We’re mere days away—hours, if you push me!—from waving goodbye to our beloved 2010s. The decade is almost over—and will most probably be by the time you catch this—so I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at some of the most important and interesting facts the grassroots and high school level of hoops have yielded during the past ten years. I will be taking a look at individual players, full classes, high schools, cities, states, etc... during this series in order to provide a broad view of what the decade we’re leaving was up to and who the agents involved in it were. Let’s get to it!
After taking a look at the best individual prospects since 2010, it is time to move onto more cohesive endeavors: building a team of young high school studs. Instead of working in a similar way as I did for the best-players list, I’ll keep it to a starter and a sub per position here, so we get a balanced outcome.
Again, I’ll use my own data set, which is mostly based on 247Sports Composite rankings and includes other additional notes. The team won’t just feature the literal best players, but those with a high grade and my personal opinion and memories of them. Don’t be too mad at some names present here being not included in the top-ten prospects list already published. Do you want to read the same over and over again? We better keep things fresh!
Summer AAU tournaments have made possible to watch some of the best players play under the same badge, but it’d be impossible (I guess?) to have such a team as the next one playing together for a full basketball season in a single location and high school. At least we can dream of watching something like this one day.
Here we go!
PG — 2010 No. 2 Kyrie Irving, Huntington Prep (WV)
When it comes to pro players, I don’t think there are many I like to watch more than Kyrie. His handles are mad and straight out of a video game. I don’t fully understand how he does it, but I understand them enough as to enjoy it unfold as a kid with a new toy. When Irving was in high school he was giving fits to every rival on the court, and I’d have lived a pretty fine life had he never improved on those skills. Turned out that was only the tip of the iceberg.
Kyrie was a madman at age 17 and by the time he finished his senior year he was about to become a Dukie, no less. I’m picking Irving to run my squad any day. He’d be dancing around defenders, making them faint, driving to the basket, dropping sweet layups—and the eventual dunk here and there—and getting buckets from every level on the floor. Can’t-miss play.
Reserve: 2016 No. 3 Lonzo Ball, Chino Hills (CA)
The BBB brought us something more than drama and Facebook shows. Lonzo entered the spotlight too soon thanks to his environment, but also because of his tremendous skills. Not only did his game excel, but he was also a pioneer in getting his own shoe and gamed the NCAA and amateur basketball to unseen levels.
SG — 2019 No. 2 Anthony Edwards, Holy Spirit Prep (GA)
If Anthony Edwards was a book, it’d bet titled “Boy Among Men” (shouts to Jonathan Abrams for penning such a gem!) Call it recency bias or criticize me for this late-decade pick, but go watch Edwards’s tape first, please. Penciled in as a top-3 prospect for the upcoming 2020 NBA draft, Tony Edwards was unstoppable in his high school days and was a kid trapped in more than a man’s body already.
Superiority all around the place. Shooting prowess. Rim-shattering dunks. Dribbles. Boards. Blocks. I have yet to watch Edwards not do something in a game. And yes, he gets in as a shooting guard, but if you’re in the need of a ball-handler and play initiator don’t hesitate and give him the reins. He won’t fail you.
Reserve: 2011 No. 4 Bradley Beal, Chaminade (MO)
The Gators got the Real Deal with Bradley Beal. This kid lived in the paint while playing at an outside position. Yes, you guessed it right: no one was stopping Beal when he decided to run from the arc to the basket to drop points at the rim. He had the full pack at Chaminade already but once he jumped to the NCAA ranks and added more of a three-point range he just became the ultimate weapon.
SF — 2013 No. 1 Andrew Wiggins, Huntington Prep (WV)
There is no way we can leave Drew out of this team. He’s been one of the most hyped—and with reason—prospects of the decade. He racked up accolades en route to his short college spell, and he did it all hailing from the North. Wiggins wasn’t the first nor the last Mixtape King, but he must rank near the top of the leaderboard. His jams were mind-bending. He broke more than two and three ankles between crossovers, euro-steps, and spinning dribbles, and he seemed to fly down the court.
In a full-of-superstuds team, Wiggins won’t look out of place. He was a feature in high school and hey, while I concede we wouldn’t be getting many dimes out of his hands, I also must let you know that you better be ready to watch some flashy highlights once he grabs the rock. As long as it’s the Maple Jordan on the ball, I’m pretty happy with any ball-hog tendencies.
Reserve: 2015 No. 4 Brandon Ingram, Kinston (NC)
Some kids thrive in high school due to his advanced physicality. Well, Ingram wasn’t small at 6-foot-9, but you’d have a hard time finding a slimmer body out there. No matter what, BI followed the steps of a still-fresh-in-our-brains Kevin Durant and was labeled the next KD. Makes sense. Ingram was pulling from three, crossing defenders, blocking shots effortlessly, and dunking the ball without much trouble those days.
PF — 2011 No. 1 Anthony Davis, Perspectives Charter (IL)
Another no-brainer I can’t skip even if I wanted to keep things fresh and new names pumped in these articles. AD was so confident in his abilities that you never watched him hesitate when it came to run over whoever had the bad luck to be defending him. Seriously. Catching bodies in the key-to-the-rim pathway was Davis’ daily work. He could have pretty easily made a living out of that move. Only he had bigger goals.
That’s why even as a monster already at age 17 he was dribbling the rock like a guard, shooting as the best floor-stretching wings do these days, and making kids hold their tears after putting massive blocks on their shots. I don’t think there has been a more dominating old-man-looking guy at this level in the past decade, and it showed. The outcomes were terribly frightening.
Reserve: 2018 No. 5 Zion Williamson, Spartanburg (SC)
What can I tell you about Zion that you don’t already know? Zion transcended the high school plane by far. He became the poster boy of the IG revolution. His dunks were seen from Iceland to Timbuktu. Even if his days as a prospect made everybody label him as a “dunker” he was already showing much more than that. Just ask those at Duke if he was a simple/plain/bland rim murder or if he had the full package.
C — 2018 No. 4 Bol Bol, Findlay Prep (NV)
I have to confess two things: one, I wasn’t high on Bol during his early days; and two, Bol scares me. This kid measured at 7-foot-3 while carrying the thinnest of thin bodies on the floor. He looked like he could break at the flick of the fingers. Far from it, though. Bol wasn’t afraid of battling in the paint, but that wasn’t his calling card. In this age of the undervalued-big and overvalued-stretcher, Bol definitely looks like the next step in basketball evolutionary history.
We had never seen someone as tall as Bol pull off the stuff he was doing in high school. His range showed no limit, he could shot from three, the mid-level, or at the rim. You could watch him leading the offense, dribbling the ball between his legs, spinning through defenders, and crossing other kids at any moment. No need to mention the monster blocks, obviously, as they came baked in from the get-go if only because of the insane height.
Reserve: 2014 No. 5 Karl-Anthony Towns, Saint Joseph (NJ)
When KAT entered the collegiate ranks he did so featuring an already-built strong frame, yet with more than the average agility hidden inside of it. That helped Towns become a do-it-all player in his senior year of high school ball, and though he was more of a typical interior presence than Bol, Towns was also able to stretch the court at age 17 to shoot some deep darts. No wonder he thrived at Kentucky and among pros after becoming a one-and-done—which it was known he’d be from day one.