LITTLE ROCK -- On Saturday, at the Read Deal in the Rock, two Lawson brothers proved to be too much for anybody to handle. Leading their Team Penny squad to three wins, 2015's Keelon Lawson and 2016's Dedric Lawson were a dynamic duo in Little Rock. Junior forward Jalon Miller, along with freshman guard Victor Bailey, put themselves on the map as well.
Two much Lawson
Let's make this clear right away, the Team Penny 17U squad from Memphis isn't just the K.J. and Dedric Lawson show. They have a deep and talented roster, but for stretches it was the K.J. Lawson and Dedric Lawson show.
The brothers from Memphis (Tenn.) Hamilton each had strong outings. Already committed to Memphis, K.J. is the older brother. A 6-foot-6 small forward who ranks No. 36 in the class of 2015, he is a strong and tough player who specializes in mid range jump shots. He will get out in transition and can take a bump from defender without it messing with his offense. There isn't anything flashy about the four-star's game, but he gets a lot done and is one of those players who has the respect of his teammates and coaches.
A year younger than K.J. and about two inches taller, Dedric has a totally different style. A five-star prospect that currently ranks No. 6 in the class of 2016, Lawson is about 6-foot-8 and has long arms. He isn't particularly strong and he isn't particularly bouncy, but he is highly skilled and a very crafty scorer. Dedric handles the ball very well, has range on his jumper to the three-point line and uses an assortment of fakes and finishes around the rim. Often times, it doesn't seem like he should be able to get a shot onto the glass but he's so good at using his body to shield defenders and using English to spin the ball off the backboard at awkward angles that he often scores in tight spots you wouldn't expect him to.
Dedric hasn't committed, but obviously Memphis is going to play a big role in his recruitment and it doesn't seem out of line to think that the Tigers are the favorites and that there is a good chance he'll choose to play with his brother in college.
It is important to mention a few other players from Team Penny and the luxury they have in being coached by not one, but two NBA veterans. Their namesake Penny Hardaway is the head coach and has a very easy-going demeanor on the sidelines. Todd Day adds fire to the mix and the two are clearly invested in their young players.
2016 point guard Dillon Mitchell played with confidence and poise. A six-footer, Mitchell is a slender point guard who boasts a good jumper, excellent instincts and a very balanced floor game. Junior shooting guard Donte Fitzpatrick is a Rivals150 player and currently ranks No. 110 in the class of 2015. He was a little up and down, but he is adept at creating his own shot and looks like he will be a good jump shooter.
Also playing pretty well was freshman power forward P.J. Washington. A 6-foot-7 product of Dallas (Texas) Prime Prep, Washington had an outstanding freshman year and picked up where he left off. Playing 17U, Washington was productive between the rim and 15 feet on both ends as a scorer, defender and rebounder.
Finally, we didn't get a long look at the Team Penny 16U squad. However, we didn't have to watch long to notice big man Isaiah Stokes. He is listed at 6-foot-8 which seems pretty generous, but he is a strong and tough post player who is built like a carbon copy of his older brother Jarnell Stokes.
Texas Select duo proves they belong
Texas Select fell to Team Penny during a Saturday night bracket game in probably the best game we watched all day. The Select squad didn't get a win, but Jalon Miller and Victor Bailey closed out impressive days by showing plenty of promise.
A 6-foot-6 forward from Dallas (Texas) Seagoville, Miller is a 6-foot-6 forward who ranks No. 120 in the 2015 Rivals150. He proved that ranking was deserving with his play. Select doesn't have a ton of size so he plays a bit of a 4/3 combo role for them. He was very good catching in the high post where he found cutters, banged mid range jumpers and drove. In particular, Miller was strong in driving to his left and the way he played was similar in style to the way Cameron Clark played at Oklahoma as a senior. Not surprisingly, Miller says that the Sooners have offered. He also listed offers from Boise State, TCU LaSalle and West Virginia. Miller also listed recent interest from Connecticut, Texas, Texas Tech, Wyoming and Baylor.
Say this for freshman combo guard Victor Bailey from Round Rock (Texas) McNeill, he has great genes. His father was a wide receiver and his mother was a three-time Olympian and she currently coaches sprints for the Texas track team. But it isn't all good genes for Bailey because he is a good looking prospect.
Standing about 6-foot-3, Bailey is a southpaw with a very quick trigger from deep, lots of range on his shot and not so surprisingly, high end body control and speed. Playing up on the 17 and under level, the 2017 prospect more than held his own and will be one to watch down the road. Not surprisingly, he is familiar with the Texas campus but said that he hasn't gotten much recruiting attention yet.
Saturday Real Deal notes
A third player on Texas Select who had impressive moments was Danta Hales. A 6-foot-9 center from Arlington (Texas) Bowie, Hales says that he doesn't have any offers yet. That will soon change for the junior center if he keeps playing like this. Hales isn't a wide body or a bruiser, but he is a pretty fluid big man with good hands, soft touch to eight feet and the ability to run the floor. He does list interest from Arkansas, Baylor, Bucknell, UT-Arlington, Boise State and Liberty.
It will be interesting to track the growth of sophomore point guard Lamar Peters. Playing in Fayetteville with New Orleans Elite, the New Orleans (La.) Landry-Walker floor general showed some promise. He is fast, he can change speeds and he wants to get others involved. His ball security is a little shaky at times, but he will settle down with maturity and experience.
The Houston Celtics gave Texas Select a good scare in the first round of bracket play. A big part of that was lefty point guard Josh Bradford. With an explosive burst and athleticism, the southpaw is a scoring one who can get hot from deep and looks like a good mid major prospect.
This year's version of the Dallas Mustangs didn't bring a lot of size to Fayetteville. But, 6-foot-6 junior Hassan Thomas played bigger than his size and with loads of energy. He makes 12 foot jumpers, is very athletic and gets on the glass. Thomas called himself an undersized four man but said that he would like to be more of a combo forward or wing. He listed offers from UTEP, TCU, Wyoming and Northeastern to go with interest from SMU, the Citadel, UMass and VCU.
A new name on Saturday was 6-foot-3 shooting guard Quinndary Weatherspoon from Camden (Miss.) Velma Jackson. Playing with the Jackson Tigers, Weatherspoon looked like a score with some pop in his legs. He has a soft jumper and can create just enough off the dribble to keep defenders honest. He looks like he should be a pretty easy bet at the mid major level but may be better than that.
A big part of what makes the Arkansas Wings go is Marquise Pointer. A strong and athletic six-footer from Jonesboro (Ark.) High, Pointer is a physical driver and defender who gets into the lane and can push tempo, A very good defender, Pointer has already gotten offers from Arkansas State and Southeast Missouri State. With the lack of point guards, he'll get high major looks and per Wings coaches, Clemson will be out to see him this week.
Committed to Texas A&M, skinny center Chris Harris of the Houston Superstars is a long term stock. He has to get much stronger, but he has length, runs well and looks to have pretty good hands. He plays alongside another 6-foot-10 type junior who is raw but has potential in Mamadou Kamara. Kamara is a little bigger and plays with good fire but like Harris, he has to keep improving his skill. Kamara's size alone is going to get him plenty of looks and if he can be productive in front of coaches he will see scholarship offers.