John Lucas Invitational: What We Learned

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MORE: John Lucas Camp Sunday | John Lucas Camp Saturday
Every year, the staff at the John Lucas Midwest Invitational gets a little bit older while the campers stay the same age. However, Lucas and his staff refuse to let their energy level drop while on the basketball court. When dealing with teenage basketball players, that's the least the staff can do for the prospects who participate in their elite camp.
This year's camp has come to a close, and has names to add to our database, along with notes to add on current four- and five-star prospects. After two days of intense competition, the theme that we took away was that effort is a skill that is hard to teach. Here's more on what we learned from John Lucas Camp.
It's always refreshing at a showcase or all-star camp when the best prospects at the event are also some of the guys giving the best efforts.
That's precisely what happened in Louisville, Ky., as 2015 five-star power forward Carlton Bragg and early 2016 five-star forwards Thon Maker and Edrice Adebayo set the tone for the whole event with their relentless play on both ends.
The matchup that we wrote about on Saturday night, when Maker and "Bam" Adebayo went head-to-head, was the highlight of the whole camp. It showed just how promising two young five-star players can be when they put all they have into the game.
While all three of these five-star players are going to be able to use their motors to succeed at the next level, they do it in different ways.
Maker is the best shot blocker of the three, with a 7-foot frame and length to deflect shots. However, he got a lot of his blocks off of second-effort plays, including several transition blocks on which he sprinted past guards on his own team to pin opponents' shots off of the backboard. On offense, he does an excellent job of using his length to rebound. He is going to be a true force in the paint with added strength.
Adebayo doesn't have Maker's height, but he has even greater athleticism and a man's body at a solidly built 235 pounds. Adebayo is very good for a young prospect at establishing position early on both ends of the floor, using his lower-body strength to push around opponents to get open or prevent them from catching the ball in their comfort zone. The strength of his game, however, is rebounding because he can get off the floor multiple times to keep the ball alive, and he can finish with a power dunk if it's an offensive board.
Bragg is more similar to Maker in that he uses his motor to block shots and run the floor, but one thing that he does better than the other two is rebound out of his area. His aggressive mindset is going to be tough to stop at future levels. He keeps on pursuing the basketball and attacking on offense without getting tired.
Overall, when you look at the talent that these three prospects have, and the intensity that they play with, it's tough to envision any of them falling in the rankings at any point.
Looking back at our notes from the event, the one player who should've gotten coverage for the way he played throughout the course of the weekend was three-star class of 2015 point guard Justin Jenifer.
After a big summer on the AAU scene, Jenifer earned a ranking of No. 98 in the latest 2015 Rivals150. He has attracted interest from Connecticut, Georgetown, Memphis, USF, Villanova, Xavier, Indiana and more.
At 5-foot-9, the Maryland native is on the smaller side. He isn't blinding fast, but he certainly knows how to play. However, Jenifer plays much bigger than he is listed by attacking with strength and using his football-like build to punish defenders and the players he is guarding.
Jenifer is a typical Washington, D.C.-area point guard. He's steady with the ball, he makes good decisions and he doesn't play in a hurry. He can score off the dribble, change gears to get by his man and shoot some from the outside, but his main priority is making the right pass and keeping the game in control.
The top-100 junior impressed us with his on-ball defense, showing strength in keeping much bigger opponents out of the paint.
Similar to many of the top class of 2014 smaller point guards who had to prove themselves over and over again before earning major offers, look for Jenifer to be a name that keeps surfacing throughout the next year.
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