Saturday, November 22, 2014

National Prep Showcase: Diallo emerges

THE RIVALS150: 2015 | 2016
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The National Prep Showcase got started on the campus of Albertus Magnus College on Friday. For years, the NPS has served as a bit of an unofficial start to the high school season and it annually features many of the top prep school programs in the land. The highest ranked player in attendance, five-star Cheick Diallo, sat out but plenty of others participated.
Sophomores make noise

Tremont Waters had 20 points and 10 rebounds.
While the National Prep Showcase tends to feature older prospects by nature of it being a prep school event, a pair of sophomores made waves on day one. Four-star point guard Tremont Waters had an interesting day while scoring 20 points, dishing out six assists and grabbing 10 rebounds and sophomore shooting guard Hamidou Diallo announced his presence as a high-major prospect notching 21 points and seven rebounds.
The reason that we mention it was an interesting day for Waters is that while he ended up with a nice line and led his South Kent (Conn.) Prep team to a win over Fishburne Academy, he experienced some bumps in the road. Waters only shot 6-19 from the field (1-7 from three) and he had seven turnovers.
From a scouting standpoint, the cause of most of his mistakes can be related to the 5-foot-9 point guard's lack of strength and a tendency to over dribble the ball at times. These are things that will be easily corrected with maturity and seasoning and besides that, Waters does so much so well.
Blessed with a very high skill level and a tremendous feel for the game, Waters is very confident with the ball. He sets up his defenders with hesitations and changes of pace and he reads ball screens like a grizzled specimen. Go under the screen and he can shoot over the top of it, hedge with a big man and he'll drag him out away from the hoop and turn the corner on him. He finds teammates, he controls tempo and he is a guy who can be trusted to make good decisisions.
He's not quite the vertical athlete Phil Pressey was at the same age, but he shoots the ball better and is similar in many ways to the current Celtic. Waters told Rivals.com that he's not currently focusing on his recruitment and he declined to list any schools. However, Connecticut, Wake Forest, St. John's, Purdue, Seton Hall and many more have been involved early.

Hamidou Diallo emerged this weekend as a high-major prospect.
While Waters entered the NPS with a pretty big reputation, Diallo made his. A 6-foot-3 shooting guard from New York who plays at Putnam (Conn.) Science Academy, there has been some buzz that he was poised for a big season. A fluid athlete, Diallo more than backed that up and looks like a pretty safe bet to end up a target of many high-major programs.
To start off with, Diallo has all of the physical tools. He has long arms, he gets off the floor quickly and he has an outstanding first step. Long and lean, he can navigate through traffic and despite being skinny, he is able to take a bump and keep his balance and not lose his athleticism.
Most impressively, though, is that Diallo looks to have the skill part of the game down as well. A summertime member of the NYC Jayhawks program, Diallo is a good ball-handler from the wing, shoots with easy range to the three-point line and he has a nicely developed mid-range game featuring pull-up jumpers and floaters.
Diallo said Temple and Minnesota have made him early offers and he feels that Providence is on the cusp of making him an offer. Given where he is now and where he looks like he could be down the road, more high-level programs should be joining soon.
More Friday standouts, notes
One of the most impressive performers of the day was 6-foot-8 power forward Chris Baldwin of Fitchburg (Mass.) Notre Dame Prep. Originally a class of 2015 kid who has shown flashes in the past, Baldwin had it all together on Friday in a 22-point, eight rebound and three block effort. Despite not getting enough touches in the low post he showed strength, good hands, explosiveness off the floor and nice touch while making a very efficient 9-11 field goals. If he stays in the class of 2016, he looks like a lock to move into the Rivals150 and if he gets persuaded to head to college as a 2015 kid, then he will contest for it. Look for high majors in the Northeast to start turning it up on him.
Fork Union (Va.) Military almost made a huge comeback. Down close to 20 points against Notre Dame, three-star guards Kamau Stokes and Khyri Thomas refused to let their team go out without a fight. Down the stretch, Stokes hit three of his four three-pointers in the final minute and a half of regulation (including a buzzer-beater) to force overtime. Stokes signed with Toledo in 2014, but the Baltimore native is back on the market and he's a scoring point guard at 5-foot-10 with quickness and a dangerous pull-up jumper. He finished the day with 33 points, a pair of assists and five rebounds.
Hailing from Omaha, Stokes' teammate Thomas was impressive as well. A scrappy and intense 6-foot-3 shooting guard, Thomas was one of the toughest kids and most intense competitors to hit the floor on Friday. He's not a great jump-shooter, but he is athletic, quick, defends and gets to the rim. He had 21 points, three assists, four rebounds and an impressive six steals thanks to his aggressive defense and ability to read plays as a help side defender.
If Friday is even a half good indicator, then Coastal Carolina has landed themselves a quality wing in Waynesboro (Va.) Fishburne Academy wing Jeremy Harris. The 6-foot-6 lefty was one of the day's most efficient scorers, going for 32 on 12-for-18 shooting from the field. He made long threes, got to the free throw line some and showed good open floor athleticism. He is on the slender side and needs strength, but showed a willingness to rebound the basketball grabbing seven boards.
A 2016 wing who is making some noise is South Kent's Travis Atson. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., who made some waves at Christ the King in NYC, he was impressive on Friday scoring 24 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Standing about 6-foot-5, Atson has good strength, good athleticism and a nicely balanced game. He can score at the rim, is a good shooter and seems to know how to play within himself. Already a priority target for regional mid to upper mid-majors, he could see high-majors start sniffing around and keeping tabs on his development.
Four-star power forward and Northwestern signee Aaron Falzon played as well as Rivals.com has ever seen. A 6-foot-8 stretch four man who likes to hunt jumpers on the perimeter, Falzon certainly took and made some deep jumpers in Northfield (Mass.) Mt. Herman Prep's easy win over Lee Academy. But, it was his aggressiveness attacking the rim and glass stood out. He needs to get stronger for the Big Ten, but he showed some willingness to be physical in a 29=point, nine-rebound effort that should serve him well down the road.
A combined 42 points and 19 rebounds from 2016 big men Omari Spellman and Jordy Tshimanga wasn't quite enough for the MacDuffie School to get a win over Hargrave Military Academy. The No. 25 player in the class of 2016, Spellman showed off his skill, soft hands and ability to shoot from deep along with an improved body while scoring 21 and pulling down seven boards. He said he went to both Connecticut and Villanova for midnight madness events. Not yet in the Rivals150 for 2016, Tshimanga made a nice case for himself while racking up 21 and 12. He is big and strong, plays physically around the rim and seems to embrace being what he is and that's a true back-to-the-basket center.
Finally, Auburn bound swingman Danjel Purifoy had a productive day. The four-star seemed to get off to a sluggish start as he hunted deep jumpers instead of using his strength and athleticism in the lane. As the game wore on, Purifoy made more effort going to the rim and all the sudden his jumper started falling. By the time he was done, he had led Hargrave to a come-from-behind win and racked up 29 points and eight rebounds. Give him credit for finishing strong and coming up big when it mattered most.

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