With this past week full of events such as the All-American Championship, Nike Hoop Summit and Nike EYBL that displayed top high school talent, there were a lot of chances to watch, analyze and talk to some of the best high school basketball players in the country of all grade levels. We were able to watch more than half of the top-50 prospects in both the classes of 2011 and 2012, and saw great match-ups such as the two best guards in the class of 2012 in Rodney Purvis (#9 – Louisville) and Ricardo Ledo (#10) going at it in the EYBL. We also saw Anthony Davis (#4 – Kentucky) go up against one of the top international big men in Bismack Biyombo (Fuenlabrada, Spain) in the Hoop Summit and two class of 2011 top-five point guards in Josiah Turner (#10 – Arizona) and B.J. Young (#22 – Arkansas).
What We Learned
Rodney Purvis Elevates to Top Guard. Purvis clearly established himself as the best guard in his class during the EYBL as he out-played the second-best guard in Ledo, hit clutch shots and scored prolifically from everywhere on the court. He is a big-time scorer who can shoot the lights out from behind the arc or take it to the rim where he can finish through contact. He is also a good ballhandler and applies great pressure defense at times which results in turnovers for his opponents. Purvis is able to keep his opponents in front of him as well on defense and has good anticipation which results in steals and easy transition baskets on the other end. Expect him to move even further up the rankings since he has started to consistently get into the lane where he can finish or dump it off to a big man. Purvis is an elite level talent who will make an immediate impact for Louisville in a couple of years.
Anthony Davis Rises to #1 Player (coming soon). Like Purvis, Davis staked his claim as the best player at his position during the Hoop Summit. However, he went one step further and seized the title as the number one prospect in the country (our new rankings will be out next week). Saying Anthony Davis is versatile at 6’11 is an understatement. The former guard is a force down low as a tremendous shot-blocker and rebounder and is very good at guarding the perimeter against smaller players. He can also handle the ball well and is a deft passer. Additionally, he can score off the dribble and can play either with his back or facing the basket. He is a very tough match-up due to his versatility. His shooting is respectable and he is a dominant offensive rebounder which allows him to get a lot of easy putbacks. Davis’ potential is unlimited and the sky is the limit for him, which is why he is the best player in his class. Look for Davis to dominate at Kentucky next year and to be an impact player in the NBA down the road.
A Duke Version of the Fab Five? The Fab Five documentary got a lot of press and media attention due to Jalen Rose’s remarks and Grant Hill’s response, but Duke-commit Rasheed Sulaimon took something else away from it. “I saw it and thought it would be a cool idea and I know Duke is recruiting [#5] Shabazz [Muhammad], [#19] L.J. [Rose] and [#15] Tony [Parker] hard so I thought why not put another one together,” Sulaimon said when I asked him about it. L.J. Rose also had some remarks about Sulaimon’s idea, “Him and Alex Murphy have been recruiting me, Shabazz [Muhammad] and Tony Parker hard. It would be fun, it would be a lot of fun.” Parker also smiled at the thought of the idea, “It would be fun,” he added.
What You Missed
Team USA Wins Hoop Summit. The USA Basketball Junior National Select Team defeated the World Select Team Saturday night in the 14th annual Nike Hoop Summit, 92-80, led by three of the top seniors in the country in Duke-commit Austin Rivers (20 points) and Kentucky-commits Michael Gilchrist (16 points, five rebounds and five blocks) and Anthony Davis (16 points and 10 rebounds). USA overcame the first-ever triple-double in Hoop Summit history posted by Bismack Biyombo (Fuenlabrada, Spain), who tallied 12 points, 11 rebounds and a Nike Hoop Summit record 10 blocked shots. Mateusz Ponitka also had a good game for the World Team with a team-high 17 points and four rebounds. Overall, the USA squad was simply too talented and played great defense which resulted in the World shooting 37.5% from the field and just 14.3% in the first quarter as the USA raced out to a 20-12 lead. The only time the USA squad trailed was an early 7-4 deficit in the first quarter. However, Gilchrist took the game over by scoring seven of the game’s next nine points, giving USA an 11-9 lead. Team USA never looked back by only allowing the World within three points the rest of the game and held a lead as large as 20 when Rivers scored eight points in the fourth quarter. The United States now holds an 11-3 record over the World Team and has won the last two match-ups.
Gatorade NPOY Goes to Beal. Shooting guard Bradley Beal (#6 – Florida) won the Gatorade National Player of the Year award which is given to the person who best exemplifies athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character among the nation’s high school seniors. Beal, the #2 shooting guard in the class of 2011, averaged 32.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.7 steals per game this season, shooting 73 percent from the field and was named to the McDonald’s All-American game and Jordan Brand Classic. He has also maintained a 91.7% average in the classroom as an honor roll student and has volunteered on behalf of the St. Patrick Center, Missouri’s largest homeless services provider; the St. Augustine Wellston Center for the needy; and at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center as a goodwill ambassador. Beal instructed at youth basketball camps and clinics in addition to participating in Focus St. Louis, a diversity and multicultural initiative.
Rivals Dissed by NCAA. The NCAA classified Rivals.com as a recruiting service, which requires all coaches to cancel their subscriptions. Basically, the NCAA is banning coaches and colleges from viewing videos of prospects in non-scholastic events that can only be viewed by a specific group of people (i.e., paid subscribers and/or coaches). Here is a direct quote from an e-mail CBSSports.com obtained written by an NCAA representative: “If a recruiting or scouting service, such as Rivals.com, provides non-scholastic video that is not available for free to the general public, then an institution may not subscribe to the service per Bylaw 13.14.3.” In the same e-mail, the NCAA creates hypothetical scenarios that they answer in hopes of clarifying their ruling. Check out the e-mails here to further understand the NCAA’s ruling. You can also find legal interpretation from a law firm for free here.
Kentucky Whiffs on Two. Kentucky head coach John Calipari had a tough weekend as two targets decided to attend college elsewhere. High school senior Braeden Anderson committed to Kansas and highly sought after junior college standout Stan Simpson chose Memphis, leaving the Wildcats with potentially only three post players next year if freshman Terrence Jones declares for the draft and Kentucky gets no other 2011 commitments. Between the three post players that Kentucky has, only Eloy Vargas has any experience since Davis and McDonald’s All-American Kyle Wiltjer will be freshman. However, Calipari can’t be too down about missing out on these two prospects since he still has one of the best recruiting classes of all-time coming in with three of the top four prospects in Davis, Gilchrist and McDonald’s All-American Marquis Teague arriving as well as #26 overall Wiltjer. Two class of 2011 top-50 prospects are still considering the Wildcats between #24 overall DeAndre Daniels and #37 overall Trevor Lacey, so Kentucky still has a couple of more chances to improve its class before the year is out.
Your Seven-Day All-Americans
Quinn Cook, Point Guard, Duke – The future Blue Devil scored 12 points and dished out three assists after he sat out the practices leading up to the Hoop Summit due to an ankle injury. Cook was very efficient for the USA squad as he shot over 70% from the field and made 50% of his three-pointers. He also had an assist to turnover ratio of 3:1, better than anyone else on his team. He also was a good decision-maker for USA and set up his teammates a few different times for easy buckets.
Austin Rivers, Shooting Guard, Duke – Rivers was one of USA’s best players as he had a game-high 20 points including eight in the fourth quarter that put the World team away. He got off to a slow start shooting-wise but later found his stroke and was hitting shots from everywhere on the floor. He shot 7-11 (64%) from the floor and 3-4 (75%) from the three-point line. Rivers is one of the best shooters in the class of 2011 and proved it with his performance in the Hoop Summit.
Michael Gilchrist, Small Forward, Kentucky – Gilchrist silently had a great game since he wasn’t spectacular in one specific area but rather he played well in every area. He recorded 16 points, five rebounds and five steals and had a crucial run of seven straight points for the USA squad early in the first quarter which got it out of their only deficit of the whole game. Gilchrist was also efficient from the field as he shot close to 70%.
Anthony Davis, Power Forward, Kentucky – Davis was the only player in the Hoop Summit to come up with a double-double as he scored 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. He could have had even better numbers and production but he struggled throughout the game dealing with foul trouble and only tallied 23 minutes. Like the three aforementioned All-Americans, Davis shot well from the field making eight of his 13 shots, or 62%.
Bismack Biyombo, Center, Fuenlabrada – Biyombo clearly had the best performance not only in this game, but in the game’s history, as he recorded the first-ever triple-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds, and a Hoop Summit-record 10 blocks. He was a force on both ends of the floor and gave the USA team some trouble inside. He also shot the best of anyone one the World team by going 5-7 (71%) from the field.
Nerlens Noel, Power Forward, Sophomore – Noel is one of the elite big men in the class of 2013 and runs the floor better than some guards. He is a good shot-blocker, can score with either hand and has a nice hook shot over his left shoulder that consistently goes in. His quick release also makes it difficult for other big men to block his shots but his length and athleticism makes it hard for opponents to guard him in the first place. Look for his name to keep popping up as one of the top sophomores in rankings, games or tournaments because he is a great prospect with a high ceiling who consistently produces.
Julius Randle, Power Forward, Sophomore – Randle proved that when he plays as good as he can, no one regardless of class can guard him. He is unbelievable off the dribble and uses his strength to push people around inside the paint. He did a great job rebounding on both ends of the floor and used his physicality and jumping to not allow anyone else to get any rebounds. His mid-range shooting is also respectable. Randle’s only problem is consistency, on a lot of nights he will play like previously described but he has too many games where he isn’t a huge factor.
Aaron Gordon, Power Forward, Sophomore – Aaron Gordon was a flat out stud in the EYBL as he outplayed teammate and #4 overall class of 2012 prospect Brandon Ashley in a couple of games. He is a similar player to Ashley in that he runs the floor well and is an athletic combo forward who can score from the high post or low post. He can also handle the ball and lead the break in transition while being a good passer as well. On the defensive end, he rebounds well and is a solid shot-blocker and has the potential to evolve into a lock-down defender due to his physical abilities and potential. He has a nice spin move he uses in the lane too that allows him to get up a high-percentage shot.
Troy Williams, Small Forward, Sophomore – Williams was the best and most athletic sophomore wing player at the EYBL. He made multiple dunks in the same game that got me out of my seat with a shocked look on my face. Not only does he have great physical attributes, but he has a nice three-point stroke as well as a quality mid-range jumper. He can also finish through contact well and if he gets into the lane he will almost always score. Williams is simply a monster in transition and will make anyone pay who tries to get in between him and the basket.
What They’re Saying
This is what the top high school prospects have been saying this past week:
- Duke-commit Rasheed Sulaimon (#14) on putting together a fab-five for Duke: “I thought it would be a cool idea and I know Duke is recruiting [#5] Shabazz [Muhammad], [#19] L.J. [Rose] and [#15] Tony [Parker] hard so I thought why not put another one together.”
LJ Rose on Sulaimon’s fab-five idea and other players that have been recruiting him: “Him and Alex Murphy have been recruiting me, Shabazz [Muhammad] and Tony Parker hard. It would be fun, it would be a lot of fun. Mike Gilchrist, Quincy Miller, and Cameron Ridley have also been recruiting me.”
Tony Parker on Sulaimon’s fab-five idea and which coaches he has talked to: “It would be fun… I’ve talked to Coach K a couple of times and Thad Matta a lot of times… I have talked to Roy Williams once or twice.”
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (#32) on his favorite schools: “Texas, Baylor, UCLA and Georgetown are my favorites right now.”
Aaron Gordon on who he’s been talking to and his favorite schools: “Washington, Arizona, Stanford, Kansas,and New Mexico have been talking to me the most. Washington is my favorite so far… I like the way they run the program, [head coach Lorenzo] Romar is a good dude. I also like New Mexico.”
Ricardo Ledo on his recruitment and what schools have been recruiting him the hardest: “Kentucky, UConn, Texas and Providence have been recruiting me the harder than anyone else.”
A Look Ahead
Looking very similar to the McDonald’s All-American game, the Jordan game rosters are headlined by Rivers, Gilchrist and Teague who are all on the East Team. Khem Birch (Pittsburgh), Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse), Rakeem Christmas (Syracuse), Michael Gbinije (Duke), P.J. Hairston (UNC), James McAdoo (UNC), Quincy Miller (Baylor) and Shannon Scott (Ohio State) round out of the rest of the East squad. On the West side, Beal, Jabari Brown (Oregon), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia), Davis, Myck Kabongo (Texas), Johnny O’Bryant (LSU), Dom Pointer (St. John’s), Otto Porter (Undecided), Adonis Thomas (Memphis), Wiltjer and Tony Wroten Jr. (Washington) are the guys named to the roster. The game will be played Saturday, April 16, at 8pm EDT and will be broadcast on ESPN2.