Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving Hoopfest: Fox shows out
Five-star De'Aaron Fox racked up 31 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in a win Saturday.
DUNCANVILLE, Texas -- The second and final day of the seventh annual Thanksgiving Hoopfest gave the fans what they wanted. Senior combo guard Andrew Jones continued his ascension and junior guard Trae Young went off. But, it was five-star point guard De'Aaron Fox who reminded everybody that he's still the best senior in Texas.

I was impressed with...

Thanks to his play at the Thanksgiving Hoopfest, I think we need to start talking about unsigned combo guard Andrew Jones from Irving (Texas) MacArthur as a legitimate candidate for both the McDonald's All-American game and a move to five-star status.

Currently a four-star prospect ranked No. 38 in the 2016 Rivals150, the 6-foot-4 senior followed up his 37-point Friday effort by standing toe to toe with an elite prospect and delivering 29 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals in a losing effort. Texas' Shaka Smart and Baylor's Scott Drew were on hand to see him play.

Now about that elite prospect that Jones went toe to toe with. De'Aaron Fox backed up his lofty No. 5 national ranking in the class of 2016 by delivering a command performance for Katy (Texas) Cypress Lake. Fox matched Jones blow for blow and led his team to a hard fought win while racking up 31 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.

A relentless driver of the ball, Fox wasn't completely dialed in from deep (just 3-of-13 from distance) but his performance was otherwise flawless. What really sets him apart, though, is his blinding speed. Speed that he showed off to end the third quarter. Fox grabbed a rebound and raced from one end to the other in just under four seconds to beat the buzzer. What was most impressive is that he never looked rushed or concerned that he wouldn't make it to the bucket in time.

Needless to say, the Kentucky signee validated his top five status and he is a stone cold lock for the McDonald's game.
Here's the scary thing, as good as both Fox and Jones were, they didn't have the performance of the day. That belonged to a potential 2017 McDonald's All-American Trae Young who hung 44 points, seven assists and five rebounds on Richland (Texas) High in Norman (Okla.) North's 95-71 win.

Just a day after going for 33, Young was even more locked in. There had apparently been some pre game trash talk and suggestion that he was overrated at No. 26 nationally but Young effectively ended any of that talk. He bombed deep threes, used his advanced ball skills to get into the lane and mixed in a little bit of everything else. He has been on the fringe of five-star status for a while now and the résumé he has built since his freshman year is matched by few in the junior class and could be pushing him to that next level.
I was surprised by...

On the first day of the Hoopfest, Oklahoma State signee Cameron McGriff was very quiet as his Grand Prairie (Texas) South squad took a loss. They suffered another tough loss on Saturday, but it wasn't any fault of McGriff. The Rivals150 combo forward has added some muscle to his wiry 6-foot-7 frame and he was very good in most areas. He competed on the glass, ran the floor, made some alert passes and contributed on both ends of the floor while scoring 26 points (11-of-19 FG), grabbing seven rebounds and handing out six assists.

McGriff's teammate, USC bound power forward Harrison Henderson, also had his moments after a quiet Friday. 6-foot-9 with deft touch, Henderson hit some jumpers and showed some life around the basket but also drifted a little too much and didn't assert himself as a rim protector in a 13-point and six-rebound outing.Other thoughts...

With Shaka Smart and Scott Drew on hand to watch him, four-star junior R.J. Nembhard turned it on late but couldn't quite lead Keller (Texas) Central to a win over Plano (Texas) West. A well built shooting guard who loves to attack the basket, Nembhard scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the second half. His jumper still has a little catching up to do but he is a solid ball handler and already has a college ready body.

Currently ranked No. 85 in 2017, Richland's C.J. Roberts finished with 31 points, two assists and two rebounds of his own. Athletic and quick, Roberts is a right hand dominant driver who tries to attack the basket as often as possible thanks to an explosive first step.

Also putting together a pair of strong outings for Norman North was unsigned senior guard Marcus Dickinson. After getting 20 points four rebounds and three assists on Friday, the 6-foot-2 senior came back with 18, 10 and five on Saturday. He's tough, he has some athleticism and he's able to get a lot of things done and can absolutely play Div. I basketball.

Unfortunately, 2017's No. 59 player Galen Alexander is waiting to be ruled eligible in the state of Louisiana after a transfer. So, Lafayette (La.) Christian was without him and touted 2018 guard Greg Williams had a pretty quiet day. But, twin seniors Kalob Ledoux and Jacob Ledoux were plenty impressive. Ticketed for McNeese State, they appear to be a pretty big recruiting steal. Both have good size at around 6-foot-4, both are very athletic and they can each shoot it a little from deep.

If it feels like TCU signee Josh Parrish has played in the Hoopfest forever it's because he pretty much has. The Rivals150 wing made his fourth appearance with Arlington (Texas) Seguin and was solid in a tough double overtime loss. Physically, he's ready to play in the Big 12 right away and he's a tough finisher and athlete around the rim. He's a good value pickup for the Horned Frogs but could really become something if his jumper catches up to his slashing.

R.J. Nembhard scored 18 points in the second half Saturday.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

National Prep Showcase: Brown dominates
Bruce Brown could be
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The 2015 edition of the National Prep Showcase kicked off on the campus of Albertus Magnus College on Friday and Miami bound guard Bruce Brown showed why Hurricane fans were celebrating at the end of the first signing period.

I was impressed with...

With a dominant 29 point (12-20 FG), nine rebound and four assist effort on Friday Bruce Brown of Saxton's River (Vt.) Vermont Academy proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he belongs as a top 50 prospect in the class of 2016.

Brown -- who signed with Miami on Wednesday -- played a spirited game while leading his team to victory. Always known for his toughness, Brown is a strong and aggressive two guard who has taken his athleticism from good to well above average. He attacked the rim for vicious jams, dished off some nice passes on dribble drives and rebounded like a power forward.

Miami fans should be very excited that they were able to lock him up in the early signing period and I continue to feel that Brown is a potential All-ACC level defensive player.

I was surprised by...

Originally a member of the class of 2016, 6-foot-3 point guard Kellan Grady of Northfield (Mass.) Mount Hermon has moved to the class of 2017 and the change will be beneficial to both his game and recruitment. I've always felt that he had a good level of skill and shooting ability, but worried about his lack of physicality and assertiveness. By giving himself an extra year before college he can get stronger and become more comfortable directing traffic. He looked quite comfortable on Friday delivering 18 points four assists and two rebounds.

Grady has already been on several college campuses and said that he's taken a particular liking to Davidson. Villanova and Butler have shown recent interest but haven't yet pulled the string on an offer. Other offers for the potential Rivals150 prospect include Xavier, Richmond, Rhode Island and most of the Ivy League.
In the summer, Canadian point guard Marcus Ottey impressed with his toughness and high end athleticism. He did so again on Friday for Geneva (Ohio) Spire Institute. A tough off the dribble scorer, Ottey got to the rim over and over again while racking up 22 points and six rebounds. He is more scorer than playmaker but the three-star prospect is one of the better remaining floor generals. He took Fall visits to Valparaiso and Illinois-Chicago and mentioned New Mexico State, Toledo, Detroit, UTEP, VCU and Nevada as others currently involved.

Other notes...

He didn't check into the game until 15 minutes left in the second half, but 2017 five-star Hamidou Diallo made the most of his time scoring 13 points in just 14 minutes of action. Hopefully the 6-foot-4 shooting guard plays more on Saturday because we know he's an elite athlete but need to see how his jumper is coming along.

Perhaps UNLV stole one in combo guard Christian Vital. A sharp shooter from deep with sneaky athleticism, Vital went for 25 points and eight rebounds while making five of his seven three-point attempts.

Rivals150 power forward Tyrique Jones looks like a good fit for Xavier. They've always liked having a bouncy, rugged insider who attacks the glass and tries to dunk everything. That's pretty much his game and he appears happy to do so.

The story for Kai Toews is an interesting one. The 2017 point guard at Bridgton Academy just came to the United States from Japan and has not heard from a single Div. I school. That should be changing soon for the 6-footer. His father played pro ball in several countries and is now a professional coach in Japan and it's easy to see he has learned well. Heady, explosive when he needs it and in total control Toews looks to be at least a very good mid major prospect.

I like shooting guard Roosevelt Smart of Bel Aire (Kan.) Sunrise Christian as a good upper mid major spring target. He's improved his ball handling and decision making enough to play some point but he's most effective off the ball as a scorer with some athleticism.

Finally, you can't like basketball and not enjoy three-star point guard Ian Sistare of Northfield Mt. Hermon. Sistare is a balls-to-the-wall competitor who makes jumpers, crashes the glass and leads his team vocally. He was good for 18 points, five rebounds and three assists while only missing one shot.

Kai Toews has yet to hear from a Div. I program, but that should change soon.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Phenom Hoops Showcase: Big day for Bulldogs

DeShawn Corprew
LEWISVILLE, N.C. - The first day of the Phenom Hoops Showcase on the campus of Forsyth Country Day was a good one. A pair of Mississippi State four-star signees looked good and four-star wing DeShawn Corprew announced that he's back on the open market.
I was impressed by…
I had been planning to write about how Winston-Salem (N.C.) Quality Education small forward Deshawn Corprew was the biggest steal of the early recruiting period. Instead, I'm here to talk about how the four-star small forward who ranks No. 112 overall in 2016 has opened up his recruitment and won't be signing with Arkansas Little-Rock. Corprew is a powerful 6-foot-5 wing who is a beast attacking the rim. He was good for 26 and 10 in a win. Prior to his commitment others such as Kansas State, Florida State, Texas and more had been involved. He'll be one of the most heavily recruited senior wings in the country this year. One of the biggest early storylines of the signing period has been Mississippi State. Friday, two of its four-star signees, Mario Kegler and Eli Wright, absolutely turned it out. Ranked No. 29 overall, Kegler was the man for Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill as the burly 6-foot-7 forward made six threes and finished with 25 points and five rebounds. His performance was expected (though the three-point shooting was a bonus). On the other hand, Wright's 28-point, six-rebound, three-assist, four-steal effort for 22 Feet Academy was one where he looked to outplay his own lofty status of No. 94 in the class of 2016. A southpaw with athleticism and a terrific first step, Wright made a living attacking the rim and he was also dangerous shooting from beyond the three-point line. The least celebrated of the Bulldogs' sixth-ranked recruiting class, Wright looked like a steal on Friday.
I was surprised by…
In just the second day of the game, class of 2017 point guard Michael Okauru proved to be one of the day's better performers. An athletic driver with good 6-foot-3 size, Okauru looked good in the open floor and made some confident pull-up jumpers. He mixed in a few threes and had a great night with 26 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Okauru said that his only offer is from Rutgers but he has visited Virginia[tm] and [tm]Xavier, and holds interest from East Carolina, Richmond and Wake Forest among others. Two-thirds of Tennessee's 2016 recruiting class took the floor during the day as three-star power forwards Grant Williams and John Fulkerson both played. They each suffered losses, but showed out for their teams. The 6-foot-6 Williams is an intense competitor around the rim who has sneaky athleticism and great hands. He had 26 points and nine rebounds for Charlotte (N.C.) Providence Country Day in its loss to Oak Hill and ended the day by signing his letter of intent with Tennessee. A 6-foot-7 lefty for Arden (N.C.) Christ School, Fulkers prefers to catch on the perimeter, turn and drive to the basket. He is very athletic off of one foot, has a good-looking shot and he will compete. He needs to get stronger but both he and Williams have intangibles, athleticism and look like guys that could develop into valuable upperclassmen.
Other thoughts …
Mountain Mission wing Harold Baruti is going to make some noise this winter. A 6-foot-5 three-star small forward, Baruti is a high level athlete who slashes to the rim, has a workable jumper and plays with an extreme motor. He listed offers from SMU and UNC-Wilmington to go with interest from Florida, Georgia and Western Kentucky. He finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. Baruti's 6-foot-9 teammate Maciej Bender has been hailed as a possible three-star steal for West Virginia but he didn't have his best outing on Friday. Bender has legit Big 12 size and isn't shy on the offensive end but was just 4-for-14 from the field in a nine-point and seven-rebound effort. A sophomore to watch in the state of North Carolina is 6-foot-4 three-star shooting guard Nate Hinton from Northside Christian in Charlotte. Hinton has good wing size, is physical, has a great motor and wields a good-looking jumper. Wofford was the first to offer and he took a visit to Virginia during the summer. Hinton also mentioned College of Charleston and Appalachian State. Class of 2017 Rivals150 forward Nicolas Claxton struggled badly from the field on Friday. But, the 6-foot-8 lefty is a work in progress and it's his length, quickness and long-term potential that we need to keep an eye on. Claxton listed offers from Arizona, Georgia (where his father Charles played), Wake Forest, Baylor, Maryland, Clemson, South Carolina, USC and Florida State to go with interest from N.C. State, Texas, Tennessee and Georgetown Three-star shooting guard Marquis Godwin of the Christ School is one to watch in 2017. The native of Virginia has offers from Rice, Old Dominion, Richmond, Hofstra, Furman, Maryland Eastern Shore, Norfolk State, Howard and Hampton to go along with interest from Creighton, Virginia Tech, Temple and Clemson. Through one game of his senior season, moving Sacha Killeya-Jones to five-star status during the post-summer rankings update looks to have been the appropriate call. The thin and athletic senior lacks physicality at this time and needs to not rely quite so much on his jumper, but his shot is so pretty and he is a natural rebounder who seems to be in the right place at the right time. At around 6-foot-10 his size, skill and athleticism all translate to a high level. Finally, Alabama-bound combo forward Braxton Key was efficient and productive for Oak Hill in its win. He beat defenders to the rim in transition, made plays off the bounce and played with physicality. The four-star forward finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds while making 8-of-10 field goals.
Harold Baruti courtesy Phenom Hoops Showcase

Friday, November 6, 2015

No. 2 Giles commits to Duke

THE RIVALS150: 2016 | 2017
What a week it was for five-star power forward Harry Giles. The nation's No. 2 player suffered a likely season ending knee injury on Tuesday during his first game with Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill. But, it wasn't all tough news for Giles, who committed to Duke on ESPN's Sportscenter on Friday afternoon.

BREAKING DOWN GILES: The attributes that have turned Giles into one of the most elite prospects in a 2016 class that is full of them are easy to see the minute he steps on the floor. He has ideal size at 6-foot-10, he has long arms and he is a very good athlete who runs the floor like a much smaller player.

As much as Giles checks all of the boxes on the checklist of physical attributes, it is his skill that separates him from the pack. He handles the ball proficiently for a big man and is always a threat to grab a rebound and race coast to coast with it for a basket. He has good hands, good touch and is comfortable scoring with either hand near the rim or with short jump hooks. More recently, Giles has extended his shooting range to where he's very reliable to 17 feet and on top of that he's an outstanding passer out of the low post.

The knee injury is the second of Giles' high school career and there are going to be obvious questions about when he will be back at full strength and how quickly he will be able to make an impact. But, there aren't any questions about Giles tools or ability.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: "Next school year I will be attending Duke University," Giles said during the broadcast. "I feel like Duke was the place for me. Every time I go to Duke it feels like home. Every time I talk to coach K it is a special feeling. Ever time we talk, it is always the same feeling, it feels great."

RIVALS' REACTION: Duke had been considered the leader on Giles for quite some time, so it's no surprise to see him pick the Blue Devils. However, Mike Krzyzewski and his staff still had to seal the deal and they are undoubtedly excited. By adding Giles to the mix, the Blue Devils will move from No. 2 to No. 1 in the 2016 team rankings when they are updated on Signing Day next week. Giles joins the No. 3, No. 10 and No. 41 ranked players in 2016 in small forward Jayson Tatum, combo guard Frank Jackson and power forward Javin DeLaurier.

WHAT'S NEXT?: The Blue Devils are still very much in play for at least one more five-star player in the class of 2016. Center Marques Bolden is still in their sites and they'll look to try and finish things out by landing him.