National Prep Showcase: Top Underclassmen
Noah Vonleh guns for the No. 1 spot in the Class of ’14.
For years now, the National Prep Showcase has been a rite of passage to kick off the prep school basketball season. In the weekend before Thanksgiving, virtually every national media outlet makes the pilgrimage to New England to peep the finest prep school players this country has to offer. Spanning over three days with games running over 12 hours a day, it’s a one-stop-shop for college coaches of all levels.
To tell you how legit things really were, one Big East assistant coach missed a game to stick around Albertus Magnus College to recruit and get some face time with a few players. Mix in a hospitality room that is to die for and you see why Adam Finkelstein of ESPN and New England Recruiting Report nearly sells the gym out each year.
With the majority of the schools in the Northeast offering post-grad options and/or reclassification, many of the cats who we’ll write about will have reclass’d a grade. It’s just the nature of the beast of the prep schools in this part of the country, so you can like it or love it, but you won’t change it.
With that said, here are a few of the top youngsters who did their thing in New Haven:
Noah Vonleh, 6-8, SF, New Hampton Prep (NH), 2014
Though Ricardo Ledo may have had the highest scoring output of the National Prep Showcase, it was Noah Vonleh who left people debating whether or not he should be the No. 1 player in the class after he destroyed the competition at Albertus Magnus. With a game reminiscent to a young KD at this point, Vonleh is skilled enough to kill you from the outside but tough enough to be an animal on the boards. Like KD did during his tenure at Texas, the sophomore is playing out of position now at the 4 and will definitely slide over to the 3 by the time he hits the next level. Look for Vonleh to be gunnin’ for that No. 1 spot for ’14 over the next three years.
Nerlens Noel, 6-10, C, Tilton School (NH), 2013
One of Kentucky’s biggest recruiting priorities for the Class of ’13, Nerlens showed out in front of John Calipari and Orlando Antigua, especially on the defensive end. Known as the best shot blocker in high school hoops regardless of class for over a year now, Nerlens has made some major strides in his game offensively. Now capable of facing up and putting the ball on the deck, he showed off an explosive first step and the ability to finish around the rim with either hand. Having his choice of anywhere in the country, Nerlens will be batting Jabari Parker and Julius Randle for top player in the Class of ’13 over the next few years.
Dominic Woodson, 6-10, PF/C, Vermont Academy (VT), 2013
Most of the other guys on the list have bigger names and have all reclass’d a year, but you could make a case for Woodson outplaying any underclassmen at the National Prep Showcase. The true junior threw around his 260-pound body in the paint to snag boards, but also shocked most onlookers with his ability to step out and shoot the lights out out to the college 3. Playing on center stage on the loaded Northeast prep school scene, expect the Texas native to be a household name among recruiting circles by the end of the season.
Jared Terrell, 6-3, SG/PG, New Hampton Prep (NH), 2014
The shifty combo guard was one of the hottest names at the National Prep Showcase and that was clear based on the handful of BCS offers that he received by the time the weekend was over. With the body of a football player and hella bounce, there isn’t much more that you could ask for physically out of sophomore. Though he appears to be more of a natural 2 than a 1, Terrell made some great reads in pick and roll situations and showed off a textbook J. If he keeps ballin’ out like this, look for him to shoot up from the top 75-ish ranking that he currently possesses for the Class of ’14.
Wayne Selden, 6-5, SG, Tilton School (NH), 2014
After setting the nation ablaze last year at the National Prep Showcase, the super sophomore backed the hype again with an outstanding performance in front of Coach Cal. His J wasn’t falling this time around, but Boston’s boy showed off some unbelievable moves and court vision in the open court. With athleticism that has drawn comparisons to VC, he put on a show for CityLeagueHoops in warmups and may have had more fans at the game rooting for him than anyone in New Haven. Look for the power wing to have his choice of any school in the country when it’s all said and done.
Johnathon Wilkons, 6-10, C, La Lumiere School (IN), 2014
One of the bigger surprises (both literally and figuratively) was Wilkons, a native of France who got some major burn for La Lumiere despite playing with 7-foot Obij Ajet and 6-9 man-child Hanner Perea. The lefty ran the floor like a gazelle and showed off a nasty side on the defensive end, both as a shot blocker and rebounder. Playing behind two big time posts now may seem like a curse now, but it will be Wilkons time to shine next season at La Lumiere.
Jeremy Miller, 6-9, PF, New Hampton Prep (NH), 2015
Even though he didn’t get much burn on a stacked New Hampton team, it didn’t take a genius to see the talent that this lanky freshman had reeking from his pores. Despite just getting out of middle school, the 6-9 forward was already comfortable facing the basket and had a game that was more reminiscent of a face-up 4 than your traditional big. Three-point shooting and shot blocking are his areas of expertise at this point, but keep Miller’s name stored in the back of your head because he’s one of the top big men in the freshmen class.