Candid Coaches: Which elite '14 player will struggle most in college?

Goodluck Okonoboh is a talented prospect who's doubted by some for how much impact he'll have in college. (Adidas)
Goodluck Okonoboh is a talented prospect, but some doubt how much impact he'll have in college. (Adidas)'s college basketball trio of Gary Parrish, Jeff Borzello and Matt Norlander spent the July recruiting period at various NCAA-sanctioned events, where they talked with coaches from all levels of the sport. Parrish, Borzello and Norlander asked for opinions on prospects, players, coaches and issues. They'll be sharing those opinions to specific questions here in the blog over the next three weeks.

Yesterday, we looked at the players in the 2014 class with the most NBA potential – but there’s always the flip side to that question. It’s not a secret that every five-star prospect won’t pan out at the next level, or be a superstar right off the bat in college. Some could struggle to adapt, some could fit in poorly – there’s a variety of reasons why five-star players don’t immediately succeed on the collegiate hardwood. But who will it be in the 2014 class?

Which 2014 prospect will struggle most at the college level?

  • Goodluck Okonoboh: 14 percent
  • Trey Lyles: 11 percent
  • Daniel Hamilton: 8 percent
  • Kevon Looney: 6 percent
  • Cliff Alexander: 6 percent
  • Joel Berry: 6 percent
  • Emmanuel Mudiay: 6 percent

Others receiving votes: Karl Towns, Myles Turner, Josh Perkins, Devin Booker, Theo Pinson, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Pope, Justin Jackson, Leron Black, Tyus Jones, Craig Victor, Chris McCullough, Justise Winslow, JaQuan lyle, Jordan McLaughlin, Devin Robinson


On Goodluck Okonoboh: “He’s a 6-foot-8 center without offense. And he’s not Nerlens Noel.”

On Daniel Hamilton: “As much as I like the kid and his talent, Daniel Hamilton will struggle some. He takes a lot of shots, and doesn’t always make very many.”

On Kevon Looney: : "He’s too passive at times and his motor doesn’t run at a very high level. Will be a good player but it will take time."

On Cliff Alexander: "He's not very skilled so I think he'll struggle a little when he's unable to overpower everybody he plays against. But he'll turn pro after one year anyway. So I think he'll have an NBA career after one rough year in college."

On the 2014 class in general: “It’s a weak five-star class overall. Guys are being overrated based on a generally weak upper-echelon class. Outside of roughly eight five-star guys, I would rather take hungry four-star guys because the gap is minimal between them and the five-star. A lot of these guys are what they already are.”


Before we fully dive into the results, let me be clear: these five-star prospects aren’t suddenly overrated or suddenly subpar players because of this poll. We asked the question, and in order to differentiate between various high-level players, college coaches had to essentially focus on negatives of players. For a reference point, here is 247Sports’ updated Top 247 for the class of 2014, and here is my top 10 for the class of 2014.

The first thing to take away from the poll is the sheer number of players who received votes. Twenty-three prospects were mentioned at least once by a college coach, which means a couple of things. One, there’s nothing close to a consensus on who the five-star prospects are in the class of 2014, and two, there’s definitely not a consensus on which players are going to struggle at the next level.

Goodluck Okonoboh received the most votes, primarily for his lack of offensive production at this point. He’s one of the elite shot-blockers in the country, but his offense is lagging behind his defense right now. Often compared to former AAU and prep school teammate Nerlens Noel, Okonoboh will need to become a more dangerous offensive player in order to make an immediate all-around impact. The rest of the players receiving multiple votes focus mainly on one deficiency in their game.

Kevon Looney doesn’t always make an impact on the game when he plays against someone with similar size and athleticism; Daniel Hamilton can get shot-happy at times; Cliff Alexander doesn’t have the finesse and ceiling of a Myles Turner of Jahlil Okafor; Trey Lyles can be inconsistent against other elite players.

Like I said earlier, when comparing five-star prospects, you have to essentially find one thing (usually a negative) to break a tie – and that’s what this entire question revolved around. Over the next two years, can these players improve and refine their game to prove everyone wrong? Of course.

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