LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Over the weekend, Rivals.com kicked off our spring and summer grassroots hoops coverage by attending the Real Deal in the Rock. Here's a look back at what we learned.
Gilder is who we thought he was
One of the biggest movers in the spring update to the class of 2015 was Admon Gilder. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard won his second straight state title at Dallas Madison and over the weekend, he led the Dallas Mustangs to a title in the 17U division of the Real Deal.
Now ranked No. 49 nationally, Gilder could still be working his way up the charts. He has certainly cemented himself as a legitimate high major shooting guard and somebody that college programs will continue to be all over.
There is nothing about Gilder that really wows you physically. He's not abnormally tall for a shooting guard and he isn't some mind-blowing athlete. But, he is highly effective in all aspects of the game. His jump-shooting commands respect out to the three-point line, he plays tremendous defense, he has a solid mid-range game and he will really help out on the glass. If you are looking for a comparison in terms of style and how he impacts the game, he is somewhat of a cross between Michigan State's Gary Harris and Kansas State's Marcus Foster.
We expect Gilder's stock to continue to rise this spring and his toughness and winning ways will be greatly appreciated. SMU, Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Arkansas and many others are already making him a priority recruit and his recruitment is likely going to see many other programs try to get involved.
It wasn't just the Gilder show over the weekend. Three-star combo forward Hassan Thomas was an animal on the glass and played with relentless energy. Also impressing was 6-foot-2 combo guard Travonta Maddox from Wylie (Texas) High. Maddox is a long and slithery guard who can get to the rim off the dribble. He's a good athlete and looks to be a good enough jump shooter to keep defenders honest. If he can play like he did in Little Rock in front of coaches, he should generate a nice buzz with mid- to upper-mid major programs.
Labissiere shows little rust
Given that he missed all but one game of his junior season due to a stress fracture in his back, we didn't expect much out of five-star junior big man Skal Labissiere. The 6-foot-11 center out of Cordova (Tenn.) Evangelical Christian looked to be much further along than we expected.
First of all, Labissiere has added a very noticeable amount of muscle. While he is still lean, he has to be at least 20-25 pounds heavier than when we last saw him in the summer of 2013 and much of the added mass is muscle weight. Because of the added muscle, Labissiere was able to bang more than in the past and when you combine that with his length, reactions, rebounding and patience as a shot-blocker, you have a big man who can alter the game on both ends without taking a shot.
While he isn't quite as athletic as a young Tyson Chandler was, it is hard not to see some similarities in the way they move, protect the rim and control the glass. Additionally, Labissiere continues to show a high level of skill on the offensive end. He looks comfortable on either block, can make jump hooks and has added a turnaround jumper to his arsenal that makes him a big weapon.
He is playing limited minutes as he works himself into shape, but Labissiere looks like he is ready to back up his lofty ranking of No. 6 overall in the 2015 Rivals150.
Updating Coleman and Ahmad
Losing in the finals of the 17U division to the Dallas Mustangs was All-Ohio Red. A talented group, I had the chance to watch them play multiple times on Friday and Saturday.
Of note, their two highest regarded players -- Jalen Coleman and Esa Ahmad -- were solid but not spectacular. However, they do merit some reporting on their play.
A 6-foot-3 combo guard, Coleman can be a very dangerous shooter when he is locked in. Unfortunately, the La Porte (Ind.) La Lumiere product wasn't as dialed in as usual and was also settling a bit too much. When he mixed in drives, though, the No. 31 player in 2015 was a load to handle and the strength he is adding through natural maturation allows him to be a more explosive finisher at the rim. It should also be noted that All-Ohio is a new team for Coleman, so he is going through the process of adjusting to a new team.
One of the hotter names entering the spring, Ahmad is making a transition from a position standpoint. The 6-foot-7 forward from Cleveland Shaker Heights has been viewed as a bit of combo or slightly undersized power forward in the past. Now, he is in the process of playing more as a small forward.
It was apparant Ahmad has upgraded his shooting stroke and ball-handling touch, but we still like the No. 98 player in 2015 most when he is playing tough around the rim, crashing the glass and being a bit of a high-end garbage man.