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Head of the class

James leads dynamic dozen of top HS seniors

Posted: Thursday May 22, 2003 12:53 PM

  Dave Telep - Recruiting Watch

For the second year in a row, the honor of top prep in our final rankings was a no-brainer. With absolutely no disrespect meant towards Carmelo Anthony, we tabbed Amare Stoudemire for the honor last season and, well, you know what kind of year he had in Phoenix.

Ranking Stoudemire over Anthony (how about those choices?) was relatively painless, but selecting LeBron James as this years top high school prep is the no-brainer of a lifetime.

For the past three years, no one has challenged him for the top spot. Hes the only high school player in history to ever command $90 million from Nike, take a cool mil from Upper Deck just for his signature and use his NBA salary as laundry money his first year in the league.

In addition to LeBron, five other high school comrades declared for the NBA Draft and five of the six appear in our top dozen. So, without further ado, heres one mans definition on the top dozen high school seniors.

1. LeBron James, SG, Akron, Ohio: See NBA Draft Lottery.

2. Luol Deng, SF, Blairstown, N.J.: Versatile, smooth and savvy. Hes a leader and a multi-positional guy. Signed with Duke.

3. Ndudi Ebi, PF, Houston: Talented and plays with a chip on his shoulder. Has a step-out game and super long-term potential. Declared for draft and signed with Arizona.

4. David Padgett, C, Reno, Nev.: Efficient, skilled and crafty. Son of a coach, grandson of a coach and willing to be coached himself. Signed with Kansas.

5. Shannon Brown, SG, Maywood, Ill.: Super athlete. Big time perimeter talent is a strong driver and reliable deep shooter. Headed to Michigan State.

6. Kendrick Perkins, C, Beaumont, Texas: One of the last guys weve heard embrace the center position. Accomplished low-post scorer. Declared for draft and signed with Memphis.

7. Charlie Villanueva, SF, Blairstown, N.J.: Has many gifts and plays two forward positions but prefers working in open space on the wing. Declared for draft and is unsigned.

8. Leon Powe, PF, Oakland, Calif.: Warrior who recovered nicely from serious knee injury. Will battle until opponent gives in and fouls him. Signed with California.

9. Chris Paul, PG, Clemmons, N.C.: Mr. Intangible. The guy everyone enjoys playing with because hes unselfish. Dont let the Mr. Nice Guy act fool you, hes tough as nails on the court. Headed to Wake Forest.

10. Mustafa Shakur, PG, Wynnewood, Pa.: So good at finding open teammates that its almost embarrassing if you dont find him. Great body for position. Signed with Arizona.

11. Brian Butch, C, Appleton, Wis.: Blossomed into big time prospect. Steps out, scores in paint and blocks shots. A burger or two away from standing his ground inside. Headed to Wisconsin.

12. James Lang, C, Birmingham, Ala.: Recruiting scenario had everyone guessing all year. Has made strides with his game but could use the college experience to continue the transformation. Declared for the draft and is unsigned.

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