Spring Recap: Five on the Rise

Henry Ellenson

Now that June is knocking on the door and the next five weeks will be headlined primarily by individual camps, rather than team events, it's an opportune moment to assess players whose stock rose most sharply over the past two months.

The spotlight in this article shines on rising seniors, but obviously prospects from other classes made bold moves as well. With no further adieu, then, let's take a look at five who have enhanced their national stature (in no particular order).

Jaylen Brown: Colleague Brian Snow has been the president, treasurer and secretary of the Brown fan club for the past 18 months, and now he's joined by many, many others.

I watched Brown in December and thought his current No. 9 ranking may be slightly high, but actually it now appears low. Any movement of more than a couple spots within the top 10 is significant, and the dominant Georgia wing realistically could land in the national top three the next time we update our rankings.

He has been superlative on the Adidas Circuit for Game Elite, arguably piecing together the best string of performances of any player suiting up with the three stripes emblem on a uniform. His improvements include a jump shot that has evolved from poor to serviceable, and a body that has transformed from powerful and bulky to powerful and lean.

He has gained quickness and added explosion despite already being considered a big-time athlete. Brown always has projected as a potential stopper defensively, and now he appears more formidable on that end than ever as well.

At this point you could argue Brown or Malik Newman in either player's favor, something that didn't appear realistic just five months prior.

Henry Ellenson: The nation's No. 62 rising senior is anything but. Asking someone to find 61 better prospects in the class would comprise a form of logical torture, as it's simply not possible.

Ellenson (pictured, above) competes for Wisconsin-based Playground Elite on the EYBL circuit and at times has outplayed established elites head to head such as Ivan Rabb and Stephen Zimmerman. He'll need to prove he can succeed in those scenarios now that he's going to be a marked man himself, but he appears up to the challenge.

The power forward's game doesn't fit into the common categories. He isn't a low-post player yet also isn't a stretch, given that mobility has become such a key to his contributions. Ellenson runs the floor very hard and very effectively, and he excels when the game speeds up and he's able to break ahead in transition.

He also shoots a soft, high-arching ball to three-point distance, though perhaps the next step will be to take fewer of those jumpers and integrate more inside/outside balance.

Regardless, Ellenson now projects as a potential prep All-American — not bad for a guy who entered the spring outside the top 50.

Jalen Brunson: As a testament to the weakness of the point guard class in 2015, Brunson currently is the No. 3 point guard yet only No. 35 overall. Well, he still may be No. 3 at point guard, but that's hardly a guarantee and he definitely will rise markedly from his overall position.

Last year, teaming with guys like Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander for the Mac Irvin Fire, Brunson carried a low double-figure scoring average but shot just an average percentage from the outside and was saddled with a poor overall mark from the field.

Brunson's skills and intangibles are superb

In 15 games with the Fire this year, however — keeping in mind that the squad lost a ton of its star power — Brunson has asserted himself as an all-around player. He actually has shot miserably from three-point range (23 percent) but is hitting around 40 percent from the field on the whole and is averaging a strong 17 points, seven assists and four rebounds per game.

Brunson appears far more comfortable dribbling the ball for long stretches and setting up the offense. He obviously has been forced to take on a greater scoring load this season and will need to up his accuracy from deep, but his upgraded quickness and overall confidence have raised his stature within the grassroots realm.

Brandon Ingram: One might surmise, without knowing anything else, that an offer list that includes Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Louisville and Florida would suggest that a player who's ranked higher than No. 40 nationally.

And, in fact, Ingram is vastly underrated. He still needs to get much stronger and to become a more consistent shooter, but a 6-8 player who handles and passes at and elite level — and who sports ridiculously long arms — likely should be included among the top 30, at worst, and Ingram appears to be even better than that.

Competing for Team Stackhouse on the Adidas circuit, Ingram consistently has been very effective as a scorer. He does knock down some jump shots and utilizes his long strikes and angular finishing ability — with either hand — to make plays in traffic.

He's also a nuisance defender despite lacking quick feet, once again thanks to his height and reach. He interferes with the kinds of passes that normally enter into the post unobstructed, and that ability will pay off even more handsomely in college as defense becomes a more prevalent aspect of the game.

Ingram's slow start from a rankings standpoint owes in part from the fact that he's arguably only the fourth-best prospect in his own state, behind rising juniors Harry Giles, Dennis Smith and Edrice Adebayo. But he has reversed the narrative in the past few weeks, and if you choose not to believe me — look again at the Hall of Fame coaches offering him a scholarship.

Jimmy Whitt: Representing K.C. Run GMC circuit on the Under Armour circuit, Whitt has performed admirably over the past couple months. He entered the spring unranked in our national top 100, but that's going to change in a big way the next time we release an updated list.

Whitt is a wing who's arguably a combo guard due to how proficiently he handles and passes the ball. Meanwhile, he lofts in smooth three-point jump shots and is even more effective medium-range.

He's a capable defender and athlete as well who can't be typecast into one specific role. We'll have quite a few new additions to the top 100, but it's possible no one will rise from outside the rankings as highly as Whitt.

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