The Rivals.com basketball recruiting staff continues to push through the busy July event schedule and is taking advantage of the opportunity evaluate the nation's top prospects.
After breaking down at the top 17U performers at the recent NIKE Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C., Jerry Meyer turns his attention to the top underclassmen performers at the event. The talented big men stood tall in the 16U division.
There were several players in the 16-under division of the Peach Jam who are better prospects than Marshawn Powell, but this list is about production today and not promise tomorrow. When evaluating Powell, we've noticed that he consistently produces points and rebounds. A crafty midrange to low-post player, Powell has a quick release on his jump hook and a great up-and-under move. In fact, he seems to thrive against bigger opponents. They are often suckered into trying to dominate Powell, and are often left susceptible to his multiple moves. A high-energy player on the glass, Powell is the type of prospect who can hold a team together through adversity.
It almost seems unfair for DeMarcus Cousins to play in the 16-under division after participating against the top rising seniors in the country at the USA Basketball Festival and the LeBron James US Skills Camp. But the most important point here is that Cousins did make it unfair for his opponents. Still a work in progress both emotionally and skill-wise, Cousins is beginning to piece together a very dangerous game. Instead of coasting on defense and relying on jump shots, he physically dominated opponents. Cousins, who already has a big-time body to work with, is playing in an attack mode and is simply overpowering.
Deshawn Painter is poised to shoot into a five-star ranking because of his steadily improving production. Always looking the part of a potential five-star prospect, Painter is playing in the here and now as a five-star prospect. Not only is he running down rebounds outside of his area, he is also finishing with better efficiency. His jump hook is now a reliable scoring option, and he is piecing together more complex scoring moves with his back to the basket. Another sign of his progression is his improvement with his outlet passes. After grabbing defensive rebounds, he is helping his team pick up easy baskets. Painter is a constant presence in the lane as a shot blocker and always plays at a high energy level.
Clearly the top prospect in the 16-under division, Jeremy Tyler has a scary combination of physical gifts. Practically everything that was written above about DeMarcus Cousins also applies to Tyler. However, Tyler has an athletic gear, body control and a skill package that none of the other underclass post players in the event can match. Because he plays with guards who like to shoot the ball, Tyler doesn't get the touches necessary to be as productive as the post players we previously mentioned. Nonetheless, he is a game-changer on both ends of the court. If he learns to reign in his emotions and focus on his abilities, a truly special player will emerge.
The post players were certainly the class of the 16-under division, but the outside scoring of John Jenkins lands him on this list. His Tennessee YOMCA squad lost to the eventual champions on a last-second shot in overtime. Jenkins' ability to put the ball in the basket was the primary reason for his team's success. With a quick trigger and high release, Jenkins needs very little room to let his soft jumper fly. Although he is not a great ballhandler or the quickest athlete, Jenkins does have a superb shot fake. That move often frees him up for open looks off the dribble. With a fade-away jumper off the dribble already in his arsenal, Jenkins will also be able to score off a post-up game as he gets stronger. Look for high-major offers to trickle in for this fantastic shooter.