The next wave of top Kansas City players

Kansas City Continues to Impress with High School Basketball Talent

Nino Williams is poised for a strong junior season

The 2010 Kansas City high school basketball class is carrying forward last year’s momentum with players such as Will Spradling (Kansas State), Trevor Releford (Alabama) and Frank Williams (Detroit) committing to play in big programs next year.  But according to astute observers like Eric Bossi of Scout.com, the younger classes such as the 2012 crop could be the best this area has ever produced. “{I’m} starting to get excited about the class of 2012 in Kansas City and Kansas. Looking like it could be strong,” Bossi recently posted online. When you consider the run this city, better known in the past for its barbecue than D1 talent, has had over the last four years, you begin to realize why more major programs are peaking in on its prep programs.

After seeing summer play, making open gym rounds this fall and talking to the area’s coaches and prep reporters, here is our look at the top players in the 2011 and 2012 classes.

2011

  1. Nino Williams – Leavenworth High School – This transfer from St. Louis made his mark as a sophomore and continued his rise over the summer playing for MOKAN Elite.  At 6’5”, he can shoot and attack the basket from 20 feet, and he is among the better athletes from KC since Jaron Rush. As a small forward, he has excellent mid-range skills and shows no fear in mixing it up. He has committed to Kansas State and may be off to prep school as a senior next year.
  2. AJ Spencer – Shawnee Mission Northwest – Playing for KC Pump ‘N Run, Spencer had a terrific summer and returns to the Cougars with a talented supporting cast. The 6’5” Spencer can shoot, is extremely long and as a lefty presents problems for defenders when he faces the basket.  Most of the Missouri Valley as well as schools such as Santa Clara are interested.
  3. David Kravish – Lee’s Summit North – At 6’9”, Kravish was raw as a sophomore but has greatly improved over the summer with markedly better feet and ability to post-finish around the basket.  He still is thin-framed but can run and jump, and he should be primed for a big season, especially as the Broncos welcome 6’8” frosh Tory Miller as a bookend in the lineup. Schools such as Iowa State are now on his trail.
  4. Jevon Lyle – O’Hara – At one point in his early career, Lyle was considered one of the Top 40 players in the country and has had an up and down high school career. However, his summer circuit play for KC Pump N Run cemented his place as a talented point guard who can run the floor and attack offensively and defensively. He has committed to Northern Iowa.
  5. Tyler Rambo – Grandview – After the Bulldogs produced standout Alec Burks (Colorado) last year; they are set to graduate another outstanding guard in Rambo. At 6’4”, 195, he is hard to guard and has a slashing game that harkens to a bigger version of Burks. He has Colorado, Iowa State and Nebraska in the hunt.
  6. Evan Wessel – Because he will play along side Perry Ellis at Wichita Heights, we like this young point guard to have an outstanding season. Already offered by Wichita State, he is also being followed by a number of Big 12 and Missouri Valley schools, and at 6’3” is an athlete with opportunities to play at the next level in football and basketball.

Sleeper Alert – Rozell Nunn, a talented combo guard at Schlagle High School, missed his sophomore season because of injury and has flown beneath the radar for many recruiting services.  But this kid can really go and will score in transition as well as in structured offense. Once he is widely seen, he will turn heads at the mid-major level. We also like a point guard that no one is talking about – Derek Cole at Olathe South.  He is extremely quick and can move a team up and down in transition with tremendous savvy.  Relegated to a small role as a sophomore because of South’s deep talent, he will play a major role this year and could command some attention from mid-majors. Other players from the 2011 class to keep tabs on:

  • Avery Dingman – 6’4” SF – Branson
  • Corey Hillard – 6’1” SG – Raytown South
  • DJ Jackson – 6’0” PG – O’Hara
  • Tyler Kalinowski – 6’2” SG – Olathe East
  • Justin Miller – 6’1” PG/SG – Columbia Rockbridge
  • Curtis Okafor – 6’4” SF – Bishop Miege

2012

  1. Willie Cauley – I’m sure most insiders will think us crazy, but we actually think Cauley has more upside than Perry Ellis. At 6’10”, he is a natural shot blocker and can run the floor as well as any young big man we saw this summer. His skills and body are just starting to really mature, and his AAU coaches at MOKAN Elite love his work ethic and mental makeup. He has already been offered by Kansas State and San Diego State, but he will get much more high major interest this year.
  2. Perry Ellis – Not much more you can say here that has not already been said, and as the only freshman to ever be 6A player of the year in Kansas, Ellis is a true talent. But, he must develop a better mid-range game, and some are questioning his true size as a four. Either way, he will definitely be one of the best high school players in the history of the area.
  3. Nathan Jackson – At 6’5” and still growing, this Wichita East wing is extremely athletic, long and tough-nosed.  He was not in our 2012 top five six months ago, but watching him this fall, we get the sense that he will continue to get better, stronger and more skilled. Wichita State and Oregon State are among the teams watching closely.
  4. Clint McCullough – This St. James Academy sophomore is one of Kansas City’s best power forwards.  At 6’6” and growing, he has a solid mid-range game and is extremely gritty inside. He is also a top-notch student with an ACT score in the 30s. Stanford, Vanderbilt and Kansas are interested and Kansas State has already offered.
  5. Gavin Thurman – Thurman is 6’6” and can really shoot from 12 feet and in. As another talented Wichita Player (Southeast), he has the attention of the Shockers as well as KU, Kansas State and Tulsa. Still too early to know whether he will be more effective as a three or four.
  6. Bennie Parker – He is, no doubt, undersized but Parker’s speed with the ball and ability to guard made him one of the city’s most dangerous guards as a freshman. At 5’6”, programs may have to take a leap of faith, but Parker is a game changer in the open court and will have a big soph year.

Sleeper Alert – Anthony Buffalomeat, a smooth 6’3” 2/3 from Lawrence, has a chance to be extremely good. He is long, quick and presents real match-up problems for defenders. As a three-sport athlete, he does not spend as much time in the summer basketball spotlight but should see a lot of varsity time at Lawrence High this year. Bubba Starling at Gardner-Edgerton is also a quality player receiving little attention, but he will likely sign with a big-time football or baseball program. Other players from a very deep 2012 class to watch:

  • Zach Large – 6’3” SG – Truman
  • Ryan Murphy – 6’5” SF – Basehor
  • KJ Pritchard – 6’2” SG – Lawrence
  • Davis Reid – 6’2” PG/SG – Olathe Northwest
  • Shavon Shields – 6’4” SF – Olathe Northwest
  • Dominique Wilson – 6’9″ PF – Piper

If the last two years were good for Kansas City’s production of collegiate talent, the next two should be even better.

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About kcprephoops

Following Kansas City high school basketball and area basketball teams, players and alumni in Kansas City and its surrounding hoops communities. Follow us at http://www.twitter.com/kcprephoops or email us at kcprephoops@gmail.com
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8 Responses to The next wave of top Kansas City players

  1. Adam Gastraino says:

    Its gonna be a battle this year in Kansas – Heights is best team but watchout for Wichita East and Olathe Northwest – they are stakked with tallent

  2. Atkinson says:

    Funny no one mentions a guard out of Derby named Cameron Cornelius. He’s one of the most athletic players I’ve seen. He was on a talented Wichita summer team (T-wolves) with the likes of Evan Wessal, Ja’ln Williams, Christian Ulsaker. From past articles and stats I see that he’s had the best numbers. Why is it that he has not following?

    • kcprephoops says:

      We saw Cameron play this summer for the first time and have him on our pre-season team from Wichita – thanks for the heads-up. You may have seen last year’s story on best area players where he was not mentioned. This years will be out next month and he is there. DL

  3. seriously says:

    Are you guys joking? Adam Leonard is the Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer -of -the-Year, is 2nd in the NATION in career 3’s amongst all current D1 players and will likely finish in the top 15 ALL TIME for career 3’s. Not to mention over 1,200 career points (and counting) and an NCAA tournament appearance. What a ridiculous oversight! Your comprehensive “list” includes kids who are barely even playing!

    • kcprephoops says:

      Good call – sorry we missed him. We ranked the guys based on what we think their impact will be this year, regardless of how much they played last year. But, AL should be on this list.

  4. AFAN says:

    A very good player that has been flying under the raidar is Pat Jones out of Rockhurst(2012) He played varsity for the Rock his Freshman year and was the main go to guy down the stretch in more than one important game for Coach Nussbaum and the Hawklets last year. He should be a HUGE factor for the Rock this year.

  5. Rathan Ellis says:

    Up and comer from Kansas City East Christian Academy -only a Junior this year, 6′ 7″ forward named Kyle Morrison – great defense, body’s up against the best, and double-double per game. Played for AAU Team in Kansas City, (beleive KC Warriors). Saw him in Hoops City Classic Tournament.

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