COLORADO SPRINGS Day two of USA Basketball's fall minicamp for class of 2015 and 2016 prospects was very similar to day one. With a day under their belts and a better idea of what is expected of them, players in attendance played with a little more urgency and were a bit more attentive. After the big guys delivered on day one, a series of guards and wings like Malik Newman, Josh Jackson, Isaiah Briscoe and Malik Monk were among those delivering the goods.
Newman a humble star in the making
On the basketball floor, you won't find a more confident sophomore than Malik Newman. The 6-foot-4 combo guard from Jackson (Miss.) Callaway is a cold blooded machine on the offensive end and never looks rattled.
Get him off the floor and Newman is a shy and humble 15-year-old who is hoping to impress people with his play.
"I think I did well, but I could have done a lot better," Newman told Rivals.com. "I could have done better on defense and it's got to be about being a leader and talking to my teammates on the floor."
Big and strong with good ball skills, Newman looked like the polished perimeter player in attendance over the weekend. His ability to hit deep jumpers and tough drives commands your attention, but his feel for the game and unselfishness is easy to appreciate. When pressed, Newman says that he sees himself as more of a two guard, but he's working to keep improving his playmaking.
"I've always been a good scorer, ever since I was a really young child," Newman said." As I got older and started to play against bigger players and was one of the smaller players on the court, I realized that I needed to get in the gym and work on my overall game and playmaking."
Newman says that his father Horatio is handling the recruiting process for him, but he's noticed Georgia, Memphis, Ole Miss and Mississippi State at workouts. For now, he's working on getting better and just assumes that schools stopping by are in to see his teammates.
"I really try not to think about it at all," Newman said. "I look at it like they are coming to watch one of the seniors on my team and not me."
Is Jackson next from the Motor City?
Detroit has a long history of producing talented hoopers. Freshman wing Josh Jackson from Detroit (Mich.) Consortium might very well be the next big thing out of the city. At least, if his outstanding play in Colorado Springs is any indicator of what to expect down the road.
The freshman made a name for himself last summer playing on The Family's 16-and-under team and producing. Over the weekend, the 6-foot-5 wing proved to be one of the most dynamic athletes and best slashers in attendance. Not bad for a kid who was very nervous coming into the mini camp.
"I think that I did a lot better than I expected," Jackson said "I was really intimidated when I heard of all the players that were going to be here. Now I'm pretty confident."
Jackson displayed his enormous potential on maybe the play of the weekend. He came down the floor in transition on the right side and exploded for a dunk over a big man who was contesting. After hitting the floor, Jackson was able to get up and run all the way back down the floor to swat the dunk attempt of another big man.
"I love playing defense, that's probably my favorite thing to do," Jackson said. "I can score, I can rebound and I try to be unselfish. I just have to get stronger and keep working on my shot."
According to Jackson, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame, Iowa and Georgetown have all been in to see him early.
Monk making his own name
Nine years ago, Marcus Monk competed for USA Basketball in the Olympic Developmental Festival. Over the weekend, the former Arkansas football and basketball player could be seen smiling as he watched his little brother Malik Monk make a name for himself.
A freshman from LePanto (Ark.) East Poinsette, the 6-foot-2 Monk put himself on the map with an outstanding weekend. An electric athlete and big time finisher in transition, Monk is capable of creating for himself off the dribble and has range that extends easily to the three point line on his jumper.
"Things like this where I'm playing against better players will make me better," Monk said. "It's a good experience and I was just trying my best to fit in."
So far, Arkansas has made sure Monk knows that he'll be welcome in Fayetteville and the Razorbacks are always going to be tough to beat for an in-state kid. But, attention from LSU, Miami and Florida is only a sign of what's to come for Monk.
More Sunday news and notes
* Before going down with an ankle injury (doesn't look to be serious), 2015 point guard Isaiah Briscoe was really starting to turn it on. He's been known as more of a scorer, but the kid can play the role of distributor as well. When he was put on a team with the high scoring Newman and another scoring guard in Tyler Dorsey, Briscoe focused on getting the ball to his scorers and looked great in doing so. Briscoe says that he loves the recruiting process so far and is in no rush to cut things down. Syracuse, Connecticut, Virginia, Miami, Arizona, Baylor, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Cincinnati, DePaul and Villanova have already offered. Also poking around on his recruitment are Kansas, Ohio State and Louisville.
* For the second day in a row, 2016 wing V.J. King looked like a very high level prospect. His bread and butter is his mid range jumper, but he's a good athlete with excellent instincts on the floor. King mentioned Ohio State, Michigan, North Carolina, Michigan State, Indiana and College of Charleston as teams with early interest.
* Saturday was a pretty quiet day for sophomore point guard Bryant Crawford. The Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga product actually looked a bit nervous. On Sunday, though, the 6-foot-2 floor general looked much more comfortable and did an excellent job of running the show. There weren't a lot of true pass-first points in attendance and his passing helped him to separate himself from some other guards. Also performing well from the D.C. area on Sunday was 6-foot-4 shooting guard Franklin Howard. A long range threat, Howard was one of the more aggressive wing defenders.
* Horace Spencer has some work to do when it comes to the skill side of things. But, nobody can question the 6-foot-8 power forward from Pennsylvania's motor and high level athleticism. Spencer relentlessly chases down opponents in transition, flies all over the floor tracking down rebounds and frequently gives up his body in an attempt to make plays.
* There can't be many players at any level of high school basketball, much less freshman, who can match the pure athleticism of 2016 guard Seventh Woods. A freakish leaper with great speed, the South Carolina native just turned 14 in August so he's obviously very young. He can hit some deep jumpers, has quickness off the dribble and makes spectacular defensive plays because of his athleticism. Moving ahead, it's got to be all about skill development and making sure that his decisions are sound.
Also impressing from South Carolina was class of 2015 shooting guard P.J. Dozier. The lean wing is an impressive offensive player with a soft touch, good feel for scoring and a terrific pull-up jumper from between 12 and 17 feet. Look out for him once he adds some strength and cleans up some ball handling issues.
* Finally, sophomore big man Stephen Zimmerman really came to life for stretches on Sunday. Still working himself into shape after summer knee surgery, Zimmerman did an impressive job of running the floor and finishing in transition. On defense, he made sure to contest shots and the thin big man showed some physical edge that should serve him well down the road.
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