by Alex Schwartz
HACKENSACK, N.J. – Eight teams made their way to Hackensack (NJ) High School on Sunday for the New Year’s Jump-Off. The quartet of games featured only teams from the Garden State, but there was a great deal of talent on display, including a few players headed to high-major programs.
Reggie Cameron of Hudson Catholic is the easy choice of who turned in the day’s best performance. The 6-foot-8 small forward dropped 30 points and may well have had more if he shot more the fourth quarter had the game been close. Cameron, ranked No. 62 in the NBE Sports Class of 2013 Post-July Top 125, also grabbed 12 rebounds, distributed the ball well and made his presence felt on defense. A big-time shooter from long range, the future Georgetown Hoya really had his shot going in this game. He has such a smooth stroke and possesses the size to get it off over most defenders. Cameron also scored from midrange and at the rim. The senior even displayed the ability to play the point, which is something he has not really done before. He blocked shots, found open teammates for buckets and was the best low post player in the game, despite being a three man. Cameron led his team to a 70-53 victory over Pope John XXIII and put on in absolute show in his home city of Hackensack.
Now that the Class of 2013 is able to sign their Letters of Intents to officialy close their recruitment, the Class of 2014 will move more toward the focus of coaches, fans and scouts. The recruitment of the big men in any class is usually the slowest to come into focus, however one talented big man in the Class of 2014 has already gathered a strong following of interested college programs.
6-foot-10, 210-pound Andre Walker caught the eye of NBE reporters a few times last summer on the AAU trail as the Bullis School (MD) prospect was on the circuit with the always talented DC Assault program. Now back in the home environment of his high school, plenty of schools have made contact to let him know they will be following his development.
by Alex Schwartz
Things have continued to remain mostly calm on the recruiting front over the past few days. There were not big-time commitments to report, but that does not mean we are bereft of news. In fact, a couple mid-major programs received some superb news from potential impact targets lately.
Before getting into the news that has happened since the weekend, I do want to touch on a pair of Sunday commitments that I accidently overlooked in Monday’s Recruiting Notebook.
First off, Missouri picked up its second 2013 frontcourt player in a week when Torren Jones of La Lumiere (IN) popped to the Tigers. The 6-foot-8 power forward is a rugged low post player with a strong frame. A native of Arizona, Jones is ranked No. 94 in the NBE Sports Class of 2013 Post-July Top 125. His pledge was first reported by Josh Paunil of National Recruiting Spotlight.
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The opening July evaluation period has come to a close, ending on Sunday, giving players, coaches and media a short little break to catch their breath before doing it all again this week. NBE Sports spent time at the Lebron James Skills Academy (prior to the official opening of the evaluation period), Reebok Breakout Challenge, Hoop Group Elite Session II, Adidas Invitational, Reebok Showdown Championship, Nike Global Challenge and Nike Skills U in the past week. Hopefully everyone has enjoyed our coverage and we have greatly enjoyed bringing you news and notes from all the action.
Next up this week will be the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League Championship at the Peach Jam. NBE will also be getting coverage of the Under Armour Summer Jam in Milwaukee (WI). In the meantime, here are some additional recruiting notes gathered by Matt Whitfield from his time bouncing back and forth between the Nike Global Challenge and Nike Skills U last weekend…
Team Final wing B.J. Johnson has had an impressive spring on the AAU circuit and the Lower Merion (PA) High School standout has continued his stellar play right into the summer. The 6-foot-7, 175-pounder put his talents on display this past weeked at the Nike Skills U camp at TC Williams High School in Alexandria (VA), impressing onlookers with his smooth scoring ability. Over the weekend, Johnson informed NBE Sports of a new offer that has been extended his way and some new high-major interest, both coming out of the BIG EAST conference.
“Yes that’s true,” replied Johnson when asked about the offer from Villanova. “I really like their program but I really wouldn’t say I have favorites yet. Syracuse recently reached out also.”
On the college basketball recruiting trail July is a month unlike any other. Scholarships are earned at all levels of the sport during AAU tournaments and exposure camps as thousands of Division 1-A coaches hit the trail looking for the next generation of players for the programs they head or assist with. Stories of unknown players putting it together at the right time to earn a free college education are numerous. While at NBE Basketball Report we spend most of our time following the high-major world of recruiting, the real grind this month is at the mid-major and lower lever. Assistant coaches are scouring gyms across the country and when they find a player they like tucked away in some event nobody knows about, they hold their breath they do not have the big breakout at AAU Nationals or a bigger event later in the month.
The story of Jeremy Lamb, who was picked in the NBA Lottery portion of the 2012 NBA Draft last night, has been a story retold several times this week. Entering the Peach Jam in July 2009 Lamb was a coveted mid-major recruit. However a big week on a big stage in front of college coaches pushed his recruitment higher, much to the frustration of the mid-major assistants that had been working on him for months prior.
Who will be those stories this July? In just two weeks the stories will begin to be written once more. Two players hoping they find themselves as the main subjects are Kaison Randolph and Mark Williams. NBE caught up with each recently as they prepare to embark on the July recruiting period.
By Brian Bosworth, National Recruiting Analyst
The Rumble in the Bronx came to a close on Championship Sunday with winners being crowned in the 15U, 16U, and 17U divisions. The NJ Playaz took down the 15U crown, Team Scan the 16U, and Sports U was named 17U champions after a thrilling triple overtime win over arch rival NJ Playaz. I was camped out at John Jay College on Sunday which featured some early 16U playoff action followed by 17U semifinals and finals. While Sports U used a balanced attack en route to the championship, the Playaz had the day’s best performer in the losing effort.
Top Performance of the Day:
Shane Rector (NJ Playaz 2013) – As mentioned the Playaz lost a heartbreaker to Sports U in the championship game but Rector was a dominant force individually throughout the day on his team’s path to that game. His improvement over the past 12 months has been fun to watch and speaks to Rector’s tireless work ethic. A year ago at the Rumble I wrote about Shane after he scored 25 or so points without taking a shot outside of 4 feet. His game used to be all to the rim with little to no outside shot in his arsenal. Fast forward a year and the 3 point shot has become a major weapon for Rector as defenders can no longer go under the screen without being punished. He has also improved drastically as a floor general running a team and being a leader. No longer just an athletic combo guard, Rector has successfully made the transition to a full time point and his recruitment should soon reap the benefits.
NBE’s Alex Schwartz was able to catch up with Rector Friday night, along with Saturday’s Top Performer Dayshon Smith, to get the latest on the recruitment of two of the spring’s fastest rising guards, not only out of NYC, but in the nation: NYC Guards Shane Rector & Dayshon Smith See Recruitment Rise.
By Raphielle Johnson, NBE West coast Editor/Recruiting Analyst
After one round of play on Friday night things got into full swing in Hayward with all teams playing two games on Saturday. There were many players who stood out, most notably a high-major talent from North Carolina. Below are some thoughts and recruiting updates from Saturday’s action.
- Player of the Day: Theo Pinson (CP3 All-Stars)
There were some very good performances on Saturday, but the way in which Pinson played for CP3 earned him this spot. Pinson’s an immensely talented player blessed with excellent athleticism, something he used to his benefit on both ends of the floor.
Offensively Pinson was able to get to the basket off the dribble at will, and he has to be considered as one of the top athletes in the 2014 class. Pinson showed off the ability to finish above the rim, and with some improvement to his perimeter shot he will become even more dangerous at that end of the floor.
On the defensive end Pinson was a major distraction in their win over Alabama Challenge, whether CP3 was playing man or going with their 1-3-1 zone. In the zone Pinson would play up top, and the combo of his quickness and wingspan made things difficult for the Challenge guards.
- Sleeper of the Day: John Davis (Team Final)
Davis played well in both games for Team Final on Saturday, with his effort standing out on both ends of the floor. He isn’t afraid of physical play inside, and he’s more likely to attack the basket than put up a perimeter shot.
Davis also played well on the defensive end of the floor, moving his feet well and working hard on the glass. He mentioned multiple Atlantic 10 and CAA schools in a post-game conversation (more on that info below), and that would be a good level for him with some work on his jumper.
More Player Observations:
- G/F Rondae Jefferson (Team Final)
Jefferson played better in Team Final’s afternoon win over Alabama Challenge, finishing with 15 points, six rebounds and three steals, than he did in the morning defeat at the hands of Team United. Jefferson’s a gifted player, and he’s played the point for lenghty stretches on Saturday, but a little more controlled aggression would help his game in a big way. That happened in the afternoon tilt, as he was more aggressive in looking to make plays.
- G Nigel Williams-Goss (California Supreme)
Not sure there’s a better defensive guard in the 2013 class than Williams-Goss, who will figure prominently in Findlay Prep’s plans next season as well. Williams-Goss also displayed his well-rounded skill set on the offensive end of the floor, but he really stood out defensively. Very good on the ball, he also displayed good awareness of what was going on when his man didn’t have the ball.
- PG Darren Williams (Team United)
Williams played well in Team United’s win over Team Final, accounting for eight points and an assist against Final’s long-armed defenders. Williams displayed good handle and made solid decisions with the basketball, even though he finished with just one assist.
- C Kennedy Meeks (Team United)
Meeks may have scored just four points in United’s win over Team Final but it’s easy to see why much of the ACC (among others) is after this 6-9 ½ big man. Meeks racked up seven assists with just one turnover, playing the high post against the Team Final zone and doing a very good job of turning and facing the basket.
Meeks also grabbed eight rebounds, leading the way for either team. With his build Meeks has no problem with getting physical, but it was good to see how effective he could be as a distributor against a zone defense.
- SG Sindarius Thornwell (Team United)
Talk about an athletic slasher. Thornwell was able to get to the basket off the dribble on multiple occasions, and his ability to finish in traffic played an important role in United’s 2-0 day. He’s at his best in the transition game, and stated that he’s working on improving his perimeter shot this summer. With trips to the NBA Top 100, Kevin Durant and LeBron James camps on his schedule, the chance to do that work against some of the other top players in the country should make Thornwell an even better prospect.
- PG Travon Landry (Alabama Challenge)
Things didn’t go particularly well for the Challenge in their game against CP3, but Landry was one of their better performers on the defeat. Landry made solid decisions with the basketball and knocked down five of seven shots from the field. Had a tough go against Mac Irvin Fire in the evening session however.
- PF Jimmy Taylor (Alabama Challenge)
Already committed to Alabama, Taylor finished with 12 points and seven rebounds in Challenge’s loss to CP3. The 6-10 Taylor ran the floor well and was an active defender in the paint. Chai Baker (19 points, six rebounds) also stood out for Alabama Challenge.
- SG Matthew Madigan (CP3)
Madigan played hard on the defensive end of the floor for CP3, and when he got opportunities to take open shots he knocked them down. Madigan made four of five from beyond the arc in the morning session against Alabama Challenge, but was much quieter in their evening win over E1T1.
- PF Akoy Agau (All-Iowa Attack)
A tough EYBL season for All-Iowa (now 0-17) got even tougher in the second half of their loss to B-More Elite as Agau went down with an injury. In the first half of that game he was quiet offensively, but there really weren’t many options to help take some of the defensive attention away from him. Hard to think that Agau will play again this weekend with the injury.
- PF Bobby Portis (Arkansas Wings)
Like the aforementioned Jimmy Taylor, Portis is committed to an SEC school (Arkansas) and played well in defeat. A long-armed 6-9 forward, Portis has the build of a guy who can put on a few pounds and not have his game be affected negatively. He was able to face up effectively and showed the ability to knock down mid-range jumpers when needed. But the key for Portis is to make sure he doesn’t try to do too much offensively when out on the perimeter, because he got into a little trouble when over-dribbling.
- PF Jordan Bell and SF Roschon Prince (ICP)
Putting these two together since they ran into a very difficult match-up during the evening session: Julius Randle and the Texas Titans. Prince was given the assignment for much of the game, and while he worked very hard it was evident that this wasn’t the best defensive match-up for him (he also had to guard Matt Jones at times).
Offensively Prince didn’t hesitate to attack the basket, and if anything his willingness to mix things up stood out. Bell was saddled with early foul trouble, and while he’s a very good shot-blocker he’s raw offensively. Maybe he can show off a little more on that end of the floor with a better match-up.
- PF Julius Randle and PF Damian Jones (Texas Titans)
Randle and Jones both bounced back from disappointing performances in the Titans’ loss to E1T1 in the nightcap, finishing with 15 points and seven rebounds (Randle) and ten points and three blocks (Jones) respectively.
The one concern regarding Randle in the win over ICP: six turnovers. He’s immensely talented and when fully engaged is an absolute man-child. Jones put up a “ten trillion” in the E1T1 defeat, so it was good to see him bounce back with a solid performance. Jones was good as a weak-side defender and ran the floor well.
- SF Matt Jones (Texas Titans)
Jones, who’s already committed to Duke, played well for the Titans in both games on Saturday. Offensively it seemed as if he was quiet…and then you’d look up and see that he scored 18 points. Jones was efficient on that end of the floor against ICP, and was the primary defender on Roschon Prince for much of the game. Duke’s getting a good one in Jones.
- PF Marcus Lee (California Supreme)
Lee is raw offensively, but it’s the other end of the floor where he’s drawn raves all spring. Lee is a good shot-blocker with long arms, and he ran the floor well in Cali Supreme’s evening victory over NY Lightning. How much he progresses offensively will ultimately determine how high he can climb amongst the top big men in the 2013 class.
- PG Parker Jackson-Cartwright (California Supreme)
Jackson-Cartwright played well for Cali Supreme, and while some may point to his size (5-7) as a detriment he displayed good vision at the point. Not sure how much taller he gets but the 2014 prospect is obviously talented. The goal at this point has to be to continue to improve as a floor general, and there’s definitely room for growth in that area.
One thing that was noticeable on Saturday was the number of teams who used an attacking 1-3-1 zone on the defensive end of the floor. Being so used to teams playing 2-3 zones and daring the opposition to shoot, seeing an active zone defense proved to be far more entertaining. CP3 and Team United were two of the teams who used the zone to their advantage on Saturday, and with EYBL also using a shot clock maybe zones of this style become a bit more commonplace.
Sindarius Thornwell says that there isn’t a leader in the race for his services but did mention South Carolina and Memphis. What that means is difficult to tell, but while location isn’t a concern playing in a program that has a family atmosphere and plays an uptempo brand of basketball. From an academic standpoint, Thornwell mentioned sports management and broadcast journalism as academic interests.
Darren Williams mentioned the following six schools: Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, East Carolina and Gardner-Webb. Williams said that the schools were even at this time.
Kennedy Meeks is being pursued by just about the entire ACC at this point. Specific schools he mentioned included North Carolina, Pittsburgh, NC State, Syracuse and Miami in addition to Georgetown, Louisville, Notre Dame and West Virginia.
JaQuel Richmond said that the following schools are even right now: Oklahoma State, Virginia, Wake Forest, Charlotte, Tennessee and Georgetown. Richmond also mentioned recent phone conversations with Syracuse assistant Adrian Autry.
Troy Williams will most likely make his decision at the end of the summer. While North Carolina and Kentucky remain the top two, he’s still listening to Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgetown. The decision will come down to which head coach Williams has the best relationship with.
John Davis has heard from a number of schools, including La Salle, Massachusetts, VCU, George Mason, Drexel, Towson, Delaware, Rider, Missouri State and Mount St. Mary’s. As for VCU, while Davis didn’t say he’s got a specific order he did say that the Rams’ move to the A-10 gave them a boost in his eyes.
Rondae Jefferson didn’t have a whole lot to say about the schools in hot pursuit of his services, but did mention that he’d likely have an idea of who’s on his list at the Peach Jam.
By Brian Bosworth, National Scouting Analyst
The National Prep Showcase was back in full swing on Sunday with top teams like Brewster Academy, New Hampton Prep, and the Tilton School all in action. While the rosters of most prep schools in this event are dominated by seniors and post-graduate players it was a pair of underclassmen that stole the show on Sunday.
Co-Headliners of the Day:
Nerlens Noel (Tilton School 2013) – With college coaches such as John Calipari (Kentucky), Steve Lavin (St. John’s), and Ed Cooley (Providence) on hand to watch him play Noel put on quite a show Sunday night. Having already established himself as the premier defensive big man in America during the summer with BABC, Nerlens showcased an expanding offensive game that brings his upside to a new level. He played on the wing for much of the first half and repeatedly used a deadly right to left crossover to attack the rim and finish with his left hand. Despite being right handed he seems to prefer using his left to finish around the basket and did so with startling efficiency in this game. If Noel can continue to develop his offensive skills to complement his defensive brilliance he will give Jabari Parker a serious challenge for the spot of #1 overall player in the class of 2013.
With the Hoop Group’s Elite Camp Session I concluding on Friday evening, the action continued on the campus of Albright College in Reading (PA) on Saturday with the Elite Team Camp, also hosted by Hoop Group, tipping off. A break from the norm of camps and AAU competitions, this July live period event features high school teams going head to head in front of very interested college coaches. The games certainly have a different feel than the normal summer contests and an impressive field only increased the interest of scouts, media, coaches and fans to come by the Albright campus on this beautiful summer day.
Just perusing the names of the schools in the national bracket and you knew you were in for a treat. Traditional Philadelphia powers Neumann-Goretti and Roman Catholic are in the field as well as Friends Central, Westtown and Penn Wood from the eastern half of the Keystone State. Upstate New York was represented by Jamesville-Dewitt outside of Syracuse and Rochester’s Bishop Kearney High School. The DC-area came strong with Gonzaga, St. John’s, Bishop McNamara, Largo, Paul VI, Patterson and more. New Jersey powers St. Anthony’s and Hudson Catholic came to play and New York City had Xaverian and South Shore. That is just a fraction of the teams on hand…
Matt Whitfield spent most of the day in Reading and will have plenty to report on. Below are just a few of the recruiting updates he accrued on this busy Saturday of basketball action…
By Ron Bailey
June 20, 2011 – Now that the National Basketball Players Association Top 100’s dust has settled, even more information can be reported on attending student athletes being recruited by BIG EAST member schools. Of course the league’s footprint was large, as kids from throughout the nation listed institutions from that conference. Two from Philadelphia are featured here.
Amile Jefferson – 6’8”, 195 lb, senior F, Friends Central (PA) – Jefferson, winner of the Camp’s Academic Achievement award put in work akin to good student’s preparing for final exams – he rebounded, filled lanes, defended, passed and scored his way to a stellar performance. To say he was one of the event’s most effective players is an understatement, as is noting Amile was a very hard worker.
What’s more impressive is that he still is not the best shooter or ball handler; Jefferson does it with effort, intelligence and grit, the last evidenced by playing around half the camp with a dislocated pinky finger on his left hand (which could demand surgery). Sure he hit shots (particularly spot up wing jumpshots from just inside the three point arc) and patted getting the rim (particularly in fast break/scatter court situations), it’s just that these are necessary points of improvement. Add getting stronger to that list ,which Jefferson recognizes as necessary.
by Alex Schwartz
PHILADELPHIA – The 17th annual Rasual Butler All-City Classic took place last night at Benjamin Franklin High School in Philadelphia. The top players in the Philadelphia area took the court for three games, one for each of the high school classes besides the outgoing seniors.
The first contest was the Freshmen Game and the White team defeated the Black team by a score of 94-78 in a matchup of 2014 standouts. The MVP from the victors was 6-foot-5 power forward Jamal Custis of Neumann-Goretti (PA) with 18 points. Eric Anderson was named White’s MVP, as the 6-foot-4 small forward from Haverford (PA) dropped 15 points.
The Defensive Player of the Game award went to the White team’s Conrad Chambers, a 6-foot point guard out of Friends Central (PA). He was the game’s top scorer with 19 points. It was Black’s Malik Smith, a 5-foot-10 point guard from Del Val (PA), who won the Unselfish Player trophy.
Other double-digit scorers for the White team were 6-foot-2 combo guard Ja’Quan Newton and 5-foot-11 point guard Troy Harper. The Neumann-Goretti (PA) teammates had 10 points apiece. For the Black team, 6-foot-1 combo guard Shep Garner and 6-foot-2 combo guard Rashann London, teammates at Roman Catholic (PA), had 14 and 12 respectively. In addition, 6-foot-2 shooting guard Malik Starkes of Olney (PA) added 11.
The second game was easily the best one, with the Black team winning 93-86 in the Sophomore Game featuring 2013 players. The MVP from the winning side was 6-foot-6 small forward Rondae Jefferson of Chester (PA) who had 18 points. For the White team, the MVP was 6-foot-2 shooting guard Rysheed Jordan of Vaux (PA) who also had 18.
The Defensive Player of the Game honor was given to 5-foot-6 point guard Yahmir Greenlee of Boys’ Latin (PA), a member of the White team. Stephen Vasturia, a 6-foot-3 combo guard from St. Joseph’s Prep (PA) on the Black squad, won the Unselfish Player honor. In addition to Jefferson and Jordan, both Black’s 5-foot-10 point guard Britton Lee of Roman Catholic and White’s 6-foot-5 power forward BJ Johnson of Lower Merion (PA) had 18 points.
Three other players finished the game with double figures in the points column. Shafeek Taylor, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Roman Catholic, scored 15 points for Black, while 6-foot-3 combo guard Miles Overton of St. Joseph’s Prep had 14. Finally, 6-foot-8 center Zac Tillman of Shipley School (PA) finished with 11 points for the White squad.
By Lauren Kirschman
Recruiting rundown of some of the top names from this past weekend’s Pittsburgh Jamfest put on by the Hoop Group…
Jalen Robinson (2012)
AAU Team: All-Ohio Red
Height: 6’7″, Weight: 215
Considering: Wisconsin, UCLA, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Xavier, Iowa, Penn State, DePaul, Cincinnati, Ohio University, Tennessee, Michigan
Elijah Macon (2012)
AAU Team: All-Ohio Red
Considering: West Virginia, South Florida, USC, Cincinnati, Tennessee
Offers from: South Florida, USC
Height: 6’7″, Weight: 200
Leaders: West Virginia and Cincinnati