SHAWNEE MISSION, Kan. - There was plenty of talent to choose from at last weekend's Kansas City Classic. However, there was a group of six prospects that stood out from the crowd in our eyes.
Kansas City Classic Eye-Catchers
SF, 6-5, Mo-Kan Elite
Had an MVP been handed out for the event, the future K-State Wildcat would have been a lock for the award. A bruising wing who likes to create contact and slash to the rim, he's a top-notch transition finisher. His jumper - which still has a small hitch on the setup - is something that defenders have to respect out to the 3-point line and he makes tough shots when his team needs them. He's consistently improved his overall game and tightening his handle is next on his list.
C, 6-10, The Life
Maybe it's just because he's seemingly been around for so long, people have kind of forgotten about Coleman. A massive, strong insider, he's a true five who clears lane in the paint. A knock in the past has been his motor but he played hard in Kansas City. He's got good hands, scores in the lane and runs much better than you might think.
3. Nino Jackson
PG, 6-1, Athlete's First
Jackson actually had a rough outing during the one game we were able to watch. Even so, trusted reports were that he picked it up during other games and he showed enough in our eyes anyway. Simply put, Jackson is an electric athlete at the point guard position with a lot of sizzle and sauce in his game. His first step is lightning quick, he can get to the rim and he's big-time finisher on the break. A streaky jump shooter, he's got huge hands and outstanding reflexes, enabling him to be a top-notch defender. He says that Kansas leads Oklahoma, Missouri and others.
C, 6-10, Mo-Kan Elite 16's
At this point, you can't really count on Cauley for consistent offensive production. Some of that is his fault for not always working hard enough, some of it is on his teammates for missing him in the post. Regardless, it's about long term projection with Cauley. He already blocks a lot of shots, can dominate on the glass in stretches and he moves very, very well for a guy his size. He does have some offensive talent, good feet and soft hands. Clearly a high major prospect who has heard early from Arizona, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Indiana, Notre Dame, California, Nebraska and others.
5. Marcus Paige
PG, 6-1, Martin Brothers 16's
A skinny lefty floor general, Paige may even be a little smaller than listed. But, that lack of size/bulk doesn't seem to be an issue because he's got plenty of toughness to help make up for it. He's under control, gets his teammates involved and is a pesky on-the-ball defender. Whenever his team needed him to step up, he did, making shots, getting to the rim and making defenders pay for mistakes. He is a bit left-hand dominant, but he's also one of the better all-around point guards in the class of 2012. Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois have already offered. Kansas, Wisconsin and Virginia are among the others in the mix.
6. Peter Jok
SF/SG, 6-4, Kingdom Hoops 15's
There's still lots of developing left to do for the 2013 standout. He already plays a mature game and can score at the rim, from the mid-range or from deep. His handle is ok, his overall fundamentals are strong and he's already showing some separation on straight-line dribble-drives. Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota, Florida, Illinois, Kansas and several others have made early contact.