July 7, 2014

Starting Five: Prospects to watch in July

RANKINGS: Class of 2014 - 2015 - 2016

The first of July's three evaluation periods kicks off this Wednesday, and Rivals.com will have national coverage from the Reebok Breakout Classic, LeBron James Skills Academy, Adidas Unrivaled, Best of the South and Elite 32. For this week's Starting Five, we have identified five players from the class of 2015 -- one at each position -- whom we will be watching extra closely.

Point guard

Bryant Crawford, 6-foot-2 PG, Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga, No. 77: The floor general from the District was identified early in his career as a high-level point guard prospect. For much of the last year, he has battled some injury issues and been in a bit of a slump with his jump shooting and decision making.

His once through-the-roof stock has slid a bit, but after taking some time to reflect on his game and his ranking, we are convinced that the player everybody thought Crawford would be is still there. Crawford probably hasn't gotten enough credit for the shape he has gotten himself into and his improved athleticism. At Rivals.com, we have a sneaking suspicion that Crawford is going to have a huge July and move back up the list of top point guards in the class of 2015.

Shooting guard

Antonio Blakeney, 6-foot-4, Orlando (Fla.) Oak Ridge, No. 16: An explosive scorer, Blakeney followed up a big junior season with a monster spring. He gets buckets in every setting and plays with supreme confidence. He would be the first to tell us that he is under-ranked even though he has been steadily moving up the charts.

During July, we are all going to find out just how good he is. The chip on Blakeney's shoulder has been turning into a boulder, and he is going to be going at all the other top shooting guards this July. The tools to be a top-10 player in the class are all there, and his shot selection and decision making will play a large part in whether or not he can make another climb. Given how steadily his stock has been climbing, it will not be a surprise if he makes another jump.

Small forward

Mickey Mitchell, 6-foot-7, Plano (Texas) West, No. 67: Like Crawford, Mitchell has battled injury issues over the last year. Also like Crawford, Mitchell seems to have gotten himself back into prime shape and has seen a return of his athleticism.

Now it is time to see what the future Ohio State Buckeye is really made of. He is a mixtape favorite because of his flashy passing and ball handling, but his overall toughness and competitiveness have been questioned. No player wants to have their toughness questioned, and a fired up and physical Mitchell could be a very dangerous player given his playmaking ability.

Power forward

Steve Enoch, 6-foot-9, Norwalk (Conn.) High, No. 54: At June's Pangos All-American Camp, Enoch pretty much came out of nowhere to put himself in the national spotlight. Unfortunately, an injury at the NBPA Top 100 Camp cost him the chance to back up what he showed at Pangos.

High-major scholarship offers have rolled in like crazy for Enoch, but for the most part coaches have barely been able to watch him. He is big, he is physical and he has legitimate three-point touch on his jumper. At least, that is what we think based on the one weekend we were able to watch. If Enoch is able to play at the same level he did at Pangos Camp during the month of July, his recruitment could go nuclear.

Center

Skal Labissiere, 6-foot-11, Cordova (Tenn.) Evangelical Christian School, No. 14: When we saw Labissiere in mid-April with the Arkansas Wings, we loved what we saw. The skilled center had added strength, was playing with aggression and motored up and down the floor like a much smaller player. At the NBPA Top 100 Camp, though, his performance -- most notably, his activity as a rebounder -- left a bit to be desired.

Given his skill, touch and overall agility, the only person who can hold Labissiere back from being a top-10 prospect is Labissiere himself. He still needs to add strength, but there is no reason for him to not be a game-changing shot blocker and rebounder each time he takes the floor. We would love to see him unlock his inner beast and play with some edge to his game.


Eric Bossi is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.



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