LAS VEGAS -- We went way off the beaten path on Monday to sneak a peek at some of tomorrow's prospects. The road took us about 40 minutes away from most of the action on the far north end of Las Vegas to Legacy High School for the Main Event's 15 and under games.
The kids are alright
Scott Drew and his Baylor staff made headlines earlier in the year when the Bears took a couple of early commitments from class of 2010 in-state players Jamison Sterns and Perry Jones of the Dallas Seawolves.
Sterns, a 6-foot, 200-plus pound guard from Waxahachie (Texas) High, showed why he was a coveted player in the rising sophomore class.
After a slow start in the first half, Sterns erupted with dead-eye shooting from the wing. The power guard let it fly to the tune of six threes and showed off a great touch with a high-arching, net-popping shot.
At face value, Sterns doesn't look like a bouncy athlete because of his stocky body. But he'll surprise you. Sterns powered his way to the basket with the dribble and rose up for a disgusting dunk over a defender, which had the quiet crowd wake up in a hurry. On the next possession, Sterns came down the floor and buried a three-pointer in the face of a challenger. It was a good day for the Texan.
Jones, a 6-foot-9 muscular power forward, just oozes potential. He was the most commanding presence at Legacy High School all day with his mature body. No one in the 15 and under division that we saw on Monday can match his physical traits.
As a player, there is still plenty of room to grow. Jones still showed plenty of things to like. For starters, he runs the floor very well. As a ball-handler, the big man can bring the ball up the floor and is a good, if not great passer.
There were good moments and while we still have yet to see a good percentage of the 2010 big men, Jones has been one of the better ones that we've laid eyes on this year in terms of sheer long term potential. His numbers weren't eye popping as a scorer (eight points).
There were times, however, when he would run the floor and had an open path to the basket for two easy points with a transition dunk. Instead, Jones would pass the ball up to a teammate that ran with him. He'll need to get more aggressive on the offensive end of the floor.
Rounding out the Seawolves trio of high-level prospects was guard Bakari Turner. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard proved himself as a deadly perimeter threat with four made three pointers en route to 18 points. The Plano West guard did a fine job opposite of Sterns.
Turner is every bit the high-major prospect in 2010, too. He's a capable scorer with good athleticism, nice ball-handling skills and a solid wing defender.
The New York Gauchos were short-handed as only six players dressed out for the 15U division. That meant more time and tired legs for the squad. However, 6-foot-6 forward Razi Jenkins did his best in a full game. He dropped in 24 points and had a good post game. His turnaround jump hook was working and his blue-collar was his advantage down low.
St. Patrick's loading up in the future
St. Patrick's in New Jersey is always one of the best basketball programs in the country. Head coach Kevin Boyle traditionally has at least a half dozen of quality college prospects. His cupboard for the future is impressive and the talent in 2010 comes from his own bloodline.
Boyle's son, Kevin, did a fine job for his Team Jordan club in a morning game and helped pilot his team to a hard-earned victory. Boyle is a gritty player that has a better feel for the game than the majority of the young players in the 15 and under division. His play was poised but edgy and his jump shot is fundamental, as you'd expect from the son of a high-level, intense coach like Boyle.
Perhaps the most intriguing player that we saw on Monday morning was Boyle's 2011 teammate. Mike Gilchrist, a lanky 6-foot-7 forward, scored 18 points and grabbed double digit rebounds in a good win for his Team Jordan club.
Gilchrist used his great length to block a lot of shots, grab a number of offensive rebounds and even had a couple of great moments in the post with his back to the basket on offense.
The tools are certainly there to develop into a very good high-major guy. As is the case with all young players, Gilchrist just needs to add strength and fill out his body. It's a process with the young guys and he's one that has a lot of positives to build upon.
Sunshine State kids impress
South Florida Heat 15U is a team worth watching for the Division I schools down the road. The team is stocked deep with players with size at the all of the positions but center.
Tim Hardaway, the son of the former NBA player of the same name, was intriguing in the first half. The 6-foot-3 guard from Miami (Fla.) Palmer Trinity can really shoot it and even spelled some minutes at the point. Hardaway, a class of 2010 prospect, will be one to watch for obvious reasons.
Altavious Carter, a young prospect from the class of 2009, held down the middle for South Florida Heat and the 6-foot-6 forward from Summit Christian was the most productive down low. An intimidating looking player at the 15U level, Carter proved himself as an athletic shot-blocker and rebounder. He'll either need to improve his wing skills are grow into his long arms and big feet. His AAU coach, Antonio Perkins, said Virginia Commonwealth, Baylor, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Miami have all inquired about him.
Maybe the best long term player on the team is 2011 point guard Darius Perkins. The Miami (Fla.) Pace bound rookie is a well built 6-foot-1 combo that could very well be a starter for one of the best teams in the Sunshine State this winter. Perkins is poised and physically ahead of his peers in 2011. Those in Florida are high on him in his class and Perkins showed a flash here and there to justify that. Odds are, Perkins will be next in the good prospect lineage of Pace.
Also making an impression was Zachary Perkins (6-foot-3, St. Thomas Aquinas HS) and Anthony Anderson (6-foot-4, Boca Raton High School). Perkins, a class of 2010 prospect, was good in the midrange off the dribble while Anderson, a class of 2011 prospect, has a chance to be very good on the wing in his class.
Other 15U notables
Chicago has always been a great place for athletic, quick and aggressive guards. Class of 2010 prospect Reggie Smith is clearly next. The 6-foot-1 point from Mac Irvin Fire/Thornton High School was the quickest guard we saw at the 15U division. He saw a hole in the defense and exploded to it. When he got to the rim, he was unstoppable. Athletically, Smith was also the best athlete that we laid eyes on amongst the younger players.
Illinois assistant coach Jay Price was the first college assistant to make the long trek to Legacy High School for the action. He came out to see Mac Irvin's Fire 15 and under team. He had to like what the saw from Smith.
As good of an athlete Smith is, his opponent with the Houston Hoops wasn't too shabby either. Brandon Peters, a 6-foot-1 guard from Houston Yates High School was a blur to the rim and absolutely exploded off the floor. He's a baseline assassin and skied for tough baskets and challenged the Fire, an aggressive defensive team, with his explosiveness. Peters said he has heard from Texas Tech, Florida, Baylor and Texas A&M early in the process.
The Hoops have a couple of young sleepers on the roster to go along with Peters. Devin Bray, a 6-foot-3 guard from Kountze High School, was impressive. He's a good scorer and ball-handler. Point guard Marshall Lange, a speedy 5-foot-11 point guard from Yates High School, is heady and aggressive. Both will be big names out of the Lone Star State in 2010.
At the 15 and under level, big guys will stand out more than usual. Most players are under 6-foot-6 and most don't necessarily posses great post skills. So when a guy like Kodi Maduka from Team Texas shows up, you tend to take notice. The skinny 6-foot-8 big man from Arlington Martin High School is a young player in the class of 2009 but his post game is fairly mature for a player in this age group.
Maduka, despite his thin body, is not afraid to throw his body around down low and give his guards a big target. A fairly good athlete, he went high for rebounds and blocked shots and altered a lot of shots with his length. He's worth a look for a high-major but probably not a kid that helps right away at that level. A redshirt year would be ideal.
Roland Brown and Maurice Barrow, both of Positive Direction 15U and Christ the King High School in New York, were producers against Team Texas. Brown is a massive 6-foot-7, 235-pound center. He's a true space eater and had a good touch around the basket. Barrow, a muscular 6-foot-5 wing, is intriguing. He's an active and athletic presence on the floor. Keep an eye on him in the class of 2010. Barrow could have a big year at Christ the King this winter because of his willingness to get after it on defense.
Quick hitters from adidas Super 64 16U action
We snuck over to the 16 and under action at the adidas Super 64 tournament for a couple of games on Monday night. Actually, the two contests we caught weren't much of games. Both were bad match-ups and blow outs.
Team Kobe Bryant has a couple of prospects worth noting. Dalton Pepper, a powerfully built 6-foot-4 wing from Pennsbury High School in Philly, is a fundamentally sound player. He's not a flashy player but makes sense for structured programs. It makes sense Michigan was on hand to see him play.
Pepper said he has offers from Miami, West Virginia (who was also on hand to see him play), Villanova and Virginia. The Wolverines are obviously involved, too. So is Florida and Pitt, Pepper said.
After a good showing at the Rbk U camp, Lamar Patterson of Lancaster-McCaskey High School said he's heard from Minnesota, Michigan, Rutgers, Pitt, Syracuse, Miami and Temple.
Nurideen Lindsey said he's hearing the most from the Big Five schools in Philly as well as Boston College, Louisville, West Virginia and Virginia Tech. His shot was falling better than it was at Rbk U camp.
Also impressive was Greg Robbins, a 6-foot-5 wing, and point guard Eddie DiGreggio, a 5-foot-11 prospect from Pennsbury High.
La Salle head coach John Giannini was on hand to see Team Kobe Bryant.
Western Kentucky head coach Darrin Horn came by to see the Nashville Celtics 16U club, who took Seattle Rotary to the woodshed. The Hilltoppers are involved with 2009 guard Jon Hood and big man Drew Kelly, who both got a lot done in a short amount of time.
Hood has good size, a good shot and can spell minutes at the point. The 6-foot-5 guard Madisonville (KY) North Hopkins High School is a solid all-around player in the backcourt and made it look easy on Monday night.
Class of 2010 prospect Casey Prather is a super freak athlete much in the mold of Georgia wing Dequan Jones. The 6-foot-4 wing from Jackson (Tenn.) Northside High is all athlete now but like Jones, could develop into a very solid overall high-major wing prospect.
Justin Young is as senior writer for Rivals.com National Basketball Recruiting. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.