The final day of the Hoop Group Pitt Jamfest saw the top Under Armour teams, with a few others mixed in, battle it out for tournament titles. When the dust settled, We-R-1 (based out of Delaware) defeated Philly Pride for the 16-and-under championship, while Sports U (a New Jersey program) won the 17-and-under division for the second straight year.
For the second straight year, Sports U captured the event title in the oldest age group. Much of the team's success can be credited to the play of talented wing Jared Nickens.
A 6-foot-7 offensive machine who can play either the shooting guard or small forward spot, Nickens is a pure shooter with great size for the wing. While he loves to shoot the ball from deep, Nickens is capable of being an offensive threat from all three levels. He showed a tight handle and the ability to creatively attack the rim in half court or transition settings.
Nickens might be too thin to make an impact at the college level right away, but his size, shooting ability, athleticism and overall offensive skill set had college coaches buzzing, with many believing that he was the top performer in the entire senior-to-be age group.
Rivals.com's Alex Kline reported that Nickens listed Oregon State, Temple, Providence, Dayton, Seton Hall, Saint Joe, Oklahoma, Miami (Fla.), Georgetown and St. John as the schools most involved in his recruitment.
The scary thing is that Nickens is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential, and should field even more phone calls in the near future from new suitors.
Another standout performer for the Sports U squad was 6-foot-9 center Quadri Moore. A four-star prospect ranked as the No. 80 player in the 2014 Rivals150, Moore added to his already good reputation by playing with physicality on the defensive end. He also displayed the ability to step out and hit the long jumper, and score with his back to the basket, on the offensive end.
With wide shoulders and nimble feet, Moore is going to be heavily sought-after by college coaches who will love his combination of size, strength and skill.
Moore currently lists St. Joe's, Florida, Georgetown, Cincinnati, Wake Forest, Providence, Seton Hall, Rutgers and Dayton as schools recruiting him the hardest, but added that Duke is beginning to get much more serious in its pursuit of the Linden (N.J.) High School junior.
We R the Champions
It might only be their second year together as a program, but Delaware outfit We-R-1 continues to impress as one of the most talented and dominant teams on the circuit, particularly this year's version of the rising-juniors team, which won the championship in that age bracket.
In addition to four-star forward Derrick Jones, of whom we wrote a glowing evaluation Friday night, the team (which features players not just from Delaware, but all the adjoined states) got excellent production on championship Sunday from their point guard, Philadelphia (Pa.) Life Center sophomore Traci Carter.
A speedy point guard with an aggressive and confident mentality, Carter was one of the top penetrating guards at the 16-and-under level over the weekend. He used his shot-making abilities and exceptional court vision to help his team put up some impressive offensive numbers. Carter has a mature feel for the offensive end, showing an advanced understanding of how to use ball-screens and find chances to either pull-up for a jumper or find an open teammate.
Carter might not have great size, standing just 6-foot, but he's a tough competitor who has the defensive intensity and foot speed to make up for any physical limitations that he could have at the next level.
After We-R-1 captured the title, Carter told us that his recruitment has picked up over the last month and that he is hearing more often from schools such as Syracuse, Villanova, Rutgers, Xavier, Penn State and LaSalle.
Sunday morning's 16-and-under semifinal game between the Philly Pride and Louisville Magic featured two teams that have grown accustomed to winning early in the season. However, these teams don't have a ton of prospects getting much recognition from either college coaches or scouting media.
After a thrilling, fast-paced game that ended with the Pride coming from behind to gut out a victory, that is going to change for at least two of the players who were out on the floor.
First for the Philly Pride, 6-foot-3 shooting guard Samir Doughty, a Philadelphia (Pa.) Communications Tech sophomore, established himself as one of the top 2015 prospects in the entire event.
A drive-first type of scorer, Doughty has the ability to get to the lane off of the dribble, seemingly breaking down his defender whenever he wanted to. Doughty racked up basket after basket in the win over the Magic, and the finals against We-R-1. His combination of an explosive first step and dribble crossovers were just too much for defenders to handle.
Doughty is far from a finished prospect from a skills perspective, but with his natural slashing ability, he has tremendous upside. According to the Philly Pride coaching staff, Xavier and Penn State are the first two major programs to get involved. As his name grows, and his Philly Pride team continues to win games on the highest level of competition in its age bracket, expect Doughty's reputation to grow. He could easily wind up in the Rivals prospect rankings at some point soon.
The other standout prospect came from the Pride's opponent, the Louisville Magic, as 6-foot-7 combo forward D'angelo Hunter took his first step into putting his name on the recruiting map.
A versatile, long and athletic forward from Louisville (Ky.) Pleasure Ridge Park, Hunter showed the ability to play inside defensively while handling, shooting, distributing and scoring at the rim on the offensive end. He's still very raw at this point, but that just means that his upside is that much better. As he continues to learn the fine points of the game, Hunter will have a chance to be a heavily recruited prospect out of the Bluegrass State.
According to Hunter, he has heard regularly from Western Kentucky, Wright State and Eastern Kentucky, while Xavier and Michigan State are among schools starting to get involved.
While his DC Assault team fell in the 17-and-under championship game, one player who stood out in the loss was unsigned senior Donte Grantham, a skilled 6-foot-7 small forward from Martinsburg (W.Va.) High School.
Grantham is a qualifier for the class of 2013 academically, but is also considering going the prep school route to try and gain more suitors among college coaches. Currently, West Virginia is the most high-profile program still trying to land Grantham for next season. DC Assault coaches told Rivals that they believe the versatile wing will start to hear from every major program in the region, all of whom would likely focus on recruiting him as a 2014 prospect after a year of prep school.
A streaky scorer with good size for his skill-set, Grantham is completely comfortable playing out on the wing, where he has the size and length to easily shoot jumpers over the top of other wings. Also showing a willingness to play down low and dominate the glass, Grantham is a perfect fit for any major college program in need of a mismatch forward who can stretch the floor with shooting range.