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March 14, 2013
Rivals150: No change at the top
Last week, Rivals.com took a look at the class of 2015 with an initial top 50.
This week, we move a class ahead to 2014 and a shuffling of the Rivals150 for the junior class.
There is no shortage of change to be found, but things stay steady at the top as Jahlil Okafor retains top billing.
A 6-foot-10 center from Chicago (Ill.) Whitney Young, Okafor moved to the top spot in 2014 during the fall when previous No. 1 Andrew Wiggins moved to the class of 2013. Since then, Okafor has looked comfortable in the top spot. We've not seen many guys like him of late, he's a true back-to-the-basket center with legitimate size, a high-skill level and exceptional hands. He's a superior rebounder, plays good positional defense and can also play some in pick-and-pop situations.
While Okafor remains in the top spot, there isn't a huge separation between him and the rest of the pack.
Hottest on Okafor's heels is 6-foot-4 point guard Emmanuel Mudiay of Dallas (Texas) Prime Prep. Blessed with new-age size for the one, Mudiay is a confident floor general who has skill, athleticism and a commanding presence on the floor. There have been times in the past where he would coast, but as a junior he's learned to be more consistently dominant and has rounded into a versatile threat who is equally as dangerous in an up-and-down game as he is in one that is more reliant upon execution.
Third in line is another outstanding point guard. Tyus Jones doesn't share the same size as some of the top point men of the past few classes, but what the 6-footer might lack in some size he more than makes up for with skill and feel for the game.
The Apple Valley (Minn.) standout rarely makes mistakes, can be either a facilitator or scorer and has proven his worth quarterbacking USA Basketball's gold medal-winning teams on the 16 and 17U levels over the past two summers.
Completing the top five are a pair of big men with totally different styles. At No. 4, Trey Lyles of Indianapolis (Ind.) Tech is a highly skilled power forward who loves to face the hoop. He has range on his jumper, can attack off the dribble and has begun to play with more physicality while packing muscle onto his 6-foot-10-ish frame.
At No. 5, Chicago (Ill.) Curie's Cliff Alexander is a power broker in the low post. He tries to dunk just about everything that he touches, is an animal on the glass and doles out plenty of intimidation on the interior.
At No. 6, New Hope (Minn.) Robbinsdale Cooper's Rashad Vaughn is the only newcomer to the national top 10 and is the nation's top shooting guard. The 6-foot-5 Vaughn has unlimited range to go with ideal size and athleticism for a two. From out on the West Coast, Elk Grove (Calif.) Laguna Creek's Malik Pope's stock hasn't been slowed by a broken leg that cost him the second half of the season. At 6-foot-8, he's a high-level athlete who can shoot from deep, put the ball on the floor and play inside or outside.
Milwaukee (Wisc.) Hamilton power forward Kevon Looney checks in at No. 8 thanks to his size and skill while Syracuse commitment Chris McCullough, a 6-foot-9 power forward at Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy is perhaps the most athletic member of the top 10 at No. 9.
Rounding out the top 10 is one of the nation's toughest players in do-it-all wing Justise Winslow of Houston (Texas) St. John's.