Posted On: 10/4/17 3:59 AM
We’ve now had three years of high school and AAU basketball to break down the 2018 class, and things look much different then our first rankings of them two years ago. While rankings are always subject to change, especially with the reclass and transfer rate as it is, almost all of the players have improved whether they dropped or rose in our rankings.
When taking rankings into consideration, the Vantage Hoops team spends about a month contacting coaches and experts across the state to compile the list. There were over 250 kids we considered for the top 150, and the rankings reflect the next level potential of the prospects. Things taken into consideration include upside, high school production, head-to-head matchups, skill set on both sides of the ball and include intangibles such such as how recruitable a kid is based on grades, attitude and how coachable they are.
We will spend the next few weeks breaking down our new rankings from 2018 through 2020. Here’s a look at part one of our 2018 point guard breakdown. Enjoy, and stay tuned for more breakdowns moving forward!
Xavier Johnson | 6’1” | Bishop O’Connell/Team Takeover (Overall Rank: #5)
A dynamic guard that thrives in transition, Johnson rose through the ranks and grew into an elite point guard prospect over the last two seasons. Recently committing to Nebraska, his up tempo playing style makes him a lot of fun to play with, and he simply changes the game every time he’s on the floor. He’s a two way playmaker, a threat to score from almost everywhere on the floor and he can create offense for both himself and teammates with ease. He’s a solid get who should see immediate playing time for the Cornhuskers.
Jaelin Llewellyn | 6’2” | VES/Team Loaded VA (Overall Rank: #6)
Llewellyn is a different kind of kid both on and off the court, and his high IQ is evident by his ability to read defenses and notice mismatches to get him and his teammates easy shots. He has a toughness about him that makes him a winner, and he can take over games in big situations. He absolutely showed out in the Adidas Nations at the end of the summer, as he led Team Canada by averaging 22 points, four rebounds and three assists in four games against some of the top competition from across the globe. He was recruited by many schools in high major conferences, but chose to go to Princeton for the academics and chance to play high level competition, which is becoming a trend in the Ivy League.
Rasir Bolton | 6’2” | Massanutten/Team Loaded VA (Overall Rank: #8)
Bolton is back in the commonwealth after spending much of last season at Huntington Prep in West Virginia. He had a good summer playing in the same backcourt as Llewellyn, starting for Loaded for the second straight summer. A lights out shooter from deep, Bolton can play on and off the ball, he has great length and plays with great pace. He’s more athletic than many think, but most importantly he has the IQ and poise of a true point guard who understands the game and leads his team, getting talented guys shots but still making his count when he’s open. He has committed to Penn State in the Big 10 where he’ll likely see early time.
Jason Wade | 6’5” | Trinity Episcopal/Boo Williams (Overall Rank: #9)
After a huge junior season where he helped lead TES to a VISAA Division One state championship, Wade had a memorable summer playing for Boo Williams where they reached the semifinals of the EYBL Peach Jam tournament. While he wasn’t a go-to guy on that team, he showed that he’s willing to take a lesser role on a good team and sacrifice to help his team win. He is arguably the best perimeter defender in the state, with a strong upper body and super quick and active hands that allow him to deflect and intercept passes while guarding the ball, and he has great instincts off the ball as well. He can play both guard positions offensively, but his immediate impact at the collegiate level will come defensively. He recently cut his list down to four: VCU, ODU, Florida Gulf Coast and College of Charleston.
Mac McClung | 6’1” | Gate City/Team Loaded VA (Overall Rank: #11)
McClung became a viral sensation this past summer with highlight reel dunks and shifty crossovers that left defenders in the dust. He’s a freakish athlete that’s must see basketball, and his highlights don’t do it justice until you see him throw down a windmill or 360 with ease in a game. Off the bounce he’s lightning quick, he has vision and throws flashy passes, he’s a competitor who won’t back down from anyone and he’s a tough kid that always gets up and comes back at you after getting knocked down. He was highly recruited by the best mid major schools in the country, however he jumped at the chance when Rutgers of the Big Ten offered him, and with his work ethic and natural ability and athleticism they’re very excited to have him.
Jonathan Norfleet | 6’1” | Salem/Team Loaded 757 (#14 Overall)
As talented as almost any public school player in the rankings, the biggest knock on Norfleet is his consistency. However, one of the best things about him is that he shows up against the best competition and never backs down. In 757’s July showdown with Loaded VA at the Adidas Select Live Period in Richmond, he went tit-for-tat with Jaelin Llewellyn for about 10 minutes, and the tenacity the two played with was fun to watch. He has a college ready frame as a point guard, gets up and down at a fast pace, has good burst with the ball in his hands and he’s a playmaker on both ends. If he can learn to make good decisions consistently, continue to improve his jump shooting and put together all the tools he has for complete games he could be a better player in college than he is right now.
Darius McGhee | 5’8” | Blue Ridge/Team Loaded NC (#16 Overall)
Liberty continues to land players that could play at higher levels by overlooking certain things, as McGhee was the first player off the board in the 2018 class to the Flames. What scared away some higher level schools was his size, but the fact is McGhee can and has produced against high level competition his entire time in high school and in AAU. He transferred to Blue Ridge and reclassified last season, where he helped the Barons cruise to a VISAA Division 2 State Championship, however the year before he put up insane numbers in North Carolina as he averaged 36 points per game at Roxboro Community. The 5’8” guard is explosive vertically and horizontally, and he uses his athleticism in a number of ways including getting great elevation on his jump shot and staying in front of the quickest ball handlers. He has easy range out to 30 feet, has a killer’s mentality with the ball and always believes that the next shot is going in. He’s a ticking time bomb on the court, always capable of exploding and going for 12-15 points in just a few possessions when he gets it going.
DeShaun Wade | 6’3” | Miller School/Team Felton (#25 Overall)
Wade was a kid who always produced at a high level but was overlooked by many schools for some reason until this summer. He had a good junior year running the show for Miller School, helping lead them to the VISAA Division 2 State Championship game before falling to Blue Ridge, and he started on a talented Team Felton team where he caught the eye of the ECU staff and committed to them shortly after being offered. A stocky and strong lead guard, he does a great job at using his body to bounce off defenders, and once he gets his shoulders past his defenders he’s a bowling ball heading toward the basket. He’s a good shooter off the catch, and while he isn’t the most athletic guard he’s done a great job getting his body ready for the next level and has looked much more nimble over the past few seasons. His college ready body, high IQ and competitiveness makes him a huge impact and has the ECU staff excited about what can come moving forward.