Certain players fall under the cracks in High School. Perhaps a growth spurt, not playing AAU ball or just evolving later on in a High School career. They exist, but not easy to find as Grassroots Talent Experts often don’t get around to see everyone late in their careers and rankings reflect that – those who haven’t progressed as once thought hold onto a national ranking and those emerging don’t quite make it. Maybe it’s hedging their bets – perhaps the hope is well known names make a comeback and the late bloomers are false hope. Or just not totally trusting what they are being told from contacts around the country.
As an example, a player like CJ Barksdale of Virginia Tech had been on the scene for years and while he never developed into the 4 or even 5 star prospect folks thought was possible in his sophomore year he still maintained a Top 80 ranking. On the other hand, another 6’8 player from the Washington/Maryland/Virginia section of hoops, Greg Whittington, was an unheralded recruit who turned things up his SR year and was courted heavily by Georgetown and Maryland. Georgetown won out and while Whittington never appeared in any Top 150 lists at Scout, Rivals or ESPN – he played a major part for Georgetown last year and returns as their 2nd best player this season.
That’s not to pick on Barksdale, just how things can unfold.
Not everyone on this list will make a major impact as a FR. But to take a stab at some kids who were overlooked and came on late, here’s a group I will have my eye on as their careers progress:
Marshall Wood, Virginia Tech – Well, maybe I will pick on Barksdale because this kid is coming for his minutes at the stretch 4 spot at Va Tech under new coach James Johnson. Wood is an athletic 6’8 wing whose body needs to fill out but he offers a ton of upside while according to those around the program a high basketball IQ with the ability to shoot the ball. Similar to Whittington he did not participate much on he AAU circuit and he offers great length and ideally will play the wing as time goes on but for now Va Tech envisions him playing the 4 spot next to Erick Green, Robert Brown and Jarrell Edie. Wood had interest from Michigan, Richmond, VCU – staffs that evaluate talent well – before Seth Greenberg scooped him up. Wood was the most impressive Hokie at their intrasquad scrimmage this past weekend.
Nick Banyard, New Mexico – Banyard is a solid 6’8 PF out of Texas (and travel teammate of Marcus Smart) that Steve Alford landed while Banyard had interest from Minnesota, Marquette and Missouri. Banyard has been a nice fall surprise for Lobo fans as he looks better than advertised and will push for minutes early on. While he may not start at the beginning of the year like some Lobo fans suggest he should see his playing time increase as he offers more upside than New Mexico’s other front court options. Banyard can play face up at hit a jumpshot but is athletic and strong enough to play PF comfortably and finish around the rim.
Anthony Perez, Ole Miss – Cheating here as Perez did crack a couple Top 150 lists, but still not a household name. Perez is a 6’9 wing that Andy Kennedy has said would be their 3rd string PG right now if need be. That type of versatility bodes well for Perez as well as having participated on the Venezuelan National Team. Perez had interest from Kansas State and Georgetown as well as offers from Providence and Wake Forest. A common theme with wings that emerge late, Perez must get stronger. But his ball skills are impressive as well as his shooting ability at 6’9 and can make a jack of all trades impact on a veteran Ole Miss team this season.
Seth Allen, Maryland – Mark Turgeon beat out UVA to land his first commit at Maryland and he can turn out to be a good one. Allen jumps out at you (literally) at only 6’2 as a combo guard. 6’2 combo guards aren’t my favorite type of prospects but Allen’s athletic ability coupled with an ability to shoot the ball as a left hander is tough to ignore. Allen caught fire his JR year and into the spring of 2011 resulting in going from a totally off the radar prospect to one of the better players in Virginia. Allen still isn’t a considered a Top 150 kid, but I would find a spot for him in there. He should push both Pe’Shon Howard and Nick Faust for playing time.
Jordan Loveridge, Utah – Loveridge did enter ESPN’s Top 100 at #97, but maybe the lowest profile guy of the bunch hailing from the state of Utah. Larry Krystkowiak landed a monumental recruit for his program when he beat out BYU and interest from Arizona for Loveridge. Loveridge is a hybrid forward at 6’6 with a non-stop motor. If Loveridge was closer to 6’8/6’9 he’d have been courted by high, high major programs. A deceptive athlete with a reported high hoops IQ, Loveridge will start from Day 1 and likely post great numbers throughout his career. Already in Utah’s off-season trip Loveridge showed his promise, leading the team in points and rebounds.
Olivier Hanlan, BC – Hanlan is a Canadian import that is giving Steve Donahue and BC fans reason for optimism (there aren’t many). Donahue landed Hanlan in the fall of 2011 beating out Va Tech and Dayton for his services. Hanlan has great size at the PG position at a solid, well-built 6’3. Donahue went as far as to tell Blue Ribbon Yearbook that Hanlan may be BC’s best player when ‘it’s all said and done’ and he expects Hanlan to turn into an elite ACC point guard. Hanlan was sold on the success of former Eagle PG, Reggie Jackson.