Missouri State Recruiting
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 Raphielle Johnson
By the end of the last college basketball season it was best to simply expect the unexpected. The same could be said for this weekend in Las Vegas, which has produced an unexpected champion in the Kansas City 76ers. The 76ers won the Las Vegas Fab 48 by beating Team Breakdown (Florida) in Monday night’s title game.
While the stands weren’t filled to brim as they were last summer (Oakland Soldiers tend to bring out the crowds), there were a few college programs represented in the coaches area with 2013 wing Ishmail Wainright the primary focus.
Ben Howland (UCLA) and Steve Lavin (St. John’s) were both there to watch Wainwright, who considers Earl Watson (who has connections to both as he played at UCLA under Lavin) to be an older brother and mentor. Other programs represented include Western Illinois, George Mason, Kansas, Missouri, UC Irvine, South Florida, Cal Poly, Nebraska, UM-KC and Creighton.
By Raphielle Johnson
On paper Sunday’s slate of games in both the adidas Super 64 and Las Vegas Fab 48 looked to be locks for the top teams. But many learned (once again) first-hand that games are played on the floor and not on some poster-sized sheet of paper in a gym lobby. The list of victims included the Oakland Soldiers, who dropped their first round playoff game to a Branch West Elite team that looked highly impressive in the first half against Play Hard Play Smart in the nightcap.
Also bounced from the Fab 48 were TP Elite and Team Loaded, both of whom fell victim to the Wisconsin Swing. Zak Showalter (2012) out of Germantown (WI), who scored 29 points in their 90-75 win over Team Loaded, can do a number of things on the floor from his guard position. He caught fire from deep but didn’t simply settle for those shots, also driving to the basket and setting up teammates for good looks as well. Ironically Showalter stated after the game that he’s working on becoming a better perimeter shooter, although he was referring to consistency as opposed to simply making the shot.
That matchup also featured a pair of excellent prospects in NC State commit Tyler Lewis (2012) and Andrew White (2012), who has many top programs after his services. When the ball was in Lewis’s hands things seemed to run smoother for Team Loaded, although the way in which Wisconsin Swing executed offensively it may have taken 100 points for Team Loaded to win the game.
Khan/Judah not the only prize fight in town
By Raphielle Johnson
While boxing fans enjoyed the battle between Amir Khan and Zab Judah over at Mandalay Bay, two of the top AAU teams on the West Coast did battle at Bishop Gorman in the Las Vegas Fab 48. Led by the interior tandem of 2012 Brandon Ashley and 2013 Aaron Gordon, the Oakland Soldiers withstood a late rally to beat Belmont Shore 85-80. Both showed off their vast array of skills, especially Gordon with a few thunderous dunks.
The game was also valuable to see what Belmont Shore big men Zena Edsomwan and Grant Jerrett could do against two of the best prep players regardless of class. Edsomwan isn’t the kind of player who’s going to dominate the basketball but rather do the little things on both ends of the floor needed to win. Jerrett had his moments as well but it proved to be a tale of two halves for the Arizona commit.
In the backcourt the battle was just as intense, with the likes of Dominic Artis and Jabari Bird taking on Ikenna Ireogbu and Katin Reinhardt for Belmont Shore. With regards to dribbling skills, Artis may not have an equal in the 2012 class (Kris Dunn is another to consider). Bird can do just about everything on the floor, and while the 2013 prospect needs to continue to improve as a shooter he’s shown the ability to knock down open shots.
By Brian Bosworth
The single elimination playoffs got underway Thursday night at the Peach Jam with four quarterfinal match-ups. The run-and-gun acrobatic show of the Oakland Soldiers against Kyle “slow-mo” Anderson and his New Jersey Playaz Club was too much to pass up so that’s where I planted myself. “Slow-mo” gave a Herculean effort ending up just 1 rebound shy of a triple double but in the end the Soldiers athleticism was simply too much to overcome and they advanced to the semifinals. Players from both teams showcased their talents for the bevy of college coaches in attendance.
Dominic Artis (Oakland Soldiers/2012) – Artis is a short statured point guard who has been getting reviews this spring as potentially the best point that the West coast has to offer. His play in this game made it easy to see why. He drained deep three pointer after deep three pointer both of the catch and off the dribble finishing 6-9 from behind the arc. In addition Artis is quick and crafty with the ball constantly working his way into the paint and creating scoring chances for teammates. He served as the engine that made this high powered Soldiers offense go leading his team both vocally and with his play on the floor.
Kyle Anderson (Playaz Basketball Club/2012) – What more can be said about Kyle Anderson that hasn’t been said already? He was brilliant against every defender on the Soldiers roster. They threw bigger guys at him and he used his deadly crossover to get into the paint. They threw shorter, quicker defenders at him and he went down to the right block and went to work. It seemed like every player on the Oakland Soldiers got a chance at stopping Kyle Anderson and every one came away shaking their head. Scouts can critique Anderson’s foot speed all they want. He is a winning basketball player who with excel at any college he chooses thanks to his toughness, basketball IQ, and leadership.