Every year, we see guys from all levels of basketball make 'the leap.' This term simply refers to when a talented player begins to harness the next steps of being a star player or high-level prospect. In the most recent NBA season, someone like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would be a perfect example. He was already incredible, but still managed to ascend to another level and transition into being one of the best players in the entire league. This notion isn't just applicable to the NBA, as it's commonly seen in the high school and college ranks as well. Let's take a closer look at four guys who appear ready to take that next step'
6'5 '26 Markus Kerr (Chambers)
Watching Markus Kerr over these last few months has been nothing short of eye-opening. In a world where a majority of high-level prospects are reclassifying and gaining an age advantage over their peers, he's in the opposite camp. Kerr just turned 15 years old and legitimately possesses all the tools, instincts, and intangibles to be a special player. His combination of IQ, skill, athleticism, and ability to impact all facets of the game allows him to shine in various different roles. Kerr has a crafty handle, sharp vision, and creates well for himself and others off the bounce. He effortlessly scores the ball from all levels and possesses a great understanding of when to assert himself versus defer to others. Kerr is also capable of defending multiple positions and making his presence felt on the glass. Given his current trajectory, national outlets and high-major programs would be wise to get involved sooner than later.
6'8 '25 Isaac Ericksen (Green Level)
Despite being the lone junior prospect on this list, it seems like Isaac Ericksen is rapidly putting it all together. His general identity has been visibly appealing from a young age, but it's easy to see how his uptick in strength, athleticism, and general consistency has impacted his on-court approach. Ericksen has clearly become more and more comfortable taking over a game and asserting himself as a leader. He's a polished scorer who can operate from the block, high post, or along the perimeter. Ericksen is able to effectively roll or pop when working the two-man game, but is also capable of running inverted PnR actions if needed. He displays toughness defensively, as a rebounder, and when finishing through contact. Although his recruitment continues to move forward, don't be surprised if Ericksen blows up over the next calendar year.
6'6 '26 Michael Phillips (Grace Christian)
Given everything he's shown throughout our fall league, Michael Phillips is becoming somewhat of an obvious candidate to make the leap. He's always possessed IQ, intangibles, and an enticing array of physical tools, including size, fluidity, long arms, and a quality burst. However, it seems like Phillips' overall mentality is what has him legitimately dominating various types of opponents. He's shown an increased comfort level at dictating the action, operating as a main creator, and applying scoring pressure in numerous different ways. Phillips is a smooth shooter with polish off the bounce, both as a scorer and playmaker. Defensively, he's capable of causing problems for opponents through his length, motor, and general nose for the ball. Phillips pursues rebounds, blocks shots, and intercepts passing lanes. Expect him to shine as a focal point for Grace Christian going forward.
6'5 '26 Tarris Bouie (Chambers)
Although his teammate is listed above, it would be criminal to make a list about blossoming players and not include Tarris Bouie. The appeal of a long, athletic shot-maker with IQ, toughness, and the ability to thrive in various roles should be easy for folks to see. Arguably the most impressive part of Bouie (right now) is how he impacts the game despite being physically underdeveloped in comparison to his peers. He's an excellent shooter, both from midrange and beyond the arc, who can simply rise over contesting defenders and knock down jumpers at an efficient rate. That being said, Bouie also loves to attack closeouts and meet opponents at the rim as a finisher'where he's made posters out of several defenders over the recent months. He's tough, intelligent, and doesn't mind operating as a low-maintenance cog. Only time will tell, but Bouie clearly has the makings of a special player.