LAS VEGAS -- On Friday, Rivals.com started the day off at the third major tournament in Las Vegas, the Bigfoot Hoops Las Vegas Classic. By night's end, it was back over to the Fab 48 where rising senior guard Donovan Mitchell showed why his stock has been rising at a fast pace.
Everything coming together for Mitchell
Rivals.com has rising senior guard Donovan Mitchell way under ranked at No. 101 in the Rivals150. That will get fixed when rankings are updated in late August. Now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about why the 6-foot-2 combo guard at Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy is one of the hottest prospects in all of high school basketball.
Frankly, the four-star prospect didn't even play his best ball on Friday night. But, when his New York-based The City squad needed a play on either end of the floor, he was usually the one to make something happen and he showed serious toughness and competitive spirit. He followed up a 40-foot buzzer-beating first half shot with a highly difficult three on the left wing as the overtime buzzer went off to give The City a one-point win over California-based Inland.
All Mitchell knows is to attack and he is a strongly built and explosive athlete. He goes to the rim, mixes in jumpers and never stops coming at opponents. Instead of complaining that he has been underrated, Mitchell has taken advantage of opportunities he has created for himself by hard work.
"I have been able to showcase my talent in front of the right people this month," Mitchell said of his rising stock. "Hard work in the gym is paying off and my game is finally coming together."
Some are recruiting Mitchell as a two, some as a one and some as a player somewhere in between. He is happy to play either spot.
"Either or, it doesn't matter to me," said Mitchell. "I've been working on running the point and I feel like I can do a lot of things as a guard. I'll play wherever a coach wants me."
As for a decision timetable, Mitchell says that he may have to rethink things because of the rush of attention.
"I had been thinking that I would do it sometime in September," said Mitchell. "I think that's changed and I'm not sure when I'll cut things down."
Wade on high-major radar
When the class of 2015 Rivals150 was updated in late June, 6-foot-8 power forward Dean Wade from St. John (Kan.) High narrowly missed making his way onto the list. Thanks to his strong play with Mid Kansas at the Las Vegas Classic, Wade is making a pretty strong case to be on the inside of that list next time around.
Even if he doesn't make the rankings, things are really looking up for Wade.
Since Rivals.com last saw Wade at the Jayhawk Invitational in late April, he has been hard at work in the weight room. Thanks to added strength, good skill, mobility and a high revving motor, his game has gone to a new level.
There were stretches that his teammates weren't involving him enough on Friday, but whenever he got the ball down deep, he either scored or drew a foul. Well, at least most of the time. What matters is that good things were happening when he got touches and college coaches are taking notice in droves.
More than likely, the coaching crowds will continue to swell for Wade and he will end the month of July with many more offers than he started with.
News and notes
During last week's swing through Southern California, Derrick Bruce really impressed. Friday night, the 6-foot-1 point guard was again impressive playing for Inland. A rail thin floor general, he has the ball on a string and seems to be able to get into the lane just about whenever he wants. Despite his thin frame, Bruce is a tough customer and he is slowly generating more high-major attention. At the end of regulation, he drew a charge that negated a buzzer-beating basket but had a gash opened over his right eye. He returned with 34 seconds to go in overtime, his team down one and he calmly dribbled the clock down on the right wing and swished a 23-footer that looked like it would give his team the win before Mitchell answered at the other end.
For a few stretches, we traveled the hallway from the Bishop Gorman back gym to the main gym to check in on the Playaz Basketball Club and Belmont Shore. There was lots of great talent on the floor with five-stars like Isaiah Briscoe and Tyler Dorsey taking turns getting to the rim and hitting jumpshots while talking plenty of junk. Briscoe suffered a late ankle injury and hopefully he is OK, but the two bigger stories were 2016's Temple Gibbs of the Playaz and Vance Jackson of Belmont Shore. Gibbs is a tough and composed guard who can spray home jumpers while Jackson has really hit his stride. A 6-foot-7 combo forward, Jackson has always been a great jump shooter. But he is adding strength and taking the ball to the rim even more. Wednesday night, Jackson had one of his coaches pull him aside and tell him to believe in himself and be more aggressive and he showed that. Jackson is currently too low at No. 40 in 2016 while Gibbs has a chance to move up from his current slotting at No. 86.
Six-foot-10 center Justin Patton was the best screen setter in Las Vegas. Creighton landed themselves a terrific prospect in the standout from Omaha. He runs well, has a great frame to put muscle on and is a good enough athlete and shooter to cause problems. Creighton fans should be excited.
Want a tough guard who just makes things happen? Marshawn Wilson might be your guy. He isn't the biggest two guard, but he is really tough off the dribble, has huge hands and doesn't care who is in his way. The three-star is popping onto high-major radars and would be a stud at the mid-major level.
One thing that Malachi Richardson never lacks is confidence. The Syracuse-bound shooting guard is one of those guys who thinks every shot will go down and he's not afraid to let it fly from deep. When shots are going down for him like they did during stretches of Team Final's Friday afternoon game, the results are beautiful to watch. He also had some athletic finishes at the rim and looks like a perfect fit for Syracuse.
After getting a first look at class of 2016 point guard Jermaine Haley of Drive Elite last week, Rivals.com checked in on him again on Friday. At 6-foot-6, he is a fluid athlete with a high skill level who makes things look easy. He can pass, is athletic and looks to be a good enough jump shooter to keep defenders honest. What Haley isn't yet is overly aggressive. At times, he is a defender's best friend because he doesn't test them quite like he is capable of doing. If Haley gets that killer instinct, things will get interesting. As it is, he will enter the class of 2016 rankings in the four-star range when they are next updated.
While watching Murray, big man Matt Neufeld has made an impression. A nimble 6-foot-10 center who can drive out of the high post and has good body control, he is a class of 2014 graduate who will head to prep and looks like at least a solid mid-major prospect. Word is that he will land at Bel Aire (Kan.) Sunrise Christian for that post grad year.