Wednesday, August 5, 2009

12 @ 12: Top sleepers from July

I love lists. Who doesn’t? Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I’m listing 12 things at noon. Why not? There really is no rhyme or reason to the list. But there will be a dozen things and it will be released at noon EST. That’s the only rule.

Today’s initial list is the 12 best sleepers I saw in July.

1. Josh Heustis, Belmont Shore – The 6-7 forward from Montana (yes, as in the state that never produces Division I talent) was great against Brandon Bass Elite at the Reebok Summer Championships in Las Vegas. He went for 20 points and was the second toughest player to defend on the floor behind NBA prospect Tony Mitchell. Word is Heustis is looking at transferring to Findlay in Vegas. If so, watch out. The Montana star could be a coveted prospect in the fall.

2. Michael Bradley, Tennessee Tigers (pictured above) – It happens at least once a year with me. I’ll be leaving a venue to slide over to another game only to be stopped in my tracks. That happened in Orlando at the AAU Nationals when Bradley walked past me. I immediately cancelled my scheduled game to watch and took in the 6-9 center. He’ll be a fall riser, too. A no-brainer high-major kid, Bradley was one of the best “where in the world did he come from?” stories of July. Look for him to be a top 100 guy nationally and keep on stopping people in their tracks.

3. Will Sheehey, Florida Rams – The more you watch him, the more you respect him. The 6-5 guard is athletic, tough and he can shoot in the midrange and from deep. Mix in some mental toughness and big time grades and you have a guy that will have his pick for schools at different levels. Sheehey entered July with a number of academic programs in tow. Now he could be picking between schools like Northwestern and Stanford. There is a lot to like with the Sunshine State kid. He’s a top 150 guy nationally.

4. Jeremy Lamb, Georgia Stars – Rarely, if ever, do players really emerge in today’s instant information world of .com recruiting. Players are over covered and evaluated because of the number of events and the number of those that cover the game. But there are times when guys really do “blow up” on the national stage. Enter Lamb. The long-armed 6-4 guard was the talk of the Peach Jam thanks to his 20 points per game against some of the top teams in the land. Not bad for a guy that didn’t start in high school. He went from a low to mid-major must evaluate player to a must get prospect for teams at the high-major level. Big time summer for the quiet Lamb.

5. Hippolyte Tsafack, Albany City Rocks – Brice Kofane, Tsafack’s teammate with the City Rocks and Virginia’s Miller School, could be in this spot instead of the 6-7 rock of a post player. But Kofane, a shot-blocker extraordinaire, was hurt in Orlando and didn’t play very much. Tsafack stepped right in and took advantage of the opportunity. Rarely used earlier in the month at the Peach Jam, Tsafack was great on the glass in Orlando. He scored the chip shots and picked up an offer every time he snatched a ball off the rim. And the mid-majors aren’t happy because he went from an instant impact level player at their level to a guy that will probably sneak on with a high-major school.

6. Garrett Jackson, I-5 Elite – When you make shot after shot, people notice. He’s the ideal West Coast Conference player. But there is some wonder if some Pac-10 schools take the gamble on the 6-6 shooter from Portland. He was on fire in Augusta at the Peach Jam and was the second player on I-5 Elite’s team when I watched them in Las Vegas behind five-star Terrence Jones. Jackson is a great shooter with size and grades.

7. Jaylen Bond, Playaz – Could the 6-7 sleeper be a big-time sleeper? Like top 40 national level player in 2011 type of sleeper? Part of me wonders. He’s a versatile combo forward that does his best work in the post as a rebounder and scorer. But he does have some perimeter game that is worth charting. Don’t be surprised to hear bigger things from the Philadelphia area star this high school season. Chances are he’s on the brink of blowing up.

8. Chris Crawford, Memphis Magic – Onions! The 6-4 guard would have made Billy Rafferty proud. All Crawford did was hit big shots, including the biggest one in Sin City. The senior drilled the game winner at the adidas Super 64. Over the five day period in Vegas, Crawford was the pied piper with head coaches. He was a must-see guy because he made shots. Those types of players have a value that teams need, especially in March. Could Crawford be a star come NCAA tournament time?

9. Willy Kouassi, Team Breakdown – Florida State center Solomon Alabi was a highly rated prospect coming out of high school. But he was also a very quiet highly rated player. Now in his second year in college, there is talk about the 7-footer being a lottery pick because of his defensive abilities. Kouassi is in the same mold. The 6-10 big man from Miami was a fly-swatter at Disney and made it presence known in the paint. Now the question remains on what grade he is – 2010 or 2011? What isn’t in question is his value as a potential late-blooming defender.

10. Willie Clayton, Team Georgia Elite 15U – Playing on a team with four African imports that all stand over 6-10 and possess the bodies of Greek gods, Clayton emerged as the one player that college coaches kept asking the most about. Clayton, a 6-7 athletic specimen from Thomasville, Georgia, was called “the ultimate four-year SEC power forward” by one recruiter. That’s a great call and a great compliment. That coach is spot on. Clayton is a rough and tough big man with athleticism to intimidate and skill to score 16 points a game without you noticing. The class of 2012 prospect is a sleeper nationally but don’t be surprised to see Southern teams looking to lock him up early.

11. Henry Brooks, Southern Kings 16U – He and his teammates won the 16 and under division of the adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas. It could be argued that Brooks played a large role in that run, too. The Kings have incredible guards. That’s never been the question. But Brooks was great each time he stepped on the floor in July. The Miller Grove product is getting better and better and developing into a confident post player to watch in 2011. It could also be argued that he was his team’s best post player all month. Not bad considering he suited up with Julian Royal (2011) and Tony Parker (2012) at different points in the summer.

12. Brandon Young, Team Takeover – When you run the point and weave a loaded team together into an indestructible line-up of talented players, people notice. The 6-2 guard helped pilot his team’s dominating effort at the Peach Jam. With a number of high-major guys around him, Young patiently and effectively stepped up during the moment and delivered a great week of work for his team. Now he’s on the list for a host of high-major schools. Young is a low-risk player that could develop into a starter for his final two years of college at the highest level.

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