HAWTHORNE, Calif. - Sunday at the Nike's third session of the EYBL in the HAX facility just outside of LAX airport was one of the most intense days of basketball the circuit has seen in a while. On the line were several of the 20 automatic bids into July's Peach Jam while teams that were out of the picture for automatic bids did their best to position themselves for one of the four available wild card slots.
After reeling off 19 straight wins during April and May, the Saint Louis Eagles were knocked from the ranks of the undefeated at the EYBL by Portland based ICP. Meanwhile, the Kyle Anderson led Playaz Basketball Club finished the evening as the sole remaining undefeated team.
Playaz looking strong in EYBL play
Through three sessions of the EYBL, no team has stood out more than Jimmy Salmons' Playaz Basketball Club. The New Jersey based crew hasn't just been beating opponents, they've been squashing them into the ground while emerging as the team to beat at the Peach Jam in mid-July.
As far as we're concerned, it all starts with the play of Kyle Anderson. The 2012 prospect is tough to describe because he literally plays one through four for his team and he does it well. He can pass, is a cerebral scorer in the mid post, has toughness, is a leader and causes all kinds of problems for opponents. He's got Miami, Virginia Tech, LaSalle, Pittsburgh, St. John's, Xavier, Arizona and Virginia on him early and that list figures to get much longer before it shortens up.
Surrounding Anderson is a great supporting cast. Big man Desmond Hubert is still skinny but has upgraded his offensive game to go along with his shot blocking. Guards Myles Mack and Myles Davis are both a bit undersized but they play with toughness and knock down shots. Then wing Vaughn Gray does a little bit of it all while Derrick Randall gives them another big man who can bruise and control the glass.
More Sunday notables
Mike Gilchrist, SF, Team Final- Rivals.com's #1 player in the class of 2011 showed a lot of why he currently stands atop the rankings. A legit 6-foot-7 with superior body control and quickness, Gilchrist is a standout on both ends of the floor. He has improved his handle, was knocking down tons of pull-up jumpers between 12 and 17 feet while locking down guys all the way from point guards to power forwards. He's going to receive some stiff competition for that top spot this summer but it's still his to lose after watching in Los Angeles.
Quincy Miller, PF, D-One Sports- Chalk up another outstanding nightcap for Miller who totally abused anybody that the Arkansas Wings could throw at him during an efficient and impressive 34 point outing. Needing just 14 shots from the field to do his damage, Miller was a blur off the dribble, skied for dunks in traffic and swished deep threes with his. He lacks strength, but is way too quick and skilled off the bounce for any big man to possibly defend him in space. His tremendous balance allows him to take hits and still get squared for scoring opportunities. He played with passion on both ends and looks to be a kid on a mission right now.
Jakarr Sampson, SF/PF, King James Stars- Sampson has always been a long and active guy who could handle the ball a bit at 6-foot-8. However, he was also wild and out of control much of the time. However, those days may be gone and Sampson is evolving into a true game changer with elite quickness for a guy his size. His team is obviously better with him on the floor making things happen off the bounce and he's added strength to go along with his quickness. He's likely going to need a pretty nice bump in the rankings and could be a beast in a wide open system in college. He's currently hearing from Louisville, Xavier, Ohio State, Michigan State, Baylor, Akron and Cincinnati.
Jerel Scott, SG/SF, Albany City Rocks- The majority of the weekend's offensive production for the City Rocks came from fast rising wing Tyler Harris, but the 6-foot-4 Scott was no slouch himself. A long and wiry slasher with some bounce, he's become very comfortable as a jump shooter -- particularly from the left corner -- and that's enhanced his profile. He's at least an upper level mid major prospect who might even be due a few high major looks.
Joshua Richardson, SF, Athlete's First- A long and athletic 6-foot-5 wing, Richardson has showed flashes all spring long. Sunday afternoon against California Supreme, Richardson was borderline unstoppable. With usual point guard Nino Jackson unavailable for this round of the EYBL, Richardson slid over and played the point for much of the game. In doing so he showed a much better handle and feel for the game than expected while proving unstoppable getting to the rim going right or left. A dangerous jump shooter and potentially high level defender, he could start turning his high major looks into offers if he shows some consistency during July.
Michael Carter-Williams, SG/PG, BABC- M.C.W. has been on an absolute tear since February and it didn't stop in L.A. A slinky combo who is much quicker and stronger than he looks at first glance, he's got one of the most advanced offensive repertoires of anybody in the class of 2011. He's only enhanced his five star standing.
Anthony Fields, PG, D-One Sports- There aren't that many true set-up guys in the class of 2011 and because of that Fields has value. A speedy six-footer who thinks pass first and plays good on the ball defense, he did a good job of putting his guys in position to do what the do best on Saturday. He's planning a June trip to Temple's elite camp and hopes to see Penn State as well. Fields indicated that he feels PSU will be pulling the trigger on a scholarship offer soon.
Chris Walker, PF, Georgia Blazers- A member of the class of 2013, Walker is a baby faced big man who can really motor up and down the court. He already shows promise as an interior scorer with some touch and he can harass defenders as a shot blocker. It's still early, but he's definitely one to watch.
E. Victor Nickerson, SF, Georgia Stars- A long and athletic wing, Nickerson is coming on fast as a prospect and could make a push for the next edition of the Rivals150. He attacks the rim, has improved as a jump shooter and plays with a high activity level on both ends of the floor.
Keith Frazier, SG, Houston Hoops- The Hoops are loaded with young perimeter talent with guys like J-Mychal Reese, Rasheed Sulaimon and the injured L.J. Rose, but the near 6-foot-5 Frazier could be the best of the bunch long term. Only a rising sophomore, Frazier has a big time frame, deep range and a quick trigger. He showed that he can attack to his left and looks to have plenty of tools at his disposal on the offensive end of the ball.
Andrew Andrews, PG, ICP- Maybe the breakout player of the day, the six foot tall Andrews was a stud against the St. Louis Eagles. Brimming with confidence after knocking down some early jumpers, the Portland (Ore.) Benson product went to work on the defensive minded Eagles off of the bounce. He scored on several tough drives, pulled up for jumpers and carried his team with his confidence and control of the game.
LeAntwan Luckett, SG, Jackson Tigers- He's got a little bit of a hair on fire style of play to him, but the athletic 6-foot-4 wing goes out and gets buckets. He can face you up and drill threes from the wing, attacks quickly off the bounce and is an exciting transition finisher. He needs to improve his handle and dribble himself into trouble a little less, but he's cemented his four star status.
Mike Shaw, PF, Mac Irvin Fire- When he shows motivation, the 6-foot-8 Shaw is easily among the most skilled PF's in the class of 2011. He can handle the ball, shoots pretty well to the three point line and has underrated quickness and athleticism. He's gotten stronger and was looking more like the guy so many thought he could be at a young age on Sunday.
Sam Thompson, Mycheal Henry, Wayne Blackshear, SF/SG's, Mac Irvin Fire- There isn't a better trio of wing on the circuit and there's not likely to be one quite as talented as them for a while. Thompson is the most athletic of the bunch and has slid into an Evan Turner type role. Henry has the best strength and the Illinois commitment can shoot the three or finish with dunks and pull-ups. Blackshear, is the most polished of the group and has a great feel for when to turn it on and off.
Jamari Traylor, PF, Mean Streets- It will be interesting to see how Traylor's recruitment unfolds. A good looking insider, he's among the meanest power forwards in the country. He's got wiry strength, superior quickness and ridiculously explosive athleticism. However, the question is whether he has anything on the offensive end outside of dunks. High energy guy who rebounds and runs the floor.
Jarnell Stokes, PF/C, Memphis YOMCA- Because he's a bit on the short side, Stokes has some trouble scoring straight up against elite big man defenders. However, the class of 2012 standout figures out those guys real quick and is a cerebral low post player who finds his way to the line and is a crafty scorer around the rim. He's gotten his body into great shape and has improved his explosiveness as well.
Final notes from Sunday action
Malcolm Gilbert is a young man with tremendous size who has really improved his mobility. The Albany City Rocks center is running the floor and doing what he can to get on the glass and impact the game as a shot blocker. He's not much of a threat on the offensive end but his size alone dictates that he get lots of high major looks. … Boo Williams combo guard Brian Darden hit the shot of the day when his pull-up 23 footer found nothing but the bottom of the net giving Boo a one point win over a tough Oakland Soldiers squad. It also produced a memorable post game run/hop/fist-pump celebration from the squad's usually reserved namesake and head coach. … Big man Ajayi Olamilekhan of Boo Williams and Quality Education Academy will be an interesting guy this summer. The kid is raw all the way around, but he's got a big time frame, a high revving motor and terrific size and strength in his 6-foot-9 frame. … Want to give Kyle Wiltjer some credit for increasing his productivity on the interior. The 6-foot-9 four man has made his reputation as a sweet shooting and skilled big, but he's also impressive around the rim where he hits defenders with well a developed series of post moves. He's continued to add strength and the play on the interior has only opened up his perimeter game. …
Austin Kuemper of Portland based ICP is just a solid big who understands what his strengths and limitations are. A strong, 6-foot-9 insider, Kuemper loves to bang, has some soft touch to 12 feet and plays with an edge to him. West Coast high majors will surely be taking a look. … Look for Rotary Select wing Anrio Adams to explode during the month of July. A solid 6-foot-3 wing, the 2012 standout is built to score and he's got a quick trigger and loads of confidence. … One of the better 2013 wings we've seen to date is Team Texas' Isaac Hamilton. A solid 6-foot-4 with long arms and a pure stroke from deep, he doesn't say much or show much emotion but the potentially elite shooting guard prospect gets a lot done out there. …