NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Each year the National Prep Showcase serves as a sort of unofficial tipoff for the high school season. Taking place on the campus of Albertus Mangus College, the 2010 edition of the NPS got off to a solid start on Friday. While the top-ranked player in the class of 2012, Andre Drummond, was very quiet, another 2012 five-star came up huge as Ricardo Ledo dropped 30 points in a tough 115-105 loss to North Carolina-bound P.J. Hairston and Kevin Keatts' Hargrave Military Academy squad.
Ricardo Ledo, SG, South Kent: With the ball in his hands on the offensive end, there really isn't anything that the five-star Ledo can't do. He's got a sickening array of floaters, creates space for shots off the bounce with ease and is a more than capable shooter from deep. A super athlete who is explosive, agile and stays on balance, the only person who can really stop him is himself. He listed Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Villanova, Syracuse, Providence and Rhode Island, among others.
P.J. Hairston, SG, Hargrave: A lethal wing scorer with deep range, Hairston loves to lurk on the right wing and let them fly from as far as 27 feet. He's in the best shape we've ever seen him in and looks to be as explosive as ever. He did cool a bit from deep after a hot start but still managed to ring up 29 points while grabbing 11 rebounds. If he learns to consistently use a shot fake and one or two dribble pull-up and crashes the offensive glass a bit more, he could be an even more dangerous scorer.
Khem Birch, PF, Notre Dame Prep: An elite five-star talent from the class of 2012, the 6-foot-8 Birch was very effective with his touches. Generally it goes catch, explode, dunk. Rinse, wash, repeat. There's nothing fancy about what he does but he rebounds, blocks shots and sprints the floor like few big men in his class. Moving forward, the future Pittsburgh Panther is going to have to expand his game and become more dangerous outside of 5 feet.
Kareem Canty, PG, Bridgton: As a member of the class of 2011, Canty was already a three-star ranked in the Rivals150. Now, the quick 6-footer will likely end up as a ranked member of the class of 2012. His bread and butter is to attack the rim and use his speed to pressure defenders. He's a little loose with the ball at times, but showed why he's already got offers from UNLV, Alabama, Seton Hall, Rutgers and Providence during a 23-point, five-rebound, four-assist outing.
Aaron Cosby, SG/PG, Northfield Mount Herman: The Seton Hall signee had one of the best days of any guard in attendance. He's added strength to his long frame and improved his jumper out to the 3-point line. His effort level is outstanding and he's definitely improved in the last year. He was good for 23 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
K.C. Whitaker, SG/PG, Fisburne Military: UAB has snagged a good one in the three-star combo guard from Virginia. Though he's not close to his listed 6-foot-6, he is a solid 6-foot-4 and comes equipped with a dangerous lefty jumper. Handles to get into the lane, makes plays for others and plays with loads of confidence.
More Friday notables
Angel Nunez, SF, Notre Dame Prep: The future Louisville Cardinal is easily one of the most, if not the most, difficult evals in the class of 2011. At 6-foot-7, he's got great size for a wing, moves pretty fluidly and shoots with range. However, he doesn't always make much of an impact on the glass and tends to fade in and out of games. Already a three-star prospect, Nunez has the tools to earn himself another star, but the willingness to compete has to be shown on a more regular basis.
John Green, SF, Westwind: UCSB has stolen a nice-looking wing in the 6-foot-5 slasher. He gets to the rim and finishes in traffic, rebounds his position very well and looks like he'll be able to develop into a very capable jump shooter. He went all 40 minutes for Phoenix-based Westwind and was good for 30 points and 11 rebounds.
George Matthews, SF, Westwind: The 6-foot-5 Matthews is another solid wing from Westwind and an excellent pickup for Utah. A fifth-year guy, Matthews has added some muscle and athletic explosion to go along with a jumper that has always served him well. He looked to attack the rim some and figures to be a guy who could make an early impact for the Utes if he continues on this path.
Nemanja Djurisic, PF, South Kent: A senior, the 6-foot-8 insider has outstanding hands, a good motor and a high skill level. He's not the most athletic guy around, but he plays hard and tends to make pretty good decisions on the offensive end. A third or fourth option on a talented South Kent squad, he was good for 15 points and nine rebounds in just 25 minutes.
Marquis Rankin, PG, Hargrave: After falling out of the 2011 rankings, the 5-foot-11 point guard looks like he could play his way back. The Virginia Tech signee has added some much needed strength, looks to be fully healthy and is playing with his foot on the accelerator. He got to the rim, converted and involved others during Hargrave's win over South Kent. He finished with 19 points and 11 assists while going the distance.
Robert Brown, SG, Hargrave: Another Virginia Tech signee, the four-star Brown is making a strong play to move up in the 2011 rankings. He's got excellent size for a wing shooter, deep range and has expanded his game off the dribble. While he's a little on the lean side, he's got a frame that should easily carry more weight once he hits a college weight room. He fought through foul trouble to score 20 points on just 10 shots in 23 minutes of action.
Damion Lee, SF/SG, St. Thomas More: If he plays the way he did on Friday throughout the winter, the 6-foot-5 wing could generate some high-major looks to go along with the high-level midmajor attention he's already getting. A good athlete who can shoot, there's nothing too flashy about his game, he's just effective on both ends of the floor. He scored 19 points on an economical 7-of-9 shooting performance in just 24 minutes of action. Lee has offers from St. Bonaventure, Northeastern and Hofstra. Penn State, VCU, Boston College and Providence have taken a peek.
Shaquille Thomas, SF, Nia Prep: The future Cincinnati Bearcat is another guy who is tough to get a full handle on. On one hand, the lengthy 6-foot-6 wing is a superb athlete with rise and quickness. He loves to operate between 12 and 17 feet where he can raise up quickly for jumpers, find cutters or use his quickness to attack the rim. He's still quite skinny, though, and that along with shaky decision-making causes him problems. The talent to make a move up the rankings is certainly there, but in order for that to happen he'll have to show a little more progression with his game and body.
2012 four man Evan Cummins is going to be an interesting guy to watch down the road. Foul trouble kept the 6-foot-8 Northfield Mount Herman standout on the bench for much of the game, but his skill level was evident. He can shoot from the high post, has good hands and a feel around the rim. He mentioned Notre Dame, Virginia, Providence, UMass, Davidson and Stanford among the schools recruiting him. … A teammate of Cummins at NMF, senior wing John Golden earned admirers on Friday. He can shoot off screens or the dribble and is a bouncy one-foot leaper who can get to the rim for dunks. … Tab Hamilton is going to make Jason Capel a happy man at Appalachian State when he heads back home to North Carolina from his prep school year at Fishburne Military in Virginia. A 6-foot-3 wing slasher, Hamilton has rockets for legs and no reservations about letting shots fly. His jumper isn't textbook, but he gets so far off the floor he can get it off whenever he wants. ...
Todd Mayo came out hot early as he stroked home some nice-looking jumpers. Unfortunately, the Notre Dame Prep shooting guard's day was a short one due to an ankle injury. … Now at Notre Dame Prep, Myles Davis has reclassified to the class of 2012. He's getting a big opportunity to run the point and appears to be making strides. However, Davis' biggest value remains his ability to spot up and drain deep jumpers. If he gets his feet set, everybody might as well head the other way because he's ringing up a three-ball. …
Donnie Hale is doing a year of prep school at Bridgton Academy in hopes of adding some strength before he arrives at Purdue. The three-star power forward remains pretty lean, but the lefty already plays with the type of intensity that will be demanded of him in West Lafayette next year. He struggled a bit from the field, but still had an impressive double-double of 15 points and 14 boards. … South Kent senior point guard Anthony Jernigan is a D-I player. The quick 5-foot-10 floor general takes pretty good care of the ball, gets others involved and can stick some outside jumpers. …
Bullish center Keith Coleman certainly made a strong case to get more burn than the 13 minutes he got during Lee Academy's loss to St. Thomas More. A bruising 6-foot-8 guy who plays with power, he's a true low post and is riding the fence between mid- and high-major as a prospect. Despite limited time, he scored 10 points and corralled eight rebounds. Coleman listed LaSalle, Drexel, Illinois and VCU. … Leading the way for Fork Union Military Academy was slinky 6-foot-5 wing Prince Williams. He hit some deep jumpers, finished on the break and was a terror on the defensive end. A good looking mid-major prospect, Williams finished with 22 points, three rebounds and seven steals. …
Because of his steady playmaking and solid build, MCI senior point guard Daishon Knight is going to get some looks. He takes care of the ball, gets teammates involved and can score at the rim or with the jumper. … Two other MCI guys that should be on the radar are small forward Khristian Smith and shooting guard Omari Grier. Formerly committed to Cincinnati, Smith is an athletic slasher who can knock down enough jumpers to keep defenders honest. Smith would likely make a nice addition for a mid- to upper-level mid-major. Grier is a 6-foot-2 shooting guard who makes the most of his open looks, has a textbook release and is always under control. …
Nia Prep wing Kelvin Amayo is going to have every opportunity to play himself into high-major offers. A strong 6-foot-4 wing with loads of athleticism, he's a rugged and tough guy on the wing. If he can prove to be a consistent jump shooter, his recruiting will take off during the winter. … Finally, he's quite skinny but Nia Prep wing Deon Maddox has some big-time athleticism. He skies to the rim for dunks, has a nice first step and the 6-foot-4 small forward also showed that he can hit a jump shot when given space.