Cancer Research Classic: Friday's Top Takeaways
WHEELING, WV. – There aren’t many better places to start the calendar year than the Cancer Research Classic. Friday’s session of play brought plenty to learn including what Alabama, BYU, Kentucky and Michigan State recruits can to achieve upon their respective enrollments, the abilities of Jalen Duren and when Charles Bediako plans to head to college.
Kentucky has never had someone like Devin Askew. He doesn’t have the athleticism of John Wall, the agility of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander or the quickness of Tyler Ullis, but Askew doesn’t take a back seat to anyone whenever it comes to competing. It was all on display in Wheeling where Askew showed that he is more than capable of running a team at the highest level next year. He is tremendous facilitator that makes others better which will definitely be welcomed with open arms at Kentucky seeing that it will, as usual, possess an onslaught of offensive weapons.
Askew is one of the most polished guards that continues to add different quirks to his game. For a place like UK that will never be at a loss for talent, he is just the guy that should keep the blue blood in mind whenever it comes to rattling off potential Final Four candidates prior to next season.
Charles Bediako has no intentions of reclassifying into the 2020 class. That is what he told Rivals.com following his dominant 16 points and 15 rebounds outing. One of the best rim protectors and rebounders within the high school game, while his face-up skillset remains a work in progress, Bediako fully acknowledges what he does best, which is run the floor, change shots in the lane and clean his area on the glass.
Bediako plans on taking a handful of official visits once his junior season completes. Coaches from Maryland and Michigan State were on hand for him on Friday as more programs enter his recruitment, the latest being Duke who offered him as both a member of the 2020 and 2021 class.
Sissoko is going to do some damage in East Lansing. There are not many built in the mold of Mady Sissoko. The Michigan State bound big man has to refine his skillset but whenever it comes to rim runs, shot blocks and rebounding, Sissoko does it at the highest level. Now healthy after missing the early portion of the season, Sissoko showed why he is such a heavily valued recruit. He will not be a Nick Ward or Xavier Tillman that can have an offense run through him in the low post but he also is someone that competes with one of the best motors that could that Tom Izzo will come to love.
Dillon Jones is one of the more under-recruited seniors nationally. The native of South Carolina had an excellent showing in West Virginia and while he might not be an overly explosive athlete that jumps off the page, he is a versatile forward that checks many of the boxes. Finishing with game high honors in points, Jones isn’t valued greatest for his scoring but rather for his ability to be used as a giant playmaker of sorts, rebound and do many of the smaller things that don’t always go noticed for on the final stat sheet. Evansville is practically the lone program involved with him but expect more to become involved as the season wanes onward
Jalen Duren is the one of the best sophomore post prospects that I have ever evaluated. He was unbelievable last month at the City of Palms Classic and I was waiting to see if his play would continue on in Wheeling. It sure did. While his box score numbers were rather average, it was more about how Duren went about playing the game, primarily with a motor of his that has become much more steady.
Duren could walk into an NBA locker room tomorrow and he would be hard to pick out. His hands are elite and so is his ability to rebound and alter shots. He is a dominant center prospect in the 2022 class that sets the bar for what a high school big man looks like.
Alabama has a good one headed its way in the form of Keon Ambrose-Hylton. Consistency has been his primary hold-up in the past but that was not an issue on Friday. The four-star is the ideal mix and match type that can defend all over the place, initiate the break off of the defensive glass and score at the basket. Finishing with 23 points, seven rebounds and three assists, Ambrose-Hylton, if he brings the energy to the floor like he did in Wheeling next year to Tuscaloosa, should find a way to get onto the floor. His tremendous versatility will be relied upon early by Nate Oats as he attempts to ascend the SEC’s pecking order.
Richie Saunders is one of the best shooters that I have come across this season. An absolute flame thrower at the 2-guard spot, while it was impressive to see Saunders show greater bounce and athleticism around the basket, Saunders’ calling card has always been and will continue to be how well he shoots the ball. Whether it is on spot-up looks, off the dribble attempts or running off various screens, Saunders’ shot is all but automatic whenever he has a clean look at the basket. He is going to cause major damage at BYU once he finally enrolls which could come following his LDS mission but one can be sure he will be a heavily discussed name thanks to just how well he shoots the ball.