The 11 best NBA prospects in high school basketball right now, ranked – SB Nation

With the NBA and college hoops calendars in their August doldrums, there’s no better time to catch up on grassroots and high school basketball and start looking ahead at the best talent coming down the pipeline. This is the third time I’ve ranked the best NBA prospects in high school basketball at this site.

When I did this exercise back in 2015, nine of the 10 players on the list ended up being NBA draft lottery picks. Jayson Tatum (No. 6 on the list) was easily the best player in hindsight, followed by De’Aaron Fox (No. 8 on the list). I also ran this column in 2018. That one had some solid hits — Scottie Barnes, Evan Mobley, Anthony Edwards, and Jalen Green ranked No. 5 through No. 2 — but putting Emoni Bates at No. 1 was a big time whiff I still feel bad about to this day.

So much has changed since the last time I ranked high school prospects through an NBA lens. The G League Ignite — the NBA’s developmental team for top prospects who want to bypass college ball — didn’t even exist. Now the Ignite feels like the top option for elite players after the program developed four lottery picks in the last three years, and will be home to the projected top two prospects in the 2024 NBA Draft.

At this point, it’s also widely accepted that superstar NBA players can come from anywhere in the world. The two best players in the game today, Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo, each developed abroad. So did Luka Doncic and Victor Wembanyama.

Still, the American shoe company grassroots system continues to produce more NBA players than anywhere else in the world. Here’s our ranking of the most promising long-term basketball players in the world currently playing high school ball.

11. Alijah Arenas, G, Chatsworth High School (CA)/Compton Magic

Projected NBA Draft entry: 2027

There are more established prospects with better resumes around the country, but Alijah Arenas is the wildcard pick to conclude this list for a few reasons. You can start with his bloodlines: as the son of Gilbert Arenas, getting buckets runs in the family. The 16-year-old appears to be a bit taller than his old man already, and he clearly has the scoring gene after averaging 30 points per game as a freshman last season for LA’s Chatsworth High. Arenas is surgical in how he dissects defenses from the perimeter, with deep threes, sudden pull-up jumpers, and slick ball handling ability all part of the package. It feels impossible to contain Arenas at times due to all the counters he has at his disposal — just when you think he’s stopped, he’s able to shake free and get off an easy look at the rim. His production seems to match his potential thus far, too, after earning All-Underclassman honors with the Compton Magic on the Adidas circuit this summer despite playing two years up in competition. Arenas will eventually need to prove he can defend and facilitate to become a complete player, but for now his advanced scoring arsenal is enough to secure his spot here.

10. Caleb Wilson, F, Holy Innocents (GA)/Georgia Stars

Projected NBA Draft entry: 2026

There are certain players who just look NBA-bound when they walk into the gym. Caleb Wilson fits the mold. The 6’10 forward out of Atlanta had a breakout year as a rising junior on the Nike EYBL circuit for his size, athletic fluidity, scoring prowess, and shot blocking potential. Wilson is still growing into his body and his game, but it’s easy to daydream about his upside as a jumbo forward who can stretch the floor, attack closeouts, and provide supplemental rim protection. Wilson glides in the open floor with long strides and the footwork required to flow into Eurosteps when attacking the basket. He became a more willing shooter as the season went on, and the increased volume is encouraging even if he made only 10-57 shots from deep. Defensively is where Wilson is really intriguing: he finished top-10 in the EYBL in blocks and top-five in rebounds, showing that he wasn’t scared to challenge older players physically despite a thin frame. Wilson’s shot will be his make-or-break skill, but he says he views himself as a wing long-term and is determined to improve there. Already landing offers from every blueblood in college basketball, Wilson’s placement on this list is a gamble on tools, archetype, and the long view of his development.

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

9. Dylan Harper, G, Don Bosco (NJ)/New York Rens

Projected NBA Draft entry: 2025

The son of former NBA star Ron Harper (and younger brother of recent Rutgers standout Ron Harper Jr.), Dylan Harper is a poised and polished guard who makes this list for present day production more than theoretical long-term potential. A 6’5 lefty guard with a strong frame, Harper has tight ball handling ability, crafty finishing, and deep range on his pull-up jump shot. Defensively, Harper can get into a stance and wall off driving lanes with his big body and reported 6’10 wingspan. His lack of elite athletic burst may ultimately prevent him from becoming a primary creator, but his well-rounded dribble-pass-shoot skill set and impressive feel for the game gives him the versatility to slide into a variety of roles. That’s usually a winning formula.

8. V.J. Edgecombe, G, Long Island Lutheran (NY)/Austin Rivers Select

Projected NBA Draft entry: 2025

V.J. Edgecombe is a threat to put would-be rim protectors on a poster every time he drives. The 6’6 wing out of New York City by way of the Bahamas has ideal athletic tools to attack the basket with an ultra quick first step, blinding open floor speed, and incredible leaping around the rim. If he’s not the best downhill rim pressure threat on this list, he’s close. Edgecombe’s production in top settings has fueled his rise from a four-star recruit to one of the most promising long-term prospects in the country, even as his skill level is still catching up to his body. His jump shot looks good off the catch despite a long, slow release. He’s able to rack up steals with quick hands and well-timed strikes at the ball. He seems to read the floor well even if he profiles as more of a secondary creator long-term. Edgecombe is still learning to add craft as a driver and finisher, but his explosiveness off the ground is enough to entice scouts at the highest levels of the game.

Julie Vennitti Botos / USA TODAY NETWORK

7. Darryn Peterson, G, Huntington Prep (WV)/Phenom U

Projected NBA Draft entry: 2026

Darryn Peterson embodies the same quality all great shot-makers have in their DNA: he makes extremely difficult buckets look effortless. A long 6’5 combo guard out of Northeast Ohio, Peterson owns one of the most advanced scoring arsenals in high school basketball. Peterson is a slippery ball handler who can shake a defender by manipulating pace in either direction. He often lives off a diet of tough pull-ups and floaters inside the arc, but he’s still athletic enough to dunk through traffic when there’s an opening. He should project as a major scoring threat off the ball, too: he knows how to run free from his defender off screens and has a pretty jumper, even if the early returns on his spot-up shooting numbers are a bit shaky. Peterson also projects well defensively, using his long arms to pick the pocket of ball handlers and unlock his tremendous open floor scoring ability. There are plenty of lockdown defenders on this list, but all of them would have trouble containing Peterson on an island. Crafty shot creation and sublime shooting touch earn him a spot on this list.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

6. Koa Peat, F, Perry High (AZ)/Compton Magic

Projected NBA Draft entry: 2026

There are times when Koa Peat’s physical play on both ends of the floor feels like it would be more appropriate for a football player. That’s no mistake: both his father and brother played in the NFL, and he has another brother taking the gridiron at Arizona State this season. Peat’s burly 6’7, 215-pound frame can dish out punishment in a variety of roles, whether he’s using his strength to open up space as a driver, out-muscling opponents on the offensive glass, or getting his thick chest into ball handlers to cut off driving lanes. It’s impossible to argue with the results so far: Perry High School had never won an Arizona state championship until Peat enrolled, and now they’ve won two in a row. Add in two more gold medals with USA Basketball’s U16 and U17 teams the last two summers, and Peat’s resume can compete with any player in the country despite still being 16 years old.

Peat’s physicality shows up all over the tape regardless of the level of competition. He doesn’t have a ton of wiggle as a ball handler, but he can create separation on drives by bumping his defenders off their spot. He’s a monster rebounder, especially on the offensive end. On defense, Peat can wall off driving lanes with a wide frame, rotate over from the weakside to provide supplemental rim protection, and end possessions by pounding the glass. His outside shot is his swing skill, and right now the ball looks good coming out of his hand even if he lacks both volume and accuracy from deep. The development of his passing and outside shot means he doesn’t just have to rely on brute force. Still just 16 years old, Peat’s skill set still has plenty of time to catch up with his body, and it gives him one of the brightest futures in high school basketball.

5. Jayden Quaintance, C, Word of God (NC)/Team Thad/Team Loaded

Projected NBA Draft entry: 2026

Quaintance is just scratching the surface of his long-term upside, but it isn’t hard to imagine him one day turning into the type of versatile big man every team covets. While a bit undersized for a center at 6’9 or 6’10, Quaintance profiles as a long-and-strong interior force who can protect the paint defensively and has flashed some intriguing offensive skills. The sales pitch here is coverage versatility meeting meeting raw power at the rim: Quaintance is a fearsome shot blocker who attacks drivers with long arms and a strong base, and he can also stay in front of ball handlers with impressive quickness on the perimeter. Offensively, Quaintance wants to dunk everything in close, and he usually does with his ability to get off the ground quickly and elevate high above the basket. While his shooting numbers from both three and the free throw line were pretty rough on the EYBL, the fact that he doesn’t hesitate to shoot is encouraging for his long-term development. There are also some real flashes of ball handling ability here too, giving him perhaps more one-on-one scoring punch than most bigs in his mold. Quaintance just turned 16 years old in July, but already reclassified to 2024. The early signs are there for a Jalen Duren-type of big man, and that should be an enticing proposition to evaluators.


4. Tyran Stokes, F, Prolific Prep (CA)/Vegas Elite

Projected NBA Draft entry: 2027

Tyran Stokes is already an absolute unit despite not turning 16 years old until the fall with an Oct. 2007 birthday. Listed at 6’7, 215 pounds, Stokes plays with incredible raw power that produces so much more than just viral dunk highlights. The Louisville native played a winning role on a Vegas Elite team that made the Peach Jam finals, asserting himself as a terrifying rim scorer, a crafty passer with tremendous vision, and a monster team defender all while playing two years up in age. Stokes is a freight train rolling to the basket, capable of finishing over and through contact in close with real hops that threaten to put overmatched defenders on a poster with every drive. His passing ability is what takes him to the next level: he made some excellent live dribble passing reads in the EYBL, and already knows how to use the threat of his scoring to set up an open teammate. Stokes is also already a high-level defender, showing quick feet and discipline at the point of attack and a sixth sense for how to rip the ball away as a help defender. He had 20 steals in eight games at Peach Jam, often bursting into the passing lanes to turn defense into transition offense. There’s always some risk in long-term projection for a player whose body is already significantly more developed than his peers, but Stokes’ IQ, unselfishness, and top-tier athleticism makes me feel comfortable with him at No. 4. Assuming the next player on this list reclassifies, Stokes is the (very, very) early front-runner to be the No. 1 pick in the 2027 NBA Draft.

3. A.J. Dybantsa, G/F, Prolific Prep (CA)/Expressions Elite

Projected NBA Draft entry: 2026

While the top two players on this list were competing at the 16U level on the grassroots circuit over the summer, A.J. Dybantsa was asserting his will on the 17U level despite just finishing his freshman year of high school. Okay, so Dybantsa, currently a class of 2026 recruit, is only a month younger than class of 2024 superstar Cooper Flagg, but that doesn’t diminish his dominance at Peach Jam. Dybantsa led all players in scoring average at the signature year-end EYBL event, in the process asserting himself as a possible future No. 1 overall NBA draft pick. He has a legitimate case to be the top player on this list.

A 6’8 wing who grew up just outside of Boston, Dybantsa is a terror as a scorer from all over the court. His handle looks developed beyond his years, particularly in the open floor, where he can leverage his combination of speed and leaping to put pressure on the basket and wow evaluators with some spectacular above the rim finishes. His three-point stroke also looks projectable even if the numbers aren’t amazing yet (18-of-55 from three for 32.7 percent in EYBL regular season play), and he’s also hitting between 80-90 percent of his free throws. There’s isn’t a more coveted archetype in the modern game than the big wing who can create with the ball in his hands and stretch the defense with his jumper, and Dybantsa — who already had moments of mentorship by Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James this summer — looks like exactly that. His transfer to Prolific Prep to play with Tyran Stokes in the upcoming year is the biggest news of the high school offseason. Expect him to reclassify to 2025 soon and compete with Cameron Boozer for the top pick in the 2026 NBA Draft.

Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

2. Cameron Boozer, F, Columbus High School (FL)/Nightrydas

Projected NBA Draft entry: 2026

Each of Carlos Boozer’s twin sons, Cameron and Cayden, are five-star recruits with a path to the NBA one day, but Cameron came out as the lucky winner of the genetic lottery with six inches of height on his brother. A big 6’9 forward, Cameron Boozer plays less like the traditional power forward his father was and more like more recent Duke grads Paolo Banchero, Jayson Tatum, and Brandon Ingram thanks to his comfort on the perimeter. Boozer is an offensive force of nature because of his ability to blend scoring and playmaking in a huge frame. He has a quick first step with the ball in his hands and the strength to finish inside when he gets to the rim. Boozer’s scoring stresses opposing defenses so much that it opens up his passing ability, which is incredibly advanced for a player his age. Boozer can throw dimes all over the floor against a set defense. His ceiling is as a supersized offensive initiator in the NBA, but he can play off the ball, too. He made 40 percent of his threes (on 50 attempts) and 88.2 percent of his free throws (on 76 attempts) in the EYBL this year.

Best of all, Boozer’s brand of stardom has already proven to have a high impact on winning, with back-to-back state titles at Columbus High in Miami, a championship at The Throne against other elite national high schools, and a gold medal with USA Basketball’s FIBA U16 Americas team. Any player with this type of size and skill would be considered a future No. 1 overall NBA draft pick, and that’s exactly what Cameron Boozer should be when he’s eligible to enter in 2026.

Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

1. Cooper Flagg, F, Montverde Academy (FL)/Maine United

Projected NBA Draft entry: 2025

Cooper Flagg is the greatest playmaker in high school basketball today, though not exactly in the traditional sense. Yes, Flagg is an excellent passer for his position — it’s perhaps his best offensive skill right now — but his ability to create open looks for his teammates is only a small part of his appeal. Where Flagg really shines is with his defensive playmaking. At 6’9 with a 7-foot wingspan, Flagg has a special ability to quickly read the floor and leverage his immense physical tools to rip the ball away from opponents. He is an elite rim protector from the four spot, showing explosiveness to the ball, great technical skill in staying vertical, and fantastic hand-eye coordination to knock the ball away. His defensive masterclass came as a 15-year-old playing up in the U17 FIBA World Cup, when he finished with eight steals, four blocks, 17 rebounds, and 13 points in the gold medal game win over Spain. Since then, he’s only gotten more dynamic at the other end fo the floor.

On offense, Flagg is a forceful play finisher, a brilliant connective passer, an improving shooter with NBA range, and an emerging creator with the ball in his hands. His overwhelming combination of size and athleticism serves as the basis for his massive all-around impact. Flagg is a monster play finisher who will flush a dunk as the roll man or a cutter. He’s learning how to play the handler side of the pick-and-roll, too, using his height and perceptive passing to see over the top of defenses and make the right read. As a scorer, he’s best as a strength-based creator, using his big frame to create separation around the basket. Flagg can really be fun in transition, where his grab-and-go ability turns defensive rebounds into easier transition possessions for his team. He’s still developing as a shooter, but he has real promise there after making 34.3 percent of his three-pointers (on 67 attempts) and 83.6 percent of his free throws (on 159 attempts) on the EYBL this season.

There are players with deeper and more impressive one-on-one scoring bags out there, but Flagg’s incredible team defense and well-rounded offensive game pairs with both his physicality and his smarts to make him the best NBA prospect in the world still outside of the league.

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