As usual, the National Prep Showcase in New Haven, Conn., got the high school season off to a great, if unofficial, start over the weekend.
With big-timers such as Noah Vonleh and Chris McCullough leading the charge, here's a look back at what we learned.
No moving problems
About the only question there was about Noah Vonleh's move to the class of 2013 and subsequent commitment to Indiana was whether or not he was ready on the mental side of things? That's not to say that the 6-foot-8 forward at New Hampton (N.H.) Prep isn't tough or has any issues on the mental side of things. It's just that he's been somewhat shy and at times tentative on the floor.
In New Haven, the five-star prospect hit the floor with an attitude, purpose and edge that we'd not always seen in the past. Rather than being prodded to take over, he went into beast mode all on his own and really forced the issue.
When he does that, he's virtually unstoppable and becomes one of the most versatile players around. In high school, he plays the four and the five while being given freedom on the perimeter. In college, he'll likely play mostly as a four, but projecting him all the way to the NBA, he appears to have more and more potential to play minutes at the three.
All in all it was an outstanding weekend for Vonleh.
He'll put pressure on those ranked ahead of him to keep performing if they want to prevent him from moving up from his current spot of No. 7 in the 2013 Rivals150.
Rozier on the rise
Currently, it's our policy to not re-rank players who have already been included in a set of final rankings. If that were to change, Louisville-bound Terry Rozier would be making a major move up the list.
Ranked No. 80 in the final edition of the 2012 Rivals150, the six-footer has improved significantly over the course of the past year. It starts with his added explosiveness and strength and ends with his upgraded playmaking and ability to serve as either a scorer or facilitator.
Rozier can shoot with range, is incredibly tough to contain when headed to the basket and he plays with a quiet confidence that keeps him from being shaken in any way on the floor. We'll keep an eye on him for the rest of the season, but based on his performance in New Haven he would be ranked at least in the top 35 or so of the class of 2013 and he may ultimately need consideration for a fifth star.
Flipping the switch
There's a misconception out there among many players -- and some that advise them -- that re-classifying somehow makes them a better player. Yes, that prep school (fifth) year can be very beneficial to players because it gives them a chance to work on their games and develop more from a physical standpoint. But, there's no magical prep school fairy dust that makes this improvement happen on its own. It takes hard work and dedication.
Goodluck Okonoboh is a perfect example of a kid who is putting in some hard work and dedicating himself to improving. The 6-foot-9 center has always been a pretty gifted athlete who blocks shots and can hit the glass. Now, he's taken those basic elements of his game and really pushed himself to the next level.
Currently under-ranked at No. 71 nationally, Okonoboh isn't just a shot-blocker. He's probably the single best shot-blocker in the class of 2014 and he's also become even more dominant as a rebounder.
While those defensive capabilities will earn him a scholarship, Okonoboh also deserves recognition for what he's done on the offensive end. He has better recognition of double-teams and the pass to make out of them, he's more assertive in going to the rim and he's become a very active communicator. All in all it was a huge weekend for him.
We wrote about it plenty over the weekend, but it needs to be reinforced how good a fit Chris McCullough is for Syracuse.
A lengthy 6-foot-9 athlete who can sprint the floor like a much smaller player, the No. 8 player in the class of 2014 can play anywhere along the bottom line of the Orange's zone. Because of his ability and the abilities of the guys that will already be there, McCullough will help allow Syracuse to play with both jumbo and physical or smaller and faster type lineups. More importantly, they'll be able to dare other teams to try and matchup with what they've put on the floor.
More specifically to McCullough and his game, much of his ranking is to do with potential. You see a kid that size who can run like he does and who has instincts on the glass like he does and you see a high ceiling. Now, add in that he's starting to play with more passion, is improving his skill and is able to be quite productive with limited touches and you have guy who could ultimately start heating up those ranked ahead of him. Obviously he has to keep working, but his play at the NPS was a great start.
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