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Okafor, Jones, Johnson Among Best Underclassmen

Five juniors already named GrassrootsHoops.net All-Americans headline a group of 60 elite players selected to the 2012-13 GrassrootsHoops.net Underclass All-American boys’ basketball watch list.

Headlining the 2012-13 Underclass All-American watch list as the intense AAU summer season swings into full gear are junior center Jahlil Okafor of Whitney Young (Chicago), this year’s National Junior Player of the Year, guard Tyus Jones of Apple Valley (Apple Valley, Minn.) and forward Stanley Johnson of Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.). All three played together on Team USA’s U17 team that won the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship last summer in Kaunas, Lithuania.

All three were already named to the overall GrassrootsHoops.net All-American team.

The other two underclass players to earn All-American honors (second team) were guard Joel Berry of Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Fla.) and center Cliff Alexander of Curie (Chicago). Berry joined Okafor, Jones, and Johnson on Team USA last summer along with junior All-American Justise Winslow of St. John’s (Houston).

While the quintet and the 55 other underclass honorees all had standout campaigns for their high school teams, others are sure to emerge this summer as bona fide All-America candidates heading into the 2013-14 season. Nearly every summer on the circuit, well-known players are eclipsed by lesser-known commodities, and every so often a prospect comes out of nowhere to emerge as a Mr. Basketball USA candidate.

One player who might fall under the latter category is Josh Perkins of Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.). Last season, the flashy 6-foot-2 point guard was beaten out for some local honors by fellow junior Dominque Collier of Denver East, but at the recent Pangos All-American Camp it was clear Perkins is an elite talent and likely played his way into a McDonald’s All-American berth.

No player from Colorado has ever won Mr. Basketball USA honors, but it’s likely Perkins will spend his senior season at Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.). That’s the same school 2013 winner Andrew Wiggins (a Kansas recruit) attended.

One junior All-American definitely headed to Rob Fulford’s program at Huntington Prep is Jalen Lindsey of Christ Presbyterian Academy (Nashville, Tenn.). Another talented senior-to-be on the move is Namon Wright of California Division IV state champ Pacific Hills (Los Angeles). He’s the latest Californian headed to Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.).

2012-13 Underclass All-American watch list

Juniors to watch (2014)

C — Cliff Alexander, Curie (Chicago) 6-9
G — Grayson Allen, Providence (Jacksonville, Fla.) 6-4
G — Casey Benson, Corona del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.) 6-2
G — Joel Berry, Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Fla.) 6-1
G — James Blackmon Jr., Bishop Luers (Fort Wayne, Ind.) 6-2
G — Devin Booker, Moss Point (Moss Point, Miss.) 6-5
G — Justin Coleman, Wenonah (Birmingham, Ala.) 5-10
F — Bonzie Colson, St. Andrew’s School (Barrington, R.I.) 6-6
G — Clay Custer, Blue Valley Northwest (Overland Park, Kan.) 6-1
G — T.J. Haws, Lone Peak (Highland, Utah) 6-2
G — Tadric Jackson, Tift County (Tifton, Ga.) 6-2
F — Stanley Johnson, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 6-6
G — Tyus Jones, Apple Valley (Apple Valley, Minn.) 6-1
F — Jalen Lindsey, Christ Presbyterian Academy (Nashville, Tenn.) 6-6
G — Wyatt Lohaus, Iowa City West (Iowa) 6-2
F — Kevon Looney, Hamilton (Milwaukee, Wis.) 6-7
F — Trey Lyles, Arsenal Tech (Indianapolis, Ind.) 6-8
G — Jordan McLaughlin, Etiwanda (Etiwanda, Calif.) 6-2
G — Emmanuel Mudiay, Prime Prep Academy (Dallas, Texas) 6-4
F — Ja’Quan Newton, Neumann Goretti (Philadelphia) 6-3
C — Jahlil Okafor, Whitney Young (Chicago) 6-9
G — Josh Perkins, Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.) 6-2
G — D’Angelo Russell, Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) 6-4
F — Karl Towns, St. Joseph (Metuchen, N.J.) 6-11
F — Reid Travis, De La Salle (Minneapolis, Minn.) 6-7
G — Romelo Trimble, Bishop O’Connell (Arlington, Va.) 6-2
F — Craig Victor, St. Augustine (New Orleans) 6-8
G — Isaiah Whitehead, Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 6-4
F — Justise Winslow, St. John’s School (Houston, Texas) 6-6
F — Namon Wright, Pacific Hills (Los Angeles) 6-5

2013 National Junior of the Year: Jahlil Okafor

Sophomores to watch (2015)

G — KeVaughn Allen, North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.) 6-3
G — Sedrick Barefield (Centennial, Corona, Calif.) 6-0
G — Isaiah Briscoe, St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark, N.J.) 6-2
G — Jaylen Brown, Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) 6-4
G — Jalen Brunson, Stevenson (Lincolnshire, Ill.) 6-0
F — Thomas Bryant, Bishop Kearney (Rochester, N.Y.) 6-8
G — Eric Davis, Arthur Hill (Saginaw, Mich.) 6-3
F — Marcus Derrickson, Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) 6-7
C — Cheick Diallo, Our Savior New American (Centereach, N.Y.) 6-9
G — Tyler Dorsey, St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) 6-5
G — Hyron Edwards, Central (East Chicago, Ind.) 6-0
C — Alex Illikainen, Grand Rapids (Grand Rapids, Minn.) 6-9
G — Luke Kennard, Franklin (Franklin, Ohio) 6-5
F — K.J. Lawson, Hamilton (Memphis, Tenn.) 6-6
G — Malik Newman, Callaway (Jackson, Miss.) 6-2
C — Ivan Rabb, Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, Calif.) 6-9
F — Malachi Richardson, Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) 6-6
C — Diamond Stone, Dominican (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) 6-9
G — Allonzo Trier, Tulsa NOAH (Tulsa, Okla.) 6-0
C — Stephen Zimmerman, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) 6-10

2013 National Sophomore of the Year: Malik Newman

Freshmen to watch (2016)

G — Bryce Aiken, Pope John XXIII (Sparta, N.J.) 5-9
G — Tyus Battle, Gill St. Bernard’s (Gladstone, N.J.) 6-5
G — Alterique Gilbert, Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) 5-10
F — Harry Giles, Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.) 6-7
G — Eron Gordon, North Central (Indianapolis, Ind.) 6-2
F — V.J. King, St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio) 6-6
G — Josh Langford, Madison Academy (Madison, Ala.) 6-5
C — Thon Maker, Carlisle School (Martinsville, Va.) 7-0
C — Trevor Stanback (Chaminade, West Hills, Calif.) 6-10
G — Seventh Woods, Hammond (Columbia, S.C.) 6-1

2013 Freshman Player of the Year: Eron Gordon

Note: All selections based on high school accomplishment. Similar to the Mr. Basketball USA honor, those ineligible due to age or academics are not eligible for this honor.

Ronnie Flores is the Publisher and Editor of GrassrootsHoops.net. He can be reached at ronlocc1977@yahoo.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores

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