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July 3, 2013

Class of 2015 rankings: Change at the top


THE LIST: Class of 2015 Top 100

Last week, rising senior Jahlil Okafor was able to hold on to his No. 1 spot in the class of 2014 Rivals150. This week, we expand the class of 2015 rankings from a top 50 to a top 100, and there's a new No. 1 as Mississippi combo guard Malik Newman rises to the top from No. 3.

When it comes to production, it's tough to beat the numbers Newman, a Jackson, Miss., native, has been putting up through the early part of the summer.

The 6-foot-3 guard led Nike's prestigious Elite Youth Basketball League with 24.7 points per game, and he led USA Basketball's 16-and-under national team with 16.2 points per game as it won gold at the recent FIBA Americas tournament.

Newman's production has been impressive, but it's about more than his scoring. It could be argued that Newman is the best pure scorer in the country. He scores with the jumper, he scores off the dribble, he scores in transition and he scores pretty much everywhere else.

At times, it seems as if it simply boils down to if he'll miss a shot, because the defense isn't going to stop him.

At the same time, Newman is just scratching at the surface. He's learning how to play in the pick-and-roll. He's learning how to take better shots and most importantly he's learning how to lead his team. Each time Newman takes the floor, he shows a new wrinkle to his game, and he's becoming more versatile.

While Newman has taken the lead for now, a pair of West Coast big men are tracking him closely.

Six-foot-11 center Stephen Zimmerman from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman retains his spot at No. 2. Zimmerman is lean and still must get stronger, but he's made advancements in every aspect. He's become a better back-to-the-basket scorer while continuing to add to his ability to attack off the dribble. He's also the best low-post passing big man in the country. Zimmerman has also added a physical edge to his game and looks to not just outwork his opponent but to dominate him.

Formerly the No. 1 ranked player in the country, Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd's Ivan Rabb checks in at No. 3 and will undoubtedly be working hard to get back on top. Another highly productive player and likely the best rebounder in the class, Rabb put up 13 points and 11 rebounds a game in the EYBL before chipping in with 12 points and just under 10 rebounds per game on the 16U national team. At 6-foot-9, Rabb is long and lean and has been adding to his game on the offensive end.

Next in line in the top five are 6-foot-8 combo forward Ben Simmons from Montverde (Fla.) Academy and 6-foot-10 center Diamond Stone from Milwaukee (Wisc.) Dominican. A native of Australia, Simmons is a multi-skilled forward with length and the ability to attack off the dribble. A throwback player, Stone is a skilled low-post scorer who excels playing with his back to the basket.

Rounding out the top 10 are three more big men and a pair of perimeter players.

Rising all the way from No. 24 to No. 6, 6-foot-9 power forward Cheick Diallo is an athletic native of Mali who plays at Centereach (N.Y.) Our Savior New American. Like Diallo, No. 7 Skal Labissiere of Cordova (Tenn.) Evangelical Christian School is a foreigner who has found success in the States. A 6-foot-10 native of Haiti, he's a skilled post payer.

At No. 8, Los Angeles (Calif.) St. John Bosco's Tyler Dorsey is a high-scoring 6-foot-4 combo guard. No. 9 Elijah Thomas of Dallas (Texas) Prime Prep is a productive low-post presence who has a game similar to Zach Randolph. Finally, 6-foot-6 small forward Jaylen Brown of Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler rises from just outside of five-star range to No. 10 thanks to his athletic and attacking style of play.



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