With a host of major tournaments being held from March through the last weekend of May, there have been several players emerge on the national scene as elite recruits. There also are several players from last year have seen their stock rise with strong performance in the early part of the AAU season.
After attending every major event during that time period Rivals.com is proud to present the updated 2006 rankings.
Greg Oden has long been on top in the class of 2006 rankings. For the first time since the 7-foot center has climbed on top of the charts, he has other players nipping at his heels.
While the temptation to put Kevin Durant or Thaddeus Young at the No. 1 spot is there, it seems like an unwise move, especially when one considers that Oden is a sure-fire lottery pick. Not only will the Indianapolis native be the first player chosen in the NBA draft whenever he decides to declare, but also is a franchise player and will be a difference maker for whichever team lands him.
Oden truly is a rare breed and the best pure post player the high school ranks have produced in the recent memory. He has taken his game to a new level during each of the last three years and this year appears no different. The big man has been showing a steady improvement to his outside game to go with his domination in the paint. In addition to his expanding offensive arsenal, he also has gotten bigger and stronger without losing any of the athleticism that makes him special.
Indiana, Wake Forest, Michigan State and Ohio State are the front runners for his services.
Kevin Durant makes the jump to No. 2
With NBA range on his jumpshot and enough handle to lead the break, Kevin Durant shot up the charts and cemented himself as the nation's No. 2 prospect with his play at the Boo Williams Invitational and Nike Memorial Day Classic. If one considers his impressive size (6-foot-9) and he has the makings of the country's most dominate small forward.
At only 16-years-old, Durant has as much size as anyone in the class of 2006 and possibly has the most room for improvement. With a reed thin frame, he has the room to carry more weight, which will give him the ability to post up consistently on the blocks.
He already creates havoc for opposing defenses, but a low post game would make him nearly impossible to defend.
Connecticut, North Carolina and Texas have survived the cut for the Maryland native and a decision could be forthcoming this summer.
Centers of attention
Size does matter and luckily for college coaches there is plenty to go around in the 2006 class. Kevin Garnett changed the game of basketball for every big man in the country after playing on the perimeter and shooting jumpers or taking people off the dribble -- instead of getting down and ugly in the land of the flailing elbow or the dirty foul.
However, the class of 2006 can be considered the re-emergence of the "true" post players, guys who will make their living by posting up within five feet of the basket, sticking their paws out and finishing near the rim with baby hooks or power jams.
The top 40 has as many as 10 players who fit the build as possible centers on the college and NBA level. That list is led by five-star prospects Oden, Spencer Hawes and Darrell Arthur. The size doesn't end there, however.
Floridian Jason Bennett, who stands 7-foot-3, has improved leaps and bounds both on the court and with his self-esteem. He's showing why so many high-major programs are high on his future. Cincinnati and FSU have emerged as the leaders for his services.
Baylor-bound Josh Lomers and Duke commit Brian Zoubek are both more than 7 feet tall and both tip the scales at 240 pounds (or more). The two are great back-to-the-basket prospects that should develop into true NBA prospects.
In California, Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez, the Stanford-bound twins (remember the Collins brothers, Cardinal fans?), are a yin and yang duo. Both are solid athletes who can get their points in the paint and who see the floor well. Add a little finesse and both have a terrific upside.
Michigan native Tom Herzog is one of the top shot-blockers in the country. He's still a work in progress and needs to get bigger and stronger but he is a smart player with a solid offensive game that has shown flashes of emerging as he learns the game. Michigan and Michigan State will compete for his signature.
Former Louisville pledge Clarence Holloway will take his huge 7-foot-1, 270-pound body to a prep school this season before going to school or possible the NBA. The size is there and his development has shown promise.
Six prospects who rose after strong Springs
Perhaps no one had a better spring than 6-foot-7 small forward Chase Budinger of the SoCal All Stars. Budinger excelled in tournaments in Las Vegas, Houston and Chapel Hill, N.C., where he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament of Champions. A bouncy athlete who can also stroke the three, Budinger is a constant scoring threat on the wing. With his school list still open, Budinger has UCLA, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Arizona, Southern Cal, Stanford and Utah vying for his signature.
Matching Budinger's performance at the Tournament of Champions was another 6-foot-7 small forward Davon Jefferson. Jefferson averaged 28 points while leading his undermanned H Squad team into the championship game against Budinger and the SoCal All Stars. The former UNLV recruit's game will continue to mature as Jefferson preps during the 2005-2006 season. High on the ultra-athletic forwards' list are Southern Cal, UCLA and Louisville.
Speedy point guard Sherron Collins captured everyone's attention with his stellar play at the Boo Williams Event in early April. Adept at pushing the tempo and knocking down long range shots, Collins is in a position to make a run at the top point guard spot, currently held by Tywon Lawson. Primarily focused on getting his academic situation in good order, Collins has not tipped his hand as to what schools he is favoring.
Along with Thaddeus Young, 6-foot-9 point forward Earl Clark is one of the most versatile prospects in the 2006 class. Clark does everything from posting up and snagging rebounds to running the point and scoring from outside for the Playaz Club. On a team loaded with talented prospects, Clark's abilities clearly stand out. Presently he has a top four of Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers and Villanova.
Other than Paul Harris, it is difficult to find a guard as skilled and as physical as Obi Muonelo. Capable of playing three positions, Muonelo can both score the ball and impact all the other areas of the game with his aggressive style of play. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Miami and Florida are in a dog fight for Muonelo's services.
When it comes to winning, nobody does it better than point guard Willie Kemp. With two Tennessee state championships under his belt, Kemp also added a Real Deal on the Hill championship to his accomplishments as he outplayed Mike Conley to lead the Memphis Pump N Run to a championship win over the storied Spiece Indy Heat. With a penchant for taking over games down the stretch with his scoring, Kemp is also a master distributor of the ball and team leader. A number of schools are actively recruiting Kemp, but he lists Illinois and Arkansas as his favorites at the moment.