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June 5, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

By Raphielle Johnson

While the showcase matchup on Friday night was the battle between big men Isaiah Austin and Andre Drummond, there were two rounds of play on Saturday and some players took full advantage of the opportunity. Two of those players would be Jordan Bell and Alex Caruso, both of whom have played well in each session of the event.

Bell, a 2013 prospect from Long Beach, CA (Long Beach Poly), was outstanding on both ends of the floor. Bell’s an athletic finisher offensively while being a solid defender as well. His block count in the first game approached eight, an impressive number for a 6’7″ three. But the offensive skill set will need to expand if he’s to be an impact high-major player at the collegiate level.

As for Caruso, it’s reached a point of “what can’t he do” at this stage in the event. The 6’6″ 2012 prospect from College Station, Texas, who according to ESPN’s Dave Telep earned an invite to this month’s NBPA Top 100 camp, can do a number of things on the floor to help his team win. Whether it’s scoring from the perimeter, finishing above the rim or setting up the open teammate Caruso gets it done.

Also performing well was 2012 wing Rosco Allen, who displayed a level of assertiveness on the offensive end that made him a tough matchup in the first rotation of games. Not only can Allen knock down the outside shot but when he’s aggressive and going to the rim he can finish with authority.

Other solid performers on Saturday include:

G Jahmel Taylor (2013, Chatsworth, CA)

Taylor is simply a shot-maker, as he finds a way to get quality looks against just about any defender. Taylor possesses solid ball-handling skills as well, and with more experience should be a very good point guard.

F Xavier Johnson (2012, Santa Ana, CA)

One of the mainstays on a Mater Dei team that won the state championship this past season, the 6’7″ left-hander played well on Saturday. Give Johnson a down screen and he proved adept at getting to the basket. Johnson’s better at penetrating than shooting from the perimeter right now, but he’s a tough matchup regardless.

G Marcus Paige (2012, Marion IA)

The North Carolina commit is the consummate floor general, possessing the ability to put his teammates in the best possible position for them to be effective. The southpaw is effective off the dribble and has a solid perimeter shot as well.

F Zena Edsowoman (2012, North Hollywood, CA)

Edsowoman is a solid interior player, and on Saturday he showed off some solid moves in the paint. The Harvard-Westlake forward has a left-handed jump hook and is active on the boards at both ends of the floor.

F Demetris Morant (2012, Las Vegas, NV)

Morant, who plays on the same loaded Bishop Gorman team as Shabazz Muhammad, Rosco Allen and Ben Carter, played well in Saturday’s action. He’s still got some work to do in regards to expanding his offensive repertoire, but Morant is very good at getting out on the wings and finishing above the rim. Morant’s currently a better defensive player (shot-blocking) but he plays hard.

F Aaron Gordon (2013, San Jose, CA)

Gordon is one of the top players in the 2013 class, and he really hasn’t done much to dispel that notion. Already a tough customer who can finish above the rim with power, adding another couple inches to his 6’6″ frame will make Gordon an even more frightening prospect for those who have to guard him.

G Twymond Howard (2012, Pearl, MS)

In a camp filled with athletic wings who can attack the basket, Howard is one of the guards who stuck out on Saturday. Not only can he get to the basket but Howard can also deal with contact once there, and he doesn’t let up offensively.

C Cameron Ridley (2012, Fort Bend, TX)

The 6’10″ Texas commit played well at both ends of the floor, showing off a jump hook offensively while controlling the interior defensively. A misguided individual late in a game attempted to dunk on Ridley, who promptly returned the shot to its sender. When Ridley’s on the floor you tend to know who’s in charge of the painted area.

G Ikenna Ireogbu (2013, Elk Grove, CA)

Ireogbu is one of the best point guards on the West Coast (the 2012 class is a bit down at the position), and he’s shown why in this event. Possessing good quickness and handle, Ireogbu can get inside and his passing ability is good enough to set up teammates for quality shots.

G John Davis (2013, Philadelphia, PA)

The left-handed Davis has work to do on his perimeter shot, but he’s a tough player to keep from getting to the basket off the dribble. If the slasher can add a shot to his game he’ll be a very good get down the line.

G/F Savon Goodman (2012, Philadelphia, PA)

The Villanova commit showed off skills that make him a good fit in the system he’ll be joining come 2012. Goodman can get to the basket and finish with authority, but the key for his growth will be the addition of a consistent perimeter shot.

CIA Bounce Conversations

Saturday also provided the opportunity to talk with three member of the CIA Boucne squad that’s been among the best teams in Nike EYBL: guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (2013) and forwards Anthony Bennett (2012) and Stefan Jankovic (2012).

In talking with Stefan Jankovic, he pointed out Dirk Nowitzki and former Butler star Gordon Hayward as players he watched with regards to his game. Jankovic also noted that this summer he’s working on becoming a more versatile player, as he’s more of an outside-in big man at this stage in his development. In regards to what he’s looking for in a college, Jankovic cited a strong relationship with the coaching staff, tradition (in terms of working with similar players and winning), and good academics.

What Bennett brings to a team goes without saying, as his energy can spark just about any team. Bennett pointed to his aggression and rebounding ability as two strengths of his game, and he’s looking to improve both is ball-handling and shot consistency this summer. And with regards to his college of choice, schools that play at a fast pace will stand a good chance of acquiring his services.

Rathan-Mayes, who had a very good weekend at Nike EYBL last week, is working on making the transition to being a true point guard at this stage. The Toronto native can definitely score, and this summer will be all about picking up those instincts that separate the elite from the good at the position. When asked about his AAU team’s success, Rathan-Mayes cited the fact that “we all grew up together, and we play well together.”

Bennett: offers from Cincinnati, Connecticut, Florida, Florida State, Oregon, Oregon State, Pittsburgh, UNLV, Washington, West Virginia and Xavier.

Jankovic: offers from Georgetown, Michigan, Syracuse, Wake Forest and West Virginia. He’s also received calls from California, Pittsburgh, Stanford, USC, Washington and Washington State, and both Duke and North Carolina have begun to show interest.

Rathan-Mayes: offers from Arizona, Kansas, Louisville, St. John’s, Texas and Washington. UCLA has been looking as well, and none of the schools stand out at this point in time.

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