ST. LOUIS- Yesterday, we took a look back at last weekend's Nike Hoop Jamboree and covered some of the top perimeter prospects we were able to watch. Today, we move on to cover the big men prospects who made an impression on us during our time at the camp as some of America's top underclassmen.
While it was a few players from the Northeast who stood out amongst the perimeter players, it was Texas-bred Julius Randle from the class of 2013 and the East Bay's finest Brandon Ashley from the class of 2012 who made the most noise amongst the big men.
Big man notables from Hoop Jam
Julius Randle, PF, Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Christian- Strong as a bull, it's tough to believe that this 6-foot-8, 230 pound lefty just finished his freshman year of high school. Cut out of the mold of a Zach Randolph or Al Jefferson, he's a bull in the paint who also has some skill facing the hoop and shooting jumpers. At this point, he just might be the guy to beat for the top spot in the class of 2013.
Brandon Ashley, PF, Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd- One of the top players in camp regardless of position, the 2012 prospect continued what has been a strong spring. We've always known that he was a high level rebounder and straight up shot blocker, but Ashley's offense facing the hoop and attacking other bigs off of the dribble was a very pleasant surprise. He's still quite lean at 206 pounds and measured in much shorter than expected at 6-foot-7, but he plays much bigger thanks to a 7-foot-2 wingspan.
Daniel Ochefu, C, Westtown (Pa.) High- If you don't know about the 6-foot-9, 224 pounder just yet, odds are you will read a lot about him over the next few years. A shot blocker who can run the floor and has pretty good skill on the offensive end, his quickness on baseline dribble drives was a very nice surprise. He's quickly emerged as one of the premier big men in the class of 2012 and will be assaulted by high level programs this summer.
Cameron Ridley, C, Richmond (Texas) Ft. Bend Bush- There aren't all that many true back to the basket centers in the class of 2012 and because of that this solid 6-foot-9, 257 pounder is going to get lots of high major looks. He holds his position, eats space on defense and is a good straight up shot blocker. He's not going to chase down Usain Bolt, but he gets his feet moving well enough to keep up and has sure hands and soft touch around the rim. He just started playing a few years ago and has plenty of room to round out his game.
Austin Colbert, PF, Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick- A class of 2013 prospect with a high skill level and terrific motor, Colbert projects as the next high level prospect out of Kevin Boyle's storied St. Pat's program. He blocks shots, corrals tough rebounds in traffic despite a lack of bulk and already has a high skill level on the offensive end. He'll need to add quite a bit of weight to his skinny 6-foot-7, 193 pound frame, but he's likely to make a very favorable impression on coaches.
Kenny Kaminski, PF, Medina (Ohio) High- A solidly built 6-foot-7, 230 pounder, Kaminski was among the top shooters in camp. He is dangerous to well beyond the three point line and has a picture perfect stroke. He got injured ending his camp early, but looked quite good during the stretch we saw him.
Charles Mitchell, PF, Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler- Coming off of a solid outing at the Pangos All-American camp, the 6-foot-7 ½ four man is a whirling dervish around the rim. Hardly a possession goes by where he doesn't spin either left or right and because of that he can be a bit of a turnover machine. He rebounds, can make some medium range jumpers and likes to play physical. He does, however, need to look to share the sugar a little more.
Demetrius Henry, PF, Oakland Park (Fla.) Northeast- A slim 201 pound forward with 6-foot-8 size, Henry surprised us with his ability to strip the nets from deep. In particular, he likes to bury three pointers from the left corner. He sprints the floor, has some athleticism in the lane and just needs to bulk up a bit.
Jabari Parker, PF/SF, Chicago (Ill.) Simeon- Measuring in at 6-foot-7 and 236 pounds, Parker likely projects more as a four man but he's got big time skill level for a class of 2013 kid. Not one to shy from contact, he's got a non-stop motor and was making plays all over the floor. He got on the glass, led fast breaks and was always involved in the action. At times, he was a bit too eager to pull the trigger on shots but there's no denying the young man has game.
Willie Cauley, C, Olathe (Kan.) Northwest- Measuring in as the second tallest player in camp at 6-foot-11, the class of 2012 product of tiny Spearville (Kan.) will move to the greater KC area for the rest of high school. The 211 pounder is fluid in transition, blocks shots at a high rate and has plenty of athleticism. Right now his reaction is a split second late, but when he does react he reacts in a hurry. He's got upside on each end of the floor and is a clear high major prospect.
Brice Johnson, PF/C, Cordova (S.C.) Edisto- Measuring in at just 180 pounds on his 6-foot-9 frame, he's a narrow shouldered and rail thin post man from the class of 2012. He runs the floor like a much smaller guy, is quick around the rim, has touch to 12 feet and will compete despite his lack of bulk. High major ability is there, he just desperately needs to fill out.
Brian Bridgewater, PF/SF, Baton Rouge (La.) Episcopal- Some would argue that the 6-foot-4 class of 2013 prospect belonged with the perimeter players. To his credit, he did shoot pretty well from distance and can handle some. However, his body is that of a big man and thanks to his strength and impressive seven foot wingspan he's able to operate in the post similar to the way former Texas star P.J. Tucker did.
Torren Jones, PF, Chandler (Ariz.) Basha- A slender 6-foot-7 four man who checked in at just a pound under 200, he's a class of 2013 kid who you have to evaluate as a long term stock. He runs very well, has good balance and coordination in the lane and relatively soft touch. Right now, he's thinking rather than reacting and doesn't look to have matured physically.
Jay Simpson, PF, Champaign (Ill.)Central- A strong 220 pounder, the 6-foot-7 Simpson has already given Purdue a pledge as part of their 2012 class. He plays hard in the paint, doesn't mind getting a bit physical and has soft touch on jump hooks and shots out to 12 feet. He's still a little raw, but competes and is a fit for the physical Big 10.
Marc Loving, PF/SF, Toledo (Ohio) Jesuit- Another of several guys who could end up as either a four or a three depending on his development, the 6-foot-7 ½, 186 pounder from the class of 2013 wields a buttery smooth jumper. He runs the floor well, has quickness in the lane and excellent length (7-foot-2 wingspan). As he develops more strength he should be able to stick his nose into the mix a bit more around the rim.
Dominique Wilson, PF, Kansas City (Kan.) Piper- When he was focused on the task at hand and competing, the 6-foot-8, 203 pounder was making things happen. He's got good hands, soft touch to about 15 feet and he's quick off the floor near the rim. A more than capable rebounder, he backed down at times when things got physical and he's got to watch his attitude on the floor.
Evan Nolte, PF/SF, Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton- Armed with one of the sweetest jump shots in the camp, the 6-foot-7 ½ Nolte is quite dangerous as a face-up four man and he has the skills to play the three offensively. He's an alert passer and rebounds his area. Where he struggles is defensively where his lack of bulk (just 191 pounds) hurts him against bangers and he doesn't move his feet quite well enough to defend smaller, quicker three men.
Gavin Ware, C, Starkville (Miss.) High- One of the strongest kids in camp, he carries 248 pounds pretty well on his just under 6-foot-8 frame. He bangs in the paint on both ends of the floor, looks to have pretty good hands and runs the court pretty well for a kid his size.
Shannon Hale, PF, Johnson City (Tenn.) Science Hill- He's still pretty skinny and carries just 196 pounds on his 6-foot-6 ½ frame, but the rising sophomore is a talent. He runs the floor very well, can make some jumpers out to 17 feet, has good hands and is very quick around the rim. He will fight for rebounds but struggles against stronger players for now.
Grant Jerrett, PF, La Verne (Calif.) Lutheran- We don't see any way high major coaches don't fall in love with the fundamentally sound, hard playing 6-foot-8 ½ power forward. He has very high shoulders and because of that looks a bit shorter than he really is. He's been well coached to this point and competes on both ends in all aspects of the game.
Chris Walker, C/PF, Bonfay (Fla.) Holmes County- Only a rising sophomore, the skinny (188 pounds) Walker is one to watch. At 6-foot-8 he races up and down the floor like a point guard and makes tough catches on the run in traffic. He can face up guys and drive by them, dunks home missed shots and has a solid natural talent base to build upon. Would love to see him focus on his footwork and adding bulk.
Jordan Hare, C, Saginaw (Mich.) Arthur Hill- He's very skinny and carries just 190 pounds on his near 6-foot-10 frame. But, the 2012 big man can run like the wind, is quick off the floor and has a nose for tracking down offensive rebounds. He can score from eight feet and in, has a pretty good motor and looks to have potential as a help side shot rejector and mobile big man.