Sunday, January 18, 2015

Hoophall: Star-studded Saturday Basketball Recruiting Analysis
THE RIVALS150: 2015 | 2016
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- There really can't be much debate, the Hoophall Classic is as good as it gets when it comes to showcasing high level high school teams. On Saturday, one big timer after another hit the floor. Unsigned five-star senior Brandon Ingram was big as were fast rising junior shooting guard Markelle Fultz and promising freshman big man Marvin Bagley.

Ingram will visit Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA before making a decision.
Ingram wants to take more visits

One of the nation's premier unsigned players, five-star small forward Brandon Ingram of Kinston (N.C) High showed why he is so highly regarded on Saturday.

The No. 18 player in the class of 2015, Ingram had the ball in his hands the entire game as he led Kinston to a 56-54 win over Trenton (N.J.) Catholic while scoring 22 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out four assists.

Standing at least 6-foot-8, Ingram is a skinny and tall forward who is at his best playing out on the perimeter. He can bury three-pointers, has a dangerous turnaround jumper out of the mid-post and showed on Saturday that he is a far better passer and ball handler than previously given credit for.

"The team looks for me a lot," said Ingram after the win. "When I play good they play good. When I play good everybody is playing defense and hitting shots and it goes well offensively."

Though he used all five of his official visits before the early signing period, Ingram chose to wait until the spring and he said that he's pretty much in a holding pattern with his final six of Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, N.C. State and UCLA.

He has taken unofficial visits to each of the in state schools but Ingram said that he will definitely visit Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA unofficially before making a decision. That will happen after his high school season finishes and he will be paying close attention to who leaves and who stays at each of his finalists.

"After the season stops I want to take a few unofficials and narrow it down," said Ingram. "I want to talk with the coaches and see who is leaving after March Madness."

Fultz is no fluke

Back in December, junior shooting guard Markelle Fultz of Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha showed why his stock had been soaring through the fall and the early winter. On Saturday, he proved that his performance was no fluke and that he belongs as one of 2016's top shooting guards.

Currently an unranked three-star -- which will change when the 2016 Rivals150 gets a March refresh -- Fultz scored 25 points, grabbed three rebounds, tossed out a pair of assists and came up with three steals in DeMatha's 69-45 win over Roselle (N.J.) Catholic.

Fultz scored 25 points in his team's win on Saturday.
An explosive athlete with a great first step, Fultz game on the offensive end was once again set up by his ability to free himself for scoring opportunities via the dribble. He is extremely dangerous in the mid-range and his explosiveness makes him tough to account for in transition.

The latest school to offer him, Texas, joins the likes of Georgetown, Maryland, Memphis, Towson, DePaul, Xavier (head coach Chris Mack watched Saturday), Wake Forest ( Danny Manning was on hand) and many others who have offered. More recently, Kentucky, Connecticut, Duke and Louisville have started to show attention as well.

Originally, Fultz thought that he might get some early visits out of the way in hopes of knocking out a quick decision. Now, he's deep into his season and has so much new attention that things may take a little longer.

"I'm just trying to wait it out," said Fultz. "As soon as I get an opportunity to make some visits I'd like to try and visit all of them.

"I'm just blessed. I'm thankful because I worked real hard for all of this and it is starting to pay off.

Bagley is a potential big timer in 2018

It will be a while before decides on an initial No. 1 prospect in the class of 2018, but Phoenix (Ariz.) Corona Del Sol freshman power forward Marvin Bagley has already shown enough that it isn't out of line to say he will factor into that discussion.

The 6-foot-9 four man was certainly impressive on Saturday as he helped to lead his team to a dramatic 60-57 overtime win over Springfield (Mass.) Putnam.

Bagley played above the rim, ran the floor, showed good touch and generally looked like a big time prospect while scoring 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds. His size, athleticism and early skill all check out at about the highest levels they can for a freshman and he's going to be one to watch closely.

Bagley is one of the best prospects in the 2018 class.
Benefiting Bagley is that he plays on a team with talented players all around him which helps to alleviate the pressure. On Saturday night, New Mexico-bound senior small forward Dane Kuiper and sophomore guard Alex Barcello had their moments as well.

A sturdy 6-foot-6 athlete, Kuiper is a solid all-around player. He makes open jump shots and he makes contested ones at crucial times if needed. He passes the ball well, plays some defense and limits negative plays. Barcello, is a versatile player who plays on and off the ball. For stretches he played off the ball and served as a sniper against the Putnam zone. For others he ran his team and showed some poise handling the ball.

For Putnam, junior wing Tyonne Malone was outstanding. A lean and long limbed 6-foot-4 slasher, Malone did work on the glass, scored with athleticism and really took things to Bagley when he could. He looks like he should be fine as a jump shooter and his work during a 21 point and seven rebound effort had some of the college coaches in the building buzzing.

Final Saturday notes

In the day's first game, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Bishop Laughlin earned themselves a good win over Newton (Mass.) North. Loughlin is young and has a trio of sophomores to keep an eye out for. Shooting guard Keith Williams led the way with 20 points and at 6-foot-3 with a strong build he already has good size, loads of confidence and the ability to finish through some contact. 6-foot-2 point guard Marques Watson is long, lanky and has good quickness. He was good for eight points and four assists and looks like a high upside guy. A slightly undersized power forward, 6-foot-5 Jordan Thomas is bouncy in traffic and a workhorse on the glass. He had a team high nine rebounds to go along with 12 points.

His Trenton Catholic team took a tough loss to Kinston, but Syracuse-bound senior Malachi Richardson made plenty of noise. Finishing with 25 points and five rebounds, the No. 30 player in the class of 2015 validated his lofty status. A physically strong wing, Richardson could easily pass for a college junior and he is learning to use that strength to his advantage. His bread and butter remains deep jump shooting but seeing him use shot fakes and those strong shoulders to get the rim was a nice development.

When he finally gets to Pittsburgh as a member of the class of 2016, No. 24 Mustapha Heron is going to fit in quite nicely. A physically impressive 6-foot-4 shooting guard, the southpaw continues to build his all-around game. Slight adjustments to his jumper have resulted in a much cleaner shot and he is especially fond of mid range pull-ups from either baseline. He can pass and what you really have to love about Heron is that he wants to be challenged defensively.

The scouting report on four-star senior small forward Derrick Jones is pretty simple. Force the lefty to attack to the right, get him to settle for jumpers and whatever you do, put a body on him to keep him off of the offensive glass. On Saturday, Chicago (Ill.) Simeon had trouble with all of those things and as a result Jones scored 31 points and grabbed 15 rebounds (nine offensive) while leading Radnor (Pa.) Archbishop Carroll to a 77-68 win. Headed to UNLV, the No. 42 player in 2015's strength remains his explosive athleticism. Though skinny, he can rise above a crowd even after taking a bump and he has a great feel for where missed shots will end up bouncing. Though he did hit one three pointer on Saturday, Jones has to become a more reliable shooter and improve his game between eight and 17 feet as he makes his way to college.

Richardson finished with 25 points and five rebounds on Saturday.
2017's No. 17 player D.J. Harvey didn't have an ideal shooting game going 5-14 (1-6 3PT) from the field but the 6-foot-6 wing's talent is readily apparent. He always catches the ball shot ready, is a high end athlete and can play in a freewheeling or half court setting. He listed offers from Miami, Tennessee, Memphis, Texas, Houston, Arizona, Georgetown, Wake Forest and N.C. State to go along with recent interest from Duke, Kentucky, UConn, Louisville and Stanford among others.

The top two point guards in the class of 2015 each had their moments in losses. Kentucky-bound Isaiah Briscoe was tough off the dribble and made many circus finishes around the bucket but couldn't really get it going from deep as he scored 20 points on 8-20 FG (just 4-10 FT) in Roselle Catholic's loss to DeMatha.

Playing against a loaded Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep team, Villanova bound Jalen Brunson had a hard working 26 points. Guarded one on one by five-star 2016 point guard Derryck Thornton, Brunson had some issues getting into past Thornton and into the lane. When Thornton got into foul trouble and Findlay switched to zone, Brunson found his rhythm nailing three straight three-pointers at one point.

Speaking of Findlay Prep and Thornton, it was a very workmanlike effort as they dispatched Brunson and Lincolnshire (Ill.) Stevenson 84-58. Thornton was a defensive ace on Brunson until picking up his fourth foul on a charge in the third. Once he came back on the floor he got his offense rolling some. He delivered back to back lefty (off hand) drives that produced a slick dish for a bucket, a hoop plus a foul and then he hit a pull-up 15 footer and got a transition jam.

As usual, Arizona-bound five-star shooting guard Allonzo Trier led the way for Findlay with 27 points. He hit jumpers and used his strength to get to the rim and played strong on offense like he seems to do each and every outing. In the paint, Auburn committed four-star power forward Horace Spencer was the man. He rarely strayed more than five feet from the hoop, dished out physical punishment and tried to tear the rim down as he beasted his way to 20 points and 15 rebounds.

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