The Under Armour Grind Session made its latest stop in the Lone Star state for a Saturday full of high-profile stars at Houston (Texas) Westfield High.
With more than 20 four-star or five-star prospects among the 80 players who participated in the one-day skills academy, the folks at Under Armour took another step toward convincing the best in the nation that they are a force to be reckoned with on the grassroots basketball circuit.
Players from all four high school classes participated in the event, but the junior class dominated the action, with four of the five "All-Session" players coming from the class of 2014.
Waiting in the wings
Three of those All-Session players from the junior class were versatile four-star scoring wings in Dwayne Morgan, Keita Bates-Diop and Kelly Oubre.
From the opening drill to the final horn, these three prospects proved that in addition to having superb potential, they are also capable of dictating the outcome of a game.
Early in the day it was the Maryland native, Morgan, who overshadowed the rest of the competition by playing the point guard position, and doing a good job with it at a long 6-foot-7.
A very good ballhandler and passer, Morgan showed a team-first attitude, but also did a very good job in scoring around the rim when the defense allowed him a driving lane. The most intriguing part of Morgan's game was when his coach brought in another guard, and Morgan slid down to the power forward position.
There, he controlled the boards very well, including several high-level tip dunks. Morgan listed Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Georgetown, UNLV, Louisville and Seton Hall as schools that have shown interest.
While Morgan controlled the morning session, it was Oubre who absolutely blew away the competition in the afternoon. Known around the circuit as a 6-foot-6 wing who can really shoot the ball, Oubre took to the post and did a great job of scoring around the basket with toughness and effort.
Showing off some leaping ability and strength that he previously had not displayed, Oubre was a human highlight reel in the second part of the day. He found a lot of easy baskets by pushing the break in transition after creating turnovers with his length in the top of his team's pressure defense.
Baylor, Texas, LSU, Texas A&M, Georgetown and UConn have all been down to Texas to see the four-star junior wing.
Finally, the most consistent and best all-around player on Saturday was Bates-Diop. The four-star forward from Illinois -- who has heard the most this fall from Louisville, Ohio State, Stanford, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Florida -- used his length, athleticism and high IQ to be a playmaker. Bates-Diop showed nice touch on his jumper, but also excelled at attacking the basket and using either his size or quickness, depending on the matchup, to outdo his opponent.
Right to the point
There wasn't an argument as to the best point guard at the camp. That title was won, by a landslide, by Greensboro (N.C.) native JaQuel Richmond. A four-star playmaker with great speed in the full-court, and terrific vision as a passer, Richmond dominated his opponents on both ends of the floor, leading to a spot on the All-Session team.
Richmond said that North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech and Tennessee have all seen him this fall. Those schools have shown interest in part because of his ability to control the game with his smooth handle in either the half-court or the up-tempo game. As fast as he moves, Richmond rarely makes mistakes with his passes, and showed excellent finishing ability around the rim, including a few thunderous dunks.
Highland, Utah, is not known as a basketball recruiting hotbed. But Lone Peak HS sure has three talented prospects in four-stars Eric Mika, Nick Emery and T.J. Haws.
BYU commits Mika (the fifth member of the All-Session team) and Emery were particularly impressive, proving that they deserve their spots in 2013 Rivals150.
Mika was the most active, and toughest, big man at the event. He used second effort and his strength to dominate the interior. Also a very good athlete, Mika made plays above the rim on both ends of the floor, while also showing a good offensive feel, including the ability to hit cutters for layups or open shots when he has the ball in the post.
Emery is a crafty combo guard who finds ways to finish inside against taller opponents, understands pace on the offensive end, is good at finding opponents, but, more than anything, can really, really shoot the basketball.
His 3-point shooting ability makes it easy for him to shot-fake and attack the basket, making him one of the top assist men of the day.
Finally, the young one of the group, the 2014 four-star shooting guard Haws, also enjoyed a solid all-around day. A very good offensive talent who can shoot the basketball from deep but is also good as a scorer or distributor in transition, Haws is instant offense.
Soaring above the rim
2014 four-star forward Melvin Swift and 2013 three-star wing Wesley Iwundu were among the most athletic players in Houston on Saturday. Both thrilled spectators with above the rim finishes from morning until afternoon.
While Swift's play fluctuated from spectacular to just above average, Iwundu showed good consistency in attacking the basket off the dribble, getting on the boards, running the floor and even knocking down open jumpers from the 3-point line.
A Kansas State commit, Iwundu has all the tools to become a very good player in the Big 12 once he adds some more strength. He should be able to guard multiple positions with his size, at 6-foot-6, and athleticism.
Best of the Rest
Not to be forgotten among the top performers from Saturday's action are 2013 power forwardJunior Etou and 2014 combo guards Dominique Collier and Alex Robinson.
All three are ranked players who came into the event with reputations to uphold, and although they didn't make the first team All-Session squad, all three of them had nice overall games.
Etou showed great touch on his jumper in morning shooting drills, before playing with good physicality on both ends of the floor in afternoon games.
With his size at 6-foot-8, and excellent strength, Etou was able to bully most of the competition, but also effortlessly scored using his quickness when paired against bigger players.
The three-star power forward listed Memphis, Cincinnati, Maryland, DePaul, Florida, Kansas State and West Virginia as the schools who have been recruiting him with the most intensity of late.
Collier and Robinson are both smooth ball-handlers who are skilled at using hesitation to create space for their feathery jumpers. But with shots falling inconsistently, the four-star juniors showed that they are able to play the point guard spot as they constantly found teammates for dunks in transition and the half-court.
While they don't have great size, Collier and Robinson also displayed the ability to score around the basket. Collier is the more acrobatic finisher, and Robinson relies more on floaters and runners.
Class of 2015 guards Franklin Howard and Bryant Crawford, both of whom hail from Washington, D.C., will soon be names that can be found among the top prospects in their sophomore class.
Both are playmaking combo guards with good size, athleticism and high motors.
Crawford is more of a fast-pace transition player who can find teammates as they run the floor, while Howard showed an aptitude for the pick-and-roll game, where his smooth handle and size allow him to make good decision on passes in the painted area.
Look for both Howard and Crawford to receive high-major looks as they being their sophomore season's at some of D.C.'s most well-known high school programs.
Both big men have a chance at eventually cracking the Rivals150 as they have the size, mobility and finishing ability to be effective high-major college players down the line. Manderson was particularly effective on the offensive end, showing real promise in the pick-and-roll setting. The 6-foot-10 Georgia native dunked everything around the basket. Turner, a Texan who is just coming off an injury, showed better instincts as a shot-blocker.
Henry Giles might only be a freshman, but the 6-foot-7 North Carolina forward has seemingly unlimited potential as a face-up power forward who could transition toward becoming a wing. Considered by some as one of the top prospects in the class of 2016, Giles was the only prospect from the freshman class who was able to compete against the best upperclassmen at the Grind Session.
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