after the slip of the tongue he made while announcing his college decision in January. “Next year, I’ll be playing at the University of Kentucky—Kansas, I’m sorry,” Bragg said. The Villa Angela-St. Joseph (Ohio) High product picked the Jayhawks after narrowing his list of schools to five: Arizona, Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas and UCLA. At the time, Bragg was viewed as the centerpiece of the Jayhawks’ next recruiting class, but they later signed an even more heralded frontcourt player, power forward Cheick Diallo.
In any case, Bragg’s commitment ensured Kansas would add a five-star caliber big man, as ranked by Rivals.com, for the fourth consecutive season. Perry Ellis, who joined the Jayhawks in 2012, is the only holdover from that group; both Joel Embiid (2013) and Cliff Alexander (2014) declared for the draft after one year in college. This season Bragg will join Ellis and Diallo to form one of the top frontcourts in the country.
Whereas Ellis is a refined post scorer and Diallo excels as a shot blocker and rebounder, Bragg is highly regarded for his offensive versatility and ability to stretch defenses by knocking down jump shots. Still, it’s not clear how much playing time Bragg will earn in a rotation that—in addition to adding Diallo and bringing back Ellis—returns veterans Hunter Mickelson, Landen Lucas and Jamari Traylor. Kansas has so much depth that Bragg may play only limited minutes in his first season.
21. Luke Kennard, SG, Duke
There was a weeklong stretch this spring when it appeared Kennard—along with returnees Grayson Allen and Matt Jones—might have had to play point guard during his freshman season. Tyus Jones had decided to declare for the draft after leading Duke to a national title, and the Blue Devils did not have a recruit lined up to replace him.
When SI.com spoke with Kennard at the Jordan Brand Classic, he said he felt he capable of playing the position. “If they want me to play the one, I’d be willing to do that,” Kennard said. “[Assistant] coach [Jon] Scheyer said, ‘Just keep working on the ball handling,’ because they’re confident in me handling the ball, whether it’s one or two. So we’ll just see how it goes.” Within a few days, a better Jones replacement plan materialized when five-star point guard Derryck Thornton committed to Duke and reclassified from the class of 2016 to '15. The addition of Thornton frees up Kennard to work off the ball as a scorer and playmaker.
With Thornton handling the point, Kennard can space the floor and attack from the perimeter. Kennard’s three-point shooting, distribution skills and feel for the game helped him put up ridiculous numbers during his career at Franklin (Ohio) High. As a senior, Kennard averaged 38.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game while shooting 49% from three-point range and 89% on free throws. He won 86 games in his high school career, was named Ohio’s Mr. Basketball in his junior and senior seasons and passed LeBron James on the state scoring list—which prompted James, upon being asked about it at a Cavaliers media availability, to say of Kennard, “He’s good.”