Category Archives: High School

New Guys By The Numbers 2017

1. Michael Porter Jr. – SF/PF – Missouri
Projected Draft: 2018
Projected DMX: 9.9

I’ve already discussed Porter as a potential #1 pick in last year’s write-up and in my FIBA recap and he now finds himself atop mock drafts on DraftExpress and However there is a groundswell among smart analysts and scouts that Porter is an overhyped scoring forward in the mold of Jabari Parker, Harrison Barnes, or Rudy Gay. Porter’s DMX projection tells a different story about how he stacks up among highly-touted combo forwards of years past.

Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 5.15.53 PM

The Michael Beasley comparison is valid but not too worrisome when you consider that Beasley became the worst possible version of himself because he wasn’t serious about playing basketball. I’d argue that another dice roll on a player with Beasley’s talent is about as likely to yield Kevin Durant’s career as it is another borderline NBA-er. The more likely outcome for Porter is Carmelo 2.0 or a rich man’s Jayson Tatum which I believe will make him worthy of a top two pick.

2. Mitchell Robinson – C – Western Kentucky
Projected Draft: 2018
Projected DMX: 9.6

A good trend to look for in NCAA recruits is their trajectory through high school. Since last summer, Mitchell Robinson went from an unranked Conference USA recruit to a potential one-and-done lottery pick, and his projection suggests that the consensus still hasn’t caught up to his talent level. My pre-season “hot take” is that Robinson will mirror Hassan Whiteside’s freshman year at Marshall and prove to be the best among an especially strong class of fives.

3. DeAndre Ayton – C – Arizona
Projected Draft: 2018
Projected DMX: 8.9

Ayton’s career trajectory stands in contrast to Mitchell Robinson’s; once seen as a generational prospect, Ayton has since been surpassed by Porter and others in the eyes of scouts. Ayton was unimpressive at the Hoop Summit and various all-star games and is a candidate to be this year’s version of Harry Giles/Skal Labissiere.

4. Mohamed Bamba – C – Texas
Projected Draft: 2018
Projected DMX: 8.5

Mo Bamba’s game is still raw but he shows significant two-way upside thanks to his mobility and an epic wingspan. I’m buying.

5. Collin Sexton – PG/SG – Alabama
Projected Draft: 2018
Projected DMX: 7.2

What I’m most looking forward to this upcoming college basketball season is the legend of Collin “Sexy” Sexton beginning in earnest on a national stage. Generously listed at 6’3″, Sexton plays with an energy, flair, and competitiveness that will endear him to hoops fans and NBA front offices alike.

6. Kevin Knox – SF/PF – Kentucky
Projected Draft: 2019
Projected DMX: 6.8

Kevin Knox, Calipari’s top 2017 recruit, has great physical tools and is among the youngest players in this class. If he can show improvements as a shooter and passer, Knox could factor into the top five discussion.

7. Shai Gilgeus-Alexander – PG/SG – Kentucky
Projected Draft: 2019
Projected DMX: 6.6

Another member of Kentucky’s loaded class, SGA seems to be notably underrated. That would be a huge development for the Wildcats who figure to have a thin back court.

8. Wendell Carter Jr. – C – Duke
Projected Draft: 2018
Projected DMX: 6.5

Carter was a beast in FIBA and ought to be the same in NCAA, but I’m not so big on him as a draft prospect. He’s undersized, doesn’t shoot threes, and possibly not as skilled as he’s purported to be (0.5 A:TO in FIBA). I would put him in the second tier of bigs in this draft.

9. Troy Brown – SG/SF – Oregon
Projected Draft: 2018
Projected DMX: 6.0

With Dillon Brooks, Dylan Ennis, and Tyler Dorsey departing from last year’s Final Four squad, Troy Brown should step into a huge offensive role for Oregon as a freshman. Brown has a great all-around skill set and could emerge as a top ten pick if shows the ability to score efficiently on high usage.

10. Jaren Jackson – PF/C – Michigan State
Projected Draft: 2018
Projected DMX: 5.9

Jackson was a Hoop Summit standout (13p, 10r, 2blk) who was solid in a reserve role at the U17 Worlds. It will be interesting to see how he establishes himself in a crowded Sparty front court that also features top ten prospect Miles Bridges and draft model stud Nick Ward.

Honorable Mention:

Trevon Duval – PG – Duke
Projected Draft: 2018
Projected DMX: 4.7

Not to pick on Duke point guards (Frank Jackson was actually OK!), but Tre Duval is my pick for most overrated prospect. Duval is a bricklayer (25.2% 3PT) and turnover machine (4.7 TOV/40) reminiscent of Emanuel Mudiay.

Bol Bol – C
Projected Draft: 2019
Projected DMX: 10.9

My super early prediction for #1 overall in 2019 is Bol Bol, son of the late, great Manute Bol and a 7-foot-2, shot-blocking stretch five. Bol’s projected 10.9 DMX would put him in the tier of Joel Embiid and Greg Oden.

FIBA’s Finest 2016

When Kevin Durant and Team USA took the podium to receive their gold medals, it marked not only the end of the Olympics, but of a summer of FIBA tournaments. Beginning with the U17 Worlds in June and concluding with Saturday’s thrilling U16 European championship game, the best young players from across the globe have been competing for their junior national teams in small-scale versions of the Rio games. Here is a breakdown of some of the standout performers, along with their early DMX grades (the complete model for reference):

1st TEAM

G: Markelle Fultz (USA)
FIBA Exp.: 109 minutes (2016 U18 Americas)
FIBA DMX: 13.3

Another small sample size, another shroud of evidence that Markelle Fultz is the best PG prospect since Kyrie Irving. Fultz has moved to #1 in DraftExpress’ 2017 mock draft, in part due to his dominant play at the U18 Americas tournament. I captured some of his finest moments for your enjoyment.

G: Collin Sexton (USA)
FIBA Exp.: 113 minutes (2016 U17 Worlds)

If I had to pick a star-making performance of the FIBA junior national games, I’d lean towards Collin Sexton (pictured) in the U17 championship game against Turkey. In a 20-minute adrenaline rush, the 6-footer scored 16 points (8-9 FG) and dished out 8 assists. Beyond the box score, Sexton plays with an energy, flair, and fearlessness from the point guard position that is distinctly Westbrook-ian.

F: Dzanan Musa (Bosnia)
FIBA Exp.: 876 minutes (2014 U16 Euros, 2015 U16 Euros, 2016 U17 Worlds)

Dzanan Musa played the role of one-man team for a Bosnian squad that likely wouldn’t have qualified for the tournament without him. Musa, a highly skilled offensive player, was mostly up to the task, including a 50-point outburst against Chinese Taipei. After three FIBA tournaments and a 2016 season in which he appeared in Euroleague at age 16, Musa is one of the highest rated international prospects in the world (6.8 DMX overall).

F: Michael Porter Jr. (USA)
FIBA Exp.: 105 (2016 U18 Americas)
FIBA DMX: 10.7

Young Michael Porter Jr. looked the part of a future #1 pick, putting on a show alongside Markelle Fultz in the U18s. Porter is a futuristic prototype; a 6’10” forward who can handle, shoot threes (6-20 3PT), and explode for transition dunks. With Porter already in tow for next year’s recruiting class, Washington’s Lorenzo Romar may have bagged the #1 pick in back-to-back years.

C: Usman Garuba (Spain)
FIBA Exp.: 203 minutes (2016 U16 Euros)

Spain’s Usman Garuba took U16 MVP honors and had one of the most dominant FIBA runs of the summer by anyone not on Team USA…as a 14-year old. One can’t help but question the validity of Garuba’s birth certificate, given how big and good he is, although this would be an unnecessarily bold lie. Either way, Garuba is a stellar defender, rebounder, and finisher who could develop into a Tristan Thompson type.

2nd TEAM

G: Troy Brown (USA)
FIBA Exp.: 166 minutes (2016 U17 Worlds)

Brown is not a great scorer at this stage, but he was arguably Team USA’s best all-around player in the U17 Worlds. At 6’6”, Brown has the versatility to run the offense (5.1 assists per 40 minutes) or play alongside smaller guards like Collin Sexton and Markus Howard.

G: R.J. Barrett (Canada)
FIBA Exp.: 307 minutes (2015 U16 Americas, 2016 U17 Worlds)

Just a rising sophomore at Montverde Basketball Factory, Barrett profiles similarly to the last big thing out of Canada, Andrew Wiggins. Barrett is an athletic, five-star swingman without any particular outlier skills. For what it’s worth, R.J. has outperformed Wiggins at the FIBA level:

R.J. Barrett 307 minutes 26.3 7.2 3.1 1.4 0.8 4.0 4.7
Andrew Wiggins 289 minutes 20.0 7.3 1.8 1.0 1.8 3.2 3.2

F: P.J. Washington (USA)
FIBA Exp.: 89 minutes (2016 U18 Americas)

Like Troy Brown, Washington was an un-celebrated role player with an absurd small sample size DMX. Washington, who possesses impressive court vision for a teenaged big man, picked up eight assists and nine steals in less than 90 minutes of court time.

F: Lauri Markkanen (Finland)
FIBA Exp.: 818 minutes (2013 U16B Euros, 2014 U18B Euros, 2015 U18 Euros, 2016 U20 Euros)

It was tough to leave Markkanen off the first team in favor of Musa, who I couldn’t in good conscious pass off as a guard. The best hooper from Finland in who knows how long, Lauri will try to carry the momentum of a big summer into a highly anticipated freshman year at Arizona.

C: Wendell Carter Jr. (USA)
FIBA Exp.: 217 minutes (2015 U16 Americas, 2016 U17 Worlds)

The biggest difference between USA Basketball and other countries at the junior level are man-children like Wendell Carter Jr., who has been a dominant scorer and rebounder for two gold medal squads.

New Guys By The Numbers 2016

1. Markelle Fultz
6’4” PG
DMX: 10.2
DMX Comp: D’Angelo Russell (9.6)

In what could go down as a historically great point guard class, Markelle Fultz stands head and shoulders above the rest and is my early prediction to become the number one draft pick in 2017. Markelle’s projected 10.2 DMX is the third best for a point or combo guard since 2002 behind only Ricky Rubio and Kyrie Irving. He also edges Ben Simmons (9.9 DMX) for the status of “best prospect in the world”. This is based on a very small sample size even relative to his peers, but I still think it is noteworthy for several reasons. For one, it’s exceptionally hard to amass a double-digit DMX in a sample size > one game. Roughly 99% of the players in my model, many of whom are teenagers with samples similar to Fultz, have a DMX between 1-10. Fultz’s stats include games a year apart, in gyms in Garden Grove, CA and Brooklyn, so I think they hold some weight. Most importantly, his profile and eye test back up the projection of a future star PG.

Markelle is one of the youngest players in his class, has off-the-charts measurements for a PG (6’4”, 6’9” wingspan), explosive athleticism, a smooth jump shot, and creative passing skills. He was among the most buzzed-about players by scouts and NBA people over the last month, and for good reason. Fultz is not on top of draft boards yet, but the consensus is warming to him and I sense the movement has already begun. Basically, I see Markelle as the ‘17 version of D’Angelo Russell in a class without a Karl Towns.

2. Harry Giles III
6’10” PF/C
DMX: 7.3
DMX Comp: Myles Turner (7.6)

Giles is the one player besides Fultz with enough hypothetical upside to draft #1. HGIII didn’t get a chance to participate in the all-star circuit because of an ACL tear (his second in high school) that kept him sidelined all season. I would have liked to see him play against the other top bigs in his class, but between his projection, #1 recruiting ranking, and a quick YouTube browse he seems like the real deal. His injury history casts a dark cloud over what is an otherwise sparkling PF/C prospect. Giles has the two-way versatility that is increasingly valuable in big men as the small-ball revolution has phased out big, plodding centers. If he stays healthy and sharpens his skills at Duke, Giles should be a top-three lock.

3. Josh Jackson
6’7” SG/SF
DMX: 6.9
DMX Comp: Stanley Johnson (7.1)

Josh Jackson has been billed as a potential #1 pick upon making his much-anticipated commitment to Kansas. He is a legit two-way wing player that is particularly good defensively, but he doesn’t seem special enough to be a top pick. He’s also the same age as some of the one-and-done guys this year, so he will have to be treated as an NCAA sophomore. Short of Josh looking like the second coming of Jimmy Butler, I think he will settle in somewhere in the top five. By the way, since I’ve seen this being discussed, I wouldn’t be worried about Jackson’s decision to play for Bill Self hurting his production. Self’s last three big shot wing prospects (Oubre, Wiggins, Xavier Henry) are all in the ~ 90th percentile of DMX.

4. Dennis Smith
6’2” PG
North Carolina State
DMX: 7.9
DMX Comp: Jay Williams (8.3)

Like Giles, Dennis Smith was unfortunately missing from the all-star games with injury. Smith is projected better than the other scoring point guards so this seems like a good place for him. If Cat Barber enters the draft, Smith with have a chance to put up big numbers as a freshman.

5. Jayson Tatum
6’8” SF
DMX: 7.8
DMX Comp: Luol Deng (7.6)

On paper, Tatum looks like a Jabari Parker-type scoring combo forward, but it’s apparent that he lacks Parker’s strength and burst. He reminds me more of Otto Porter, a fantastic college player and DMX stud (8.5), than a future superstar forward. He will join a loaded Duke roster that ESPN’s John Gasaway called “D-I’s strongest roster in years”. Duke will boast four top-20 DMX players in the 2017 draft class: Tatum, Giles, Grayson Allen (5.9), and Luke Kennard (5.5). The only other team with that distinction was 2006 UNC (Marvin Williams, Rashad McCants, Sean May, Raymond Felton), who won the NCAA championship.

6. Lonzo Ball
6’5” PG
DMX: 7.8
DMX Comp: Michael Carter-Williams (7.5)

The most interesting man of the McDonald’s game (where he set the assists record), Lonzo Ball is part Jason Kidd, part Kendall Marshall with a range of NBA outcomes falling anywhere in between. Ball is one of the best 18 year-old passers you will ever see. At 6’5” he can see the court and is remarkably intelligent, skilled, and unselfish. If his high school stats are any indication, Lonzo could push a triple-double per 40 minutes at UCLA, and is a lock to break stat models like former Bruins Kyle Anderson (7.5 DMX) and Jordan Adams (9.2 DMX) did a few years back. The hang up for Ball is his hideous jump shot and concerns over him being a scoring threat at the next level. I think he is unique enough to make do.

7. Malik Monk
6’3” PG
DMX: 7.3
DMX Comp: Jerryd Bayless (7.4)

8. De’Aaron Fox
6’3” PG
DMX: 6.4
DMX Comp: Jrue Holiday (7.0)

9. Bam Adebayo
6’9” PF/C
DMX: 6.7
DMX Comp: Noah Vonleh (6.9)

Monk and Fox will comprise the backcourt for Kentucky next season, and it ought to be something to behold. Fox is a quick, shifty 6’3” PG who plays hounding defense. Monk, who can play both guard positions, might be the best scorer in the class. Edrice “Bam” Adebayo continues a long-running tradition of Calipari sniping an elite big man prospect. I’m not sure this is a better haul than Duke’s, but it’s close.

10. Killian Tillie
6’10” PF
DMX: 7.8
DMX Comp: Ryan Anderson (7.4)

While most D-I programs fight over a handful of ho-hum 6’10” guys, Gonzaga, the Spurs of NCAA, signed the best international prospect in the world by DMX. Tillie’s 7.8 DMX is fourth best among incoming NCAA freshmen between Lonzo Ball and Jayson Tatum, the #5 and #2 ranked high school players. A grade like that in 450 minutes is too good to ignore and Tillie’s highlights make him look like an absolute stud. KT will make Gonzaga fans forget about Kyle Wiltjer quickly and it is only a matter of time before he appears on draft boards.

Honorable Mention

Jarron Cumberland
6’4” SG
DMX: 7.3
DMX Comp: Bradley Beal (6.8)

If Tillie is the most underrated newcomer, Jarron Cumberland is the most underrated high school prospect. The Cincinnati signee is ESPN’s 43rd ranked 2016 prospect despite having the fifth best DMX projection. It’s easy to see why scouts are bearish on Jarron, though. He is built more like a linebacker than an NBA guard and has the ugliest release on his jumper this side of Lonzo Ball.

Frank Jackson
6’4” PG/SG
DMX: -0.2

The title of most overrated prospect goes to Duke recruit Frank Jackson. Albeit in a small sample size (they cut both ways), Jackson has a DMX hovering around 0 and an assist-turnover ratio hovering around 1. With Derryck Thornton transferring and a frontcourt that includes Giles, Tatum, and fifth-year senior Amile Jefferson, I expect to see a lot of Grayson Allen and even Luke Kennard running point for the Blue Devils.

Michael Porter Jr.
6’9” SF
DMX: 9.3
DMX Comp: Carmelo Anthony (9.0)

Projecting even further into the future, Michael Porter Jr. (class of 2017) looks like a bona fide #1 pick. I don’t have enough stats for 7’0” monsters DeAndre Ayton or Mohamed Bamba, but it’s going to be hard for them to top Porter, a 6’9” forward whose 9.3 DMX in 450 minutes puts him in Brandon Ingram territory.

The New Guys by the Numbers

The word on the street is that the incoming NCAA freshman class is weaker than the last few, so I decided to take a closer look. I accumulated the stats of a dozen High School All-Americans who played in the McDonald’s game, Nike Hoop Summit, and Jordan Brand Classic, as well as a few notable prospects who appeared in two of the three.

1. Ben Simmons-PF-LSU

Ben Simmons 0.47 0.57 20 16.4 10 3.6 0 2.7

Ben Simmons (pictured) played up to his #1 RSCI ranking on the all-star circuit, putting up 20/16/10 and 3.5 steals Per 40 minutes while looking like a man amongst boys. His stats come with some concerns as well. The Aussie transplant registered 0 blocks (though I think the stat-keeper erroneously registered a block as a steal), which when taken in combination with his non-shooting could put Simmons in dreaded tweener territory. A league-wide trend that could benefit Simmons is the emerging role of the “playmaking 4”, one that he fits to a tee.

The 6’9” point forward mold has produced some of the most valuable players in recent NBA history such as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady, and LeBron James. The purpose of the NBA draft is to acquire players of this caliber, and even if Simmons has a 5% chance of being that good he’s probably the top prospect in this class.

2. Skal Labissiere-PF/C-Kentucky

Skal Labissiere 0.56 0.667 27.2 17 0.8 0.8 3 2.5

For the fourth time in five years, John Calipari brings a primo 6’11” center to Lexington. If Labissiere’s scoring, rebounding, and shot-blocking translate to NCAA, and I don’t see why they wouldn’t, he will be in the mix for the #1 pick as a high floor/high ceiling two-way center prospect. His low assist and steals numbers are worrisome, though, as these can be good indicators of skill level and basketball IQ in young big men.

Skal may turn out to be 2016’s Myles Turner, although it should be noted that Turner did not look good on this stage a year ago, so Skal has the early edge.

3. Cheick Diallo-F/C-Kansas

Cheick Diallo 0.714 0.857 42.3 22 4.5 2.3 3.8 1.5

If I truly bought into the predictive power of the tiny sample size provided by high school all-star games, I would declare Kansas-commit Cheick Diallo as the best player in this class and the future greatest basketball player of all-time. Diallo was relentless in stuffing the stat sheet on both ends, adding in 70% shooting and a tidy assist-to-turnover ratio just for good measure. The Mali native was repeatedly praised by analysts for his motor, and some of his statistical dominance can be attributed to his trying harder than everyone else in an all-star game setting. Diallo is more than just an active body, though. He has great footwork, finishing ability, and the athleticism to run the floor and disrupt shots in the paint.

If he were as big as Labissiere, Cheick would be a can’t-miss prospect, but as a 6’9” center it’s possible that he peaks as a statistical darling at the NCAA level.

4. Brandon Ingram-F-Duke

Brandon Ingram 0.687 0.833 22 4.9 0.8 2.4 1.6 0.8

My favorite player to watch in these games was probably Duke-bound forward Brandon Ingram. Ingram is an intriguing paradox who is very underdeveloped physically but already displays sound fundamentals and a sweet jumper.

This is certainly something that Coach K values in recruits, and I bet he loved that Ingram was hyper-efficient and turnover averse while his peers were mostly playing streetball. Ingram also flashed his ability to be a versatile defensive force with a pterodactyl wingspan.

If his body catches up to his talent level, there is no ceiling to Ingram’s 3&D potential and for this reason he should be discussed as a possible #1 pick.

5. Jaylen Brown-F-California

Jaylen Brown 0.5 0.385 21.2 10 2.5 3.7 2.5 2.5

Jaylen Brown is a 6’7” tank of a small forward that is similar to Stanley Johnson coming out of high school last year. He will follow Johnson’s footsteps and play in the Pac-12 next season at Cal. Johnson’s freshman year Per 40 numbers actually mirror the ones Brown compiled on the HS all-star circuit: 19 PTS, 9 REB, and 2.3 AST. My hunch is that Brown is a bit worse on both ends than Stanley Johnson, but he still could be a lottery pick if he proves to have an adequate jumper.

6. Stephen Zimmerman-C-UNLV

Stephen Zimmerman 0.5 0.5 16.8 9.6 3.2 3.2 4 1.6

Zimmerman is a prospect that strikes me as underrated. The 10th ranked recruit on ESPN, Big Zim stands a legit 7 feet and is a good athlete who participated in the McDonald’s dunk contest. This doesn’t show in his rebounding rate – and maybe he is soft on the glass – but his defensive stats are off the charts. He can also stretch the floor with his ability to shoot and pass. Zimmerman’s assist numbers would look even better if not for sloppy teammates:

It may be hard to sell NBA fans on a big lanky white guy these days, but skilled 7-footers don’t usually make it out of the first round.

7. Ivan Rabb-PF/C-California

Ivan Rabb 0.611 0.25 19.6 16 0.7 1.5 1.5 3

Ivan Rabb will join Jaylen Brown on a loaded Cal team under coach Cuonzo Martin. Rabb posted numbers consistent with a young center prospect except for his block rate, which I suspect is just bad variance in limited playing time. Rabb is tall and raw and has a degree of top 10 upside, so I ranked him above some impressive guards.

8. Allonzo Trier-SG-Arizona

Allonzo Trier 0.448 0.416 0.75 36.7 5.9 1.3 1.3 0 2

This was the latest I could fade Zo Trier, who tallied 37 PTS Per 40 minutes and was one of the only guys in this sample that actually made threes. The rest of Trier’s stat line is very bland and he is almost 20 years old, so I don’t think he’s one of the top five prospects in this class.

9. Isaiah Briscoe-PG-Kentucky

Isaiah Briscoe 0.391 0.428 0.75 25.8 9.2 11.1 1.8 0 4.9

Briscoe’s statistical profile is boom or bust. Isaiah racked up points, rebounds, and assists, but struggled with turnovers and shooting efficiency. Isaiah’s decision-making and sub-40% mark on 2-pointers invokes Andrew Harrison, in case any Wildcat fans were worried about that transition going smoothly.

10. Malik Newman-PG-Mississippi State

Malik Newman 0.23 0.29 0.5 15.2 3.2 8 3.2 0 6.4

For a player known as a scorer, Newman did so terribly playing against his peers. He also didn’t rebound and turned the ball over at an alarming rate. Newman is redeemed somewhat by his assist and steal numbers, potential three point range, and physical tools, but he is overrated and probably will not be looked at as a top five pick for long.

11. Jalen Brunson-PG-Villanova

Jalen Brunson 0.545 0.125 0.875 20 6.9 9.7 2.7 0 5.5

The son of former McDonald’s All-American and Philly street legend Rick Brunson, Jalen could carry the torch from Tyus Jones and Tyler Ennis as this year’s celebrated “pure” point guard with bad tools.

12. Caleb Swanigan-C-Purdue

Caleb Swanigan 0.2 0.667 6.8 9.4 0.8 2.6 2.6 2.6

Swanigan is strong as an ox but is neither sharp nor skilled; basically the inverse of Brandon Ingram. This is a classic makeup of an NCAA bust (see: the fall of Cliff Alexander’s draft stock), and Swanigan’s awful showing against top high school competition doesn’t bode well. He is this group’s most likely to post a single-digit PER as a freshman.