ORLANDO, Fla. - Things got going at the 17-and under nationals on Tuesday. It was the start of pool play for the tournament, and while many of the games weren't all that close, there were still some nice matchups. While many prospects came to play, North Carolina commitment P.J. Hairston put his entire game on display.
Two stand out for CP3
One of the better first round matchups of the tournament came when the CP3 All-Stars went up against Martin Bros. CP3 likes to get out and run and use their athleticism while Martin Bros. is much more of a half court team that uses sets and discipline to beat their opponents.
For a while things were close between the two teams, but in the second half P.J. Hairston showed why he is one of the more highly thought of players in the country. The 6-foot-4 guard is looking in better shape now than he was in June, and that is translating with his game.
With his team only holding a slight lead in the second half, Hairston really got things going. A big time shooter, Hairston simply turned it on. He hit a pair of threes back-to-back, another perimeter jumper, and then used his strength to score off the dribble going to the rim. Also Hairston got teammates involved and played more within himself than he has in the past.
As Hairston kept hitting shot after shot, the CP3 lead kept growing and growing. Before long behind the strong play of Hairston, CP3 held a double figure lead and was able to put the game on ice. Overall Hairston finished the game with a team high of 26 points, and really was the one who turned a nip and tuck battle into a blowout.
While Hairston is the one who had an impressive second half blowing the game wide open, Dezmine Wells also had things working. The physical wing had it going early. At one point in time in the first quarter the score was Wells 14 and Martin Bros. 9.
To get those points Wells did it in a variety of ways. As always he scored going to the rim using his impressive combination of strength, quickness, and athleticism, but he did more than that. Wells showed off a good mid-range game with a pull up jumper and a floater, and then for good measure against a sagging zone defense he bombed in two threes.
With Wells and Hairston getting it done for CP3, Martin Bros. needed some good performances to stay in the game and that is what they got. Northern Iowa commitment Matt Bohannon absolutely had it working. The younger brother of Wisconsin guard Jason Bohannon, Matt like his brother is a knock down shooter. CP3 struggled to defend Bohannon who finished the game with 31 points as he scored from every area on the perimeter, and even showed off a bit of a dribble drive game.
Also Tavian Pomlee played well for Martin Bros. Like Bohannon, Pomlee has an older brother who played college basketball, and also like Bohannon, Pomlee came to play in this one. He has a good body on the wing, and knows how to really pass the ball. Also he showed an ability to finish above the rim with athleticism while being capable of finishing from the perimeter as well.
In the end CP3 was too much as their athleticism and one-two punch on the wing did too much, but Martin Bros. gave it a good run.
Other Notable Performances
Craig Sword - The Alabama youngster has a ton of talent, though Tuesday wasn't his best day. Sword just couldn't get it going early on. In the fourth quarter he did get the game winning bucket on a big time dribble drive move where Sword used his athleticism and quickness to beat his man and then finish through contact above the rim. Also Sword hit one three, and he does have a good looking stroke, though the ball simply wasn't going down the majority of the time. The talent is clearly there for Sword, and he showed flashes, but his production was limited.
Jimmie Taylor - This young big man from the Alabama Challenge just oozes potential. The 2012 prospect is very long, runs the floor well, has good hands, and always plays hard. At this point he isn't a great producer as he is getting stronger and learning how to play, but the tools are there for him. He finishes above the rim, and tries to dunk everything that he can. Also Taylor is a solid shot blocker to go along with being a good rebounder. As he gets stronger and learns how to play the game he is going to be a very good player.
Aaron Thomas - After having a huge game earlier in the tournament, Thomas has been a popular target amongst head coaches trying to evaluate him. Once again Thomas showed on Tuesday that he can flat out get buckets. Even though his perimeter shot wasn't going, Thomas showed off of his improved handle and good athleticism finishing around the rim, and also his length makes him a surprisingly good rebounder. He needs to be more assertive all the time, and not just in stretches, but it was a solid day for him.
Jalen Ragland - When he has it going, Ragland can flat out shoot the basketball. In a morning win, Ragland had it absolutely working from three. He hit shot after shot from distance, and at 6-foot-5 with long arms, it is tough to really contest him when he is in the zone. The challenge for Ragland is now to be a consistent shooter game in and game out because he can be very hot and cold, but when he is in the zone he puts up big numbers.
Michael Frazier - The 2012 shooting guard drew a huge crowd of coaches, and he didn't disappoint. With Florida Elite executing their flex offense to perfection, Frazier was getting open and simply knocking shots in. While he still doesn't do a great job of creating for himself off the dribble, Frazier is an absolute master at using screens and freeing himself that way for open looks by moving off the ball. Once he gets his feet set, you can book it, his stroke is absolutely pure. Beyond that Frazier played solid defense and showed some athleticism making tracking down an offensive player on the break and making an impressive block.
Devin Williams - A very promising looking 2013 prospect from Cincinnati is Williams. He is 6-foot-7 with a good frame and a motor that never quits. Williams isn't the most skilled kid on the block right now, but he is showing an ability to make spin moves and finish. Right now his game is almost entirely with his right hand using a power move over his left shoulder, but he does do it well. Also Williams is capable of dominating the glass with rebounding. He still looks to be growing, and that bodes well for his future prospects.
William Moore - This 2012 guard isn't the most productive right now, but boy is he talented. He is athletic, quick, plays multiple positions, and is capable of really scoring. He needs to translate that talent into consistent production all the time, but Moore shows flashes that keep the coaches in attendance excited.
Ben McLemore - The championship game of the Super Showcase wasn't supposed to be about McLemore, but he turned it into a showcase. McLemore, who doesn't always play aggressive, got things going with a three, then went baseline and absolutely posterized a defender, and then hit another three to really get the crowd excited. It is stretches like that where McLemore looks like he can be a big time producer at the college level. Now he needs to bring that every game, and on Tuesday the St. Louis Eagles flat out got some big time production from him.
Austin Rivers - No matter what, Rivers is going to get buckets. There simply is no way to stop him from doing that. With good size, good athleticism, and a lot of confidence Rivers knows how to score. He prefers the right to left crossover and pull up jumper, but now he is using that crossover and then going past his defender shooting the floater in the lane as well. While he does get a bit shot happy, Rivers knows he is the best player on the team and uses that confidence to make play after play. Tuesday might not have been him at his absolute best, but he still was very good.
Trevor Lacey - While Rivers wasn't quite having his best day, Lacey was. The powerfully built guard played as well as he has all summer in helping Each 1 Teach 1 to the Super Showcase championship. Lacey was shooting it well from three, scoring off the dribble, making passes, and overall might have been the best player on the floor in an absolutely loaded finals game. Overall Lacey showed the form that he did early in the summer, and really raised his stock with his play.
Dorian Finney-Smith - In a game against the Westchester Hawks that can only be described as brutal to watch, Finney-Smith showed some of the talent that makes him such a highly thought of recruit. He blocked shots with his length, rebounded like a madman, and hit a shot or two from the outside as well. Beyond that for a player his size he can really handle the ball. Now Finney-Smith did it all in spurts, and he needs to be more consistent with it, but the talent was certainly on display, though not every possession.
Justin Anderson - Anderson is really fun to watch, not just because he has explosive athleticism that leads to highlight reel plays, but because he plays so hard on every possession. Not a great skill guy, Anderson uses his athleticism to rebound and score in the lane. To go with that he is getting much better in catch and shoot situations. He needs to improve his ball handling, and raise his overall skill level, but playing good defense and athleticism will always be his calling card.
Jamal Ferguson - The combo guard played very solidly for Boo Williams Summer League. Ferguson used his strength to get in the lane, and also made a shot or two from deep. Beyond that he played with good effort, and just did all the little things asked of him to help his team get the victory.
Michael Frazier lists offers from Florida, Florida State, Harvard, Central Florida, South Florida, Miami, Virginia Tech, Ohio, Boston College, Tennessee, Georgia, Auburn, Alabama, and Michigan.
Devin Williams has significant early interest from Cincinnati, Xavier, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Ohio University, Penn State, and Detroit.
Jalen Ragland is hearing from UTEP, Wright State, IUPUI, Vanderbilt, VCU, Ohio, Morehead State, and Miami-Ohio.
Jamal Ferguson claims offers from Georgetown, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. He says that Clemson and Miami are also on his list.