August 2, 2011

What we learned: Best of Summer

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The 2011 July evaluation period has wrapped up and our last stop was Anaheim, Calif., for the Best of the Summer tournament. Rivals.com analyst Eric Bossi takes a look back at what we learned in Anaheim.

1. Vonleh is a serious contender in 2014

We haven't sat down to discuss ranking the class of 2014 yet, but when we do some time will be made regarding exactly how high to rank Noah Vonleh. The 6-foot-7 small forward from just outside of Boston took what had already been a strong effort this summer and took it to an entirely new level.

Clearly the best prospect at the Best of the Summer, Vonleh did whatever he wanted and however he wanted to do it. He used his size and strength to post up and beat opponents on the glass, he handled the ball deftly to attack off the dribble, got to the foul line and knocked down jumpers. Everything he did, he did with control, power and purpose in one of the better individual event performances that we watched all summer long.

Originally a member of the class of 2013 (where he is a four-star prospect), Vonleh has made the switch to 2014 to be with his proper age group. He'll attend New Hampton (N.H.) Prep and will certainly be a five-star prospect in the class of 2014. It's just a matter of how highly he ends up ranked.

2. End of July is reason to change "live" period

There are still plenty of coaches out at the end of July because, well, they don't have any choice but to use all of their allotted 20 days for July evaluation. There are also still plenty of teams that are out and about at the end of the month. But, over the past few years, we've noticed a growing trend. End of July basketball often stinks and will only get worse unless something is done to change the current evaluation period.

More and more, coaches show up to gyms to find that players they are expecting to watch have come up injured. More often than not, it's a case of players and teams electing to sit because they are exhausted from the grueling July schedule that keeps them on the road for two 10-day periods. Of course, in its infinite wisdom the NCAA says that college coaches can't contact summer coaches or players who are at events so many times nobody is able to communicate that Player X is sitting out.

Not to mention, the two 10-day periods have created mega events that force coaches to sift through a lot of teams that lack Division I prospects because of the money grab created for event coordinators.

The bottom line is that something about the month of July needs to be changed and there's no more lipstick left to put on the pig of a system that is currently in place.

There has been a lot of talk about opening up some weekends in the spring for coaches to get out and evaluate players in tournaments and that can't come soon enough. The solution seems simple enough. Give the coaches the weekend after the Final Four, Memorial Day and then between 12 and 16 days in July to evaluate players. This will give them a chance to see guys earlier, chart their development and prevent a lot of unnecessarily bad basketball at the end of July.

3. Wainright plays a balanced, controlled game

Ishmail Wainright didn't have the sophomore season that many were expecting of him at Raytown (Mo.) South. He would probably be the first to tell you that. At times during the spring and early summer, the 6-foot-5 four-star wing from the class of 2013 was also a bit quiet. However, that all changed during the second half of July as he led his KC 76ers team to titles at the Fab 48 - where he was named MVP - and then capped it with a win at the Best of the Summer.

With his long arms, strong frame and athleticism, Wainright immediately jumps out as a physically impressive player. Because of that, people sometimes expect that he'll be dominant every second of the game and put up huge numbers offensive numbers. While Wainright can score - he's best in transition, off the dribble, as a slasher and cleaning up other people's misses - expecting him to be a scorer is missing what it was that made him so successful in Anaheim.

When Wainright has had it rolling as he did over the last 10 days of July, he's best as an all-around player and facilitator. He will defend the other team's best player inside or out, rebounds the ball, gets out in transition, passes the ball exceptionally well and has started to knock down the open shot.

In other words, he's a guy who does a little bit of everything and provides leadership for his team. Most importantly, he also seems to have developed a good feel for when it's time for him to take over - as he did in Las Vegas against 2013 five-star Jabari Parker - and when it's time for him to play setup man. It's that all-around play and leadership he demonstrated that has his stock on the rise.





 

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