By Brian Bosworth, National Recruiting Analyst
Thursday at “Live in AC” featured a few big names playing up to their reputations but was mostly about under the radar guys getting a chance to shine. Here’s who caught NBE’s eye on the day.
Top Performance of the Day:
Abdul-Malik Abu (Expressions Elite 2014) – Abu is a big name in New England who deserves to be a big name on the national level. He was a physical force on the 16U level dominating the paint in both games I watched on Thursday. A strongly built 6’8” and 225 pounds, Abu can both post up and blow by defenders off the dribble. He loves contact once around the rim and finished while drawing fouls on multiple plays throughout the day. While Abu is a wide bodied post player, that doesn’t take away from his elite athleticism as both his first step off the dribble and explosion at the rim are of the highest level. He had some of the fiercest and most powerful dunks of the day both rising over defenders and finishing through them. Abu can play anywhere in the country at the college level and his recruitment is starting to show that.
By N.D. Kendrick
Mequon, WI – The second July “live period” kicked off on Wednesday night and NBE Sports joined coaching staffs from numerous college programs at Homestead High School near Milwaukee to scout the prospects at the NY2LA Under Armour Summer Jam. Here is a rundown from Thursday’s long day of action…
T.J. Haws, Nick Emery and Eric Mika (Utah Reign) – Just had to go with this trio because they play like they are one. T.J. Haws has a little flash and flare to his game and is great ball handler that can shoot from distance but focuses on driving to the hoop. Emery is lethal from anywhere in the gym. He is not limited to being a catch and shoot player, he can take you off the bounce. Mika may be on the verge of becoming a household name (More on Mika below). They all three will be making noise at BYU in a few years.
Star of the Night: Reggie Hamilton Oakland
Tennessee couldn’t stop Oakland guard Reggie Hamilton, who gave the Vols a sour taste, not to mention a career-high 35 points, in road game that Counzo Martin is on record saying he never would’ve scheduled had it been up to him. Martin’s crew was just in Maui about 105 hours ago and has since played two games, both on the road, since returning from paradise. They will face Pitt in the BIG EAST/SEC Challenge this weekend. But tonight belongs to Greg Kampe’s Oakland Grizzlies, and their sharpshooter Hamilton. The O-Rena was rocking and one of the best smaller college atmospheres was on display for the entire country. Oakland has a program, in fact they’ve had one for a number of years now. They also just made it damn-near impossible to get any other BCS league school to come to Suburban Detroit to play them in the future. This was Oakland’s second win in as many seasons over Tennessee. The final was 89-81 and Drew Valentine added 15 points, Laval Lucas-Perry 14 and Travis Bader 13 for Oakland (4-2).
Belated Stars of Saturday Night: UNLV
Anytime you beat North Carolina it’s a huge win. When you beat the #1 ranked Tar Heels that are being proclaimed as the second coming of the Dream Team by some, it’s momentous. Oscar Bellfield (16 points and 9 assists) and Chace Stanback (28 points and 10 rebounds) were both instrumental, but the truth is the entire Rebels rotation contributed to their 90-80 victory in the Desert. Great win for Dave Rice in his first season at the helm, while a tip of the hat also goes to Lon Kruger for leaving the deck stacked in Sin City before leaving for Oklahoma. Shabazz Muhammad, the nation’s #1 ranked recruit and Bishop Gorman star, watched the upset from a seat in Orleans Arena.
Great Win of the Night: Xavier
Chris Mack’s squad went into Vanderbilt and won in OT after Mark Lyons made a great attacking play to send the game into the extra session.
Good Win of the Night: WVU
The Mountaineers drilled Akron but don’t get it twisted, while it was a really good win, and their second strong performance in a row, the Zips were without suspended star point guard Alex Abreu. He’s a difference maker for Akron. Still, props to Team Huggins — Jabarie Hinds, as we well knew, is a player player.
Goat of the Season (and not in the greatest of all time way): Jim Boeheim
The longtime pompous and arrogant Syracuse coach has done a lot of things over the years to prove to the discerning eye that he’s just another big-time coach living in the fantasy bubble that achieving success in places like Syracuse produces. Coming out in defense of longtime assistant Bernie Fine when Fine was being accused of molestation by a former ball boy for his program was okay, if that had been all Boeheim did. Instead he attacked the alleged victims, calling them liars and saying it was a scheme, a money grab. Boeheim said he’s known Fine for 35 years etc etc. Well, with the release of the tape of Fine’s wife openly discussing the alleged molestation with the victim it seems as if Boeheim really didn’t know his friend that well. Boeheim released a statement apologizing for his remarks (sort of) but I missed the part where he apologized for calling alleged victims of sexual assault, things that allegedly started happening when they were defenseless boys, liars. The victims coming out against Fine are growing in numbers. Boeheim’s words were unforgivable — he did exactly what bullies do. Then again, we’ve come to expect that kind of behavior from him.
Motivated by the shooting deaths of two older siblings, JaVontae Hawkins keeps his eyes on the prize in life
One of the more impressive players on the spring AAU circuit that has cemented his name among the top players in the Class of 2012 has been JaVontae Hawkins. The 6-foot-5, 202-lb shooting guard has turned in some very impressive performances with the Michigan Mustangs, officially breaking out in a big way back in April at the King James Shooting Stars event in Akron.
“This spring I just showed everyone that I can play against top talent and broke [out of] my shell by making athletic plays on both ends of the court and playing the shooting guard position at my best,” Hawkins told NBE earlier this week.
College coaches on the road in July will get a chance to see Hawkins at events such as the ScoutsFocus International Elite 80 Showcase July 10th and 11th in Greensboro (NC) and during AAU basketball’s Vegas week to close the live evaluation period. In the meantime Hawkins will continue to hone his skills for his moment to shine.
By Ray Mernagh
The Hoop Group’s traveling caravan of scouts, event promoters, camp directors, and future coaches returned once again to Pittsburgh Friday for their now annual stop.
The group’s Pittsburgh Jam Fest has been one of the primary stops on the April Grassroots circuit for a number of years now as it always brings loaded fields, timely starts and a buzz to this city for all the hoop junkies withdrawing from the sudden end to the college and high school season.
Along with revitalizing that dreaded hoop-rock itch (I showed up at 6:30 or so after a full workday planning on picking up my creds, catching a few halves of action and bouncing, but ended up staying until the last games and interviewing DJ Fenner from the DC Assault as the clock ticked towards Saturday) Friday night at the J-Fest always produces a player that makes you say o-k-a-y.
Last night, for a lot of us sitting along the baseline, Deontae Hawkins of All-Ohio Red was that kid.
The first kid to really pop during opening round play.