After being present at every major tournament from March through July, Rivals.com is set to release the updated rankings for the class of 2006. As is the norm, several players took their game to a level that demanded they be considered among the elite prospects in the class. While other players came from nowhere to claim a spot on the prestigious Rivals150 list.
For those who have only seen Fresno, Calif., native Brook Lopez with his EBO AAU team, you haven't seen the complete picture with the 6-foot-11, 230-pound power forward. Not only is EBO loaded with Division-I high-major prospects, but the team is possibly as talented as most Pac-10 programs. With as many as eight prospects getting looks from colleges, Lopez has sacrificed his individual numbers for the team concept that EBO demands from its players. Not only is the team talented but also well coached and uses a substitution pattern similar to Division-I colleges.
For the second year in a row at the adidas Superstar camp, Lopez wowed onlookers with an offensive arsenal that has continued to develop. While last year his low-post moves looked rehearsed and methodical, June saw him display a smoother game and a still expanding inside-outside offense that now stretches out to the three-point line and a turnaround baseline fade-away jumper.
One college coach in Suwanee compared Lopez to a "young Tim Duncan" and his play drew similar comparisons throughout the week. Upside is the key word with this prospect and if the big man continues to develop (with a good work ethic he is expected to), he will be headed to not only an impressive college career but a chance to earn the big dollars at the professional level.
Five prospects who used June and July to jump in the rankings
Atlanta point guard Javaris Crittenton played with a chip on his shoulder this summer and it was obvious that the 6-foot-4, 195-pounder was determined to stake his claim as the nation's lead guard. Not only did he battle two of the nation's top defenders, Wayne Ellington and Paul Harris, in head-to-head battles but he consistently put up the numbers to put him into the elite category. Formerly ranked at No. 26 in the nation, the Georgia Tech commit made the jump to No. 7 and earned the top position honors in a close call over future ACC rival Tywon Lawson, who is committed to North Carolina.
Speaking of future ACC stars, what a summer roller-coaster it has been for Florida State commitment John Kreft. In April, Kreft showcased the physical skills necessary to thrive at the next level but not the mental toughness to be considered one of the country's top big men. Flash forward to July, and not only was the 6-foot-10, 210-pound center aggressively attacking the basket with his strong frame and nice footwork but his mid-range jumpshot was showing promise. Kreft also is more of a threat on the boards both offensively and defensively. Where previously, he preferred just to rebound in a small radius surrounding him, he did a great job rebounding in space. After checking in at No. 119 the last around he made the leap to No. 22 in the latest Rivals.com rankings.
Baltimore small forward DaJuan Summers proved to be one of the most versatile small forwards in the class of 2006 by showing an advanced offensive game to go with a tall and flexible frame. Georgetown coaches could be seen smiling in the stands as the 6-foot-8, 225-pound future Hoya showcased the offensive ability to have the offense run through him at the free throw line with his solid ball handling and excellent court vision. Summers certainly found a way to up his point total by driving to the basket or punishing defenders with a smooth outside shot. Checking in at No. 24, Summers made the leap from No. 71, where he rated in May.
It isn't easy to stand out on an AAU team like Boo Williams, which has 10 high major recruits on its roster, but that's exactly what Duke Crews managed to do. The 6-foot-7, 235-pound Crews used a combination of size, strength and athleticism to dominate opponents offensively where he showed off with rim-rattling dunks and a face-up game that is hard to defend because of his improving handle. Another asset for Crews is on the defensive end where his play reminds some of current Detroit Pistons star Ben Wallace. Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Texas and Wake Forest are just a few of the college programs that are under consideration. Crews is rated as the nation's 28th best player.
While twins often are lumped together in the recruiting rankings, Brook's brother Robin Lopez has done more than enough to merit a five-star ranking and occupy a spot among the top centers in the country. Robin, 6-feet-11, 225 pounds, has a style of his own which includes registering an impressive number of blocked shots in every contest and making his presence felt on the boards. Joining his brother as the future Stanford front court, this Lopez is still defining his offensive moves but has a strong frame and continues to improve in the lane. Robin Lopez climbs 42 spots to No. 17 in the latest ranking.
Ohio State on the verge of best recruiting class ever
Someone better tell Buckeye head coach Thad Matta that Ohio State is a football school. But with four Rivals.com five-star commitments already pledged to the Big Ten school, that might not be the case much longer. Ohio State is a lock for the nation's top class and will perhaps unseat rival Michigan's "Fab Five" from the class of 1991, as the best recruiting class ever assembled.
The first Buckeye commitment was shooting guard Daequan Cook, who is rated the No. 20 prospect by Rivals.com. His pledge was quickly followed one month later by fellow five-star wing guard David Lighty.
As if that wasn't enough high school teammates Mike Conely, the nation's 26th best prospect, and Greg Oden, the country's consensus No. 1 prospect, decided to take their inside-outside threat to Columbus.
The class without Oden is impressive but when you throw in the most dominating big man to hit the NCAA scene in the last 10 years, you have the makings of a class that can change the dynamics of a program for years to come.
And the Buckeyes might not be done yet.
Two of the nation's top small forwards, Thaddeus Young and Raymar Morgan are giving Ohio State a strong look and several of the top 2007 prospects are beginning to mention the Buckeyes in the same breath as Arizona, Connecticut, Duke and North Carolina.
Indeed Ohio State fans have plenty to smile about.