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August 27, 2014
Simmons still atop class of 2015 ranks
After a long summer spent traveling across the country following and evaluating the nation's top high school basketball players, it is time to update the Rivals150 for the class of 2015. Forward Ben Simmons -- an Australian import -- took over the top spot during the last rankings update heading into the summer, and he retains his grip on the No. 1 spot in a class that is top-heavy with talented big men.
Simmons headlines the top 10
For the second time in three years, a player who wasn't born and raised in the United States is on pace to finish as the top player in the Rivals150. Canadian Andrew Wiggins did it in the class of 2013, and current No. 1 Ben Simmons of Australia is on pace to do it again in 2015.
A 6-foot-8 combo forward who moved to the States halfway through his sophomore season, Simmons has done a nice job of establishing himself as the top player in the senior class. At summer events such as the LeBron James Skills Academy and the Nike Peach Jam, he put up big numbers, faced all challengers and showed off a very well-rounded game.
Committed to play his college ball at LSU, Simmons is very versatile. He has the strength to post up and score on the low block and the skill to step out and make jump shots out to the 3-point line. He is a fine passer, good ball handler and remarkably consistent. At the highest level of basketball, Simmons is currently a bit of a tweener because he lacks prototypical size and length for a power forward and isn't a ridiculous wing athlete. But he is highly skilled, works hard and has earned his status as the top player in his class.
Just behind Simmons is 6-foot-7 small forward Jaylen Brown from Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler. A physical athlete, Brown has been powering his way up the rankings the same way he powers his way into the lane to finish at the rim. He is explosive in transition, has become a pretty reliable jump shooter and has improved his ball handling enough that Simmons has to be feeling some heat. Programs such as Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA, to name a few, are vying for his services.
Formerly ranked as the top player in 2015, 6-foot-4 shooting guard Malik Newman from Jackson (Miss.) Callaway is highly decorated. After winning MVP honors and leading USA Basketball to a U16 championship at the FIBA Americas tournament in the summer of 2013, Newman stepped his game up a level in the summer of 2014. The high scoring guard led USA Basketball to a U17 FIBA World Championship and earned MVP honors playing on a team loaded with five-star talent. He is a pure scorer who is considering the likes of Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Texas A&M and many more.
Rounding out the top five are a pair of big men in Skal Labissiere of Memphis (Tenn.) Lausanne and Diamond Stone of Whitefish Bay (Wisc.) Dominican. At 6-foot-11, Labissiere checks in at No. 4 because of his feathery jump shooting, overall skill and mobility. Playing a starring role alongside Newman on USA Basketball's U17 World Champion team, Stone is a 6-foot-10 interior presence who has soft touch and can score with his back to the hoop or facing the rim.
Spots six, seven and eight in the top 10 are also held down by post players. At No. 6, Centereach (N.Y.) Our Savior New American's 6-foot-9 power forward Cheick Diallo is a native of Mali and probably the most energetic player in high school basketball. No. 7, 6-foot-9 power forward Ivan Rabb, is a lean and athletic post player from Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd who runs the floor like a guard and is an ambidextrous finisher around the rim. Headed to Duke, No. 8 Chase Jeter is a growing and improving 6-foot-10 center coming off a big summer who has mastered the jump hook.
The highest-ranked point guard in the class of 2015 is Isaiah Briscoe. A physically dominant bully with the ball in his hands, the Roselle (N.J.) Catholic product led his New Jersey Playaz summer team to a title at the prestigious Nike Peach Jam. Rounding out the top 10 is Jeter's high school teammate Stephen Zimmerman. A seven-footer with skill and touch, he is arguably as good a passer as there is in the class of 2015, regardless of position.
Notable movement within the rankings
This time around there is only one five-star prospect who was not ranked as a five-star during the last update in June as point guard Jalen Adams made a slight move up to No. 25 and joins the elite club. Committed to UConn, he is a fearless scorer with athleticism, range and a high risk/high reward style of play that is fun to watch.
Making the biggest climb within the rankings is Donovan Mitchell. The 6-foot-2 New Yorker who attends school at Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy had a tremendous summer. He was outstanding at the Reebok Breakout Challenge and with his club team The City causing damage with his physical and athletic backcourt play. Committed to play his college basketball at Louisville, Mitchell rose 71 spots from No. 101 all the way up to No. 30. It should be noted, as well, that no program has more players in the Rivals150 than Brewster. Jason Smith's progam landed a whopping seven players -- five of them who are new transfers into the program -- in the rankings.
During late July, Houston (Texas) North Shore guard Kerwin Roach saw his stock soar as he gained exposure in front of college coaches and national scouts. An electric 6-foot-4 athlete who claimed a state triple jump championship to go along with a state basketball title as a junior, Roach is the highest ranked newcomer to the Rivals150 at No. 34. He is considering a final five of California, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas and Wichita State.
Out of the top 25 players in the class of 2015, only seven have made their college choices. Three are headed to Arizona: No. 11 Ray Smith, No. 12 Allonzo Trier and No. 21 Justin Simon form a group that will be atop the 2015 team rankings when they debut on Friday. In total, 80 ranked players remain undecided. Also holding commitments from two or more members of the 2015 Rivals150 are Auburn, Duke, Florida, Georgetown, Illinois, Louisville, Marquette, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, Syracuse, San Diego State, Stanford, UCLA, USC and Washington.
Eric Bossi is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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