SLAM Fresh 50 – 2014

by Franklyn Calle / @FrankieC7

After averaging 28 points and 8 assists per game as a sophomore at Apple Valley (MN), Tyus Jones seemed to have slowed down a bit during his junior year when his numbers dropped to 20 points and 7 assists this past season. But then the spring came, aka the start of the AAU circuit, where Jones has been flat-out dominating the scene. When looking at his numbers in the Nike EYBL, where it’s safe to say most of the nation’s best players converge, as of last week in 13 games played through the first three sessions, he was leading the entire league/nation in points (301), assists (6.8 per game) and steals (3.0 per game) and was second in scoring average (23.2 per game).

And although the stats for this past weekend’s fourth session haven’t been added yet, it can be expected that not much has changed as far as where Jones stands in the aforementioned categories, especially considering that he went 4-0 during the weekend and included a 25-point, 8-asssist, 5-steal performance, all around his off-season average. Obviously, numbers don’t mean everything, but they never lie. At this point, the 6-0 guard out of Minnesota has emerged as the smartest and most efficient player in his class, with the greatest feel for the game and most superb court vision. He can consistently sink the jumper from downtown with the best of them and can also finish at the rim over anyone with the best of them—not to mention his defensive tenacity, as reflected in his steals count. Long story short, there hasn’t been a single player who’s been performing as well as Jones has in this young AAU season, and thus for the time being, he is well deserving of the top spot. He continues to draw Chris Paul comparisons, and while it might be a little early for that, he’s most definitely on his way.

The word is that Jones and Jahlil Okafor are a package deal when it pertains to their college selection, with rumors being that Duke seems to be leading all suitors, although there isn’t much that confirms those claims. Nonetheless, their recruiting is definitely worth keeping a close eye on.

UNC has been the biggest benefactor from this class thus far with three of the top-15 prospects in this list, and still counting. But with the summer on the horizon, and most of the bigger names not expected to commit until the fall at the earliest, the list is bound to change.

1 Tyus Jones 6-1 PG Apple Valley (MN) Savvy beyond his years; the epitome of a point guard.
2 Jahlil Okafor 6-10 C Whitney Young (IL) Strong and dominant in the post and on the glass.
3 Emmanuel Mudiay 6-4 PG Prime Prep (TX) Explosive point guard with ample athleticism.
4 Karl Towns Jr 7-0 C St. Joseph (NJ) A Kentucky commit, as well rounded as you’ll find for someone his size and age.
5 Trey Lyles 6-8 PF Arsenal Technical (IN) Features one of the most impressive multi-faceted games in the class.
6 Cliff Alexander 6-9 C Curie (IL) The paint is his and when anywhere near it, he’s looking to dunk. He’s been extending his game to the outside slowly.
7 Kevon Looney 6-8 SF/PF Milwaukee Hamilton (WI) A threat from outside the paint as much as from inside.
8 Rashad Vaughn 6-6 SG/SF Robbinsdale Cooper (MN) Strong wing whose stock just continues to rise.
9 Chris McCullough 6-10 PF Brewster Academy (NH) Verbally committed to Syracuse, McCullough is an athletic forward who uses his agility and speed to do damage at the rim.
10 Justise Winslow 6-6 SF St. John’s (TX) Explosive lefty wing who can get to the rim or sink it from distance.
11 Leron Black 6-7 PF White Station (TN) A former Baylor commit, he’s a terrific athlete who has been expanding his game out to the perimeter.
12 Stanley Johnson 6-6 SF Mater Dei (CA) Uses his relatively bulky physique to overpower opponents; has extended his game outside.
13 Justin Jackson 6-6 SF Homeschool Christian (TX) A Tar Heel pledge, the kid can shoot from anywhere, whether a mid-range jumper or out on the perimeter; averaged 30 points and 12 rebounds.
14 Theo Pinson 6-6 SF Wesleyan Christian (NC) Another North Carolina commit, he’s pure scorer who can put up points in all types of ways.
15 Joel Berry 6-1 PG Lake Highland (FL) Also a UNC commit, known as a pure point guard who can score at will.
16 JaQuan Lyle 6-4 PG Benjamin Bosse (IN) Can play either guard position with his ability to create for others, as well as his own shot.
17 Malik Pope 6-8 SF Laguna Creek (CA) Thanks to his speed and range, this lanky forward can excel at the guard position as well as at the forward.
18 Dwayne Morgan 6-7 SF St. Frances (MD) A UNLV commit, he can hold it down at either forward position.
19 Devin Booker 6-4 SG Moss Point (MS) Looking to follow in his dad’s footsteps, Melvin Booker—a former NBAer—Devin is one of top scorers in the country, having averaged 29.7 points per game this past season.
20 D’Angelo Russell 6-4 SG Montverde (FL) A natural scorer who has some point guard skills in him.
21 Jalen Lindsey 6-6 SF Huntington Prep (WV) Transferring to Huntington Prep in the fall, he flourishes in transition and has a respectable jumper.
22 JaKeenan Gant 6-8 SF Effingham County (GA) Averaged about 17.9 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.2 blocks, earning Class 5A Player of the Year.
23 Ahmed Hill 6-4 SG Aquinas (GA) Out on the perimeter or in the lane, Hill can sink it.
24 Keita Bates-Diop 6-7 PF University (IL) A Ohio State-commit, he moves great around the basket and has begun moving his offense outside as well.
25 Goodluck Okonoboh C 6-9 Wilbraham & Monson (MA) Good shot blocker who’s expanding his offensive game.
26 Daniel Hamilton 6-7 SG/SF St. John Bosco (CA) A UConn pledge and brother of 2013-ranked senior Isaac, Daniel is one of the most versatile wings in the country.
27 Jordan McLaughlin 5-11 PG Etiwanda (CA) Explosive point guard who can attack the rim with the best of them.
28 Quentin Snider 6-1 PG Ballard (KY) A Louisville-commit, with great handle, court vision and just all-around feel for the game.
29 Isaiah Whitehead 6-4 SG Lincoln (NY) Natural scorer who can especially shoot it.
30 Parker Jackson-Cartwright 5-9 PG Loyola (CA) An Arizona commit, his offense comes from the quickness and craftiness he possesses.
31 Craig Victor 6-8 PF St. Augustine (LA) Nice touch around the rim.
32 Grayson Allen 6-4 SG Providence (FL) A Duke pledge known for his range beyond the perimeter.
33 Shelton Mitchell 6-3 PG Cuthbertson (NC) A Wake Forest commit, he stands out as a great floor leader.
34 Kelly Oubre 6-5 SG/SF Bush (TX) Known as a shooter with range.
35 Dion Wiley 6-4 SG Potomac (MD) Has been putting work at Nike’s EYBL; known for being explosive off the dribble and having range.
36 Isaac Copeland 6-9 PF Miller (VA) A Georgetown pledge, he’s shown the ability to knock down jumpers consistently.
37 Caleb Martin 6-6 SF Davie County (NC) Having already given NC State a verbal commitment, he has impressed with his attacks to the rim.
38 Ben Bentil 6-8 PF St. Andrews (DE) Does most of his work in and around the paint thanks to his strength and quickness.
39 Reid Travis 6-7 PF De La Salle (MN) A great rebounder who has excelled in the AAU circuit playing alongside Tyus Jones.
40 Shaqquan Aaron 6-7 SF Rainier Beach (WA) A Louisville commit, he can handle the ball and thus score in multiple ways.
41 Josh Perkins 6-2 PG Huntington Prep (WV) From Colorado but transferring to Huntington Prep in the fall, averaged 25.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game as a junior.
42 Kameron Chatman 6-7 SF Long Beach Poly (CA) Long, lefty forward with promising upside.
43 Payton Dastrup 6-9 PF/C Mountain View (AZ) Whether it be behind the arc, midrange or in the paint, Dastrup is always putting in work.
44 Trevon Bluiett 6-5 SF Park Tudor (IN) Just came off a monstrous year where he averaged 27.8 points and led his team to a 21-3 record.
45 TJ Haws 6-3 SG Lone Peak (UT) Stands out for his shooting abilities.
46 James Blackmon Jr 6-3 SG Marion (IN) Verbally committed to Indiana, Blackmon is a pure scorer who can light up the scoreboard in a hurry. Second in scoring nationwide among juniors.
47 Victor Law 6-6 SF St. Rita (IL) Averaged 14 points and 9 rebounds this past season.
48 Kaleb Joseph 6-3 PG Cushing Academy (MA) Long and versatile point guard.
49 Trayvon Reed 7-0 C Shiloh (GA) As he continues to build out his game, his upside is currently his biggest strength.
50 Paul White 6-8 SF/PF Whitney Young (IL) Has expanded is offense out to the perimeter, causing many match-up issues.