basketball Edit

City of Palms: Blue blood recruits shine, Duren makes a statement

CamRon Fletcher
CamRon Fletcher

FORT MYERS, FL. – A full day of hoops was on tap at the City of Palms Classic on Thursday. A promising start was led by CamRon Fletcher, while Duke’s DJ Steward showed that his game will most definitely translate to college, and the argument for the who the best is in the 2022 class needs to begin. Each sit among the top takeaways from our day in Florida, along with the standout play from the elite talent headed to Florida State and Oklahoma State.



It was a great bounce back day for Kentucky bound forward CamRon Fletcher. Mustering just nine points a day earlier, Fletcher brought a greater purpose to the floor on Thursday which coincided with a much better final box score.

At the end of the day, Fletcher is going to be leaned upon for his athleticism, toughness and energy giving powers; the rest of it is just a bonus. Instead of relying on a set of ball skills that is still in the development stages, Fletcher was more about competing, making his presence felt around the basket and also defending various positions.

Finishing with 21 point and 10 rebounds, Fletcher showed why John Calipari offered him a scholarship in the first part. The fact that he made two perimeter jumpers, a shot that looks like he has given a good amount of time in improving upon, makes it that much more promising that he can impact the blue blood next year. Either way, if Fletcher remains more of a hard-playing forward first, his ceiling and what might be in Lexington next year should only improve.


Duke is just an average shooting team this year. Maybe their numbers will improve but they are one of the least reliant perimeter shooting teams in America and make just 35-percent of such attempts. That number should improve next year and it is because of DJ Steward.

I am not sure if Steward is going to be ready to handle primary ballhandling duties as a freshman but that is also what Jeremy Roach is for, and don’t underestimate the abilities of Jalen Johnson as a giant playmaker. That isn’t a problem because, among the elite in the 2020 class, there is no surer fire bet to make an open jump shot than Steward.

Potentially Duke’s best shooter since Gary Trent, Steward finished with 21 points on Thursday, thanks in part to four 3s. He continues to make the right strides with his game and looks more than ready to impact the ACC program next year which, most likely, will come in the shot making department.


We might need to start talking about the discussion for who the best prospect is in the 2022 class because, up until now, there hasn’t been one. We adorned Emoni Bates as the chosen one immediately. No, I am not denying the notion that he is special but rather discussing how great Jalen Duren is and can be.

Finishing with 19 points, 18 rebounds and about a dozen shots altered, I am not sure that I have ever covered a more physically developed sophomore than Duren. He isn’t just broad shoulders and a strong core, but rather Duren possesses unbelievable hands, great instincts and timing as a shot blocker and mobility in getting up and down the floor.

His motor has fluctuated some in the past but during his two days in Florida thus far, Duren has played like a man possessed. It is going to take a whole lot to nudge Bates off of the 2022 totem pole but more showings like that from Duren on Thursday might make such a crazy idea achievable.


We had Tyler Beard as a member of the Rivals150 just eight months ago. The travel season wasn’t kind to him. He would be the first to tell you that. Actually, he confirmed as such whenever we asked him why things fell off this summer. That is why we keep watching, though.

After a no-so-good few months on the travel circuit, it was back to the norm with Beard on Thursday, which is tremendous on the ball defense, finishing at the basket and a constant competitor in the backcourt. He does a lot of things that don’t always show up on the final stat sheet but from a pure facilitator that is about winning, that is never a bad thing.

Cleveland State and Valparaiso are practically the only schools involved within his recruitment. He did take an official visit to Purdue earlier this year but the Boilermakers have backed off. Others should converge. He looks the part of one of the top available lead guards this winter and will be a top winner of the high school season.


-- How often Cade Cunningham talks on the floor. I want my point guard to be a constant communicator; such an aspect is vastly underrated but Cunningham does it so well. So simple but so important. The top-ranked guard in the 2020 class might be the surest best to make it at the next level, as in the NBA. He runs his Montverde unit like prime Tom Brady in the backfield. His shot has improved, defensively, he has begun to move much better laterally and athletically, he has only gotten more explosive. Cunningham is going to win a lot of games at Oklahoma State and beyond thanks to the intangibles that he possesses.

-- Just how good Eric Dailey has become. He hasn’t gotten a whole lot of ink on this space primarily due to the fact that doesn’t play travel basketball but the strides that he has made since this time last year has been nothing short of impressive. He has really done a great job of getting into better shape, improved his perimeter jumper and seemingly makes all of the right plays. Finishing with a game high 20 points, the idea of playing overseas compared to college has already been brought to the table which brings even greater intrigue to the Dailey recruitment.

-- Everything about Scottie Barnes. I’m not sure that Leonard Hamilton could have created someone better suited for his system than the five-star forward. Florida State has become known for its length and multi-positional attack which is exactly what Barnes embodies. One of the most outgoing personalities in the game, it was another regular showing from Barnes, which means 12 points, five rebounds, five assists and a number of eye-appeasing plays on both ends. There doesn’t seem to be many things that Barnes does poorly for the uberly-versatile Barnes which is why he will be a day one standout in Tallahassee.