Thursday, September 11th, 2008 at 10:20 am  |  75 responses

The SLAM Fresh 50 – 2009

See how the top HS seniors in the nation–including our PUNKS diarist–stack up.

By Aggrey Sam

Maybe you’re not into high school basketball. Maybe you feel like these kids should prove themselves on the college level before you put in the effort to learn their names. That’s all well and good, but when your favorite NBA team is drafting one of them in a couple years, maybe you’ll wish you had took the time to see how their game developed over the years, whether they’re a good fit or if you’re getting a bust. Enjoy.


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  • Michael

    Why did Dexter Strickland drop so far? Surely he is better then anyone else in Jersey, with possible exception of Cheek.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Damn, it feels like Stephenson should have graduated and been in college for 2 years already.

  • http://sdfjkl.com Jukai

    … Lance Stephenson? Really? Hasn’t that kid not improved in like, two years?

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Great job as always, Aggrey. Jukai, Stephenson is the man.

  • http://sdfjkl.com Jukai

    Hold up, I’m not being a critic here (chances are for the next few days I’m going to have to give that warning), I don’t know enough to comment on the High School ball scene. I just read a bunch of nbadraft that Stephenson is sorta pulling an OJ Mayo and not really improving much as he goes on. I figured that woulda lowered his stock a bit.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    I like nbadraft.net, but I feel confident Aggrey knows the game much better than they do. Lance has the best physical tools and the most intensity. He does need to mellow out on his teammates and improve his defense and touch, but I have no problem with Aggrey ranking him #1.


    Born Ready on top where he belongs.
    Shout-out to SLAM.COM
    For making Stephenson #1 unlike that
    Wack #ss rivals , who has him ranked 7th.
    (Anything 4 sum extra hits) LOL

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Stretch is my main man.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    Shout outs to Tiny Gallon and the HTown contingency!
    I need to see more of Lance.
    Sucks that so many dudes have the “they can dominate when they want to…” tag.

  • B. Long

    Word Cub. I’ve been wondering for a couple of weeks now if alot of this guys who are not commited anywhere yet are kind of waiting to see how this whole “Brandon Jennings” thing starts to play out before they make their decision, similar to the way young high school All-American’s made their decisions in the late 90′s based off of where KG, Kobe, and Jermaine O’Neal where drafted. Do you guys see his success or failure overseas having a massive effect on whether or not more prep’s head across the pond?

  • B. Long

    these guys. sorry.

  • http://myspace.com/yungjames187 J-Smoove

    naw lance is the truth Jukai

    im surprised john wall aint headed to north carolina

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com DP

    Lance looked like he flunked a couple of grades but I’m not going to hate on the guy. He just has that ny swagger and toughness and he is a relentless driver. He needs to hit Calipari up and make Reke stay after this season. Can you say best backcourt in the country?

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com DP

    John Wall can come to if he would like and have a three guard lineup of Tyreke, Lance, and Wall himself.

  • http://myspace.com/yungjames187 J-Smoove

    lance and reke=instant championship

    its gonna be interesting to see what lance’s decision is gonna be

  • ER

    Where is Tyler Haws? he was 50 on the last list, He improved alot this summer too. I think he should be on here.

  • Gosh, I love low IQ thugs

    Ryan Kelly?

    I realize he white and has a high GPA/SAT, but he is from NY originally. That usually counts for a lot at SLAM.

    This has got to be the only list in the country that doesn’t have him as a top 20 player, let alone top 50.

  • ev

    umm no johnny hood???? lmao

  • USA 4 LIFE

    uhhm they should add C.J harris from Mt tabor HS if u dont know him look him up

  • Tom Gray

    No Royce White???

    Definitely Top 50. Probably Top 25.

  • http://slam.com d-steve likes boys

    are you guys retarded xavier henry is the greatest player on here and hes #5 bull crap!

  • http://www.jumpstart33.com Coach Godwin

    That kid Dexter Strickland has some nice dunks on http://www.watchmygamefilm.com

  • keegan

    can we plz get some love for ryan kelly? i played against him last year n hes definitely top 50 material

  • sky

    Rodny Williams pretty much has it down to 2 schools….Minnesota and Santa Clara, where he’ll visit in two weeks. Rumor has it that Santa Clara’s where he’ll committ.

  • mike

    Wow! Looks like someone forgot about Milton Jennings.

  • http://none Cali Love

    Aggrey Sam, your bias toward Northeastern part of the country is sickening

  • Nelson

    Has Aggrey Sam seen Marshawn Powell of Miller School play in person?

    I have, and I just don’t think he’s good enough to play in the SEC or any of the “big-time” conferences.

    He needs to go to a so called “mid-major” level school and save himself having to ride the bench for two years and then having to transfer.

    In the state of Virginia, for example, he should be playing for William & Mary or James Madison, or similar schools in Arkansas, not for the University of Arkansas.

    Just my opinion. No offense intended.

  • http://Caliguy.com Cali Love

    Maalik Wayns from (PA), Rivalshoops.com ranked him 25, Scouthoops.com ranked him 26. Slamonline (Aggrey Sam) ranked him 8. It’s an East Coast thing.

    Aaric Murray from (PA) Rivalshoops.com ranked him 35 Scouthoops.com ranked him 38. Slamonline (Aggrey Sam) ranked him 15. Up-north hook-up

    The Biggest up-north connection goes to Lamar Patterson from (N.J.) Rivalshoops.com ranked him 109 Scouthoops.com ranked him 93 Slamonline (Aggrey Sam) ranked him 33, WOW

    Others like Kevin Parrom from (CT) Rivalshoops.com-84, Scouthoops.com-74, Slamonline (Aggrey Sam)-41

    Omari Lawrence from (CT) Rivalshoops.com-Not Ranked, Scouthoops.com-97, Slamonline (Aggrey Sam)-45

    Rahlir Jefferson from (PA) Rivalshoops.com -Not Ranked, Scouthoops.com – Not Ranked, Slamonline (Aggrey Sam)-49

    To Make matters worse you didn’t Rank Ryan Kelly (not from the Northeast), Rivalshoops.com ranked him 20, Scouthoops.com ranked him 11, Slamonline (Aggrey Sam) Not Ranked

    Milton Jennings (not from the Northeast) Rivalshoops.com ranked him 12, Scouthoops.com ranked him 23, Slamonline (Aggrey Sam) Not Ranked

    Your blatant favoritism is disgusting, and shameful

  • King Of Philly

    Hey Cali Love, dont get mad cause the East is in the house. Wayns is better than all them soft Cali guards. And is the best pure point in the country. And the youngest 17 years old. And Murray is A BEAST

  • Billy Fortescue

    how come dexter strick is so low then cali love?? is that biased too??dont people have different opinions…i wonder if memphis has enough cash to pay lance after backing up the truck for tyreke…who am i kidding, of course they do….

  • KOP

    Where is Yarou?

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Why is Aggrey’s opinion any less valid than anyone else’s? They are HIS rankings.

  • http://slamonline.com a. sam

    Michael: Dexter looks the part, but he doesn’t always play it. Not a true point, not a pure shooter, not always assertive, not a lockdown defender. That said, he could get better at all of those things (as could all kids, but he really has the tools) and make me look dumb in a few years. I’m waiting for him to really be THE MAN at St. Pat’s. No time better than his senior year, although I wouldn’t be shocked if a certain soph steals the show. And the only kid from Jersey I have ranked ahead of him is Cheek.

  • http://slamonline.com a. sam

    TAD: Yeah, that’s what happens when you’re from Coney Island and play in the Rucker before you start high school.

  • http://slamonline.com a. sam

    Jukai: Even if you feel like he hasn’t improved, he was so far ahead of the comp in his class that the gap was too wide to close to begin with. However, I do think he’s improved–moreso mentally than physically. He still gets frustrated out there, but the willingness to play D, share the ball and be a team player is there. And he’s the best competitor in the class. I see where NBADraft.net is coming from (what up, Aran), but you can’t measure certain things, like heart and a knack for scoring. Guys like Lance and OJ (let’s put Tyreke Evans in there, too) are just ballplayers.

  • http://slamonline.com a. sam

    Cub: That’s the state of basketball, period. Charlie Villaneuva scored damn near 50 in an NBA game.

  • http://slamonline.com a. sam

    B. Long: I know you asked Cub, but I’ll try to answer your question. I think the answer is DEFINITELY. The differences with high school-to-overseas now and prep-to-pros then are less money, a major adjustment in style of play and the language barrier. Jennings is the perfect kid (at least these days; Kobe would have been the guy to try it if there was an age limit back then) to test it out, as he has the charisma, unselfish game and overall appeal to be a success (if any of them will be), in my opinion.

  • http://www.yahoo.com jeezy

    Where is my boy terrell vinson at he is a top 20 player at least

  • http://slamonline.com a. sam

    ER: I like Tyler a lot, but I have to go off what I’ve seen most recently. He’s a kid who looks better in a more team-oriented atmosphere, which the summer doesn’t really exemplify. Look for him to have a great senior year and kill in college (probably somewhere like Utah, BYU or Stanford). I loved him last winter, though. (Yeah, I watched two Lone Peak HS games on TV. That’s in Utah, haters.)

  • http://slamonline.com a. sam

    Gosh: So now I’m racist? I was probably the first person to rank Mason Plumlee in the top 25 nationally. Do you know the GPAs and SAT/ACT scores of every kid on this list or something? And I’m not from NY. Back to Ryan, I just haven’t seen enough of the kid. I don’t rank kids I don’t see, unlike a lot of other people.

  • http://slamonline.com a. sam

    ev: If I did a top 100, Jon Hood would be in there.
    USA 4 LIFE: See above comment.
    Tom: Didn’t see enough of Royce this summer. He was in my last top 50, but off the little bit I’ve seen of him (like half a game last summer), I didn’t think he was THAT much better than other kids I’ve seen a lot more of. Did too much floating on the perimeter for my taste, although I’ve heard he’s gotten a lot better.

  • http://slamonline.com a. sam

    d-steve: Despite him being the mag’s diarist, I don’t think Xavier’s the best player in the nation. Sorry.
    Keegan: See my comment to Gosh.
    mike: I didn’t forget him, just haven’t seen him play enough. When I did, he did the outside thing and wasn’t hitting shots.

  • http://slamonline.com a. sam

    Nelson: Yes, I’ve seen every kid on this list play in person. If a kid is omitted, either I didn’t think he was one of the 50 best (right now; players’ stocks go up and down like the Dow Jones) or I haven’t seen him. Marshawn just gets it done. He’s tough as hell, athletic, can stick the 15-footer, go by slower bigs, rebounds and finishes strong. He’s a bit undersized for the 4, but I think he’ll be a matchup problem in college. He should play a Charles Thomas-type role for Arkansas. I think he’ll make an impact in college sooner rather than later.

  • http://slamonline.com a. sam

    KOP: Didn’t have a chance to see Yarou on the national this summer. Heard great things about him, but I moved from Philly to New Orleans back in the winter so I didn’t get a chance to catch him on the East Coast, either.

  • http://slamonline.com a. sam

    sky: Haven’t heard much about Santa Clara for Rodney, but I’m all for big-time kids going to mid-majors. Wouldn’t be surprised if you’re a Santa Clara fan and if so, good luck!

  • http://slamonline.com a. sam

    Cali Love: Strong words. Ease up a little. Do high school rankings matter that much to you? You didn’t think I was ducking you, did you? I was just saving the best for last. I’ll tackle a few of your issues with me.
    1) It’s my opinion. If you’ve seen our NBA player rankings–guys who everybody can see on national TV–then why should the ranking of the top high school kids–who a much smaller demographic see–be uniform?
    2) I know a lot of those other guys and they’re cool people, but I don’t always agree with them. Thus, I don’t really give f*ck where they rank a kid. I do me.
    3) I am from the Northeast (mid-Atlantic is more accurate; I get a lot of flack back home about not showing enough love to DC/MD kids) and until recently, those are the kids I saw the most of. I travel to do stories and see events, but I also work and write about other stuff (besides high school) for the mag. If you wanna fund my trips to AAU tourneys, camps and HS games, be my guest. But you know what? I still won’t see everybody. It’s physically impossible.
    4) I won’t address every kid you mentioned, but I’ll fill you in on Aaric and Lamar. Most of those other dudes have only seen Aaric this summer. I’ve been fortunate enough to see him over the last two years. As for Lamar, Rivals had him crazy high (I think 20s or 30s) prior to their last update, but dropped him because they didn’t see him play this summer. You know why? Because he was hurt. Do your research. And like I said about Jennings and Kelly earlier, I didn’t see enough of them.
    5) Why aren’t you mad about my overly high rankings of Michael Snaer and Joe Burton? I know Snaer is now up there by most people, but I’ve had him up there since last year, when he wasn’t even a consensus top-five prospect in Cali, let alone the nation. And I know HoopScoop loves Burton, but who else has him in the top 25? Where’s your West Coast bias?
    6) Get a life. These are high school kids. I see enough of them to form an opinion, but I don’t see all of them. If you don’t like my rankings, stick with the other guys as your primary sources. Better yet, see them yourself and start a scouting service.

  • http://slamonline.com a. sam

    Ben: Thanks.
    I’ll leave y’all with two quick stories. There was a kid in the class of 2000 from a big city who played on a big-time AAU team with another player who many thought was the best in the country and a whole bunch of other high-major kids. He was about 6-4 and athletic, but raw, skinny, didn’t really have a position and couldn’t shoot. Although a lot of coaches saw him play, he got mostly mid-major looks, but eventually was offered a scholarship by school with a good tradition, which stuck with him even when he didn’t qualify. He was a borderline top-100 kid, if that. His name? Dwyane Wade. His teammate? Darius Miles.
    Bad example? Here’s another one, that I personally witnessed happen. There was another kid from the Chi, class of 2006. I saw him play in national summer-league event the summer prior to his senior year. Other teams there included Artesia from Cali, other regional powerhouses and some of the kids who played in it included Raymar Morgan (Michigan State), James Harden (Arizona State) and others with national profiles. The kid absolutely killed the comp, getting almost 40 in two games, but his team was outmanned. Talking with the other media on press row, I was convinced he was a big-time player, potentially a top-25 type. I put him on the same level with the best in Philly that year, kids like Wayne Ellington (UNC), Gerald Henderson (Duke), Jeff Jones (UVA), etc. They said he was a solid mid-major type, but he was too skinny, no position, etc. I talked to him after the game and it turned out that he was getting only mid-major looks. He didn’t play any AAU that summer (although he was on that MTV “Battlegrounds” show), so that didn’t really change and he ended up verbally committing to Toledo. For whatever reason, he changed his mind before the high school season, didn’t sign with them in the fall and went on to lead the state in scoring, take his team to the state chip and attract a slew of high-major offers. He ended up signing with Arkansas in the spring, where he went on to be the 2006-07 SEC Freshman of the Year. His name is Patrick Beverley. Shows you what the so-called experts (and I could be one of them) know.
    Sorry for the long story and all the comments. Let’s just not have this discussion again. All the kids who get the hype are talented. Whether or not you’re a fan of their game is a different question. They are at least regional names by high school and expected to do something when they get to college. See how they pan out then. Until that point, it’s just a debate. But with me, there’s never any bias. I’m more interested in the kids you don’t see on this list.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    So glad to see Aggrey put people in their place. Thanks.

  • http://slamonline.com a. sam

    I think that’s my comment quota for the rest of 08

  • http://slamonline.com a. sam

    jeezy: Terrell never decided whether he was gonna be a wing or an undersized post. He’s not the most athletic kid in the world either. Hopefully playing at St. Frances (under the tutelage of fellow Owls alum Mark Karcher) back in his native B-More will get him right. I know he’s had some injuries, too.

  • http://myspace.com/yayareasfinesthoopmixtape YAY AREA’S FINEST

    first off, i gotta chime in on behalf of cali love… the east coast bias is ridiculous and takes away your credibility in my opinion… you are of course entitled to your, but when you are in charge of publishing rankings for slam (a large part of the basketball media world) expect that you should have to justify your rankings if people see flaws in them… i think that the people at slam are the only ones in the world that have lance at no. 1.. ok we kno u love him, hes from nyc, hes been famous for years, but news flash: others are better… im from cali but joe burton at 22 is an absolute joke… no hollis thompson? no reeves nelson? no greg smith? no tyler honeycutt? there are quite a few califoria players that are far more deserving than him imo… but hey if i did a ranking there would be over ranked cali dudes, but you should at least be honest with yourself and see that… biases exist even if you dont recognize it yourself.. but to end on a positive note, good lookin on boynton, he kills way too much to not be in anyone elses top 5…

  • http://slamonline.com a. sam

    YAY: Figured I might as well answer you while I’m still in my commenting mode. I call bias favoring something because of a loyalty. I just happen to see a lot more kids on the East Coast, as opposed to the West Coast, as I responded to Cali Love (reading is fundamental). What rankings don’t have “flaws” in them? They’re based off opinion. Since I’m “the people at SLAM” as far as these rankings are concerned, I’ll say this: I’ve seen all of the consensus top kids and I like Lance the best. Simple as that. And I’m not from New York. In fact (and I think I told you this before for some reason), I think most kids from there are overhyped. The differences with these and other rankings are those other people don’t have to defend themselves because they just put their stuff up and you debate them amongst yourselves, and secondly, they’ve been doing them for long enough that they now have “credibility.” Like I said, if you don’t agree, that’s cool. But you can’t say somebody is “better” than such and such like it’s a fact. There’s probably somebody out there who thinks Jacque Vaughn is better than Tony Parker (probably you, since he’s from Cali, too), but as long as Pop doesn’t think so, it doesn’t matter. Remember Neil Fingleton? McDonald’s All-American back in 2000 (I believe), went to UNC, never played, went to Holy Cross and still didn’t kill. Did that make him “better” than all the other kids who didn’t make the game that year? No, but it was somebody’s opinion and obviously political, one thing you won’t get from me. As I said before, if you wanna fly me out to see Cali kids in AAU tourneys and high school, be my guest. I suppose you’d rather have me rank dudes I don’t see so I’m not “biased.” Hollis (and I’m a Georgetown fan, so that’s where you’d expect me to be biased) was in my last set of rankings and was in some of my previous updates, but as you should know (being from Cali), that both have had injury issues this summer. Saw Greg Smith once and he was solid, but I wasn’t overly impressed. I’ve heard good things about Honeycutt, but I’ve never seen him play. Honest enough for you? Regarding Burton, if you think I have him too high, then we just have a fundamental difference in how we evaluate talent, especially since you’ve seen him a lot more than me. Now let me ask you this: Who do you complain to when you see Boynton ranked outside of the top five? Do you post comments on the other sites that rank kids and have guys respond? I can’t wait until I see enough mediocre kids in the South (I live in New Orleans now), so people can say I have a down south bias. And like I always say, we’ll see who’s right when these kids get to college.

  • http://myspace.com/yayareasfinesthoopmixtape YAY AREA’S FINEST

    thank you for the direct honest reply… we can agree that rankings of this nature are a source for debate, so its good to see people doing so… and hell yeah im on the rivals site non stop lettin them “experts” have it… prolly gettin on them worse than you…. ya dig

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  • Michael

    a. sam: Thanks for your reply re: Dexter. I’ll say this, last year I saw St. Pats play St. Bennies from Newark NJ. For whatever reason Dex did not play in the first quarter and St. Pats fell behind. He ALMOST brought St. Pats back against St. Bennies literally by himself. I’m talking pull up threes, bringing it hard against the St. Benedick’s two big bruisers, and taking hard fouls, and these were mostly above the rim. That was the first time I saw him truly impose his will on a game, and almost beat the no. 1 team in the country.

  • http://yahoo.com Domo

    You did good wit this list Aggrey..Glad 2 see my boy Johnnie Lacy (a.k.a. King Lacy) make the list…Im ghost

  • tbcamp

    Brandon Paul is the best player in Illinois, is a superb 6’4″ combo guard, and is surely one of the best 25 players in the nation, and one of the 10 best athletes. He will remind people of Kendall Gill.

  • http://www.liveddb.com DDB

    Aggrey, Patterson was actually ranked #15 by Rivals early in the summer before missing the summer for injury. I read your reply earlier that said 20s or 30s but I figured I’d strengthen your point in saying that Rivals had him 15!

    People need to calm down. Everyone has a different opinion of what they like out of kids. Not everybody will agree.

  • Gosh, I love low IQ thugs

    Patrick Beverley was ranked in the mid-50s by the time he graduated. Like your analysis, that story rang pretty hollow

  • Gosh, I love low IQ thugs


    I realize this is an attempt at a basketball magazine, but his response to most people’s complaints is using the excuse that he “hasn’t seen many kids play” is not “putting people in their place.”

    It’s more of a dereliction of duty, which, at a decent magazine, would get the “writer” fired.

  • Redstorm


  • Billy the Kid

    With all due respect, I know you said that you haven’t seen enuff of Ryan Kelly. I’m just trying to see how’s that possible when he played on the same circuit team as John Wall, and they where everywhere! Also, i know you guys like the kids with that “swagger” in their games. He must have shown someone some of that to make the Boost Mobile joint at the Rucker. I respect your opinions, but seriously, this kid kills everyone he plays.

  • deon jackson

    Hey what happened to Royce White out of Hopkins MN? ESPN, Rivals, and Lindy’s all have him in the top 20. How can you guys leave him out of your top 50? Beware the Gophers! Beware the Gophers!

  • 253

    what about ryan kelly, the kid is goofy as hell but has a pretty solid inside out game. he moves pretty quick for a guy who is 6’10″

  • http://www.slamonline.com Rodney

    Tristan Spurlock is a SG/SF not SF/PF

  • scott

    Why is John Wall so low?

  • matt(ballislife

    rankings rankings rankings. I don’t think they should even be done, but sine you’ve done them, here is my two cents. I don’t know how many times you’ve seen each guy play, but I think this should be more of a rankings of the events you went to instead of a national ranking. I think Lance at #1 is actually a great ranking, I’ve seen lance play and he was by far better than the guys ranked ahead of him and he’s a beast. I won’t argue too much inside your top 10 because those are about the same names that appear in everyone’s top 10, but outside of your 10, is something to argue about. Michael Snaer at 15 is crazy, but everyone has been putting him there, Joe Burton is great I love the guy, but at 22? That puts him ahead of justin hawkins, roberto nelson, reeves nelson, hollis thompson, thurman woods, clarence trent, peyton siva, dexter strickland and the list goes on. I know rankings are hard, but I also think that even on rivals they have only seen a guy play a few times and think he is a certain number. Then Jerry Myer said yesterday that John Wall right now is better than Derrick Rose in high school, that’s when I got irritated because Rose(with the help of Gordon) was putting up huge numbers against OJ Mayo, Bill Walker, and Alex Tyus (if i got that right), in vegas and almost beating SCA (kevin love, taylor king, daniel hackett, renardo sidney, brandon jennings, to go along with an insane bench) while wall couldnt get his team into the championship let alone close at the reebok summer championships. I think rankings are favored in who you’ve seen the most of, you could see 1 kid play who is hyped like crazy, and he doesnt live up to the hype so he is automatically watched for every move, and then a guy that plays sub par who is hyped is allowed to keep his ranking (greg monroe)

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  • Terrance Smith

    D.J. Richardson is the best player by far. He has no flaws in his game and he can do it all better every player ranked above him.

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  • http://www.cbssportsline.com camcrazee

    john wall is going to duke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • MemphisTIGER

    JOHN WALL is comming to MEMPHIS!!!!!!!!!!!
    Crazy duke fans lol

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  • Boy Blue

    wheres ryan kelly?

  • Walt

    No Eligah Johnson from Vegas? Did he fall off? I’m from Indiana and saw Greg Oden, Eric Gorden, Derrick Rose from accross the state line and Mike Conley in high school, and this kid was better as a Soph then Mike Conley as a senior. I wait on the “Punks” Eddition to come out every year but I’m a little dissipointed with this.