We've grown accustomed to one-and-done teenagers dominating in college basketball's biggest arenas and then heading off to the pros. But it's easy to forget how recently they were outmuscling and outhustling overmatched opponents in cramped high school gyms before handfuls of fans. As the stars of the class of 2019 finish out their senior seasons, SI sent photographers to high school courts across the country to capture early looks at the top boys recruits (according to 247sports.com) and the top-ranked girl.
James Wiseman, the class’s top-ranked prospect, made a splash with his commitment when he snubbed college basketball’s blue bloods. Wiseman opted to join Penny Hardaway’s program in his native Memphis, Tenn. over John Calipari’s Kentucky. The athletic and able seven-foot center also courted offers from Kansas, North Carolina and Tennessee, among other top programs, but chose to play for his hometown team.
The mobile big man boasts a surprisingly soft touch around the rim–a skill crafted in part by Hardaway himself, who served as Wiseman’s high school coach at Memphis East before taking the reins at his alma mater last year. Wiseman’s commitment to the Tigers bumped Memphis’s class up from No. 36 to No. 11 in 2019, according to 247Sports.
After reclassifying to the class of 2019 in late November, 17-year-old Anthony Edwards’s recruiting stock skyrocketed. The crafty 6’5” combo guard quickly rose to the top of the rankings, landing at the No. 2 spot, per 247Sports. Edwards committed to his home-state Georgia Bulldogs in February, opting to play just 72 miles from his hometown of Atlanta over offers from 16 other programs including top teams like Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State, North Carolina, Virginia and more.
The Holy Spirit Prep (Ga.) product is wildly versatile–he can cross an opponent up, drain a three or dunk on anyone with ease. As the class’s second-best prospect, Edwards was a huge get for Georgia as they try to compete in the ever-improving SEC.
He shares a name with his dad, a former Miami standout turned Dolphins lineman, but Vernon Carey picked a different sport to shine in. The 6’10” center from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is committed to Coach K’s team in Durham, headlining Duke’s 2019 class alongside five-star wing Wendell Moore and four-star combo guard Boogie Ellis. While Carey & Co. won’t bring the same star power that the Blue Devils’ 2018 phenomenal freshman four did, the skilled big man brings his own unique combination of power and potential to the program. Carey, the country’s No. 3 prospect and second-best center behind James Wiseman, slammed in 21 points, snagged 10 boards and added five blocks while going head-to-head with the country’s top overall recruit.
The son of former NBA star Greg Anthony–and the country’s No. 4 recruit–averaged 26.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists en route to earning MVP honors at Nike’s EYBL tournament last summer. Anthony, a 6’3” guard from Mouth of Wilson, Va., starred at his Oak Hill Academy High School.
Still choosing between committing to Oregon or Roy Williams’s class at Carolina, Anthony appears to be leaning toward the Tar Heels. When narrowing his choices down, Anthony also dished out blows to several basketball blue bloods, eliminating Duke, Kentucky and Kansas from contention before he even landed at his final six schools. With an above average basketball IQ and serious handles, Anthony will be a welcome addition wherever he ends up.
Big Blue Nation’s newest five-star small forward, Kahlil Whitney, will soon be smothering opponents at Rupp Arena as a member of the Kentucky Wildcats’ 2019 class. The 6’6” Roselle, N.J. native and No. 7 recruit also takes the title of the country’s the top ranked small forward in this year’s class–verbally committing to Calipari’s program on the heels of an early August visit.
A quintessential scoring wing, Whitney will bring both strength and athleticism to the Wildcats’ class in addition to his offensive upside with tremendous potential as a defender as well. He’ll join top-10 combo guard Tyrese Maxey and four-star small forward Dontaie Allen in Lexington next season after he officially commits this spring.
After traveling more than 15,000 miles for her official college visits, the nation’s top girls’ recruit landed just 45 miles from her Santa Clara, Calif. home as the headliner of coach Tara VanDerveer’s stellar 2019 recruiting class at Stanford. Jones is the first No. 1 prospect to sign with the Cardinal since Chiney Ogwumike–now with the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun–did so in 2010. The 6’1” wing averaged 21.8 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists during her junior season at Archbishop Mitty en route to 2017-18 California Gatorade Player of the Year and All-America honors from USA Today and MaxPreps. Jones will join the country’s No. 2 recruiting class this fall.