Posted On: 10/5/17 9:01 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 wings breakdown. Enjoy, and stay tuned for more breakdowns moving forward!
Keldon Johnson | 6’6” | Oak Hill Academy/Boo Williams (#1 Overall)
Johnson is back in the commonwealth after spending last season at Huntington Prep in West Virginia and he’s back on top of the rankings where he was during his freshman and sophomore seasons at Park View High School in South Hill, VA. This summer was a big one for Johnson, who established himself as one of the premier wings on Nike’s EYBL Circuit as he dominated with his high motor and energy, ability to stuff the stat sheet and showed great intangibles as a leader throughout the summer. At the NBPA Top 100 Camp in June, considered one of the elite camps in the country, Johnson shook off a rough first day to be named the Co-MVP of the event. Many wrote him off after an injury his sophomore season, but he has proved over the past two years that he deserves to be considered a top 10 player in the country. He has cut his list down to Maryland, Texas, Kentucky, NC State and Florida State, and will be an immediate impact player wherever he decides to go.
Brandon Slater | 6’6” | Paul VI/Team Takeover (#3 Overall)
I’ve been calling Slater one of the most undervalued wings on the east coast the past few seasons, and he had a huge year for PVI as a he stepped into a go-to role and was a major impact player on both ends of the floor. In my opinion, he made a great decision in committing to Villanova, because his all-around style of play and ability to play multiple positions fits the Wildcats well. He’s a great defender that can guard almost every position on the floor, and his length and athleticism make him a good help side shot blocker. He’s a triple threat from the wing offensively, as he can dribble, shoot and pass, and he can be effective in both the half court and in transition without needing the ball in his hands much. He’s a guy that can go get it without a play being called, but also knows how to play within a system as well. Expect a huge senior season as Slater should be in consideration as one of the top players in the WCAC this year.
Kiyon Boyd | 6’4” | Massanutten/Team Loaded VA (#4 Overall)
Boyd was the best player in Washington DC’s public school league for the past two seasons, and he was looking for a big senior season on the Prep League circuit with Massanutten, however a knee injury has his season seen as questionable. The 6’4” two guard is an absolute bull, with huge arms and a strong upper body that allows him to not only absorb contact, but literally move defenders out of the way midair when finishing around the basket. He has a smoothness to his game, as he can handle it and create his own shot and he’s also able to make shots with ease from all three levels. He’s a go-to, alpha dog scorer type that fills it up with the ball in his hands, but he isn’t overly selfish as he has good vision and feel and gets the ball to his teammates in position to score. If he can get healthy, get in shape and get on the right track, he’s as good as any prospect in this class.
Keyontae Johnson | 6’5” | Oak Hill Academy/Boo Williams (#7 Overall)
Johnson’s another original VA kid who moved out of the state last season when he transferred to IMG Academy where he started and shined in their uptempo system with Trevon Duval, and now he’s also returned home with his AAU teammate Keldon Johnson to Oak Hill. This Johnson is one of the best athletes in the country, with an impressive 41.5 inch vertical leap and he likes to show it off in transition and when crashing the glass. If you don’t box him out or pick him up you may just end up on a highlight reel. He’s your classic athletic wing that typically guards the team’s best player, is a good rebounder on both ends of the floor and provides energy with his highlight reel finishes. He moves well without the ball and is a decent shooter that needs to work on his consistency but he will make you pay if you leave him too open. He sprouted up from 6’2” to 6’5” during his sophomore season and his game changed with it, as he used to be a knock down shooter before he grew into his body, but many of the highest level schools are hoping they can bring that back out in him. With his frame and athleticism, a little skill development could go a long way at the next level.
Jordan Miller | 6’5” | Loudoun Valley/D1SA Spartans (#13 Overall)
By far the biggest stock riser of the past year in Virginia, Miller went from a good high school player relatively unknown by college coaches at the division one level to a highly touted midmajor prospect who ended the summer with double digit offers before committing to hometown George Mason, the first division one school to offer him back in April. Efficient and productive are the two best words to describe Miller, who broke out on our radar by scoring 26 points and grabbing 8 rebounds while 11-for-12 in the state championship game. Over the summer, he played against top competition in Hoop Group and other tournaments, and he often was the most productive player on the floor. The best part about him is that he can be a go-to guy without dominating the basketball or taking bad shots. He moves incredibly well without the ball, gets a lot of points off of cutting or hitting the glass, and almost all of his baskets come within the flow of the offense. He only starts to create for himself when his team really needs him to, and that’s typically after he has already got into a rhythm. He can play the two through the four, can guard on the perimeter and in the post and has a high IQ on both ends as well.
Daniil Kasatkin | 6’7” | Mount Mission (#17 Overall)
Mount Mission kids are often under the radar for three big reasons. 1: They are almost all international kids. 2: They go to school in Grundy, a tiny town in the southwest corner of VA. 3: They don’t play in the VHSL or VISAA, choosing instead to play a number of private schools up and down the east coast. Kasatkin, who hails from Russia, had some huge games last season, including a big time outing against Huntington Prep, but is still very much under the radar for college coaches. He’s a combo guard, but not like most combo guards who are two guards in a point guards body, he’s the opposite, a point guard in a wing’s body. At 6’7”, he can handle and create shots for himself off the bounce, see over defenders and deliver pin point passes and he has an incredible feel for the game. You can see the european swagger and understanding he has, with some flash but a lot of substance, and while his form is a little awkward he can stroke it from anywhere on the floor. He isn’t conventional, but he has the size and skill set to play multiple positions and play immediately at the next level.
Miles Latimer | 6’4” | Paul VI/Team Takeover (#18 Overall)
Another big time improver and stock booster over the past few seasons, Latimer went from being a role playing niche shooter to a combo guard that can be both the glue guy and spark plug when needed. He can still shoot it from deep, but he’s shown improved handle and athleticism when attacking the basket, has good feel on both ends of the floor and is a competitor that has more toughness to him than many think. His improved versatility makes it harder to gameplan for him, and he’s okay with picking up and locking down the best player on the other team as well. His willingness to play whatever role helps his team is something that many players in high school and AAU don’t want to do, but he had no problem leaving the TTO Orange team where he was starring to come off the bench and be a role player for their EYBL team midway through the AAU season. He’ll have a much bigger role for PVI this season, and the fact that he trusted the process did him well as he committed to Stony Brook after being offered by close to 20 schools this summer.
DeAndre Thomas | 6’4” | Millwood School/Team Richmond Garner Road (#19 Overall)
Thomas was one of the hottest recruits in the July live period, getting up to 16 offers, but when it came down to it he decided to remain loyal and commit to Samford, the first school to offer him nearly three years ago. There was a lot of talk about him transitioning to play point guard, but it seems like he’s best as a true combo, someone who isn’t the primary ball handler but still makes plays with the ball in his hands often. He’s a guy who scores really well in spurts, then defers and gets others involved. Defensively he’s a guy who can guard multiple positions, and he has really improved in playing at different speeds and managing the game in the half court. He has good size and athleticism, and he’s a stat sheet stuffer that will likely play a lot as a freshman, something that was important to him which is why he chose a smaller school instead of going for the biggest name in his recruitment.