247Sports national recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer told the Herald-Leader last week that he was leaning toward ranking UK signee Karl-Anthony Towns as his No. 1 big man for the class of 2014.
Meyer followed through Thursday, when he released the final 247Sports rankings for the incoming class.
Towns finishes as the No. 2 overall recruit and top-ranked post player ahead of Kansas signee Cliff Alexander (No. 4), Duke signee Jahlil Okafor (No. 6), and uncommitted 7-footer Myles Turner (No. 7).
Meyer said that Towns brings a little bit of everything to Kentucky, while the other three high school stars excel in certain areas. The longtime recruiting analyst also emphasized that his rankings are predictions for how successful these players will be throughout their entire basketball careers — pro and college — and not just a judgement on what they’ll do as freshmen next season.
Alexander and Okafor are “pretty much just low post players, and I don’t know how well that translates to the NBA,” Meyer said. He said Turner can shoot the ball and block shots, “but I like Towns’ physical makeup a lot better. I have concerns about Myles Turner’s longevity as a player.”
He described Towns as “the most complete package for a post player in the class” and said he “just looks like an NBA center.”
Meyer mentioned some similarities between the future Wildcat and NBA center Andrew Bynum, who jumped to the pros straight out of high school and established himself as one of the best centers in the league with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bynum went through what Meyer referred to as “an insane physical transformation” during his senior year of high school before a big performance during the McDonald’s All-American Game activities that followed that season. Towns looked as if he too had rounded into much better shape when he showed up at the McDonald’s Game a few weeks ago, when he received a lot of buzz for his play in practices and scrimmages.
Meyer obviously expects big things from Towns, but Kentucky fans shouldn’t expect the Kevin Durant-type player that many have tried to portray him as. Towns is capable of going outside and knocking down shots, but he’ll almost certainly be more of a true center in college.
“He is going to be what I term a ‘stretch 5,’ Meyer said. “He’s a center, but he’s a center who can step out. We saw it from (Wisconsin’s) Frank Kaminsky. That’s what you have to do in the NBA, unless you’re just a freak like Dwight Howard. You have to have a pick-and-pop game. You have to be able to set that screen. You have to make shots. But you also have to defend down low and be a rim protector.
“That’s what the NBA is looking for. And that really hits to the crux of the matter of why I like Towns the best as a big man right now. He has that capability.”
Others in rankings
UK’s other three signees were also given five-star status in the final 247Sports rankings. Trey Lyles finished at No. 17 overall, followed by Tyler Ulis at No. 20 and Devin Booker at No. 22. Ulis moved up eight spots in the final rankings — he had been No. 35. Booker moved up eight spots from No. 30, and Lyles was elevated one spot from No. 18.
All six Louisville signees are in the final rankings: Shaqquan Aaron (No. 21), Quentin Snider (No. 52), Jaylen Johnson (No. 56), Chinanu Onuaku (No. 69), Anas Osama Mahmoud (No. 83) and Matz Stockman (No. 195).
Snider was one of several Kentucky high schoolers in the final rankings. Also included were Butler signee Kelan Martin (No. 116), undecided forward Jackson Davis (No. 181), Marshall signee Shane Hall (No. 184) and Western Kentucky signee Jordan Green (No. 241).