Originally posted by Zac Fleer on www.scarberrymedia.com.
In a basketball-crazed week in Orlando, a handful of players helped their stock with outstanding performances in front of dozens of Division-I coaches. While Malik Monk and the Arkansas Wings ran through the competition in the 16u Nationals, Howard Pulley’s star-studded duo of Tyus Jones and Reid Travis took care of business in the 17u Super Showcase. Let’s get into the top performers from this past week in Orlando.
AAU Super Showcase MVP: Reid Travis (PF, Howard Pulley/Minneapolis De La Salle/2014)
After an All-Star performance at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, and stellar showings at the LeBron James Skills Academy and Peach Jam, Travis, a 6’8 240-pound power forward from Minneapolis, elevated his stock to an even higher level in Orlando. Leading Howard Pulley to a Super Showcase championship over the Peach Jam champion Each 1 Teach 1 Elite, Travis’ 27 points, all of which coming in the final three quarters, made the difference in a 79-72 victory. Travis was a terror on the block, punishing defenders with his large frame, and finishing strongly with contact. The senior, who also plays quarterback on Friday nights, posted averages of 28.3 points and eight rebounds rebounds in Howard Pulley’s final three games. Currently ranked as the 40th-best player in the class of 2014 according to ESPN, expect Travis, who boasts offers from Arizona, Michigan State, and UCLA, among others, to continue to rise up recruiting wish lists.
AAU Nationals MVP: Malik Monk (SG, Arkansas Wings/Lepanto East Poinsett County, AR/2016)
The younger brother of former Arkansas standout wide receiver Marcus Monk, Malik, a shooting guard from the class of 2016, put on a performance for the ages in Orlando. Showcasing unbelievable bounce, Monk’s above-the-rim style of play helped Arkansas race up and down the floor as the Wings ran through the competition. Monk’s 15 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals, coupled with a pair of electrifying jams, were crucial in Arkansas’ 63-47 national championship victory vs. Nike Team Florida. In a quarterfinal win over the Florida Vipers, Monk’s 24 points and four steals helped the Wings transform a close game at halftime into a 79-54 blowout win. The 6’4 170-pound shooting guard has extremely large hands, which help him corral rebounds above bigger defenders, and attack the basket in unique ways. The elder Monk rose to be 6’6 while starring for the Razorbacks, so expect Malik’s body and stock to continue to grow in the next few years. Although Monk has yet to receive an offer, the 11th-ranked player in ESPN’s class of ’16 is receiving interest from several SEC schools, including Arkansas, Florida, and LSU.
Tyus Jones (PG, Howard Pulley / Apple Valley, MN / 2014):
Jones, regarded by many as the top point guard in the class of 2014, only reaffirmed the hype surrounding his recruitment with a dominant performance in Orlando. The Minnesota native was able to operate as both a pass-first, and shoot-first point guard, offering to score when he needed to, but also be able to find the open man at ease. Jones’ 20 points and 11 assists vs. Joel Berry II and Each 1 Teach 1 were a major part in Howard Pulley’s championship win.
Joel Berry II (PG, Each 1 Teach 1 / Apopka Lake Highland Prep, FL / 2014):
The North Carolina-commit Berry II took care of business for Each 1 Teach 1 in a run to the championship round in Orlando. Using his quick hands to be a defensive terror on the perimeter, Berry II also showcased an elite ability to both shoot from deep, and penetrate the lane, proving to be a matchup nightmare for most point guards. In a nationally-televised pool play win vs. Houston Hoops, Berry II’s 21 points, and five steals played a major part in the victory. Matched up vs. Tyus Jones in the championship round, the senior did all he could do for E1T1, finishing his AAU career with 16 points, seven assists and six steals.
JaQuan Newton (PG, Team Final / Philadelphia Neumann-Goretti / 2014):
The smooth-operating point guard from Philadelphia only added to the increasing buzz surrounding his recruitment with an impressive performance in front of the nation. After drawing unheralded attention at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in June, Newton came back with a bang in Orlando. Leading Team Final all the way to the Final Four in his first season in the EYBL, Newton’s 23 points vs. E1T1 were a game-high as the Philadelphia squad fell to the EYBL champs in the semifinals. Announcing that he will list his top five this coming week, expect Newton to be a household name by next year.
Terrence Phillips (PG, Atlanta Xpress / Oak Hill Academy / 2015):
The younger brother of Milwaukee Bucks star guard Brandon Jennings, Phillips, a junior at the prestigious Oak Hill Academy, had a terrific showing in Orlando. Phillips was one of the best on-court leaders at the AAU Nationals, commanding the Atlanta offense to a huge win over Each 1 Teach 1 in pool play. In Atlanta’s opening round win over North Rising Stars Elite, Phillips finished with a game-high 13 points, in addition to five rebounds, five assists and three steals. Phillips is one of the more underrated guards in the class of 2015, and given his bloodline, the floor general will continue to improve.
Robert Johnson (SG. Boo Williams / Richmond Benedictine, VA / 2014):
Proving to be one of the more clutch players in Orlando, Johnson’s pair of game-winning shots alone could warrant him a spot on this list, but the shooting guard from Virginia did more than just that. At 6’3 190-pounds, Johnson is ideal size for a scoring combo-guard. In a quarterfinal victory over Houston Hoops, Johnson scored a team-high 18 points, none two bigger than the game-winning drive on Kelly Oubre to send Houston packing, 58-57. The Georgetown target would again put on impressive scoring displays in wins vs. the New York Gauchos, Orlando Lightning and Southern Stampede. With offers from Alabama, East Carolina, Florida State, Georgetown, Indiana, Marquette, Miami (FL), Pitt, Villanova, and many more, the Boo Williams guard is also on the rise.
Luke Kennard (SG, King James Shooting Stars / Franklin, OH / 2015):
The Kentucky target Kennard was one of the top prospects from the class of 2015 in Orlando, if not the best. Leading King James Shooting Stars to the Final Four, Kennard posted averages of 16.9 points, and six rebounds per contest. In two games in front of Kentucky coach John Calipari, Kennard would have arguably his best set of performances, highlighted by the Ohio native’s 17 points and four assists in a win vs. Warner Robins Express. In the semifinal matchup vs. Nike Team Florida, Kennard helped will his team from a 10-point second half deficit, only to lose in overtime, 48-47. Kennard notched 13 points and 11 rebounds in the semifinal loss vs. NTF. Picking up interest from the likes of Duke, Kansas, and Kentucky in recent weeks, Kennard’s stock is exploding.
D’Angelo Russell (SG, Each 1 Teach 1 / Montverde Academy / 2014):
Russell, an Ohio State commit for the class of 2014, was a scoring machine for the EYBL champions in their run to the Super Showcase final. The Montverde shooting guard’s top performance came in a quarterfinal victory vs. Team Charlotte, in which Russell scored a game-high 30 points, in addition to four assists. D’Angelo would follow up the scoring outburst with 19 points and 10 rebounds in E1T1′s semifinal win vs. Team Final. The 6’4″ guard has a certain swagger and bravado to his game that makes him one of the more exciting players to watch in the class of 2014. With a devastating crossover dribble, and a jump shot that can heat up in an instant (note: Russell scored 12 points in the first two minutes of the title game), Ohio State coach Thad Matta has a jewel on his hands.
V.J. King (SG, King James Shooting Stars / Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary / 2016):
King, the top player in Ohio for the class of 2016, put on another stellar showing in Orlando. Sharing the court with Kennard, King used his length and athleticism, coupled with his lanky 6’7 frame to cause havoc on opposing defenses during the week. VJ’s top performance came in a win vs. Nashville Flood, in which the Akron native poured in a game-high 16 points, while ripping down six rebounds, all happening in front of Kentucky coach John Calipari. In the semifinal loss to Nike Team Florida, King played a huge part in the King James comeback, scoring a game-tying basket with less than a minute to go in regulation. Playing on the Team USA 16u in Panama a month ago, King has returned to the states with greater confidence and feel for the game.
Chance McSpadden (SG, Nike Team Florida / Winter Haven, FL / 2015):
Helping lead Nike Team Florida to a runner-up finish in the AAU Nationals, the Florida guard impressed numerous coaches with his scoring ability from the wing. Matched up with VJ King in NTF’s upset semifinal victory, the 6’3 guard finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, impressive considering the size advantage King had in the matchup. In the following round, McSpadden would score 10 points in the first quarter for NTF, helping sustain a single-digit deficit vs. a loaded Arkansas Wings squad. After a productive summer on the AAU circuit, the shooting guard boasts offers from Florida, and UCF, according to 247Sports.com.
Kevaughn Allen (SG, Arkansas Wings / North Little Rock / 2015):
Alongside Malik Monk, Allen helped terrorize opponents on the perimeter with swarming defense and elite finishing ability in transition. As the 18th-ranked player in ESPN’s class of 2015, Allen put on a show for coaches in Orlando. In a hard-fought win vs. the Florida Vipers, Allen’s 14 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals helped Arkansas’ advance to the next round. At 6’3, Allen has a big body for a shooting guard, which helps him penetrate the lane and finish amongst bigger players. The Arkansas native was also able to take his game out to the perimeter, knocking down the three with consistency. Receiving interest from Arkansas, Baylor, Connecticut, Louisville, Memphis and Mississippi State, Allen has yet to receive an offer, according to ESPN.
Justise Winslow (SF, Houston Hoops / Houston St. John’s / 2014):
Operating out of the point-forward role for Houston, Winslow was one of Orlando’s most well-rounded players in the Super Showcase. At 6’5″ and 208 pounds, Winslow has a college-ready game, and his performance warranted such a statement. In a primetime matchup vs. E1T1, Winslow was a force for Houston, finishing with 18 points and six rebounds, including eight points in the fourth quarter. One day later, Winslow had arguably his best performance of the week vs. Devin Booker and Alabama Challenge, totaling 14 points and 14 rebounds, to go with a pair of assists. Currently undeclared, Winslow claims offers from Arizona, Duke, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Stanford, Texas A&M, and UCLA.
Jae’Sean Tate (SF, All-Ohio Red / Columbus Pickerington Central / 2014):
The bulldog from Columbus put on a show for All-Ohio Red, as the undermanned squad made a mad dash to the tournament’s quarterfinals. Going to work in the post and on the perimeter, Tate, an Ohio State commit, showed increased aggression and strength around the rim, two traits that he has been praised for in the last year. While the Pickerington Central forward gets a large percentage of his points around the rim, Tate flashed greater shooting range in Orlando, falling in love with the three from the right wing, a shot he hit with consistency. Tate’s top performance came in an elimination round win vs. Atlanta Xpress, in which the 6’5 forward poured in 20 points and nine rebounds, highlighted by a powerful alley-oop from Javon Bess. Winning a state championship as a sophomore in 2011-’12, Tate is a proven winner, and hopes to bring that tradition to Columbus in 2014.
Kelly Oubre (SF, Houston Hoops / Findlay Prep / 2014):
Oubre, the flashy forward from Fort Bend, Texas, was one of the showcase’s top performers from the wing. With an elite ability to shoot from the perimeter, and attack the basket with vigor, Oubre put together an impressive set of performances to lead Houston to the quarterfinals. In a win vs. Alabama Challenge, Oubre posted a stat line of 15 points and seven rebounds, to go with a pair of powerful-blocks. The senior likes to get out and run, and once he gets the ball in transition, it is pretty much over for the defense, as Oubre can finish equally well with either hand. With offers from the likes of Connecticut, Florida, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Oregon, and UNLV, many feel that the Findlay Prep wing is leaning toward John Calipari and the Wildcats.
Danjel Purifoy (SF, Atlanta Xpress / Centreville Cahawba Christian, AL / 2015):
One of the more talked about small forwards from the class of 2015 in Orlando was Atlanta Xpress’ Purifoy. With a large 6’6 frame, Purifoy was able to bully defenders to the rim, but also knock down the mid-range shot with relative ease. Like the aforementioned Tate, Purifoy is also a bulldog around the basket, reeling in offensive rebounds for second-chance points. In Atlanta’s opening round win vs. North Rising Stars Elite, Purifoy finished with a double-double, scoring 11 points and ripping down 10 rebounds. In Atlanta’s first round loss to the eventual champion, Arkansas Wings, Purifoy’s 18 points and eight rebounds helped give the Xpress a lead for the majority of the game, until a late 22-9 run by Arkansas spelled doom for Atlanta. Purifoy boasts offers from Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, and UAB. Rumors have it that Ohio State is also greatly interested in the forward, as the Buckeyes look to assemble a talent-loaded 2015 class.
Justin Jackson (SF, Houston Hoops / Houston Home School Christian / 2014):
Regarded as one of the most efficient scorers in the class of 2014, Jackson did just that for Houston over the week. Showcasing a deadly floater, and consistent jumpshot from both the wing and mid-range area, Jackson was a key part to Houston’s star-studded starting five. In the nationally-televised matchup vs. E1T1, Jackson scored a team-high 18 points, in addition to seven rebounds. While many top scorers sometimes fall into the trap of forcing offense, the North Carolina commit Jackson always lets the game come to him, and rarely takes an ill-advised shot. The 6’7 forward reminds me of former Detroit Piston Tayshaun Prince, as both have a certain smoothness to their game that is fun to watch.
Boubacar Moungoro (SF, Each 1 Teach 1 / IMG Academy / 2014):
Moungoro, a native of Mali, put on impressive performances on a loaded E1T1 roster. While Berry II, Russell, and Duke commit Grayson Allen receive the majority of praise, Moungoro was the key ingredient to the EYBL champs’ success. Going off for 26 points and 10 rebounds in an elimination round matchup vs. The Ville, Moungoro followed that up with 13 points, six rebounds, and three steals in the championship matchup vs. Howard Pulley. The African has an elite ability to score in transition, using his high-flying athleticism to finish around the rim. Boubacar’s highlight play of the week came in a win vs. Houston Defenders, when the African threw down a monstrous one-handed slam on a helpless defender, drawing “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” from the crowd.
Esa Ahmad (PF, All-Ohio Red / Cleveland Shaker Heights / 2015):
Ahmad, a 6’8 forward from Cleveland’s Shaker Heights High School, alma mater of Kid Cudi and Machine Gun Kelly, has been a model for consistency during the summer circuit. Although All-Ohio Red had a disappointing 10th-place finish, at least to their standards, Ahmad was one of the top power forwards in Orlando. Showcasing growing versatility on the offensive end, Ahmad was able to get the job done both on the block, and out on the perimeter, further strengthening why some are saying he is the ideal “stretch four.” Ahmad’s 14 points and 10 rebounds helped All-Ohio Red push past Louisiana Dream Team in a pivotal pool play matchup. According to 247Sports.com, Ahmad has been offered by Cleveland State, Dayton, Wright State, and Xavier, while receiving some interest from Illinois.
Alex Owens (PF, Each 1 Teach 1 Elite / Orlando Oak Ridge / 2015):
Playing up on E1T1′s 17u squad, Owens stringed together several impressive outings for the Super Showcase runner-ups. At 6’8 and 230 pounds, Owens uses his bulky-frame to bury defenders under the basket, for high-percentage shots in the post. With a true post man’s game, Owens is very fundamental, and is ahead of his team in term’s of his development. As I like to call him, “The Caleb Swanigan of the South,” Owens is another stellar big man from an impressive 2015 class. In the highly-anticipated bout with Houston Hoops, Owens put together a stretch late in the game that turned the tide and led to E1T1′s win. Following up a missed Moungoro runner, Owens’ ensuing tip-slam put E1T1 ahead by three with less than a minute remaining. On the following trip, Owens stood in the way of a charging Kelly Oubre, drawing a key offensive foul. With offers from Cincinnati, Georgia, Louisville and South Florida, Owens’ stock will continue to rise in the next few years.
Kevarrius Hayes (PF, Nike Team Florida / Suwanee, FL / 2015):
Hayes, a junior at Suwanee High School in Live Oak, Florida, was one of the top power forwards in Orlando. Already committed to Florida, the 6’9 big man, who has drawn comparisons to former Gator Al Horford, was one of the main reasons why Nike Team Florida upset King James Shooting Stars to advance to the national championship. After scoring 12 points in the upset win vs. King James, Hayes followed that performance up with 11 points and six rebounds vs. Skal Labissiere and the Arkansas Wings. Hayes’ top play of the weekend was in that championship game, when he met Labissiere at the rim for a powerful stuff, reminiscent of Roy Hibbert’s block on Carmelo Anthony earlier this year in the Eastern Conference semifinals. With a very long wingspan, Hayes is an improving shot-blocker, but is most effective running the floor in transition.
Skal Labissiere (C, Arkansas Wings / Memphis Evangelical Christian / 2015):
Labissiere, ranked as the nation’s 6th-best player in ESPN’s class of 2015, was an interesting prospect to watch in Orlando. At 6’10 and 200 pounds, Skal uses his freakishly long arms to block a high number of shots, in addition to forcing the offense out of the lane. While the Haitian-born center is still coming along offensively, Labissiere flashed moments of greatness in Orlando, highlighted by several powerful slams in Arkansas’ run to a ring. In an interview with Scarberry Media earlier in the week, Skal noted that he must get stronger in the next few years, as added strength would make him a more dangerous prospect. With offers from Auburn, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, and Tennessee, the sky is the limit for Skal.
Wyatt Walker (C, Nike Team Florida / Jacksonville Providence / 2015):
Walker, a 6’7 center from Jacksonville, used his craftiness and fundamental play around the basket to help Nike Team Florida advance to the national championship. Going head-to-head with Labissiere in the final, Walker had a slight advantage in the matchup, finishing with nine points and four rebounds, while the higher-ranked Labissiere totaled just six points and four boards. Walker’s play was crucial in Nike Team Florida’s upset win over King James, as the center’s 10 points and nine rebounds helped NTF enjoy an advantage on the boards, while keeping the Ohio squad out of the lane for a large part of Saturday’s contest. In that matchup with King James, Walker held both of the opposing big men to just eight points and nine rebounds combined. According to Verbal Commits, Walker holds offers from Georgia Southern, Jacksonville, and North Florida.
- Zach Fleer / @ZachFleerSP
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