In putting together the initial rankings for the class of 2015, we've decided to take a bit of a different approach. Rather than rank a top 25 or top 50 prospects, we are instead going to start with unranked lists of five- and four-star prospects. The list will be a fluid one that will be added to and adjusted throughout the high school season before we do an initial numerical ranking of the class in the Spring of 2013.
Why the change in philosophy? We are heavily considering that very few of these prospects have had a chance to be featured players on the high school level. Also, because of their youth, there is still a ton of developing to be done and they have been playing wildly different competition levels. Some have started at the varsity level, while some have played only junior varsity. Some played 15-and-under in the summer, some played 16-and-under while a few played up on the 17-and-under level, which makes it much harder to compare them to each other as a group. On top of that, there are several promising prospects whom we've just not been able to get a long enough look at to fairly evaluate at this point.
With that in mind, let's take an early look at some of the class of 2015's standouts.
CLASS OF 2015 FIVE-STARS
Because there is still so much time left for these young players to develop, we are going to start off with a relatively small group of eight five-star prospects. Five are big men, while the three perimeter players would all be considered combo guards.
Towns and Stone are both skilled big guys, while Rabb and Giddens are athletic gliders who change shots and crash the glass. An Australian, Simmons is a high-level combo forward with inside/out skill. The guards -- Newman, Matthews and Dorsey -- have all shown the ability to fill it up at a high level offensively while still being able to play the point and get others involved.
Tyler Dorsey: He's a high-scoring guard who has proven himself against older competition. Dorsey is also unselfish and underrated as a passer.
Daniel Giddens: He's been growing quickly and has developed into a high-level defensive player. The Peach State product really runs the floor and has elite shot-blocking potential.
Charles Matthews: A long and rangy combo guard, Matthews can make a lot happen as a scorer off the dribble. Because of his passing, he may make the transition to full-time point guard.
Malik Newman: At this point, he's probably the best guard in the class of 2015. Newman scores the ball from deep, he hits pull-up jumpers and he has the strength to finish at the rim.
Ivan Rabb: The product of Oakland is a high level athlete who plays much stronger than you might expect. On top of his athleticism, Rabb already shows skill facing the hoop out to 15 feet.
Ben Simmons: He's back in Australia for school and training, but the combo forward made a big impression during the summer. He's athletic, he's skilled and he is very versatile.
Diamond Stone: The big post player from Milwaukee isn't an off-the-charts athlete but his skill level is mighty impressive. Stone scores with either hand in the post and is a dangerous jump shooter.
Karl Towns: He's got the size of a center and needs to defend the post at this point. However, he's a high-level jump shooter with deep range and a great feel for the game on the offensive end.
CLASS OF 2015 FOUR-STARS
When it comes to four-star prospects, the list is obviously a bit longer. Several are right on the cusp of five-star status, and we could easily see as many as eight or 10 from this group push their way into that next level by the time next spring rolls around. In total the initial group of 2015 four-stars includes 38 players.