The AAU Nationals provided onlookers and observers a chance to get a closer look at some of the top young talent in both the 17- and 16-and-under fields. There were a number of younger players that stood out in Orlando and Rivals.com's Justin Young breaks down the top eye-catchers from the event.
The future Dayton Flyer was the engine that made the steamroller go was outstanding en route to the 16-and-under championship. Staten mixed scoring and leadership better than anyone in the younger division. The speedster scored at will and was efficient in the process. There wasn't a guard in the 16-and-under division that could stay in front of him and the results are now in the books.
Smooth, steady and silent. Those three terms are perfect for describing the 6-foot-3 guard. Sibert was calm and collected at all times and scored with great efficiency and poise despite a long line of head coaches on the sidelines - a rarity on the circuit during the last couple of days of the evaluation period. Sibert doesn't need a high number of shots to put points on the board. He doesn't force the issue and seems to always make the right plays. It doesn't come as a big surprise that so many high-majors are lining up to get him.
What else can be said about his dominance at the 16-and-under level that hasn't already been said this year? There wasn't a player that could stop him or even really slow him down. The future Ohio State center was a man against boys all season long and he helped his team close out the year with a 69-1 record dating back to March. For the second year in a row, Sullinger helped All Ohio win the Nationals and nearly every coach that watched the team play wondered aloud, "How good would Sullinger and All Ohio be at the 17-and-under level?" Chances are, Sullinger and his boys would have been a shoe-in for the elite eight and potentially even further.
There might not have been a more fun player in the 16-and-under division than the future West Virginia point guard. He's a threat as a perimeter scorer. He's a threat with his constant driving to the basket. He's a threat as a passer and pesky defender. The ball of energy is a super competitor and should have no problems assuming the leadership role for Bob Huggins when his career begins in Morgantown.
There is something to be said about a guy that is not only the best player on his 16-and-under team for a weekend but also being the top player on the 17-and-under team. That was the case with Lamb. He shined at both levels, scoring at will, playing with intensity until the final buzzer and was, at times, the best rebounder on the floor for the Gauchos. Lamb started the grassroots season off with a bang in April and left a lasting mark at the last event of the year in Orlando.
What else can be said about the class of 2010 point guard? Let's go down the checklist. Can he win? He's one of the best in his class. Can he direct his team? No question about it. Does he get rattled when playing on the big stage? No chance. Can he pass? He's one of the best around. Can he score? He proved in Orlando that he can be the go-to guy. Pressey has all of the tools that the top point guards have.
Playing a familiar brand of basketball that most Philadelphia guards play with, Garland was scrappy to the final buzzer, quick with the ball and a fearless scorer. His play helped his Philly Pride team finish amongst the top 16 teams in the 17-and-under division of the Nationals. The 6-footer will be a name to watch this high school season. His play on the grassroots circuit is a nice momentum push into the winter.
The 6-foot-8 forward was an instrumental factor in his team's run to the elite eight of the 16-and-under division. He wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty inside the paint and played well on the offensive boards. Kitchell scored with both hands and proved himself as one of the better post players in the younger division. In a strong Indiana post class, Kitchell certainly proved himself as one of the better Hoosier state prospects in 2010 in Orlando.