Saturday, April 19, 2014

"Real Deal" AAU tourney off to FAST start

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THE RIVALS150: Class of 2014 - Class of 2015
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- This April, only one weekend is open for Division I coaches to evaluate talent at grassroots events. With one less April weekend than in the past to impress coaches, it is important that teams be sharp. Friday night at the Real Deal in the Rock, Malik Monk, Melvin Frazier, Skal Labissiere and the Arkansas Wings looked ready to turn coaches' heads when they are out next weekend.

Wings talent overwhelms

During the first half, it looked like we were going to have a great Friday night game on our hands. The loaded Arkansas Wings, who feature five-stars Malik Monk and Skal Labissiere to go with four-star Melvin Frazier and several others, were in a close one with a tough RL9 team from Houston. Both teams feature several deluxe athletes and the Wings held a 31-26 lead at halftime of tough played game where neither team was particularly hot from deep.

Labissiere missed most of his junior season with a stress fracture in his back.
During the second half, though, the Wings erupted to run away and hide in an 83-51 win. Not surprisingly, Monk, Labissiere and Frazier all played their part.

Because he had the best night, we'll start with Monk. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Bentonville (Ark.) High currently ranks No. 12 overall in the class of 2016 and he looked every bit the part. After settling for deep jumpers when watched him in December, Monk was playing in attack mode. He has added at least 10 pounds of muscle since the winter and uses his electric step and big time hops to get to the rim. Monk is also playing some point and said that even if he never plays the position long term, the ball handling focus can only help him. After making noise at the rim, Monk showed off his smooth jump shooting from deep and also locked in defensively.

If Monk's Friday night play is any indicator of how he will play this spring and summer, opposing shooting guards are going to be in for a long summer. He mentioned that Arkansas, Connecticut and Florida were among those that have been by to see him.

A five-star like Monk, Labissiere ranks No. 6 overall in 2015. A 6-foot-11 big man from Cordova (Tenn.) Evangelical Christian, Labissiere was playing in his first game since November after missing almost all of his junior season to a stress fracture in his back. The Haiti native played limited minutes, but his skill on both ends of the floor was evident. He has gotten much stronger and while he isn't a high flyer, he can really move his feet, is fast and has great length. He doesn't bite on fakes and causes a lot of problems in the lane as a rim protector. On top of that he rebounds well and doesn't need a ton of offense run for him in order to be productive. He has soft touch but the back foot, spin and fadeaway jumper from about 12 feet on the left baseline was ridiculous.

With more thought, we can probably come up with a better comparison for Melvin Frazier than Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. However, the 6-foot-6 wing does share some similarities to RHJ. Mostly, he is an athletic, touch and hard working utility forward who just tracks down loose balls, finds openings and makes plays. Like Monk and Labissiere, he can lock in defensively and he is definitely a leader on the floor. Frazier listed offers from Texas A&M, Arkansas, Oklahoma, UTEP and LSU.

"In the first half you could see that we had only really had one practice together and we had to come together," Frazier told "In the second we turned it up on defense and got running."

Friday night notes from the Real Deal

Gilder scored 21 points on an off shooting night.
Admon Gilder didn't shoot the ball near as well as he did during the high school season, but the No. 49 prospect in 2015 still led the Dallas Mustangs to a win and scored 21. Had he been making jumpers at his usual clip, the 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Dallas (Texas) Madison would have put up huge scoring numbers. So, he used his defensive ability and crashed the glass and grinded his way to a solid outing. His best stretch was a personal 9-2 run over a 2:30 span of the first half. He hit a three, took the ball away from an opponent and then scored out of the full court press, hit a pull-up jumper and got out front of the action for an easy lay-in. Even on tough nights he is always going to stretches where he is instant offense and there is a lot of value in that.

The Greg Monroe ASSISTS 16 and under team had a handful of promising looking players from the class of 2016. We will have to verify some names and schools (they did not have a roster available) but shooting guard Roydell Brown, combo guard Dijon Jarreau, guard Tyree Thompson, scorer Tirrell Gilmore and big man Bryson Gretchen all showed nice flashes of ability. Brown carried the scoring load early and is a good looking 6-foot-3 shooting guard who can hit pull-up jumpers and pressures the defense resulting in lots of trips to the free throw line.

It isn't the Georgia Stars EYBL team that is playing in the 17 and under division of the Real Deal. They are more or less a 15 and under team playing up two age groups and while they lost to the Arkansas Wings Select team, they showed lots of promise. Freshman Victor Enoh is a hard playing, tough and athletic 6-foot-7 forward with promise. A fellow freshman, 6-foot-9 center Ikechukwu Obiago can really move for such a young big man and he is a teammate of Enoh's at Decatur (Ga.) Greenforest. Carrying the scoring load for the Stars was 6-foot-1 combo guard James Lewis. Because he is an eighth  bgrader he doesn't have a profile and we won't begin dissecting his game until he is a high schooler. But, it is worth noting that he scored 20 in a 17 and under game.

He didn't put up huge numbers for RL9, but 2016 wing Josh Hall has the traits of an excellent wing prospect. A Texan who attends Lynchburg (Va.) Genesis Academy, Hall has excellent size going at least 6-foot-5 (maybe a bit taller), a good looking jump shot and a nice looking overall game. He also hit a nice floater and moves very well for a young wing with his size. Hall says that he already has offers from Kansas State, Houston (the new staff), Nebraska and Cincinnati. Along with those offers, he mentioned interest from Maryland, Virginia and Wake Forest.

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