Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nike EYBL (Memorial Day Weekend)

With another major recruiting event comes another entry, so lets rundown the top performers before jumping in to the numerous recruiting tidbits SummerHoopScoop learned this weekend in California.

Top Performers

Brandon Ashley (2012)

Brandon Ashley's game is expanding at an alarming rate. At times he becomes an unstoppable physical animal. The phrase "bull in a china store" can be apt, but he never quite loses control. Throughout the weekend he helped his team, the Oakland Soldiers, with a variety of face-up moves and midrange jumpers to compliment his ability inside the paint. His game on day one against Howard Pulley was one of the top performances of the weekend.

Jarnell Stokes (2012)

Stokes doesn't demand the ball a lot, but it never seems to matter as he is dominant on the glass at all times and always manages to get to the free throw line on broken plays and rebounds. His effort level is off the chart. One area for improvement is free-throw shooting given how much time he spends on the line. However, the steps he has taken forward far outweigh his charity-stripe woes. All weekend long I heard him described simply as "beast" ... I can't disagree.

Julius Randle (2013)

Randle is just starting to understand how to use his superior body and physicality and it is downright scary for opponents. Randle struggled at times throughout the weekend, but on Day Three when pitted against Nerlens Noel, he lit up. He dropped midrange jumpers in from all over the floor, while using the shot fake to make space and attack the rim. He got to the foul line consistently and kept the best defensive player at the event, Noel, on the bench most of the game. It was a dominating display.

Brian Bridgewater (2013)

On Sunday, Brian Bridgewater stole the show. It is often hard to escape the shadow of Houston Hoops' backcourt of LJ Rose, Rasheed Sulaimon, and J-Mychal Reese, but the undersized PF managed to do just that at times this weekend. Bridgewater has incredible strength and displayed it when he launched himself past/over defenders for the dunk of the weekend on Sunday. Once he had everybody's attention, he started dropping jumpers. If Sunday was a sign of things to come for Bridgewater, a lot of high-major schools will be standing up and taking notice.

Tidbits and Rumors

(1) Shabazz Muhammad- For a little over a month now I have felt that those handicapping the Shabazz Muhammad sweepstakes might be wrong regarding Muhammad's timeline for deciding on a school. While most feel his recruitment will drag out in to the spring, I remain confident that this race will be over much sooner.

Muhammad has been savvy in talking about schools that have expressed interest and spreading his attention around, but after essentially ending his flirtation with Carolina, the buzz is growing louder and louder that UCLA will be his choice.

(2) Kaleb Tarczewski- The big man was not at the event, but several sources at the EYBL confirmed what I had heard a number of weeks ago. Specifically-- While Kansas is still in the lead, Roy Williams turned Kaleb's head and has transformed this affair in to a real race for now. Tarczewski expressed privately, and somewhat publicly, his desire to visit Chapel Hill over Memorial Day Weekend, but the NCAA's decision to essentially gut the Tournament of Champions meant that Kaleb was unable to make the trip. This might be a serious blow to the Tar Heels' chances as he is currently working to set up another visit to Kansas this summer. However, for now at least, Carolina remains in good position and is making up ground fast.

(3) Tony Parker- Parker has dropped North Carolina from his list and added Memphis. His current list includes Ohio State, Duke, and Memphis. Although Parker maintains that OSU's courting of other big men such as Dejuan Coleman has not affected his interest, perhaps a bigger question is whether OSUs recruiting tactics might say something about their interest in Parker.

(4) LJ Rose- One rumor I heard more than any other this weekend is that LJ Rose has UCLA firmly out in front and the Bruins will be hard to catch.

(5) Rodney Purvis- The CP3 star has recently expanded his list to include Memphis along with Duke, NC State, Louisville, and Kentucky. However, most feel that the competition for his services will come down to State and Duke. Purvis has been reportedly playing a lot of basketball with NC State players this summer while Duke was widely understood to be a close 2nd after his first commitment to Louisville. This was reportedly in large part due to the close relationship he had formed with Coach K in the preceding months.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Jayhawk Invitational

Top Performers

Note: Last summer we gave a starting five for top performers of each tournament, but this year we have decided to mix things up again and just go with the guys who really stood out. The Jayhawk Invitational saw three players really stand out from the rest.

Shabazz Muhammad

Muhammad might just end up the #1 player in the class of 2012. He has something that few other players have, a killer mentality. When Muhammad smells blood in the water he takes his game to another level and does so intelligently. When most wing players feel the momentum change and are feeling hot, you can bet that a long jumper is coming. When Muhammad is feeling it he does one of two things-- (1) gets to the line, or (2) gets to his sweet spot on the floor (left elbow of the lane). Shabazz thrives in isolations situations on the left side of the court where he frequently hits the pull-up off the drive or spins baseline and finishes with his dominant hand, the left. He was clearly the best player in the event.

Mitch McGary

Has any player improved as much from one summer to the next as Mitch McGary? The answer is a clear and resounding NO. McGary dominated every big man that went up against him in the Invitational. He is exceedingly physical down low on the block but has the ability to take slower big men outside and face up for the jumper or drive. He has a rapidly improving offensive repertoire on the block as evidenced by his up-and-under and drop steps all weekend. In an absolutely loaded class, I would not be surprised to see him end up a top 3 big man.

Marcus Smart

If there is one word to describe Marcus Smart it is "strong." His shot is still a work in progress but nobody is stopping him from getting to the rim. As readers from the last few summers know, I am not one to focus on the intangibles of a player, but I would be remiss if I did not make mention of Smart's leadership skills. When his team was down, he pulled his guys together and refocused them. He just exudes a winner's mentality and it rubs off on everybody he plays with. Some kids just have that aura and Smart is one of them.

Tidbits and Rumors

(1) Kaleb Tarczewski- A few weeks ago I stated that Kaleb Tarczewski is more wide open than most seem to think. Now I can report that multiple sources have heard that Tarczewski is intrigued by the idea of playing in, what projects to be, a very uncrowded Carolina frontcourt. While those sources still feel he is a Kansas lean, one source stated that Roy Williams has "turned his head."

(2) Shaquille Cleare- Houston product Shaquille Cleare has been hearing from lots of schools of late, but  rumor is that two have separated themselves from the pack-- Maryland and Baylor. With the retirement of Gary Williams, Scott Drew's school might be sitting in pole position for the power forward's services.

(3) Deandre Daniels-  Little has changed on Daniels' side. Multiple sources on the trail have confirmed over and over again that Daniels and his father both want Duke. The newest wrinkle, however, is that Duke has slowed down the process to make sure that all of Daniels' academic affairs are in order. While Daniels is a good student, he has attended a number of schools and Duke is in the process of doing its due diligence and collecting all the requisite paperwork.