It's almost impossible to pick the most highly recruited player in the nation from this year's high school basketball players.
As Boston College Coach Gary Williams said recently, "There is no player this year who is a Patrick Ewing; no player who you can immediately recognize as capable of turning around a program or making a good team great. But there are a lot of good players. And they're spread all over the nation."
The names Billy Thompson, Wayman Tisdale, Benoit Benjamin, Curtis Hunter, Johnny Dawkins, Efrem Winters and Harold Pressley turned up on almost every all-America listing this year.
Thompson, a 6-foot-8 forward from Camden, N.J., has signed with Louisville. His style is characteristic of the type of physical, forward-oriented basketball Coach Denny Crum likes. With the graduation of Derek Smith, Thompson is expected to step in immediately at power forward.
Tisdale of Tulsa reportedly was considering Georgetown before choosing Oklahoma. At 6-9 and 220 pounds, he is perhaps the prototypical power forward. Benjamin, of Monroe, La., is the only quality 7-footer among this year's seniors. He selected Creighton after some deliberation over Louisiana State and Grambling.
Dawkins, the most highly recruited player from this area, is going to Duke. Many coaches say Dawkins, an all-Met from Mackin High School, has all the skills to be a superb guard in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Hunter, from Durham, N.C., is an extremely agile 6-5 player. He is going to North Carolina and is often compared to Tar Heel sophomore Michael Jordan. But with Jordan already at one guard and Carolina needing someone to replace 6-9 James Worthy at power forward, it is doubtful Hunter will get the playing time as a freshman that Jordan did.
Winters, 6-10, of Chicago, is clearly the best of this year's centers. He has signed with Illinois. Pressley, of Uncasville, Conn., considered Georgetown before Wingate signed with the Hoyas, but chose Villanova.
The school with the best overall recruiting year? It's probably a tossup between Duke and Notre Dame.
The Blue Devils signed Dawkins; 6-10 Bill Jackman of Grant, Neb.; 6-9 Jay Bilas of Rolling Hills, Calif.; 6-7 Weldon Williams of suburban Chicago; 6-9 Mark Alarie of Phoenix, and 6-5 David Henderson of Warren County, N.C. Jackman, Dawkins and Williams could start as freshmen.
After a terrible season last year, Coach Digger Phelps has signed five players who should help the Irish return to national respectability. Tim Kempton of Oyster Bay, N.Y., and Ken Barlow of Indianapolis are 6-10 center/forwards. Phelps also got 6-2 guard Joe Buchanan of Seattle, who some observers say is better than Dawkins.
Michigan, with consecutive superb recruiting years, will soon be back at the top of the Big Ten. Last year Coach Bill Frieder recruited guards Eric Turner and Leslie Rockymore. This year he has added five big men: 6-8 all-America Paul Jokisch from Birmingham, Mich.; 6-6 Richard Rellford from Riviera Beach, Fla.; 6-9 Robert Henderson from Lansing, Mich.; 6-10 Roy Tarpley from Detroit, and 6-8 Butch Wade from Boston.
Kentucky, which already has 7-1 Sam Bowie returning, recruited three players of all-America caliber: 6-8 Kenny Walker, a vastly underrated inside player from Roberta, Ga.; 6-1 Roger Harden of Valparaiso, Ind., and 6-8 Todd May from Virgie, Ky.
North Carolina, besides getting Hunter, signed 6-11 center/forward Brad Daugherty from Swannanoa, N.C., and 6-3 guard Steve Hale of Jenks, Okla. Top 25 Recruits And Where They're Headed
Benoit Benjamin, 7-foot center, Monroe, La.--Creighton
Len Bias, 6-8 forward, Hyattsville--Maryland
Kerry Boagni, 6-9 forward, Gardena, Calif.--Kansas
Wardell Curry, 6-5 guard, Fort Defiance, Va.--Virginia Tech
Willie Cutts, 6-2 guard, Bryant, Ark.--Arkansas
Johnny Dawkins, 6-2 guard, Washington, D.C.--Duke
Bruce Douglas, 6-3 guard, Quincy, Ill.--Illinois
Mike Giomi, 6-8 forward, Newark, Ohio--Indiana
Roger Harden, 6-1 guard, Valparaiso, Ind.--Kentucky
Robert Henderson, 6-9 forward, Lansing, Mich.--Michigan
Eldridge Hudson, 6-6 guard/forward, Los Angeles--Nevada-Las Vegas
Curtis Hunter, 6-5 guard/forward, Durham, N.C.--North Carolina
Tony Jackson, 6-4 guard, Oakland--De Paul
Alphonso Johnson, 6-6 guard/forward, Birmingham--Alabama
Paul Jokisch, 6-8 forward, Birmingham, Mich.--Michigan
Tim Kempton, 6-8 forward, Oyster Bay, N.Y.--Notre Dame
Lloyd Moore, 6-9 center/forward, Clairton, Pa.--Marquette
Harold Pressley, 6-6 forward, Uncasville, Conn.--Villanova
Richard Rellford, 6-6 forward, Riviera Beach, Fla.--Michigan
Billy Thompson, 6-8 forward, Camden, N.J.--Louisville
Wayman Tisdale, 6-9 forward, Tulsa, Okla.--Oklahoma
Kerry Trotter, 6-6 forward, Omaha--Marquette
David Wingate, 6-5 guard/forward, Baltimore--Georgetown
Efrem Winters, 6-10 center, Chicago--Illinois
Steve Woodside, 6-10 center/forward, Portland, Ore.--Oregon State