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.
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.