Commentary

Under-the-radar small forwards

Originally Published: March 22, 2010
By Joel Francisco | ESPN Recruiting

While most recruiting pundits are familiar with McDonald's All-Americans Harrison Barnes (Ames, Iowa), Jereme Richmond (Waukegan, Ill.), Terrence Jones (Portland, Ore.) and Deshaun Thomas (Fort Wayne, Ind.), there are other talented wing types who will make an impact in college basketball next season.

Small forwards bring a unique aspect to the game because of their versatility. They could be asked to knock down 3-pointers, post-up smaller defenders or facilitate the offense. Defensively, depending on their strength and athleticism, they may be asked to guard a 4, a 3 or even a 2. In any case, small forwards are a vital aspect of every team.

Shane Southwell (6-foot-6, 185 pounds) | Grade: 92 | SF Rank: 21
Bronx, N.Y./ Rice, College: Kansas State

He is synonymous with versatility and has the skills to play and defend multiple positions at the next level. His jump shot needs polishing, especially out to the stripe, but he can handle the ball very well and has the ability to deliver a nifty pass in transition. He gets most of his points slashing his way to the basket and out in transition. Defensively, he has the length and lateral quickness to defend the 2 or the 3.

[+] EnlargeGarrett Jackson
Michael SchmittGarrett Jackson is an outstanding athlete who really excels in transition where he can attack the rim.

Garrett Jackson (6-6, 190)
Grade: 90 | SF Rank: 37
Portland, Ore./Westview
College: USC

He was a virtual unknown out west until his scintillating summer performance in Las Vegas. He has that prototypical wing-type frame as well as an evolving skill set. A season ago was a 'tweener, but thanks to a much-improved jump shot and a better feel for the perimeter, he caught the eye of the Southern California coaching staff, among others. Overall, he'll need to get tougher to adapt to Kevin O'Neill's defensive-minded system, but the upside is there.

Tony Snell (6-7, 190) | Grade: 91
Phoenix/Westwind Prep, College: New Mexico

Snell, who is originally out of Riverside, Calif., is evolving into a top-flight wing for the next level. His perimeter skills have improved; especially his 3-point jump shot and he can handle it well in the open court. In addition, he has shown the ability to locate the open man off the dribble, particularly in a drive-and-kick situation. With Snell's length and athleticism, his upside is immense -- making him a definite impact player for the Lobos next season.

J.D. Weatherspoon (6-6, 200) | Grade: 91 | SF Rank: 29
Columbus, Ohio/Northland, College: Ohio State

He is an undersized 4-man for the next level, but because of his frame and bouncy nature, this lefty could be a perfect glue player for coach Thad Matta. He is a relentless competitor and has a propensity to attack the glass at both ends of the floor. He needs to hone his perimeter skills, particularly his jump shot, to keep defenses honest. However, with his length and athleticism he has a chance to be a lockdown versatile defender versus a 4 or 3.

Josh Langford (6-6, 200) | Grade: 89 | SF Rank: 58
Huntsville, Ala./Lee, College: undecided

Langford, a former Louisville recruit, is undecided on his college destination, but his ultra-athleticism and strong frame are attracting interest from a variety of schools. He's a physical 4/3 who excels in transition where he can attack the rim. Although his perimeter skills are still evolving, he could excel in a run-and-press environment because of his motor and athletic prowess.

Joel Francisco is a recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting.