With the recent release of our updated rankings for the class of 2016, 2017 and 2018, we are breaking down each class in a variety of ways, including the top players at each position, those that just missed the cut, and…
With the recent release of our updated rankings for the class of 2016, 2017 and 2018, we are breaking down each class in a variety of ways, including the top players at each position, those that just missed the cut, and those that we consider underrated and under-recruited.
We're now onto VA's 2017 class. The big men in this class come in all varieties, from versatile stretch fours to classic back-to-the-basket and rim protecting bigs. Some are dominating already, while others have shown long term potential that should pan out with time. Here's a break down of the top 10 big men in the 2017 class.
Aamir Simms; 6’8; Blue Ridge
No one in the 2017 class took the jump that Simms did this summer with Team Loaded, and the skilled four man will be a major factor for Blue Ridge with the departure of Mamadi Diakite to UVA. Simms is a super skilled four that can score with his back to the basket or in face up scenarios, and he can play on the perimeter as well.
He rebounds the ball well, and really thrives in transition where he can run the floor for an easy finish or handle it and make a good decision. While he’s always impressed with his versatility, Simms’ continued growth as a player and the fact that he showed a killer instinct this summer with Loaded bolds well for him in the future. He holds offers from Clemson, Xavier, Providence, Richmond, Penn State, Kansas State, Virginia Tech, UCF and Cincinnati.
Dajour Dickens; 6’11; Miller School
You want upside? There aren’t many on the east coast with more long term upside than Dickens. A long and bouncy big with good hands and feet, he is able to finish everything in the paint with a big slam, and he protects the rim with ferocity swatting shots with authority. He runs the floor like a gazelle, and his lateral movement allows him to switch or double on screens and recover.
The big emphasis needed for Dickens, who’s transferring from Bethel in Hampton to Miller School in Charlottesville, is adding strength and bulk to his frame. While he moves well, is bouncy and active, his slight frame makes it difficult for him to bang with stockier bigs. Still, his high major athleticism and upside has netted him offers from Virginia Tech, Temple, Creighton, UVA, Memphis and Clemson.
Brendan Newton; 7’2; Faith Christian
The old adage goes you can’t teach height, and Newton is a legitimate seven footer with a couple inches added on. Much like Dickens he has to add bulk to his frame, and still growing into his body, however his height is intriguing to a number of college coaches, and his work ethic ensures that he will only improve.
A gym rat and highly focused individual, Newton knows what it takes to be a great player and rids himself of any distractions that will keep him from that. While he attends a small school in Faith Christian, he works out with the best players and trainers in the Roanoke area and never backs down. He is a high percentage post shooter that effects the game on both ends, and his height gives him high major potential. He holds offers from Liberty and Appalachian State, with interest from numerous high major schools.
Ejike Obinna; 6’9; Virginia Academy
Every one that saw him in the spring realized that he had high major potential, and when the summer came around so did the potential. Obinna had a huge summer playing with the Uncommon Bulls and at a variety of camps, and after winning MVP of Hoop Group Elite Session One his recruitment took off.
The Nigerian big man plays with a never ending motor and he thrives on the defensive end, where he makes it a personal goal to block four or more shots every game. He’s the perfect camp big man, because he runs the floor and hits the offensive glass hard, and he tries to dunk everything when he catches it. He has played basketball for less than three years, which means his room to grow only makes him a more intriguing prospect. He earned offers from Seton Hall, Virginia Tech, Temple, Cincinnati, LSU, Clemson, Miami, St. Joseph’s, Georgia Tech, Rhode Island and Xavier.
Kevin “KJ” Davis; 6’6; I.C. Norcom
He’s a stretch four that is versatile and knows how to impact the game even when things aren’t going his way. While his best attribute is his ability to stretch the defense with his range, Davis can find a way to help his team win even if plays aren’t ran for him, especially on the defensive end.
A run and jump kind of defender, Davis length and athleticism make him great for a pressure situation. Playing on a small ball team like Norcom, Davis can play the five for them, yet allows them to spread the floor and switch everything defensively. He continues to improve putting the ball on the floor, and has early offers from Hofstra, Bethune-Cookman and Norfolk State.
Greg Jones; 6’5; John Marshall
He’s an undersized four, but his high motor and big frame allows him to bang in the paint with the best of them. Jones is a monster in the paint, wrestling away rebounds from taller players and finishing through contact. He can score it with his back to the basket or in face up scenarios too. His toughness and work on the glass makes him a big time paint presence despite his size.
Jones’ best attribute may be his ability to work from the high post and out, however. John Marshall found a lot of success running the offense through him at the elbow, where he can attack off the bounce or hit the set shot from the elbow or even the three ball on the trail in transition. Jones holds early offers from Longwood, Hampton and Richmond.
Nate Watson; 6’8; Bishop O’Connell
A transfer from Capitol Christian, Watson is an animal in the post with his physicality and high motor. A physically imposing big man, he has a terrific feel for the game that understands when to attack in the post and when to kick on double teams. He has a developing post game that when complete will make him a big time scorer post scorer.
Watson will be a welcome addition to the WCAC and O’Connell, who could really use his ability to dominate on the glass and protect the rim in the middle. His athleticism and room to grow has a lot of high major schools interested, and he already holds offers from Xavier and Cincinnati.
Darius Bell; 6’8; Southampton
Give him another year and he could be listed with the wings or the guards. A 6’8 big that feels comfortable shooting it on the perimeter, Bell will likely be thrust into a lot of ball handling duties for Southampton because of a lack of reliable guards.
While he will probably go through some growing pains in that role, Bell could boost his stock immensely if he can become a reliable ball handler. He’s already a good shooter off the catch, and is comfortable attacking out of the triple threat on the perimeter. While he’s a stretch four now, he could become a combo forward as he gets more comfortable with the ball in his hands.
Zach Jacobs; 6’7; Trinity Episcopal
He may be the most productive player without the ball in his hands on this list. Jacobs is a workhorse that runs the floor for easy finishes and dominates the glass on the offensive end. He produces every time he steps on the floor, and he doesn’t need a single play run for him.
His high motor and good frame alone makes him productive, but his developing skill set is what intrigues us the most. Jacobs now is able to step out and stretch the defense, and he’s developed a face up game where he can attack slower bigs to the basket. If he continues to transform his game, he could rise in the rankings as the season progresses.
John Salley; 6’10; Benedictine
He’s still a long term project, but the project is continuing to come along. Salley is a space filler and paint anchor to the highest degree, disrupting drivers and altering shots from just his sheer size alone. He prides himself on the defensive end and on the glass, and that mentality alone makes him a valuable asset to his team.
As far as his progression goes, Salley is steadily coming along. His hands have got softer, and his catch and finish ability in the paint has become consistent. He’s developed a few go-to moves in the post, including a solid jump hook over his left shoulder. On top of that, Salley is one of the most coachable players and best teammates in the state. He holds an offer from Longwood University.