Home Sports CBB recruiting: The top 10 playmakers over the next three classes

CBB recruiting: The top 10 playmakers over the next three classes

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CBB recruiting: The top 10 playmakers over the next three classes

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A playmaker is defined as someone who creates opportunities. Whether it’s their own scoring opportunity or finding an open teammate and delivering a timely assist, they impact the game with creative scoring or passing — and sometimes both.

Playmakers are not locked into a position. In today’s game, they can be either an elite scoring threat or a facilitator reading the floor and reacting at a moment’s notice. The opposing defense fears them. They are stars who can make something positive happen, and make winning plays with the ball in their hand.

In today’s game, Steph Curry, LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, Trae Young and Chris Paul come to mind. Going back decades, playmakers run the full gamut of different kinds of players. Names such as Steve Nash, John Stockton, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas, Jerry West and Oscar Robertson were legendary. Simply put, playmakers are difference-makers.

Below is a list of playmakers — seven of whom will be playing in the fourth annual GEICO Top Flight Invite (ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN+) from Oct. 13 to 15 — across all of ESPN player rankings who could make major impacts this season.

Cooper Flagg | Uncommitted | 2024 ESPN 100 ranking: 1

Flagg accounted for 37.8 points per game when combining his scoring and assist numbers, which are amplified by his instinctual ability to read the floor and make the right pass. That type of production hasn’t been replicated since Trae Young and Tyus Jones were high schoolers, according to Synergy Sports. Flagg is actively prepared to be a passer because he faces heavy defensive attention. Don’t forget that Flagg can create his own space behind the arc or in the post. He creates for himself in effective ways and unselfishly finds others. He led Maine United to a championship appearance at the U16 level and was the MVP of the NBPA camp. A future hybrid forward at the next level, Flagg’s recruiting is down to UConn and Duke.


Dylan Harper | Uncommitted | 2024 ESPN 100 ranking: 2

Harper is a purist who plays a team game. He’s a heavy ball-in-hand guard who is an exceptionally good decision-maker and natural scorer. He scores at a highly productive 59% rate inside the arc. Harper most frequently scores on mid- and long-range 2-pointers and couples that with a driving skill enhanced by his ability to move without the ball and attack ball-screen actions. He posted a 21-to-4 assist-to-turnover ratio while playing in seven games at the U19 FIBA championships this summer. His recruiting is intensifying between Rutgers, Duke and Indiana.


Wright combines a nice mix of scoring and facilitating along with a low turnover rate in the half court against asset defenders. For a player who controls the ball, the Baylor commit can be trusted to find the open man and move the ball. His 2.56 assist-to-turnover ratio is one of the tops in his class, per Synergy Sports, and he takes great joy in using his basketball savvy to set up others. Don’t be mistaken though, he can put up big scoring numbers if needed.


Kon Knueppel | Duke commit | 2024 ESPN 100 ranking: 22

More than a great shooter, Knueppel sees the floor and moves the ball. He has become a dangerous passer, perhaps out of necessity because his high-level scoring and shooting garner heavy defensive attention. He doesn’t compile a huge number of assists — he recorded 3.4 per game this summer — but he’s efficient when he chooses to pass. He shows shades of former Duke great Luke Kennard, considering his production and size.


Zoom Diallo | Uncommitted | 2024 ESPN 100 ranking: 25

Diallo averaged six points per game in transition because of his sense to push and strong frame to finish at the rim. He passed as much as he scored in the half court and his 32.2 points per game when combining his scoring and points from assists was top five among his peers. Diallo’s 4.7 assists per game were outstanding, but his 1.24 assist-to-turnover ratio means he needs to cut his miscues nearly in half. He should have a high usage rate this season at Prolific Prep while surrounded by a massive amount of talent. Diallo is a coachable guard with a college-ready frame who is best at scoring off the bounce, and he’s also capable from beyond the arc and attacking ball screens while still finding others.


Cameron Boozer | Uncommitted | 2025 ESPN 60 ranking: 1

Cameron Boozer plays a modern game because of his shooting, passing and playmaking ability. He also understands how to dominate in the paint and on the glass as a double-double machine. He can be a real facilitator with excellent passing vision to see plays develop and hit the open man for a scoring opportunity. He contributed 30 points per game this summer combining his scoring and assists, an exceptionally high number for his size. He distributes his points effectively — he’s a 40% 3-point shooter and 88% from the line. His shot selection is sound, aiding his high 3-point percentage. Coaches can run offenses through him.


Cayden Boozer | Uncommitted | 2025 ESPN 60 ranking: 15

Cayden Boozer (7.6 per game) rarely makes turnovers, and only Elliott Cadeau averaged more assists this summer. Boozer’s 2.81 assist-to-turnover ratio is among the best of any ranked prospect in Synergy. He constantly creates for others and searches to make the assist. His passes arrive on time with accuracy while generating scoring. He is excellent at pushing the break to find others with the advance pass and can aggressively finish himself. He delivered 23 points in the Peach Jam championship and is a willing scorer when left open. When he is not moving the ball, he is best at scoring inside the arc via drives to the rim and playing two-man games.


A.J. Dybantsa | Uncommitted | 2026 ESPN 25 ranking: 1

Dybantsa is the No. 2 prospect in the country regardless of class and has the DNA to finalize plays, make shots off the dribble and produce from the free throw line. He led all Peach Jam scorers and his playmaking was responsible for 29.2 total points per game this summer. Dybantsa has a high usage rate because he is involved with almost every play while reading the floor and looking to make the right play. Dybantsa averaged 3.5 assists per game and is a winning, accurate passer. He is creative and relatively efficient, using his speed, size, scoring and passing to perform at a high level. Dybantsa projects as a high NBA lottery pick with continued development because of his current production and future potential.


Darryn Peterson | Uncommitted | 2025 ESPN 60 ranking: 2

Peterson puts pressure on the rim. Nearly 50% of his shots come at the rim, which forces help and creates defensive rotations. His assists are easy to score on because of his ability to penetrate and pass. He was responsible for 28.8 points per game on the 3SSB U16 circuit, shooting 51%, averaging 3.6 assists and hitting 85% from the free throw line. Peterson averaged 33.9 points per 40 minutes at FIBA U16 Americas and his ability to create at his size and grade is a strong indicator of future promise.


Jason Richardson | Uncommitted | 2024 ESPN 100 ranking: 28

Richardson accounted for 18 points per game, which is above average, but it’s his playmaking balance between scoring and distributing that intrigues. Richardson owns one of the highest assist-to-turnover ratios (3.24) among his peers. He plays under control, scores enough to keep defenses honest and his usage will increase as he grows as a 3-point shooter. Alabama, Cincinnati and Michigan State are his final three schools.


Honorable mentions

Ian Jackson, Darius Acuff, Jason Crowe, Ahmad Nowell and Tyler Jackson

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