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Meet the best 15- and 16-year-old basketball recruits in the country

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The future of USA Basketball is in good hands with these young five-star recruits

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COLORADO SPRINGS — There’s a clear pecking order at USA Basketball’s annual junior minicamp. Of the 54 players in attendance this weekend, 18 are seniors looking to play their way onto the Hoops Summit roster. The rest of the camp is made up of high school sophomores and juniors ostensibly trying out for the program’s U17 World Cup team. But there’s more on the line than just that.

For the younger players in attendance, the minicamp has become a place where reputations are earned and stars are born. Want to make a name for yourself? All you have to do is show out against the top players in your age group and earn the respect of the seniors.

After two days of competition, we can safely say the future of USA Basketball is in good hands. These are the best players from the class of 2019 and class of 2020 we saw this weekend.

Class of 2019

Most agile big man: C James Wiseman, Nashville, Tennessee

Rank: No. 1 in the class of 2019, per ESPN

The No. 1 player in the country is typically a name brand by the time he starts his junior year of high school. That isn’t the case for James Wiseman, a 6’11 big man who shot up to No. 1 after R.J. Barrett reclassified up a year. Wiseman may lack the notoriety that typically comes with his prestigious ranking, but he used the camp to show why scouts think so highly of him as a long-term prospect.

Wiseman looks the part of a new-age center. He’s fast up-and-down the floor and showed good lateral quickness defensively. He also seems to be just scratching the surface with his offensive skill set. Wiseman showed off a promising jumper and even attempted to pull off some crossover dribble moves when he got the ball at the top of the key.

Wiseman said he patterns his game after Anthony Davis and Kevin Garnett, the prototypes for the athletic, face-up big man who wins with speed, agility and skill over brute force. You can see the rough outline of that type of player starting to form.

Player poised to make an instant impact: Vern Carey Jr., Southwest Ranches, FL

Rank: No. 2 in class of 2019, per ESPN

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Vernon Carey enjoyed an eight-year NFL career as left tackle after being taken with a first-round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2004. His son has traded in the trenches for the hardwood, turning into a blue chip center recruit with a huge frame, soft hands and a developing jump shot.

Carey isn’t as fast or agile as Wiseman, but he’s stronger, better in the post and further along with his jump shot. As a long term prospect, Carey’s lack of elite length (6’11 wingspan) and lateral quickness will be hurdles. But he looks like a day-one contributor at the college level who could push a team over the top. He said Duke and Michigan State are recruiting him the hardest.

Biggest riser: Isaiah Stewart, Rochester, NY

Rank: No. 26 in class of 2019, per ESPN

It was impossible to miss Stewart on the court based on his physicality alone. While so many of the players at the camp are still growing into their bodies, Stewart already has a mature, developed frame with wide shoulders and the type of strength that should not be possible for a 16-year-old. Next to Zion Williamson, Stewart was the most obvious man-child at the camp.

Stewart was a major presence defensively and on the glass. His motor never stopped running. He also showed off a developing shooting stroke out to 18-feet. Stewart only measured at 6’8, but his 7’3 wingspan makes up for it. Syracuse, Notre Dame and Maryland have made him a priority recruit.

Class of 2020

Most natural scorer: G Jalen Green, Fresno, CA

Rank: No. 2 in class of 2020, per ESPN

Green played for Paul Pierce’s grassroots team this summer and earned himself enough of a reputation that Russell Westbrook showed up to watch him at an event in Las Vegas. He’s already considered one of the top prospects in the class of 2020 and reinforced that belief with a strong showing this weekend.

Green showed off the most impressive combination of skill and athleticism of any of the young guards. He’s a big time athlete who can beat people down the floor and finish above the rim, and he’s learning to play with pace. He’s also a skilled scorer who can knock down a jump shot and create off the dribble. It will be interesting to see if he ends up on or off the ball long-term.

Best defensive prospect: F Scottie Barnes, West Palm Beach, FL

Ranking: No. 16 in class of 2020, per ESPN

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Barnes is a quick-twitch athlete who could develop into a lockdown defender down the road. He has great length and didn’t back down in matchups against Williamson and Reddish all weekend.

At this point, Barnes is a ball of clay. He can handle the ball a bit in the open floor, but the skill aspect of his game has a long way to go. What makes him intriguing are the things you can't teach: his quick feet, long arms and willingness to defend. If his offense catches up to his defense, he has a chance to be one of the best long-term prospects in this class.

Best shooter: SG Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Short Hills, NJ

Ranking: No. 8 in class of 2020, per ESPN

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The son of Shareef Abdur-Rahim, the No. 3 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, Jabri played with a fearlessness that belied his age as a 15-year-old. He’s a confident shooter with deep range who had no trouble hitting shots from the extended international line. He also attacked the basket in transition, finishing an and-one layup through Carey at one point during Friday’s session.

Abdur-Rahim stood out as one of the best shooters in the camp regardless of age. At 6’6, he looks like the type of off-ball floor spacer teams at every level need.

Best ball handler: G R.J. Hampton, Little Elm, TX

Ranking: No. 4 in class of 2020, per ESPN

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Hampton’s game is undeniably smooth. As a 6’4 lead guard, he’s a long, fast athlete who can make plays for others in both in open floor and half court settings. He was so good with his dribble that he almost used it too much. His jumper wasn’t always falling this weekend, but his stroke looks good and should be a big part of his game moving forward.

Senior stars Immanuel Quicklyy and Tre Jones both named Hampton the young player they were most impressed with at the camp.

Highest upside big man: C Isaiah Todd, Richmond, VA

Ranking: No. 1 in the class of 2020, per ESPN

Todd is the early front-runner for the No. 1 player in the class of 2020 as a 6’10 face-up big man with impressive agility. He’s a confident three-point shooter and showed some grab-and-go ability off rebounds. He seems to fit the new-age center profile even better than Wiseman because he has some more versatility to his game.

Two wings to monitor closely: Greg Brown III and Noah Collier

The most coveted archetype in basketball right now is the versatile 6’8 wing who can defend, finish at the basket and hit shots from the outside. Brown and Collier look like they can each become that type of player in the future. Both were all over the floor on each end thanks to impressive athleticism and length.

If their skill can catch up to their physical tools, Brown and Collier will each have a chance to be among the top long-term prospects in the class.

Biggest surprise: F Xavier Foster, Oskaloosa , IA

Ranking: Not ranked by ESPN

The 15-year-old Foster temporarily delayed practice with a tip-dunk that shattered the backboard. Even more impressive: the next time he got on the court, he stole the ball and drained a deep three-pointer.

Foster looks like an athletic hybrid big man with a soft shooting touch and the ability to finish above the rim. He’s not currently ranked by ESPN in the class of 2020, but you can expect that to change soon.