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July 11, 2013

Onuaku ready to make a climb

MORE: LBJ Skills: What we learned

PHILADELPHIA -- The first of July's three live periods for coaches to evaluate players kicked off Wednesday night, and Rivals.com was on the campus of Philadelphia University for Reebok's Breakout Classic. The evening's showcase was a matchup between top 10 rising seniors Emmanuel Mudiay and Rashad Vaughn that didn't quite sizzle as expected. But Rivals150 member Chinanu Onuaku was among those there to pick up the slack.

Onuaku angling for higher ranking

After his opening-session game, Onuaku was upfront with Rivals.com that he felt he was ranked too low at No. 120 nationally. If his play on Wednesday night is what can be expected, he's right.

Wednesday night, the 6-foot-10 250-pound big man from Upper Marlboro (Md.) Riverdale Baptist looked the part of a big man worthy of a climb into four-star status.

Big and strong, Onuaku has soft hands and good touch. Unlike many big men with good touch, Onuaku fights the urge to hang out on the perimeter and shoot jumpers. He took, and made, one 3-pointer, but it didn't come until well after he'd begun to establish dominance in the paint on both sides of the floor.

An above-average rebounder, a good defender and a space eater, Onuaku said Xavier, Seton Hall and DePaul were the three schools chasing him the hardest, but they aren't alone. He was quick to point out that he was also considering offers from Virginia, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Rutgers, Minnesota, Kansas State and Pittsburgh, among others.

He plans to cut things down to a more reasonable list after July, and he says that coaches like that he plays like a big man should.

"I talk to my teammates on defense and don't like to give up easy baskets," Onuaku told Rivals.com. "I rebound the ball, and I score around the basket and then can face up and do some things."

Mudiay vs. Vaughn falls a little flat

The first game of camp was easily the most anticipated matchup of the night. The nation's No. 3 rising senior, Mudiay, was scheduled to go head to head with the No. 7, Vaughn, in a game that both had circled on their calendars.

With big names like John Calipari, Steve Alford, Larry Brown, Scott Drew and many others courtside to watch the battle, the two guarded each other for much of the night but neither really went off.

Mudiay got into the lane and made plenty of plays for others, but his slick dishes often resulted in missed chippies. Bothered some early by Mudiay's outstanding on-the-ball defense, Vaughn got going a bit in the latter part of the game, hitting some deep jumpers (though he was mysteriously credited with zero threes even though his first basket was a 24-foot pull-up from straight on) and using his strength and ability to handle to beat his first defender and spin off the help for hoops.

The bottom line is that they both played hard and went at each other; it just wasn't one of those nights that ended up being a classic head-to-head battle.

Vaughn confirmed again that he'll be heading to Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep for his senior year, and Mudiay confirmed that he's taking an official visit to Kentucky for Big Blue Madness in October.

"Yes, I'm going to Kentucky for their midnight madness," Mudiay told Rivals.com. "I'm also going be cutting my list down to five sometime in July."

More Wednesday notes from the Reebok

Just a few weeks ago, 2015 forward Tyler Lydon debuted at No. 93 in the rankings. A native New Yorker who is going to prep at New Hampton (N.H.) Prep, Lydon is an athletic 6-foot-8 kid who can play inside or out. He didn't benefit from many quality touches, but he smoked home deep jumpers and made the best pass of the night when he set up 2014 four-star Malik Price-Martin in the lane for an and-one conversion. Lydon mentioned offers from Iowa, Iowa State, Boston College, Providence, Penn State and more, with growing interest from Florida and Wake Forest.

Speaking of Price-Martin, the 6-foot-8 forward from Miami had a nice evening. He still lacks strength, which causes him to lose his balance at times in the lane, but he did a good job of making sure that any move he made was in the direction of the basket. His hands aren't bad, and he's adept at drawing fouls with his spinning and twisting moves.

Texas combo guard Jeremiah Jefferson had himself a nice evening on opening night. The 6-foot-2 scorer was not shy about letting the shots fly from deep, and he did a nice job of attacking off the dribble when the opportunities presented themselves.

Princeton has landed a good one in off guard Amir Bell. A 6-foot-4 athlete who likes to attack off of the dribble, Bell did a nice job of getting to the rim in the halfcourt or racing out in transition to beat other guys to the rim. You wouldn't call him a jump shooter, but he knocked home one good-looking 3 and looks like a guy capable of making an impact in the Ivy League.

Around Philadelphia, rising junior point guard Samir Doughty carries a big reputation. At 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds or so, he's a big point guard with good athleticism and above-average body control. He has quickness to get by guys off the drive, but it's his ability to contort and twist his body for finishes that really helps him. A three-star prospect, Doughty should eventually figure into the class of 2015 rankings and surprisingly said he has no offers yet, although locals including Villanova, La Salle and Temple are looking.

Big guys weren't often featured targets on Wednesday night, but rising senior Eric Carter from Jackson (N.J.) had a nice evening. A 6-foot-8, 220-pounder who likes to operate around the basket, Jackson is a sure-handed finisher and low-post grinder who should get mid-major attention.

Finally, some other players making waves on the first night were 2015 point guard Corey Sanders, 2015 wing C.J. Keyser and senior-to-be Johnnie Vassar. A top 100 player, Sanders is a big-time athlete with serious explosion around the rim and he's capable of making plays off the dribble. Also a class of 2015 guy, Keyser is another explosive athlete but at 6-foot-4 he's more of a two guard who likes to slash and pull up from mid range. One of the more well-traveled players in the class of 2014, Vassar is an athletic lefty who really pressures guys despite being a sub-6-footer.

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