College Basketball Recruiting: Ranking the Best Scorers in Class of 2015
The members of the college basketball recruiting class of 2015 are still finishing their junior year in high school, and with players that young, the one skill you can count on finding plenty of is scoring. Whether they’re launching threes or hammering down dunks, these high school stars are well aware that the quickest path to a highlight reel goes through the bottom of the net.
One of the most impressive of the bunch is Australian-born Ben Simmons, a 6’9” combo forward and one of the class’ best athletes. Simmons’ ability to outmaneuver slower opponents lets him attack the paint with ease, even when the defense thinks it’s set.
Read on for a closer look at Simmons’ myriad of skills, along with breakdowns of the rest of the 20 most impressive point producers who will be heading to college campuses in the fall of 2015.
20. Dwayne Bacon
Dwayne Bacon’s jump shot is a fine demonstration of the difference between pretty and effective.
Much like Chicago Bull Joakim Noah, the 6’6” high schooler won’t show up on any shooting-tips videos, but he’ll punish opponents who leave him open—in Bacon’s case, even from beyond the three-point line.
Bacon also has more muscle than you’d expect from a high school swingman, making him an outstanding finisher inside. As a ball-handler, he’s in the good-but-not-great category for breaking down defenders to create chances.
19. Derrick Jones
Derrick Jones is lethal in transition thanks to an explosive combination of speed and leaping ability. In the half court, those same assets let him attack the basket even when the defense appears to have position against him.
He does, however, need a good deal of work on his jump shot to keep defenders from sagging off him and defending the drive. Tightening up his ball-handling wouldn't hurt any, either.
18. D.J. Hogg
An impressive catch-and-shoot threat at 6’7”, D.J. Hogg has a jump shot that’s tough to contest. He’s also a more reliable three-point option than the vast majority of forwards in the 2015 class.
Whether beyond the arc or in the mid-range, Hogg makes life miserable for defenders with his facility at getting open without the ball. He’s also a viable post-up option if the defense makes the mistake of matching him against a smaller opponent.
17. Montaque Gill-Caesar
At 6’6” and 215 pounds, Montaque Gill-Caesar has a shooting touch that belies his physicality. Where many high schoolers with his muscle would rely solely on overpowering the opposition, Gill-Caesar is just as happy to bury three-pointers over them.
He’s not the class’ best pure shooter, but it’s certainly a nice complement to his tremendous finishing ability at the rim. The same power game also helps him create extra scoring opportunities for himself when he crashes the offensive boards.
16. Georgios Papagiannis
It’s no longer a safe assumption that a 7’1” center is going to have an effective back-to-the-basket game, but Georgios Papagiannis does.
His moves aren’t anything extraordinary—agility in general is a major weakness to his game—but he’s got a terrific shooting touch with either hand near the basket.
Papagiannis is even more dangerous as a face-up scorer, with a shooting range that extends to (and past) the three-point arc.
However, he’s only a weapon in the half-court attack, because his severe lack of mobility keeps him from making any kind of offensive contribution in transition.
15. Brandon Ingram
For a player who still has his senior year of high school in front of him, Brandon Ingram sees the floor remarkably well, finding openings to spot up for jump shots or cut to the basket for slams.
He gets plenty of good looks to do both, thanks to a 6’8” frame that lets him tower over opposing wing players.
Ingram is a good shot—though there are better ones here—with a promising three-point game, and he’s likely to improve in both consistency and range. He’s also still learning his craft as a slasher, but when he does get an opening off the dribble, he rarely fails to finish.
14. Jalen Coleman
Although he’s built more like a point guard at 6’2”, 170 pounds, Jalen Coleman’s game revolves around shooting the basketball. He has ample range to knock down the trey, but he’s far from a standstill marksman.
Coleman is also a prolific driver who loves to draw fouls in the paint. He rounds out the package with a polished mid-range game bolstered by his outstanding court sense.
13. Jaylen Brown
Much like Stanley Johnson, one of the most imposing scorers in the 2014 class, Jaylen Brown produces serious point totals without a traditional scorer’s skill set.
His jump shot is just OK, he’s not a three-point threat, and he’s not a world-class ball-handler, but he’s still all but impossible to keep out of the paint.
Brown’s strength (at 6’7”, 220 pounds) lets him power home shots inside even against multiple defenders. Given his physical style, it’s no surprise that he lives at the free-throw line, accounting for a significant fraction of his scoring.
12. Allonzo Trier
Allonzo Trier doesn’t do much attacking off the dribble, but he can still do his share of damage in the paint. With a decent pass to set him up, the 6’4” shooting guard can muscle his shot up against bigger defenders inside and get excellent results.
However, Trier’s calling card is his ability to score from long range, thanks to one of the class’ prettiest jump shots. He’s a fearsome catch-and-shoot option who can bury treys in bunches if the defense loses track of him.
11. Malachi Richardson
Malachi Richardson combines one of the top shooting strokes in the class of 2015 with the length to use it freely. The 6’6” New Jersey native is committed to Syracuse, where he’ll give the Orange their best three-point threat since Dion Waiters jumped to the NBA.
Richardson is just as productive in the mid-range, but he rarely uses his length to attack the rim. If he tightens up his ball-handling a bit so he can keep perimeter defenders off balance, watch out.
10. Charles Matthews
Kentucky coach John Calipari has enjoyed repeated success with 2-guards who do most of their damage as mid-range jump-shooters. 2015 commit Charles Matthews stands to fit right in with an offense that’s made stars out of Doron Lamb and Aaron Harrison.
Matthews excels at moving without the ball, and his outstanding dribbling ability lets him get to the rim as well as knock down the "J" off the catch.
However, at a willowy 175 pounds (on a 6’5” body), he needs more muscle to challenge defenders when he drives into the paint.
9. Stephen Zimmerman
No real threat with his back to the basket, 7-footer Stephen Zimmerman uses his length to lob jump shots over defenders. He also puts the ball on the floor effectively, keeping stronger but slower opponents on their heels.
Zimmerman has sensational speed, making him an intimidating fast-break finisher, despite his lack of muscle. He can also knock down the trey in transition, though he’s not as reliable from beyond the arc yet as you’d like.
8. Isaiah Briscoe
When it comes to size, there are plenty of shooting guards who look more promising than 6’3” Isaiah Briscoe. When it comes to productivity, though, the New Jersey native can stand with some of the best in the country.
Briscoe excels at making plays in traffic, piling up three-point-play opportunities and finishing them at the foul line. He’s not as consistent from three-point range as some of his contemporaries, but when he’s in a rhythm, he’s tough to contain.
7. Elijah Thomas
With sure hands on a bruising 6’9”, 250-pound body, Elijah Thomas can carve out position in the post and field almost any entry pass.
Once he gets the ball deep inside, there’s little a defender can do to challenge his shots (which he can finish with either hand from the block).
Thomas is also a premier offensive rebounder, creating even more scoring opportunities inside. He doesn’t have much shooting range at this stage, but he also doesn’t really need it.
6. Tyler Dorsey
Already a fearsome mid-range shot, Tyler Dorsey lacks only a high-end three-point game to complete his repertoire. Give him a look anywhere inside the arc, and he’s a good bet to put points on the scoreboard.
The Arizona commit is most valuable in the open floor, where his blazing speed (and the threat of his considerable passing skills) make him an impossible matchup. He’s an explosive finisher in the paint, though he could use more bulk on his 6’4” frame.
5. Diamond Stone
At 6’10” and 240 pounds, Diamond Stone would be able to score plenty of points on power alone. The fact that he’s also one of the most polished back-to-the-basket players in the class makes him vastly more dangerous in the paint.
Stone’s face-up game is impressive as well, with the ability to put the ball on the floor or bury mid-range jumpers. His transition game is minimal, but in the half court, he’s tough to beat.
4. Luke Kennard
Luke Kennard is the most dangerous pure shooter in this recruiting class. Mr. Basketball for the state of Ohio as a junior, Kennard boasts a 6’5” frame that makes his terrifically accurate shot very tough to defend.
He handles the ball well, but doesn’t attack the rim nearly as often as he launches jump shots. That may be partly a function of his lack of muscle (180 pounds), one of the few areas the Duke commit’s offensive game could improve before he arrives in Durham.
3. Ben Simmons
The best of many southpaws in the 2015 class, Ben Simmons is an explosive combo forward who loves attacking the paint. He keeps defenders on their heels in the face-up game with a variety of moves and a sweet shooting touch.
Simmons is an improving three-point shooter, but with his athleticism, he’s almost always better off taking it to the rim. At 6’9”, the LSU commit has the potential to be a great post-up option as well, but he has yet to develop that aspect of his game.
2. Ivan Rabb
A low-post clinic in a 6’10” body, Ivan Rabb is a devastating offensive weapon. His arsenal of fakes and countermoves would make him a potent scorer even without his outstanding length and athleticism.
He’s terrific at using either hand to finish inside, and he even has a respectable face-up jump shot. His quickness and leaping ability also help him rack up tip-in chances to add to his point total.
1. Malik Newman
Malik Newman isn’t big for a shooting guard (6’3”, 175 pounds), but he’s still a devastating finisher. He gets plenty of chances to get to the rim, too, given his world-class ball-handling ability.
Newman gets even more points by burying jump shots, which he can do with more-than-enough range to drain the trey on a consistent basis. For a perimeter player, there really isn’t anything you look for on offense that he doesn’t have.
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