MORE: Class of 2015 Rivals150
ATLANTA --Rivals.com once again split time between the Elite 32 and the Battle of the Best on Saturday in Atlanta. We saw standout performances from several highly rated prospects, some new prospects emerge, and some highly competitive games between top travel programs.
Stone stands out
The best prospect in metro Atlanta this weekend arrived with his Young Legends team on Saturday. His name is Diamond Stone and he's currently ranked as the 6th best prospect in the 2015 class on Rivals.com and for good reason.
At 6-foot-10, Stone looks to be much lighter and leaner than he was at this time last year and it's really helped his overall game. He's now much more athletic and can play above the rim. In a loss to Team Thad, Stone rattled the rims for at least ten dunks and many of them were very impressive. It's more than just the dunks that makes Stone such a highly regarded prospect. He's a rare breed these days in that he's very polished playing with his back to the basket in the post. If teams start doubling down on him in the post, he's very effective finding open shooters on the perimeter.
With the talent he possesses, it's no surprise that all the powerhouse programs around the country are giving him the full-court press. When asked which schools are recruiting him the hardest, Stone simply responded, "everyone". At this point, Stone says he has no favorites and will sit down with the people closest to him at the end of the month to trim his list and start setting visit dates. Connecticut, Kentucky, UCLA, Wisconsin and Marquette are the schools most talked about in his recruitment.
Buzzer-beater shocks Team Charlotte
The game of the day at the Battle of the Best featured Team Charlotte against New Orleans Elite. Team Charlotte led most of the game, but New Orleans never let Team Charlotte pull away. Down 59-55 after Team Charlotte split a pair of free throws with 14 seconds left, New Orleans Elite raced down the court for a quick lay-up to pull within two. A guard from Team Charlotte then turned the ball over in the backcourt trying to in-bound the ball and New Orleans Elite got another quick lay-up to tie the game with 7 seconds left.
If that's not enough drama, a guard from New Orleans Elite made an ill-advised decision to foul a Team Charlotte guard in a tie game with just seconds left. Team Charlotte missed the front end of the 1-and-1. The ball founds it way into the hands of New Orleans Elite guard Lamar Peters, who jetted down the court just past half-court and buried a 30-footer to win the game 62-59.
It was fitting that Peters hit the game-winner. The 2016 guard made plays all night and was a big part of the reason that New Orleans Elite stayed in the game. The 6-foot floor general possesses a tight handle and elite quickness, which make him nearly impossible for defenders to stay in front of him. With his play on Saturday night, he'll likely see his recruitment pick up soon as there were several high-major coaches in attendance to see his standout performance.
For Team Charlotte, wing Rayjon Tucker played his best game of the weekend. The 6-foot-4 wing has made a name for himself this travel season and recently made his way into the 2015 Rivals150. He's a highly competitive and tough kid, but it's his athleticism that sets him apart from his peers. He consistently makes plays above the rim. His perimeter skills still need to be refined, but he's showing signs of improvement in those areas. Clemson, VCU and Virginia Tech are believed to be the most serious players in his recruitment. Shaka Smart has been a regular at his games this weekend.
Team Thad has been one of the better teams in Atlanta this weekend. Not only do they have a roster full of good players, but they play well together and are very unselfish. It all starts with the play of point guard Jaylen Fisher.
In a win over Young Legends on Saturday morning, Fisher tallied a dozen assists. The four-star floor general sees the floor so well and is quick enough to get wherever he wants to go off the dribble. He hasn't done much in the scoring column this week, but he generates so much offense for Team Thad that it's not a problem.
The beneficiary of many of those Jaylen Fisher assists was Nick Marshall. The three-star prospect usually received the pass and followed it up with an emphatic two-handed dunk. It was a strong showing for Marshall. He's not the most polished player offensively, but he does exactly what you would want out of 6-foot-10 kid and that's being a disruptive force on the defensive end and rebound. For somebody that plays such a physical game, it's important for him to be able to make free throws and he's shot a pretty good percentage so far this weekend.
New and notes
It was another good day for Alabama Challenge guard Dazon Ingram, but 2016 guard Trent Forrest was the standout in a Saturday win over Young Legends. At 6-foot-4, Forrest, like Ingram, can play both spots in the back-court. He's an elite athlete and loves to attack the rim. Improving his shot will be the next step for him to improve as a player.
Chris Lewis and Chris Clerkly form an impressive front-court for the Atlanta Xpress 16U team. Lewis, the son of former NFL linebacker Mo Lewis, looks like he's improved since the start of the recruiting period. He looks much more confident offensively. He's a beast around the rim, but he's also putting the ball on the floor and making plays for himself. He'll be a hot commodity in the 2016 class.
While Lewis came into the weekend already having collected several scholarship offers, Clerkly came into the weekend as more of a unknown. The 6-foot-9 forward out of Perry (Ga.) showed the ability to finish in the paint in traffic and can also step out and knock down mid-range jumpers. He'll be one to watch going forward in the 2016 class.
Keith Stone of the Florida Vipers received an offer from Auburn on Saturday night. The 6-foot-6 forward is a very good athlete that can play out on the perimeter or mix it up in the paint.
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