Choosing between Big Four 2014 centers
Scout.com‘s final 2014 rankings will be published in the next few weeks and, for the most part, we feel like we’re as comfortable as we will ever be with the final result.
That doesn’t make taking a relatively small evaluation sample – at least compared to what NBA scouts will receive of these prospects next year in college – and predicting how successful these kids will be a decade from now any easier.
Forget the other 96 prospects in the Top 100 – the biggest question mark we’re facing right now is how do we accurately rank the top four centers in the country, Jahlil Okafor, Myles Turner, Karl Towns and Cliff Alexander?
Okafor, headed to Duke, has the highest floor of the group; his size, hands, footwork and skill level make him one of the most consistently productive centers that high school basketball has seen in a long time. But he doesn’t have elite size, frame or athleticism, which gives the possibility of one of the others eventually passing him.
Turner, who remains undecided, is a classic late bloomer who wasn’t even in Scout.com’s Top 100 a year ago. He’s the class of 2014’s best shot blocker, has legit size at 7-foot, long arms, a frame that will allow him to keep putting on strength and a strong motor. But he just moves his feet okay and besides his shot is pretty raw offensively.
Towns, signed with Kentucky, has improved his body considerably over the last year and now has a terrific frame, blocks shots, passes really well for a post and is improving offensively beyond his shooting. He’s not an elite athlete but he’s good enough. He doesn’t have many elite attributes, but he also doesn’t have many glaring holes either.
Alexander, who will play for Kansas next season, is the best athlete of the group, a powerful and explosive center who could be the most productive of the group in college due to the fact that not many college kids will be equipped to handle his size, length and athleticism. But he’s undersized, not too skilled outside of underneath the basket and we have to make a guess on how much we think that skill level will improve moving forward.
This is all much easier said than done. Years of development from now, there will be a clear pecking order between the four and everyone will always wonder why it was even a debate. But these are (roughly) 18 year old kids and over the next few years, some will stall, some will steadily improve and some will seemingly meteorically improve.
In the next few weeks, we’ll publish our final predictions.