Monday, August 10, 2009

12 @ 12: Weekend lessons

August is supposed to be an uneventful month in basketball recruiting. But with two major events with 60 high-major players in action, August is no longer the time to recover from the busy summer schedule.

The Nike Global Challenge and the adidas Nations events finished up over the weekend and some familiar faces did what they are supposed to do and dominated. Some, however, struggled. In today’s 12 at 12, nothing goes unnoticed.

1. Duke may not have to worry about it’s lack of depth in the backcourt for too long if two 2010 studs decide they want to be Blue Devils. Kyrie Irving and Harrison Barnes were the talk of the Nike Global Challenge. The two are thought to be very high on the ACC school at the moment and have talked about playing with each other in the past, too.

Irving finished his summer as good as he started it. The New Jersey point guard scored 26 points and dished out four assists in his team’s 104-103 win over Canada at the Nike Global Challenge championship game. Irving was outstanding in Orland at the AAU Super Showcase and the AAU Nationals. He has proven himself as one of the elite point guards in the country and the separation between him and the rest of the pack is widening.

The talk from Portland started and ended with Barnes. The 6-foot-6 wing from Iowa went to work in the Rose City. His 44-point performance in an overtime win over Serbia was epic, so says the eyes that saw it. One analyst even called it the performance of the summer. Barnes set a goal prior to the grassroots season to not only be the number one player in the class but to be the number one player in the class across the board. It will be interesting to see how the reputable services rank him now that the summer events are all officially over. For the record, he’s number one here at NHR.

2. Gonzaga may have a star in waiting in 6-foot-6 wing Mangisto Arop. The Canadian star was outstanding in three games in Portland and played a major role in his country’s run to the title game. Arop averaged 19.3 points and 8.6 rebounds all the while shooting 60 percent from three. Gonzaga always has a legitimate NBA prospect on it’s roster and even as a freshman, Arop could be a guy that pops into top 20 pick discussion next summer.

3. For a player that I recently ranked second in the nation, Perry Jones must learn the value of playing well in the moment. The Baylor commitment is ranked as high as he is in large part because of potential. He’s a freakish prospect because of his size, versatility and shooting touch. But, and this has always been a big but, Jones doesn’t always bring it. Four points and four rebounds in 22 minutes of play. Zero points and three rebounds in 17 minutes of play. Zero rebounds and 16 points in 17 minutes of play. Uninspiring for perhaps the most intriguing pro prospect in the 2010 high school class? You betcha. Jones must realize the moment that these types of camps are. If NBA teams were watching, Jones could have cost himself millions of dollars.

4. The same under-performing and under-whelming tag could be applied to Adreian Payne and Tony Mitchell. Both big men are on NBA radars but the motor and desire isn’t always there. That’s a bit worrisome.

5. I am probably sleeping on the value of North Carolina forward C.J. Leslie. I left him out of the top 25 rankings in 2010 and I may have to reconsider that. The ultra-athletic 6-foot-8 forward has struggled in games I’ve seen of him in the past, particularly at finishing around the rim on shots that weren’t dunks. Apparently, he didn’t struggle as an interior scorer and rebounder. There is a strong chance he makes his way into the top 25 next go round.

6. Don’t be surprised to see Canada win a medal in the Olympics in 2014. The kids from north of the border are winning games left and right and challenging this group of Americans every time out. The 2009 to 2011 classes could be the best group of Canadians ever. Hyperbole? Doubt it.

7. One of the reasons why is Cory Joseph (pictured). Want proof? How about his 22.8 points per game average in Dallas and a trip to the championship game for Team Canada? Joseph is one of the best combo guards in the class of 2010 and when he gets into a groove, watch out. Joseph scored 33 points, handed out six assists and grabbed six rebounds in the loss. Nevertheless, the future I bright in Canada and if history shows us anything, this group of kids should be something special to watch on the world’s biggest stage in the near future.

8. Jared Sullinger won another event. Shocker, right? His 22 points and 10 rebounds against the aforementioned Canadians played a big role in USA 2010’s championship run. Could Ohio State be back in the Final Four with Sullinger leading the way? Why not? He’s won everywhere else. Don’t be surprised to see Sully go a similar route that Kevin Love went.

9. Follow me for a second: Derrick Rose then John Wall then…Marquis Teague? It wouldn’t surprise me if it did go that route for the Indianapolis star. The class of 2011 guard scored 17 points handed out five assists, grabbed four rebounds and beat his USA mates from the class of 2010 at adidas Nations. Teague is better than his brother Jeff, a first round draft pick out of Wake Forest this year. The younger Teague is a better shooter than Wall and Rose at this point. He’s just as quick and maybe right there athletically, too.

10. Final random thoughts from Dallas: There is a huge value in players that pick the right system and Jordan McRae picked the right system. The Georgia guard is headed to Tennessee next year. He’ll be one of the top scorers in the SEC in three years…Playing in his home town, LeBryan Nash was outstanding in Big D. The 6-foot-7 forward could be a top five guy in the 2011 class…2011 guard Damien Leonard has one of the prettiest strokes in all of high school hoops…2012 prospect Devonte Rivera-Smith played with Team Latin America and shined. Every Big Ten wants him. Can’t say I blame them.

11. Final random thoughts from Portland: Kendall Marshall could be one of the best assist men in UNC history. When he’s around elite talent, he knows who to get the ball too…Wake Forest bound guard J.T. Terrell may just be the best streaky shooter in the country. He doesn’t know what a good shot is but when he’s connecting, he’s deadly…I’m not high on Josh Selby like others are in this business but I respect his game. He was at his best in Portland. Food for thought: Selby always plays better when he’s not with his regular teammates…I like Austin Rivers but something tells me he may not be one of the top 10 guys in the 2011 class when it is all said and done…

12. Twitter is still very cool. Despite being off line for half a day and then rough turbulence after the down time, there were some tweets that made it through cyberspace that caught my eye. The best, in my opinion, came from Indiana head coach Tom Crean. He wrote:

“Always remember there is a huge difference between evaluating a prospect and actually offering one.”

So, so true.

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