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July 26, 2012
Final stage of July eval period hits Vegas
LAS VEGAS - The casinos of Las Vegas have broken many dreams over the years. Each July, though, the basketball courts of the city's high schools launch the dreams of many high school hoopers. Wednesday, the third and final live period of the month got off to a rousing start and Rivals.com made stops at Bishop Gorman for the Fab 48 and Rancho for the Adidas Super 64.
At the Fab 48, five-star Robert Hubbs hit the jackpot but his performance wasn't enough to lead M33M over the DC Assault. Over at the Super 64, Jordan Mickey led Urban DFW to a win over a Florida Elite team that had been crushing summer competition.
Over at the Fab 48, the tournament doesn't actually start until Thursday. But, organizer Dinos Trigonis put together a slate of showcase games that featured plenty of talent. In the nightcap, five-star Robert Hubbs was as good as advertised for M33M. However, with four-star big man Austin Nichols saddled with early foul trouble, Hubbs didn't have quite enough firepower to beat a deep DC Assault squad and its dual-pronged point guard attack of Roddy Peters and Nate Britt/
With head coaches such as Memphis' Josh Pastner and Arkansas' Mike Anderson on hand, along with a throng of high major assistants, the 6-foot-4 Hubbs was balling at a high level. He got cooking early by hitting a handful of difficult, deep, J.R. Smithesque threes. Then, the lean athlete showed his explosive athleticism to finish at the rim. Save for a left hand that still needs some work, Hubbs has the game at the rim, from mid-range and from beyond the three-point line to develop into a big-time shooting guard in college and perhaps well beyond.
A four-star power forward prospect, Hubbs' sidekick Nichols drew North Carolina boss Roy Williams - who was also on hand to check out his commitment Britt - along with Virginia head coach Tony Bennett, Pastner and assistants from Florida and Tennessee. Early foul trouble limited the 6-foot-8 athlete's production, but it was clear to see his value late. He tried to dunk everything in the gym, showed skill and competed on both ends of the floor.
Most teams would be happy to have one good point guard, but DC Assault has the luxury of two. A four-star, the North Carolina-bound Britt is the higher ranked than four-star Peters. The southpaw has added strength, is under control and is a heads-up passer who takes scoring opportunities. Peters, who is playing with a bum shoulder, is a bigger, more physical guy out of the mold of Sam Cassell, who uses craft, changes of speed and strength to overwhelm defenders. After watching both extensively during the spring and July, the gap between them - that was once quite large - is shrinking and a legitimate argument is developing as to which is the best long term prospect.
The debate about who is better can be shelved for now as they both lead their team and make excellent use of the weapons around them. In particular, 6-foot-5 lefty wing Ahmad Fields is intriguing. He can be a bit scatterbrained (indecisive) at times, but he is a big wing who can shoot with range, has a great-looking frame and is starting to mix in drives with his long distance shooting. He's become a target of A-10 programs and looks as if he could be a very good player at that level.
Urban DFW takes down Florida Elite
Over at the Super 64, one team had energy throughout the night while the other ran out of gas. As a result, Dallas-based Urban DFW broke open a close game to blow out a Florida Elite team that had been tooling its competition during the month of July.
For Urban DFW, the Arlington (Texas) Grace Prep duo of Jordan Mickey and Karviar Shepherd were huge on the interior. A 6-foot-8 jumping jack who explodes off the floor to reject shots and finish with dunks around the rim. Mickey's zest for running the floor, swatting shots and energy rubbed off on his teammate Shepherd, who is normally more of a skill guy. At 6-foot-9, Shepherd contested way more shots than usual and played with a physical edge that will serve him well in college.
The DFW attack was well rounded but also impressing was point guard Kendal Harris. After a passive first half, the 6-foot-4 four-star was forcing the issue. He pushed tempo in transition, finished at the rim and also hit a few pretty pull-up jumpers after two decisive dribbles.
A legitimate 7-foot-5, Mamadou Ndiaye is a total wildcard. The Double Pump Elite center clearly affects play on both ends of the floor. On the other hand, he's not exactly fleet of foot and can be outrun from rim to rim by both opponents and his teammates which can render him a bit ineffective in games that turn into track meets. When he does get set up, though, he terrifies big men out of easy shots, dunks anything within eight feet and shows promise as a jump shooter out to 12 feet. He can likely play at a high level, but with him on the floor a team needs to play with a more deliberate style.
Brandon Randolph is an athletic and quick combo guard who is very adept at getting his offense. He can take contact going to the rim, makes mid range jumpers and plays with speed. Word is that Pepperdine is going to be very tough to beat for his services.
Florida Elite ran out of gas in the second half, but Demarcus Croaker's aggressiveness offensively and Chris Walker's work on the glass kept their team in the game for the first 20 minutes. At 6-foot-3, Croaker is a freak athlete with perhaps the best first step in the class of 2013 and an improving jumper. Currently ranked a three-star, he's a lock to move into four-star range. A recent commit to Florida, Walker plays above the rim as few others can and threw down a couple of incredible tip dunks before the exhaustion of being on the road since the LeBron James Skills Academy did him in.
Belmont Shore erased a big second half deficit and can thank the play of a couple young guys for it. Class of 2015 combo guard Tyler Dorsey, who will attend Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep next season, was banging deep jumpers and finishing in transition while 6-foot-6 class of 2014 wing Daniel Hamilton came alive in the second half to score 14 points. Hamilton loves to attack off the dribble and like all of his older brothers (Gary, Jordan and Isaac) he can stick a pull-up jumper out to beyond the three-point line.
Finally, the Las Vegas Prospects 16's continued their fine summer. Point guard Shaquile Carr continued to show his athleticism, speed and proclivity for finding teammates in position to convert easy buckets. The Prospects don't have a ton of size, as a result Diontae Jones has to play a lot on the interior. The 6-foot-6 combo forward plays above the rim, grabs rebounds and hits the mid-range jumper opportunities that he gets.