Class of 2014 could be special
Theo Pinson gets the nod as No. 1 overall in 2014, but many prospects aren't far behind
In the culture of grassroots basketball, observers typically are excited about the next generation. As the years go by, one becomes more familiar and less jaded with the classes as they mature. The beauty of the Class of 2014 is two-fold: There's star power at the top, and there are at least a half-dozen guys you could argue are the best prospect in the class.
There are six players who could make a case for themselves as the top overall prospect, maybe eight by the time this class goes through the process. For the time being, we settled on Theo Pinson (Oak Ridge, N.C./Oak Ridge Military) as the No. 1 overall player. He is cerebral, competitive, skilled and athletic. He's got a high-wattage smile and a mature approach to the game.
Dakari Johnson (New York, N.Y./St. Patrick) is a baby Andrew Bynum, and when we say "baby," it's a term of endearment. When you're 6-foot-10 and more than 250 pounds, expectations are always going to be outsized.
Andrew Wiggins (Toronto, Canada/Vaughn) is a debatable player. He's currently playing in Canada but the rumor mill puts him in the United States next year. His father finished up at Florida State, and he's got enough elite attributes to go around. His range, size and athletic ability at the rim are outstanding.
Jahlil Okafor (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) has the feel of a Jared Sullinger-type player. Big name, big game as the parade of prospects from the Windy City continues. Just east of Okafor is Indiana commit Tre Lyles (Indianapolis, Ind./Arsenal Tech). Think Carlos Boozer in terms of his body style, and ability to knock down shots and hit the glass.
Justin Jackson (Houston, Texas/Homeschool Christian Association) should evolve into a major contender as the top prospect in the class. He's long, wiry and skilled. As he grows into his body, the sky is the limit. Speaking of bodies, Wayne Selden (Boston, Mass./Tilton School) is the owner of an Adonis-like frame. He's got the mature frame and powerfully athletic game.
As a staff, we can't hide our affection for Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley). He's the best point guard in the class yet only the No. 9 prospect in what is shaping up to be an outstanding group. Nipping at his heels is JaQuan Lyle (Evansville, Ind./Bosse), a unique lead guard with a high ceiling.
The initial reaction to this class is favorable, and the potential for star power is high. If this group stays humble and continues to work, it could be one of the better collections of the decade because of its size, diversity and collection of skilled scorers.
Dave Telep is the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com. His college basketball scouting service is used by more than 225 colleges and numerous NBA teams. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.
With the 2011 class in the books, it's never to early to look ahead to 2012, 2013 and 2014.