2006 ranking extended to 150
The 2004 AAU season was more challenging to cover than ever, with adidas, Nike and Reebok hosting major tournaments throughout the country from May to August.
Rivals.com attended more than 30 national events, including several featuring 2006 prospects, in order to give the most comprehensive ranking for the rising junior class.
Click here for the Rivals.com Top 150 player rankings.
Greg Oden the consensus No. 1 player in 2006
While the 2005 class has several prospects who could be named the top player, the case for top honors in 2006 is not open to as much debate. Indianapolis (Ind.) center Greg Oden is a virtual lock to hold his spot atop the rankings until graduation.
In fact, many consider the 6-foot-11, 205-pounder to be the best prospect among the high school ranks, regardless of class. Oden did nothing but cement that reputation this summer while playing with Spiece Indy Heat, showing an improved offensive repertoire and dominating within five feet of the basket on both ends of the floor.
Texas big men emerge as top five prospects
It’s common knowledge that Texas annually produces big-time football players, but it’s also becoming obvious to hoops junkies and college coaches across the United States that the Lone Star state takes a backseat to no one when it comes to producing high major basketball talent.
Two years ago, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jawann McClellan and Daniel Gibson sat on everyone’s all-American list. This year, the rising senior group led by Houston native Gerald Green (Rivals.com No. 1 ranked prospect), Jovan Adams, Byron Eaton, Calvin Miles and Fendi Onobun are considered among the elite prospects in the 2005 class.
Don’t expect a drop-off in 2006 in Texas, especially near the top, where big men Darrell Arthur and Damion James have emerged as top five prospects.
Holding down the post for Team Texas 16-and-under team for most of the summer, the 6-foot-9, 200-pound Arthur showed the kind of potential that makes college coaches smile.
With impressive size and mobility, Arthur, a native of Dallas and a standout at South Oak Cliff, is a raw post player who is still refining his low-post skill set. But he presents a nice, wide target when posting and knows how to use his body and seal a defender near the basket.
He is also an intimidating shot-blocker and aggressive rebounder. His ability to step-out on the perimeter and shoot a mid-range jumper, which has improved greatly in the last year, is another added bonus. Arizona, Kansas and Texas are the early leaders for his services, and he makes the jump to No. 4 in the Rivals.com ranking.
While Arthur will spend his career with his back to the basket, James has the ability to play the ever popular “big forward” position, meaning he has skills that will benefit him as a small or power forward.
At 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, James has the body to bang or post in the paint, but he also keeps defenses honest with a jumper that he knocks down from outside the arc or mid-range. Strong and athletic, he runs the floor well and has a solid enough handle to bring the ball up the floor. Another impressive trait is his passing ability and court vision.
The list of suitors will be long and currently includes Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, Florida, Florida State, Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M and UCLA. James is ranked the nation’s No. 5 prospect in the 2006 class.
California twin towers make a huge impression in July
The fastest risers in the new 2006 rankings, Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez, twin brothers from San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno, Calif., raised their stock considerably in June and July while attending the adidas superstar camp and traveling the summer circuit with EBO/ EA Sports.
Brook, a 6-foot-11, 220-pound power forward, has nice size for his position and appeared to become more comfortable and confident as the summer progressed. He was known primarily as a good rebounder and shot-blocker, but that changed in June when the West Coast big man started to attack the basket on the offensive end and proved he could finish.
Ever more impressive was his face-up jump shot that extends to outside the arc, although he is more affective within 17 feet and with his ability to pass out of the high post. Brook, who debuts at No. 10, runs the floor well and is a good catch and finish player in transition.
At this point in his career Robin, who is as good an athlete as Brook, is more of an interior player who prefers to play with his back to the basket. He will shoot the outside shot but with mixed results.
His hard work underneath the basket pays off with solid rebounds, and his length and good timing makes him an intimidating force in the paint. He checks in as the No. 26 player in the country.
Two star athlete one of nation’s finest shooting guards
Considered to be one of the top wide receiver prospects in the country, St. Joseph High School athlete David Lighty of Cleveland is also one of the fastest-rising basketball prospects in the nation.
The 6-foot-5, 190-pound shooting guard is a terrific scorer with a nice blend of long-range jumpers or penetration to the basket where he finishes well in traffic. He is a terrific on-the-ball defender who is blessed with long arms, good anticipation and quickness.
An impressive athlete, Lighty has a nice feel for the game and lets his offense come to him instead of forcing the issue. If his outside shot isn’t falling, he will still make an impact on a game with nice passing and rebounding skills.
This summer, Lighty played with the Cleveland Titans on the 16-and-under team and attended the ABCD camp.
Lighty, who has plans to play both sports in college, is looking for a college with strong programs in basketball and football. Arizona and Syracuse have offered early, with Ohio State and Michigan also being mentioned.