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1996's Head of the Class: Must Read!

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by countingcrow, Jan 12, 2001.

  1. countingcrow

    countingcrow Contributing Member

    May 7, 2000
    Likes Received:
    NBATALK's Head of the Class: 1996

    With more and more high school players making the jump straight to the NBA, high school scouting has taken on a much greater importance the last few years. NBA scouts and general managers regularly attend high school basketball games and this year as many as 5 or 6 high school players are seriously considering making themselves eligible for the draft.
    Prep Stars Recruiting Handbook has been ranking high school players for years and has teamed up with NBAtalk to take a look back at the Top 10 players in high school graduating classes since 1993.  We also took a look at Prep Stars final high school rankings for each player and are also noting which players were voted to McDonald's All-American squad (McD).

    Class of 1996

    Kevin Garnett has made the jump the year before.  But he was different. A phenom like no other.  Scouts called him the most polished prospect ever to come out of high school.  He was a 7 footer who seemed to be able to play anywhere on the floor.  So forgive the twelve teams who passed on Kobe Bryant if they were a little too skeptical. He had the pedigree and the skills, but he just didn't have the dominating stature of Garnett. And, truthfully, he never will. This wasn't the most talented of the high school classes in the 90s.  Kobe is an All-Star. Francis and Marion will likely be All-Stars soon.  Bibby and Thomas still have potential and Jermaine O'Neal the other high school kid who bolted that year seems like he has begun to find his groove. As for the high school rankings, Prep Stars nailed Kobe, O'Neal and Thomas.  But Steve Francis fell off the radar screen entirely and Shawn Marion and Kenyon Martin were barely blips.

    1. Kobe Bryant, LA Lakers
    (McD)(Prep Stars High School Rank: #1)
    Drafted in 1996, 13th pick

    What they said then: 'He is an outstanding athlete who played three positions in high school (small forward and both guard spots). Bryant always plays hard and has the ability to make those around him better. Bryant needs to get stronger and improve his outside shot, but his talent does not come around often, even if he is just 17 years old' (Chris Monter)

    What We Say Now: Wonderkind. Phenom. Selfish. You name it, Bryant's been called it.  Kid Kobe came into the league oozing raw talent, and has convincingly improved his game every year. Currently leading the league in scoring, and consistently stealing the spotlight from fellow Laker and defending MVP Shaq O'Neal.

    2. Steve Francis, Houston Rockets
    (Prep Stars High School Rank: #NR)
    Drafted in 1999, 2nd pick

    What we say now: Co-rookie of the year came in the league packing controversy, when Francis vetoed going to Vancouver to play for the Grizzlies. In short order, however, Francis made believers of his critics with solid season play and a number of flashy dunks at the All-Star festivities. They dubbed him Stevie Franchise, since he and Cuttino Mobley comprise the core nucleus of Houston's future.

    3. Mike Bibby, Vancouver Grizzlies
    (McD)(Prep Stars High School Rank: #9)
    Drafted in 1998, 2nd pick

    What they said then: 'Good (not great) athlete knows how to get his shot. Outstanding alley-oop passer also dishes effectively off the drive, is a dangerous three-point shooter and consistently hits contested mid-range jumpers off the dribble. His defense is adequate but unexceptional.'

    What we say now: Bibby is such a pure point guard that the mere mention that he may be on the block had suitors calling from every corner of the country. He's a pass first, team-oriented type quarterback, and the only knock on him is he lacks the killer instinct and is too unselfish.

    4. Shawn Marion, Phoenix Suns
    (Prep Stars High School Rank: #148)
    Drafted in 1999, 9th pick

    What they said then: 'Athletic leaper/rejector has very quick reactions, lots of elevation on his arching jumpshot (lacks backspin but is accurate to 18 feet) and sure hands. Doesn't always finish the play , perhaps needs better concentration at the moment of truth.'

    What we say now: Marion burst on the scene early, leaping over opponents and throwing down fierce dunks off perfect lobs from Jason Kidd, even snatching the starting spot at SF. Like a number of Suns, the injury bug bit, but 'the Matrix' has rebounded this year with stellar stats and a strong bid for Most Improved Player (his recent shooting slump aside).

    5. Tim Thomas, Milwaukee Bucks
    (Prep Stars High School Rank: #2)
    Drafted in 1997, 7th pick

    What they said then: 'Combines NBA body and excellent skills. Too fancy at times, and his shot selection and court judgment aren't always the best, but he's an outstanding athlete who handles very well for his size (can easily play wing forward). Has a smooth jumpshot with three-point range and makes tough catches look simple. Most effective facing the basket. Hampered my minor injuries over the summer but still was outstanding.'

    What we say now: Long and lean, Thomas can fill any role on the floor and is a potent performer off the bench for George Karl. After a summer of red-carpet treatment from teams across the land, Thomas opted to return to Milwaukee and re-sign with the Bucks (6yr/$60 million), even though it meant leading the second unit.

    6. Richard Hamilton, Washington Wizards
    (McD)(Prep Stars High School Rank: #23)
    Drafted in 1999, 7th pick

    What they said then: 'Slender 175-pound athlete is an adept ballhandler who markedly enhanced his reputation this summer. Moves swiftly and leaps quickly and high. Penetrates and dishes quite effectively, and elevates to aid on the boards. Perimeter jumpshot is adequate but could stand fine-tuning.' (Prep Stars)

    What we say now: After much college success, Rip spent his rookie year stifled behind Mitch Richmond and his $10 million dollar price-tag. Now with Mitch banged-up, Hamilton is on the floor more than ever and his numbers are better across the board.

    7. Jermaine O'Neal, Indiana Pacers
    (McD)(Prep Stars High School Rank: #3)
    Drafted in 1996, 17th pick

    What they said then: 'O'Neal is a talented player with excellent quickness and good mobility. He is perhaps the top shot-blocker among the senior class. He is an intense player and relentless rebounder. O'Neal is a finesse player due to a lack of bulk. His agility and mobility allow him to overmatch high school players, but his lack of muscle will hurt him at the NBA level.' (Chris Monter)

    What we say now: Buried beneath a boatload of Blazer talent, O'Neal struggled with scant minutes and changing roles in Portland as rookie lacking college experience. So he demanded a trade, got dealt for Dale Davis, and ended up part of the Pacers rebuilding project. O'Neal however has quickly stepped up. He's consistently outplaying Davis, and already averaging All-Star type numbers.(4 yr/$25 million)

    8. Kenyon Martin, New Jersey Nets
    (Prep Stars High School Rank: # 76)
    Drafted in 2000, 1st pick

    What they said then: 'Very fine 210-pound athlete runs the court very well, leaps high, catches tough passes and plays strong around the hoop. His offense is a little raw at present, but his rebounding , shot-blocking and reverse slams in traffic are very impressive. Needs work on his jumpshot and post moves.'

    What we say now: Consensus number-one pick despite the broken leg, Kenyon still has question marks lingering over his head. He's bringing rugged boarding and monster blocks, but his consistency and commitment still draw his coach's criticism.

    9. Mateen Cleaves, Detroit Pistons
    (McD)(Prep Stars High School Rank: #16)
    Drafted in 2000, 14th pick

    What they said then: 'Floor leader does everything quite well. Top-caliber handler uses strength/quicks/ball control to penetrate at will and cerebrally dish or finish. Passing is particularly impressive, but he also shoots accurately to 21 feet and drills the mid-range pullup jumper.' (Prep Stars)
    What we say now: The hometown product with the quick step and toothy grin is paying off handsomely for the Pistons. Cleaves shows surprising poise for a young point man, and his rookie transition is going smooth as silk.

    10. Loren Woods, Arizona Wildcats
    (McD)(Prep Stars High School Rank: #6)
    College Senior

    What they said then: 'Loren Woods is going to be tremendous. Will be. You don't teach 7-1 with hand-eye coordination and skills. I think he's going to get bigger and stronger and tougher. There aren't a lot of negatives you can say about him.' (Brick Oettinger)
    'Loren Woods is potentially the most promising prospect coming into the league. He's just a puppy. He's just barely scratched his enormous potential. He can do a lot of things Tim Duncan does, maybe better than Duncan at the same stage.' (Bob Gibbons)

    What ever happened to:

    Ronnie Fields

    (McD)(Prep Stars High School Rank: #7)
    Playing in the ABA 2000 with the Chicago Skyliners

    A legendary dunker that scouts still haven't forgot about.  Fields was a playground legend and a scoring machine at Farragut Academy in Chicago and was a teammate of Kevin Garnett's. He averaged 32.4 points, 12.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 4.0 steals, along with 4.5 dunks per game his senior season and had Scored 40 or more points in nine games, including a 51-point performance. Fields decided to stay at home and attend DePaul, and was to be the recruit that brought the Blue Demons back to national prominence. However, it was not meant to be. Fields didn't make the academic cut to be admitted into DePaul, and after some legal trouble and a freak car accident, Fields decided that he would go the professional route in his basketball career. Fields spent the 1996-97 season in the CBA, as he was not able to declare himself for the NBA Draft on time. After nominal success there, he made it official by declaring himself for the NBA Draft, looking to become the first player to get drafted directly from the CBA. However, Fields withdrew his name from consideration when it became clear he might not even be drafted. Since then, Fields has bounced around in basketball's minor leagues. He now plays in the ABA and is averaging 9 ppg.

  2. Steve_Francis_rules

    Dec 11, 1999
    Likes Received:
    It says a lot about that group that a guy as talented as Loren Woods is only #10.


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