CLEVELAND - Much of the cream of the crop in the 2011 class is participating in USA Basketball events, but there was still a strong field of prospects at the King City Classic. A couple five-star prospects, including Branden Dawson, solidified their high standing in the class while some other prospects made statements to move up the rankings.
Branden Dawson- Dawson has always been on the cusp of the five-star/four-star borderline as a prospect. He has a college ready body, strong athleticism and is an exceptional defender, rebounder and finisher. At this event, however, Dawson has displayed an expanded skill set. He has shot the ball well from behind the arc and has looked good with the basketball in the open court.
Josiah Turner- Outside of 2013 elite guard prospect Rodney Purvis, Turner has been the best point guard at the event. He has an impressive blend of strength and quickness which he uses to his advantage on both sides of the ball. His decision making has been solid, and he has finished plays in a variety of areas of the court. Steadily he is moving towards the top of the point guard rankings in 2011.
Nick Faust- Although he doesn't have the reputation yet of some of his counterparts, Faust has been the most impressive performer of all the shooting guards in the camp. In a John Jenkins like fashion, Faust drains deep shots with his unorthodox release. But he has also attacked off the dribble and finished with authority at the rim. His length as a shooting guard also gives him an edge defensively.
Rodney Hood- At nearly 6-foot-8, the left handed Hood is the quintessential point forward. He is steady with the ball, finds teammates and can work himself into position to score over smaller defenders.
Jamal Branch- This Texas A&M commitment has been impressive defensively on the circuit but hasn't shown a lot of offensive prowess. In Cleveland, however, Branch has been knocking down threes and also penetrating the lane to set up scores for either himself or teammates.
Rodney Purvis- The 2013 prospect has simply been the best player in the gym. Already with a college ready body, Purvis gets wherever he want to get on the court and then finishes with authority. He is also outstanding defensively. The only fear with Purvis would be that he hits his ceiling too early and stagnates. Nonetheless, he is already better than most anyone on the circuit.
Kyle Wiltjer- This big man is one of the best three-point shooters in the class regardless of position. Post defenders who automatically run to the lane in transition learn a tough lesson when Wiltjer spots up on the arc.
Ben McLemore- This raw but super talented wing began to hit his stride as this event progressed. He shot the ball with confidence from three, made good decisions off the dribble and was a terror on the offensive boards.
Michael Carter-Williams- His smoothness with the basketball has always been a hallmark of Carter-Williams' game, but his defensive prowess has really started to standout. He has been able to keep point guards out of the lane and then also move up a couple positions and defend bigger wings. Once his body develops, Carter-Williams will be one of the top players in the class of 2011.
Brandon Ashley- This lengthy 2012 combo forward has a bright, bright future. Full of upside, Ashley regularly impresses with high level plays on both ends of the court.
Khem Birch- Birch got the better of fellow 2012 post prospect Dajuan Coleman on Thursday night. Quick off the floor, Birch blocked shots and rebounded outside of his area. He also scored off a couple high level post moves.
Rakeem Christmas- He measured out with the top wing span of 87 inches at the camp, and he has used it to his advantage on the glass. Christmas also has shown signs of developing as a scorer on the baseline.
Kentavious Caldwell- Long term prospects look great for Caldwell as a 6-foot-6 shooting guard. He has always been a sharp shooter, but at this event he has impressed with his rebounding.