Denver, CO - The Double Pump Spring Tournament is the host to some of the top players on the West Coast, and one power team from the Midwest. On the opening night of action several top performers stood out, but it was class of 2012 wing Shabazz Muhammad who shined the brightest.
Living the Dream
To be completely fair Dream Vision out of Nevada wasn't going to lose their opening round game to the Lakeshow Seniors even if they played as bad as they could, and they most definitely didn't do that. Dream Vision was on top of their game from the very beginning, and Muhammad was the biggest reason why.
The five-star 2012 wing is one of the most talked about performers in his class, and his skills were clearly on display on Friday night. As usual the 6-foot-5 Muhammad was impossible to stop off the bounce going to the rim. He combines unusual strength for a player his age with a dynamic first step and explosive athleticism to convert going to the rim time after time. What is now impressive about Muhammad is how he has diversified his game.
Always a driver, Muhammad's shot is looking a lot better from the outside. His release is pure, and the rotation looks good. While he is still a bit of a work in progress in that regard, Muhammad is more than capable of scoring off the bounce for a bucket from deep, or catching and shooting. Overall he just put the complete offensive game on display, and in one stretch early in the second half Muhammad went on a flurry of 12 quick points to put the game away.
Right next to Muhammad with Dream Vision is fellow five-star Winston Shepard. The 6-foot-7 wing looks to be a carbon copy of former West Virginia standout Devin Ebanks. Shepard handles the ball like a point guard, but has the length and athleticism to score around the rim like a power forward. Also he made at least one three ball on Friday night, and simply looked the part of a big time scorer at the college level who can play and defend multiple positions.
As if that wasn't enough, Matt Shrigley really opened up eyes with his play. At 6-foot-6 with a strong frame, Shrigley has surprising bounce and is a pure shooter from deep. A pure small forward, Shrigley can guard any type of wing, and scores off the bounce as well as from deep. Add in the fact that he finishes well above the rim, and the trio for Dream Vision gives opponents nightmares.
Joining Dream Vision this year is yet another five-star, Angelo Chol. Chol didn't have one of his better outings on Friday night, but he is a legitimate 6-foot-8 with a significant amount of bounce, a good frame, and some solid feel for how to play out of the post in terms of making a post move or passing to set up a bucket. Add in that he is a shot blocking threat, and there is a lot to like about Chol though he did struggle to finish near the hoop.
Other notable performances
Running with Danny Granger Elite is a familiar name to most. Yet another Alford is in the picture, and the son of the New Mexico Head Coach is a very fine player in his own right. Kory Alford has a great looking shooting stroke, and really knows how to play the game. Also while not an outstanding athlete, Alford is capable in that department. He would like to play for his dad in college, and might be given that opportunity based purely on his ability and not his last name.
Indiana Elite-Team Indiana is loaded at the 16-and-under level, and they proved it in blowout fashion on Friday evening. The best player for them was Medina, Ohio product Kenny Kaminski. Kaminski was absolutely on fire from three, and finished the game with over 30 points. Also Kaminski did more than just be a suburban jump shooter. He scored off of a post move and used the dribble to get into the lane and shooter a floater which also fell. While that was nice to see, his eight threes also didn't exactly hurt his performance.
Joining Kaminski with solid performances were Hanner Perea, Chris Harrison-Docks, and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Perea was simply an animal for Indiana Elite. He finished with thunderous dunks, blocked shots, and rebounded the ball out of his area and above the rim. Also, unlike last year, Perea showed reliable hands down low, and that allowed him to make more plays. Smith-Rivera and Harrison-Docks were the engine behind the Indiana Elite squad. Both of them created for their bigger teammates and found people for wide open shots. Harrison-Docks was a pest on defense converting defense into offense, while Smith-Rivera struggled shooting the ball, his feel for the game is simply off the charts.
California Supreme had some down moments last weekend at the Nike EYBL, but on Friday they looked to be firing on all cylinders, and their wing play was the reason why. Cal Supreme's trio of Roschon Prince, Alex Carmon, and Byron Wesley all brought something different to the table, and all played well.
There can't be too many better 2013 wings than Prince in the nation. He has the size and skills to make an impact playing against older players. Prince scored time after time using his tight handle and athleticism going to the rim. Carmon is the super freak athlete who has a motor that never quits, and Wesley is the scorer pure and simple. He can hit shots from deep, he finished above the rim, and he also converted off the bounce.
There is absolutely no shortage of quality wings in the state of California. Cal Supreme has three, and then Pump 'N Elite has another two very good looking prospects off the wing. They are Xavier Johnson and Amir Garrett.
Garrett is a 6-foot-6 high motor player who simply outworks his opponents. During the game Garrett did have some struggles to convert down low when attacking off the bounce, but his non-stop motor allowed him to get offensive rebounds, and eventually the persistence would pay off. Also he is a tenacious defender who loves to get after it on that end of the floor. While Garrett could stand to improve his perimeter game, his athleticism, toughness, and energy alone made him a very attractive prospect on the wing.
Next to Garrett is the more physically gifted Johnson. Johnson is a bit more of a combo forward at 6-foot-7, but he has a unique game. As a lefty Johnson is able to beat his defender off the bounce using either hand, and then depending on how the defense is collapsing on him after the drive he can finish with either his dominant left hand or his off hand for buckets. Also Johnson is an explosive athlete who finishes above the rim and is an excellent shot blocker. Johnson needs to work on his outside shot and perimeter game in general, but going to the rim he has the look of a kid who will be on the high-major radar for a long time.
Alex Carmon didn't list any offers, but he is hearing from UCLA, UNLV, Marquette, Garner-Webb, and Washington State.
Roschon Prince is hearing from UCLA, Stanford, California, Baylor, San Diego, Washington, Washington State, SMU, and Oregon
Amir Garrett expects an offer from Arizona State soon, and also he is hearing from Santa Clara, USC, Arizona, UCSB, UConn, Seattle, and UCLA.
Xavier Johnson lists interest from UCLA, USC, Georgetown, Stanford, and Syracuse.
Kenny Kaminski continues to hold three offers from Ohio State, Indiana, and Michigan State with interest coming in from Wisconsin, Florida, and Arizona State.
Hanner Perea has Baylor and Indiana on top with offers, and then Alabama and Tennessee have also issued him full rides.
Matt Shrigley has offers from San Diego State and San Diego. Also he has heard from Arizona State, Arizona, and Tennessee.