October 16, 2011

USA Basketball: Saturday standouts

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.-- USA Basketball's minicamp for potential 17 and under national team members tipped off on Saturday. With some of the nation's top players from the classes of 2013 and 2014 on hand it wasn't tough to find standouts, and players such as San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty forward Aaron Gordon, Springfield (Ill.) Lanphier point guard Larry Austin and O'Fallon (Mo.) Fort Zumwait South forward Jordan Swopshire were among the day's standouts.

Aaron Gordon, PF/SF- The 6-foot-7 junior more than lived up to his No. 6 ranking in the class of 2013. A relentless transition athlete, his motor never stops running and his ridiculous leaping ability allows him to play much bigger than his size. He's significantly improved his jumper and handle and mentioned Pac-12 programs Arizona, Stanford and Washington as three that are standing out.

Larry Austin, PG- An ankle injury shut him down before the finish of the day's second session, but the Illinois point guard had already proved his worth. The six-footer is in control of the game and uses an extra gear that he can call on when needed to make explosive plays off of the dribble.

Conner Frankamp, PG- The Kansas commitment was the best shooter in the building on Saturday and it wasn't even close. When defenders close on him, he loves to use a slick hesitation dribble to create going to the hoop.

Shaqquan Aaron, SF- The thin sophomore made his name two summers ago as a rising freshman because of his ability to shoot the rock. Now, he's much improved off the dribble and is a surprisingly good playmaker for others.

James Blackmon, SG- The Indiana commitment can flat fill it from deep and plays a very mature game. He doesn't rely on athleticism, but is a better transition finisher than he's been given credit for in the past.

Stanley Johnson, SF- The 6-foot-5 Johnson was among the day's most impressive wings. When he's on the floor he's looking to score and can do so with dunks at the rim or by pulling up and swishing jumpers at a pretty regular clip.

Jordan Swopshire, SF- One of the most high energy guys in the mini camp, the long and lanky wing was making hustle plays all over the floor. He gets good elevation on his jumper and made a killing dropping home 18-footers off of one or two dribbles.

Kendrick Nunn, SG- He's a sleek athlete who can finish in transition, make just enough shots to keep you honest and defend. The junior showed an improved handle and ran the point for a few stretches.

Jabari Parker, SF- In a gym full of high level guys, the Chicago junior was the alpha dog. He can run, he can finish and his step-back jumper is among the most lethal scoring moves in high school basketball.

Dakari Johnson, C- The big sophomore won't get to play this year at Montverde (Fla.) Academy because of transfer rules so he's making the most of it. He's a big kid with soft hands, good touch and great feel for using his body to seal off defenders and score at the rim.

Jahlil Okafor, C- The only other true low-post player in attendance outside of the above mentioned Johnson, Okafor makes defenders pay if he gets them on his backside. He's got big soft hands, uses either hand around the rim and makes jump hooks all day long.

Jimmie Taylor, PF/C- The thin lefty from Alabama has come a long, long way in the last year. He can run, is an eraser of shots on the defensive end and is really starting to figure it out offensively. He's still in need of strength, but has gotten much more aggressive and physical.

Dwayne Morgan, SF- A virtual unknown from Baltimore, the 2014 wing oozes upside and potential. Every bit of 6 feet 6, he has outstanding length, can shoot and is wired to compete on each end of the floor. He enters the database as a four-star prospect and could be headed towards the five-star range.



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