As of now, ESPN is the lone national ranking site to release rankings for the 2023 class. It may be months before we receive access to the opinions of Rivals and 247. After these past two weekends of competition, I took a look at seven rising sophomores in Texas who have a possible chance of cracking those lists:
Ja’Kobe Walter • 6’5″ • SG • Drive Nation E15
An ESPN 25 snub, Walter has not only proved that he belongs in his class’ national ranking debut, but that he is arguably the top player in the state for his class as well. At 6’5″ and still growing, Walter has the long arms and the frame that oozes long term production. His ability to read the game offensively when seeking opportunities to score and be unselfish is advanced at this stage of his development. Playing for a McKinney program that asks him to lead by example, it would be hard not seeing him in the conversation for the top player in Texas by the time his high school career comes to an end. The Big 12 conference has recognized his potential as he already holds offers from Baylor, Oklahoma, and TCU.
Kendrick “K.J.” DeLuna • 6’9″ • C • Houston Hoops E15
DeLuna has had a terrific month of June asserting himself at each event he has played in. His frame is starting to fill out nicely, he runs the floor, and accepts the fact that he is the biggest athlete on the floor and plays like it. The San Antonio native has the soft touch and feel to be an option for teams to run their offense through. Illinois, Oklahoma State, Prairie View, and TCU have extended early offers to the talented big man.
Jamyron Keller • 6’1″ • PG • Drive Nation E15
The best point guard in the state for the rising sophomore class may reside in Killeen, Texas. Jamyron Keller strikes fear in his opponents with his strong body, competitiveness, and toughness on both ends of the floor. The athletic guard is just as explosive as he is strong and never disappeared during any stretch of games he performed in. The Ellison guard is primed to be the next great prospect to come out of Killeen.
Chris Johnson • 6’4″ • SG • Houston Hoops E15
The versatile scorer and overlooked passer definitely separated himself from his peers at the Duncanville Great American Shootout. Each game he played, he jumped out the gate aggressive looking to take advantage of all scoring opportunities presented to him. His versatility as a scorer is derived from his tendencies to connect on open shot attempts, post up smaller defenders to score inside, and take opponents one on one off the bounce. Johnson will be a future national name if he continues to play with confidence and compete with urgency. His efforts this past weekend earned him his first local offer from Texas Southern.
R.J. Jones • 6’3″ • SG • Drive Nation E15
It is rare to see a prospect with as much polish and touch as Jones does at his age. His jumper is feathery out to the three-point line and beyond while he is already comfortable utilizing his in-between game to score. Jones has the apparent skill and feel to be consistently productive from here on out. The Denton Braswell guard’s upside will be in his growth and the improvements he makes towards his body throughout his high school career.
Justin McBride • 6’6″ • SF • Southern Assault 15U
With Tyrese Maxey graduating, South Garland seems to have another high major prospect on its campus for the next few years in Justin McBride. A combo-forward with a stocky build and solid athleticism, McBride is most effective in one or two bounce slash and score situations. Local program TCU has made an effort in recruiting him early as they already have extended an offer, while Texas A&M is showing heavy interest.
Malik Presley • 6’3″ • SG • Houston Hoops E15
Like his summer teammate DeLuna, Presley has also had an impressive June. In his three weekends, he has wowed scouts and spectators with his high-level athletic ability on the break. The San Marcos wing has been blessed with the solid positional size, length, and fluidity to blossom into a national prospect. IUPUI was the first school to reach out to Presley with an offer and more schools should be soon to follow.