BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - Rivals.com was back in the house at Bloomington (Minn.) Thomas Jefferson for the second day of the 10th annual Sabes Invitational. With all seven courts in use for the tournament housed under one roof, we had the ability to roam easily from game to game and get a lay of the land. While there wasn't a tremendous amount of "star" power on hand, we did get a chance to get some long looks at some under the radar guys and witness a breakout performance from 2013 wing Justin Jackson of the Houston Hoops 16 and under squad.
Houston Freshman Jackson One To Watch
When we stopped by to watch the Houston Hoops 16 and under team Saturday afternoon, we asked 17 and under coach Marland Lowe who to watch for. Among those he mentioned was Justin Jackson. A long and lean wing who stands near 6 feet 5, Jackson is an outstanding looking prospect and did lots of nice things while we watched.
While it's not surprising that he's lacking in strength and makes some head scratching decisions -- like launching a three with 20 seconds left as they were trying to run clock, he did hit it, though -- what was surprising was his impressive array of skills. He handles the ball quite well for a young wing, is an alert passer who finds cutters and he's got a pretty well developed scoring game. He can drain three pointers with ease, attacks off the dribble with either his right or left hand, hits floaters and is a willing defender. It's still early and Keith Frazier and Julius Randle have been getting the bulk of the attention of the state's budding 2013 talents, but Jackson (who is home schooled) has the look of a potential high level prospect.
More Saturday Standouts
We really liked the day that Playground Elite combo guard Tre Burnette put together. At 6-foot-3, he appeared comfortable handling the ball and setting up others as a primary handler. Then, he slid off the ball to bury jumpers and make use of a sweet little running floater that he can make going right or left. We were surprised to learn that he's received basically zero attention from division one programs at this point and the 2011 prospect certainly deserves looks on the mid to upper mid major level.
Shooters are always at a premium and there are few who shoot from range with the accuracy of KC Pump 'N Run'sTyler Kalinoski. A lean 6-foot-3 shooting guard, Kalinoski was smoking hot from deep Saturday afternoon as he swished home deep three after deep three. Comfortable letting shots fly off the dribble or catch, Kalinoski is also an outstanding defender who understands how to play angles and moves his feet very well. We'd expect that Midwestern mid majors are going to take a very long look come July.
We mentioned Friday night that we were curious to get a look at J'Mychal Reese as he handled more point guard duties for the Houston Hoops. For the most part, the 6-foot-1 southpaw from the class of 2012 looked quite comfortable running the show. However, Reese is a scorer at heart and he's at his best using a hesitation move and then exploding for two and three dribble pull-ups. As he moves forward, he'll have to become a little less dominant with his left hand.
Fresh off of a huge sophomore campaign at Saint Louis (Mo.) Cardinal Ritter, 6-foot-5 wing Cameron Beidscheid is the next high major level wing out of a city that has three big timers in the class of 2011. A lean athlete who can get to the rim with a quick first step, Beidscheid is also an ace jump shooter who has very soft touch and a quick trigger. We'd like to see him be a little less reliant on that jumper, but he's right on track for four star status in the class of 2012.
We don't make a habit of writing about kids who haven't even entered high school yet, but we have to at least mention 8th grader Tyus Jones Howard Pulley's 16 and under Blue team. Slated to attend Apple Valley High in the south suburbs of Minneapolis, the 5-foot-11 floor general is in total control of the game. He can score with ease in the lane, shoots with range, and has a way about him that allows him to lead his teammates.
When we first sawMarvin Singleton as a rising freshman, he was a wiry strong 6-foot-5 insider. While he's never grown any taller, Singleton has gotten much stronger and he's willingly accepted his role as a slightly undersized power forward and has been getting the job done for Howard Pulley Blue. He fights for rebounds, runs the floor and has developed a solid low post game thanks to his comfort with turning and scoring over either shoulder. He should get plenty of looks as a mid level prospect.
Notes From Around the Gym
Milwaukee (Wisc.) King's Cimeon Bowers informed us that he'll be making a move to the class of 2012. A horse Ike Wilson's Playground Elite, the strong 6-foot-6 combo forward sat out this past high school season and says that the will be able to play both of his remaining years in Wisconsin. He's an aggressive kid who is definitely looking to score and he knows how to use his powerful shoulders to ward off defenders. We liked what we saw out of Dakota Schoolers wing Zach Horstman. At 6-foot-4, he can shoot off the catch and also makes his way to the basket where he's got some athleticism to finish at the cup. Kansas City native D.J. Jackson has had a very productive spring so far. The 5-foot-11 point guard is quick off the dribble, an intense on the ball defender and he's turning into a much more dangerous shooter. If he continues on the path he's on, he could be in line for a big summer.
Wichita (Kan.) Southeast sophomore Gavin Thurman has twener size at 6-foot-6. A faceup four man, he's got a sweet jumper that is pure to the three point line and he can score on a pretty good assortment of moves in the post. However, he either needs to become much stronger with the ball or work on his lateral movement so that he can make a move to the wing if he wants to maximize his potential. By the end of the summer, we think that Houston Hoops forward TaShawn Thomas is going to be a hot commodity among mid to upper mid major programs. He can run the floor, has some athleticism and can score a bit around the rim and out to 10 feet. Howard Pulley point guard Siyani Chambers isn't the biggest kid around but he played large for stretches on Saturday. A skinny 5-foot-10 point guard from the class of 2012, he's quick off the dribble, likes to get in the lane and can supplement his play making for others with his scoring ability off the bounce. Finally, 6-foot7 junior Christian Kirk continued what has been a fine spring for him with KC Pump 'N Run. A wiry strong insider, he boasts pretty good footwork and he's explosive off the floor and looks to dunk on defenders whenever possible.
Cimeon Bowers lists LSU, Miami, Minnesota, Illinois, Marquette and Michigan as those pursuing him the most aggressively. Bowers also mentioned that Miami is his leader. Corey Hilliard rattled off a list that included Missouri State (offer), Missouri, Kansas State, Minnesota and Arizona State. Hilliard's KC Pump 'N Run teammate Christian Kirk listed Butler, Missouri State, Southern Illinois, Arizona State, Stanford, Alabama and Minnesota. TaShawn Thomas of the Houston Hoops gave a short list of Texas State and Wichita State. Joe Coleman listed offers from Minnesota, Colorado State, and Santa Clara to go along with interest from Texas A&M, USC, Seton Hall, Iowa State and Wisconsin among others.