NCAA Basketball Recruiting: Players in 2014 Class with All the Intangibles
In college basketball, half of what makes the great ones great is not recorded in a box score or detailed on a stat sheet.
The best players are talented in what can be tracked, charted and followed as well as ways that are less measurable.
Here is a collection of elite-level, Class of 2014 recruits who possess the intangibles on top of their exceptional skills.
No one will be quantifying these qualities or creating “average-per-game” statistics from these because they are the uncountable parts of the game.
Here we go!
Justise Winslow: Defensive Focus
Justise Winslow is a rare player.
Most elite-level recruits are known for their ability to effortlessly score the basketball.
While Winslow has no trouble putting the ball in the hole, he is respected among scouts and coaches for being an unselfish team player who loves to shut down opponents on the defensive end.
Because of his quickness and outrageous physical agility, he is able to effectively guard any of the perimeter positions.
Winslow demonstrated his versatility this past summer by playing up on the Team USA U19 squad.
What college coach would not want a player like Winslow, who is described this way in his ESPN scouting report (Insider subscription required):
Winslow is an elite level glue guy that can make teammates better and do a little of everything pretty well and competes on a high level on both ends.
Devin Booker: Basketball IQ
It does not take long to be impressed by Devin Booker.
From the time you start watching him play, you see that he is not like everyone else on the court.
His ESPN scouting report describes him as “a high character prospect” and his game in this way:
He's been blessed with a unique feel for the game and a passion for his position. His basketball IQ is one of the first things you notice regarding his play. He's economical with his shot selection which speaks to his feel.
Booker seems to always be in the right position on the floor and ready to take the right action.
Stanley Johnson: Willing Versatility
One of the unique qualities that Stanley Johnson brings to the table is willing versatility.
As the No. 2 small forward in the 2014 recruiting class, Johnson is super-talented in so many facets of the game.
But, what enhances his all-around abilities is his attitude towards where he will contribute to his team’s success. Rather than pre-determining where he will impact the game, he simply sees what is necessary and goes to work.
He gets rebounds when his team needs rebounds. If points are needed, he can fill it up with the best of them.
Do you need someone to get the ball to the rim? Johnson is ready to do whatever it takes.
Talent is great. Talent with flexibility, like Johnson’s, is even better.
Emmanuel Mudiay: Floor Vision
Emmanuel Mudiay is gifted with exceptional floor vision.
This special quality helps the SMU-bound point guard to see teammates who are filling the lanes on a break or who are sealing their man off in the post.
It also helps him see the times that he needs to take his shot or create his opportunity.
Sure, his size (6’5”, 190 lbs) does not hurt his ability to see the court differently than smaller players. But his vision is not just about being a few inches taller than his opponents.
Like most great point guards, Mudiay sees things as they are developing, instead of after they have already happened.
Tyus Jones: Floor Leadership
Tyus Jones is the No. 1 point guard in the Class of 2014.
In terms of overall hoops acumen, he is the boss.
He is an extremely well-composed player who never seems to get rattled.
Though he has no problem scoring, Jones’ highest value is in running the show and flawlessly delivering the ball to his teammates in scoring position.
His ESPN scouting report (Insider subscription required) describes his floor leadership well:
He makes the right play at the right time, be it a pass, a steal, a rebound or a basket. From the neck up there's no one better in the class of 2014 with the ability to think, play and perform than Jones. He understands how to win and what it takes to win.
Do you blame Jahlil Okafor, this year’s overall No. 1 recruit, if he even considers linking his decision with Jones’ college choice.
Myles Turner: Consistent Competitiveness
Some players push themselves when the game is on the line. Others bring their best every time down court.
One of the reasons Myles Turner has rocketed up the Class of 2014 recruiting ranks is that his motor has no off-button.
He plays hard from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
His ESPN Scouting Report (Insider subscription required) says that Turner “plays with energy, urgency and competes on every possession.”
What a valuable and refreshing characteristic for Turner to display...Especially in a day when many players at all levels are inconsistent in their drive, their determination and their focus.
Jahlil Okafor: Superior Footwork
One of the subtle parts of No. 1 recruit Jahlil Okafor's game is his footwork.
The greatest post players in the history of the game all had great footwork. It enhances their ability to score, rebound and defend down low.
Okafor’s ESPN Scouting Report (Insider subscription required) points out:
This blossoming wide-body center is blessed with size, girth, length and mobility. He owns the two most essential traits to becoming a distinguished big man: great hands and efficient feet.
It is amazing how agile Okafor is on his feet. He is rarely unbalanced or unsteady when he sets up shop on the block.
Because he has such a solid base, it is hard for players of any size to move him away from where he wants to be.
Okafor may never become the most explosive big in the game, but his footwork may be what makes him a superstar at the next levels.