As this years high school season has come to an end, the AAU/Grassroots season is gearing up as the class of 2008 moves on and the class of 2009 steps to the plate.
The Top New York players of 2008 such as Kemba Walker, Sylven Landesberg, Kevin Jones and Mookie Jones are now preparing for their respective college careers, which will begin in just months. NYCHoops, the officially licensed partner of the Rivals.com network, will now start to track the top rising seniors of the class of 2009.
The criteria for ranking a player is not simply based on scoring ability, stats or individual accolades but also on their impact on a team, a game, their ability to make teammates better and the possibility of having substantial impact at the D-1 level. Here are NYCHoops Top Ranked players in the class of 2009:
Lance "Born Ready" Stephenson of Abraham Lincoln H.S. in Brooklyn, NY is unquestionably the top rising senior in New York. The 6'6" 195lb shooting guard can seemingly score at will. Gifted with a college ready physique, Stephenson is adept at penetrating past an opponent or pulling up for a 15 to 18 foot jump shot.
In addition, Stephenson is a superb passer coupled with an undeniable will to win. Lance Stephenson also has a natural feel for the flow of the game.
Stephenson currently plays with Raising Champions and occassionally with the Juice All-stars during the summer.
Omari Lawrence is a 6'3" 175lb shooting at St. Raymond H.S. in the Bronx. Lawrence is a relentless individual who powers his way to the rim by any means necessary. Although he does have a reliable mid range jump shot he tends to prefer attacking the rim, usually scoring the basket and picking up the foul.
Lawrence is also a good rebounder, getting many of his points from offensive rebounds or off fast break created off defensive rebounds. Lawrence like Lance Stephenson can and will take over a game if necessary. He also tends to inspire teammates.
Lawrence sometimes tends to force shots but rarely. Omari Lawrence plays for Coach Oz Cross and the NY Panthers Juniors.
Sherrod Wright is a 6'4" 190lb shooting guard for the Mt. Vernon Knights.
Wright has flown under the radar as his teammate West Virginia bound Kevin Jones received most of the shine. This season, however, Wright emerged as a force to be reckoned with and making impressive waves on the AAU/Grassroots circuit. His inside power game is superior to most and now that he has extended his jump shot range, his impact on a game have substantially increased.
Wright sometimes tends to force shots. Sherrod Wright now plays for Coach Jimmy Salmons Playaz Club Juniors out of New Jersey along with Dominic Cheek and Tamir Jackson.
Durand Scott is a 6'4" 180lb shooting guard from Rice H.S. in Manhattan.
Scott has excellent inside and outside game along with a high basketball I.Q. Scott can score from anywhere on the floor and has a never say never attitude which has resulted in his spearheading and orchestratiing many come from behind wins.
He is a natural team leader and has a no quit attitude. Injuries have hampered Scott early in the spring or he would probably be ranked higher but expect his stock to continue to rise. Look for Scott to improve his skill set as the summer progresses but he will have to put on a more muscle mass to compete successfully in College
Scott plays for the NY Gauchos during the summer.
Kevin Parrom is a natural scorer. The 6'6" 195lb small forward who played for St. Raymond during the regular season but will be transferring to South Kent School in Connecticut. This will unfortunately make him ineligible for NYC rankings in the fall.
Parrom is a quick, smart and relentless pursuer of the "bucket" who will rebound, drive and run up and down the court all game long. He has an impressive offensive range and scoring diversity and the ball handling skills to get where he wants on the court. While Parrom, who is even tempered, is unbelievable aggressive at times, other times he is not. That being said, Parrom's upside is unlimited as he has shown sighs of being more consistent in recent weeks.
Kevin Parrom plays for the NY Panthers during the summer.
James Padgett is the only true big man in the rankings. A position that New York is usually criticized for not having enough of.
The 6'8" 230lb undersized center plays for Abraham Lincoln and was an integral reason why they won the State championship. During the regular season, Padgett scored 9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. In the playoff he increased his stats to 13 points per game while maintaining his rebound stats. A strong rebounder who gets all the garbage points is one reason why he has an impact on a game.
Padgett plays for the Juice All-stars during the summer.
Chaz Williams is the human blur. The 5'8" 155lb point guard for Bishop Ford in Brooklyn is lightning in a basketball uniform.
Williams, who already committed to Hofstra, is an unbelievably quick, feisty and crafty guard who forces defenders to play him honest. Regardless of his stature, Williams can get to the rim at will but also has good range on his jumper. Those coupled with arguably the best handle in the business and passing skill to match make Williams hard to guard. Sometimes his superior penetration ability gets him in trouble when he drives too deep into the paint to be effective but nonetheless Williams is a leader.
Chaz Williams plays for the MetroHawks during the summer.
Brandon Triche is a strong, solid 6'3" 210lb shooting guard who plays for Jamesville-DeWitt.
What hold Triche hampers Triche's exposure is the fact that he isn't really seen until the playoffs. That coupled with playing for a summer team that doesn't travel extensively.
The undersized shooting guard led his team deep into the NYS playoffs with a strong inside and midrange game partnered with impressive defensive skills. Triche has a high basketball I.Q. but will need to focus on becoming a combo guard to be effective in College.
Triche currently plays for the Upstate Ballers during the summer.
Russ Smith, one word. Fearless. At only 5'10" and 150lbs soaking wet, Smith has impact on a game from the second he steps on the court.
Playing for Archbishop Molloy in Briarwood, NY during the regular season, Smith's talent often get overlooked with only glimpses of his brilliance emerging when Molloy would win games that they weren't suppose to. Smith is simply a natural leader who "Gets it done." Russ Smith has a streaky but long range jump shot, nice handle and the ability to get to the rim at will. That mixed with a no-fear attitude regardless of the size or hype of an opponent makes him an impact player. Smith is a loose cannon, who can give coaches fits but once he learns to harness his skills and emotions and learn to pass more and better will become even more impressive. He also needs to hit the weight room.
Smith plays for the NY Gauchos during the summer.
Sean Johnson at 6'2" 175lbs has been the silent assassin for Christ the King H.S. in Middle Village, NY. Up until now, Johnson has remained in the shadows of his prominent teammates Ryan Pearson and Erving Walker.
Now that they are graduating, look for Johnson, who his Coach Bob Oliva says is now, "The best player on the team," to become more assertive. Johnson is a smooth under control player who has the ability to run off screens and score inside and out. Next season will be his first year in a leadership role and will need to become more of a combo guard.
Johnson currently plays with the NY Gauchos AAU team.
Bubbling Under: Keith Spellman (Thomas Jefferson), Darwin "Budha" Ellis (Abraham Lincoln), Mennon Chavis (Campus Magnet), Johnathan Williams (Rice), Tyreak Johnson (St. Raymond), James Stukes (Rice), OD Anosike (St. Peter's), Taaj Ridley (John F. Kennedy), Dan DiVietri (Chaminade), Paul Bilbo (St. Dominic).
NYCHoops Top Player Rankings will be updated once summer has ended.
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