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June 27, 2014

Simmons jumps to top spot for class of 2015

THE LIST: Updated class of 2015 Rivals150

July is arguably the most important month for high school basketball prospects. During the heat of the summer, scholarships are earned and lost on gym floors all across the country as college coaches spend most of the month watching recruits at live recruiting events. For the players looking to earn those scholarship offers, it has already been a long few months on the grassroots circuit, and during that grind nobody has been more impressive than Ben Simmons. As a result, the forward is the newly minted No. 1 player in the 2015 Rivals150.

Simmons earns top spot

A native of Australia who plays his high school ball at Montverde (Fla.) Academy, Ben Simmons has steadily and methodically worked his way to the top of the class of 2015.

The 6-foot-9 power forward, who moved to the top spot from his previous ranking of No. 5, first made a splash a little over two years ago. Back then he showed up as an unknown southpaw at the 2012 Pangos All-American Camp and proceeded to open up eyes with his skilled and versatile play. Ever since then, the future LSU Tiger has been working his way to the top of the rising senior class.

What is so good about Simmons is that he never seems to have an off night. He is going to show up and be an efficient scorer, because he is comfortable operating on either block, has excellent shot selection and makes the right basketball decision more often than not. He has gotten stronger, improved his athleticism and also become a very good passer out of either the low or high post.

Simmons still has some room to improve the consistency of his rebounding effort, and he will continue to become a more consistent shooter out to 20 feet. But, the bottom line is that he has produced everywhere he has gone; and because of his steady play and upside, Simmons deserves the No. 1 spot.

Movement shapes the top 10

While Simmons has definitely separated himself as the No. 1 player, there is not much distance between him and those players ranked right behind him. Each of the top six prospects received serious consideration for the top spot, and an argument could be made for any of them to be ranked in any order from Nos. 2-6.

After holding onto the top spot for the last year, 6-foot-4 shooting guard Malik Newman slides down a single spot to No. 2. Newman is a lethal scorer who has a good first step and a dangerous jump shot, but the consistency of Simmons gives him a slight edge for now.

Moving from outside of the top 10 all the way up to No. 3 is Jaylen Brown. The small forward from Georgia has been absolutely dominant playing with Game Elite on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit, and he also earned a spot on USA Basketball's 18-and-under national team.

Checking into the fourth spot is Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd power forward Ivan Rabb. Rabb still needs to get stronger and has to continue to expand his offensive game. But he is active on the glass, can really run the floor and plays smart basketball on both ends of the floor. Joining him in the top five is perhaps the player with the best motor in the country, Cheick Diallo. Also a power forward, Diallo makes a slight move up to No. 5 from No. 8 because of his day in and day out production, athleticism and ability to control the glass on both ends of the floor.

Finishing that initial group of six is Wisconsin-bred center Diamond Stone. The best back-to-the-basket player in the class of 2015, Stone has worked his body into great shape and is a reliable low post scorer who can also face up consistently to 12 feet.

Looking at the rest of the top 10, there is a real Las Vegas feel. Sin City is home to No. 7 Stephen Zimmerman, No. 8 Chase Jeter and No. 10 Ray Smith. Zimmerman has been a fixture near the top of the 2015 rankings from the start, and the big man now has his high school teammate Jeter right up there with him. Jeter has grown into his near 6-foot-10 frame, gotten very confident offensively and makes a big move up from No. 17. The biggest mover into the top 10, Smith used his smooth offense, transition finishing and excellent wing size to force a move up from No. 32.

The other member of the national top 10 is Carlton Bragg. Checking in at No. 9, the power forward from Cleveland is an athletic front liner who has gotten stronger while expanding his game.

On the rise

The highest ranked newcomer to the class of 2015 rankings is five-star Caleb Swanigan. Formerly a member of the class of 2016 -- where he was also ranked as a five-star prospect -- the hefty and skilled 6-foot-8 post player is a dynamic rebounder and clever scorer. He debuts at No. 18 in his new class.

Highest ranked of the true newcomers is 6-foot-7 swingman Deng Adel. Adel is a wing who gets out in transition, makes mid-range jumpers and has the size to play some as a power forward in a pinch. Dillon Brooks has been tremendous with both his summer team (CIA Bounce) and with the Canadian national team. Because of his play, the 6-foot-6 wing enters the rankings at No. 50.

Others who make their rankings debuts as four-star prospects include power forward Steve Enoch (No. 54), combo guard Shake Milton (No. 63) and Wisconsin shooting guard pledge Brevin Pritzl (No. 94).

Making the single biggest move inside of the rankings is shooting guard Malik Beasley. The athletic shooting guard from Georgia rose 77 spots to make his way all the way up to No. 60.

Beasley isn't the only player making a huge move. Allonzo Trier (No. 38 to No. 12), Antonio Blakeney (No. 29 to No. 16), Henry Ellenson (No. 56 to No. 17), Dwayne Bacon (No. 33 to No. 22) and Deyonta Davis (No. 42 to No. 24) all made double-digit climbs from four-star range and are now five-star prospects.

Tough wing Prince Ali makes a big 41-spot move up to No. 27. Washington commits Marquese Chriss and DeJounte Murray both get huge bumps, with Chriss going up 32 spots to No. 44 and Murray moving from No. 78 to No. 51.

Others making moves of more than 15 spots up in the rankings include Jessie Govan (No. 60 to No. 42), Jimmy Whitt (No. 74 to No. 52), Chris Clarke (No. 104 to No. 64), Corey Sanders (No. 89 to No. 66), Tevin Mack (No. 97 to No. 76), Esa Ahmad (No. 98 to No. 78), Kevin Dorsey (No. 127 to No. 84), Tres Tinkle (No. 124 to No. 89), A.J. Turner (No. 141 to No. 95), Juwan Morgan (No. 139 to No. 106) and Mike Watkins (No. 134 to No. 114).


Eric Bossi is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.



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