Updated 2009 Rankings Announced Today
After spending the last four months traveling through the region to get a look at all the new talent that has arrived this year, we are finally ready to announce our updated 2009 rankings. All six states have already been updated as has New England’s top 25. The complete New England list will be released later today.
Also be sure to check out the highlight reel of New England’s top 5 posted on our homepage. As always, the reel was created by NextPlay.com. All prospects should be sure to visit www.nextplay.com to create your own highlight reels.
New England’s Top Five
#1 Alex Oriakhi – He can do it all athletically as there are few players his size in the country who can match his package of power, agility, speed, lateral quickness, and leaping ability. The fact that he scores so many of his points by dunking the ball can lead some to believe that he is unskilled, but that is not the case. In fact, he has consistent range on his jumper to 18 feet and the ability to score over either shoulder in the paint (his left handed jump hook may actually be better than his right hand). As for the fact that he dunks the ball so much…hey if he can do it, why not. Ultimately, it’s to his credit that he is intelligent enough to get the easiest shot possible whenever he touches the ball. He’s the best finisher in New England and also a tremendous presence on the defensive end of the floor as his shot blocking ability allows him to protect the basket like few others and dominate the game on that end of the floor.
#2 Erik Murphy – An incredibly skilled big man who can score and pass from the low block, high post, or three-point line, there is little he can’t do from a skill standpoint. The challenge of dominating class C and the ISL probably wore off a long time ago, but if you catch him on a night when he’s fired up you see how good he really is (last year’s class C championship game, his match-up this summer against Derick Favors at the Adidas It Takes 5ive, etc…). Because he has stepped up and answered the call every time he has been challenged over his high school career, we expect him to really blossom next year at the University of Florida. Murphy’s critics will typically point to a lack of athleticism or upper body strength, but in reality he is actually very good in both of those areas. He added a ton of muscle mass over the summer and has always been much more athletic than people give him credit for. He also has an incredibly high feel for the game and basketball I.Q.
#3 Jamal Coombs – The debate about who the top prospect is in the class of ’09 usually revolves around Oriakhi and Murphy. But Jamal Coombs puts up incredible numbers and dominates on a nightly basis for Tilton and in so doing makes a legitimate claim for the top spot. Coombs’ critics will say that he doesn’t do anything well enough to dominate at a place like UConn…his shooting mechanics are flawed, he doesn’t get low enough on his dribble driver, etc…But in actuality the fact that he can do a little bit of everything gives him the versatility to be effective against any defender. Standing 6’7” with a strong body and excellent athleticism, he has the body of a big man and the skills of a guard. Put a big guy on him and he’ll make shots from the arc, get to the rim, or score in the mid-range area. Put a quick guy on him and he’ll bring him to the box and abuse him. Defensively, his versatility may even be better as he can guard any position on the floor at the high school level. But his biggest strength may be his competitiveness. We have never seen him step on the floor when he didn’t have the mindset to dominate. He doesn’t back down from anyone and plays his best when the lights are on the brightest. Guys like that tend to do well at the next level.
#4 Thomas Robinson - Robinson was by far the region’s most widely recruited player this fall. In fact, he may have been the country’s, as virtually every high major program in the country made the trip to Wolfeboro, New Hampshire (or at least called first to see if they could even get in the mix). Ultimately the fact that he ended up picking between the defending national champions and the runner-up is only a testament to the fact that he could have gone to any school that he wanted. What coaches covet about Robinson is his incredible athleticism and high motor. He simply has physical gifts beyond most other high-major prospects and plays with an intensity that showcases them. Pound for pound, he is arguably the best rebounder in the country and his potential defensively is off the charts. His critics will site his offensive skill set, and while it is true that he needs to improve in that area, he’s the rare player who can dominate a game without scoring a point.
#5 Mike Marra – The Northfield Mount Hermon guard gets very little respect in national rankings despite the fact that he committed to national powerhouse Louisville in just his junior year. His critics will cite his lack of versatility, in particular his ball-handling skills and most especially his ability to guard the perimeter in the Big East. We’re not disagreeing that he needs to improve in those areas, but our contention is that his value as a shooter supersedes all that (for the time being). We’re not just talking about someone who is a great shooter. We’re talking about someone who can get his shot off behind the three-point line whenever he wants and has shown an ability to take and make big shots down the stretch of games. He’s got great size for the two-guard position at 6’4” and is also a big time athlete. Another factor that absolutely cannot be denied is that he has been tremendous to start this season and is a big reason why NMH is off to a 6-1 start with wins against Fork Union, St. Thomas More, Blair Academy, and others.