DUNCANVILLE, Texas -- Now in the fourth year of its existence, the Thanksgiving Hoopfest at Duncanville High School just outside of Dallas has become an annual must-stop event.
On Friday, the nation's No. 2 player Julius Randle, reminded everybody of just how good he can be, while some of Dallas' next stars, such as Austin Grandstaff and Terrance Ferguson, impressed.
The middle of the day's schedule provided quite a treat when 2013's No. 2 player Julius Randle and Plano (Texas) Prestonwood faced off with the No. 12 player Jarell Martin and Madison (La.) Prep.
The 6-foot-9 forwards squared off a bit when the teams weren't playing zones, and when they did it was a big-boy affair. Both Randle and Martin play with a high level of physicality and they are both guys who are already very strong.
Headed to LSU, Martin is a strong rebounder, runs the floor and can step out to make jumpers in pick-and-pop situations. He's not quite as athletic as North Texas forward Tony Mitchell, but some similarities can be seen in their playing styles.
Martin was very good, but when he wanted to be, Randle was on another level Friday. Dropping a game-high 29 points, the undecided senior power forward was quite impressive. Randle has always been a strong kid, but his frame has really been shaped up and he's added more explosion to his game.
He's always been very quick off the dribble and tough to stop in situations attacking the rim because of his size and quickness, but Randle has sometimes lacked lift in traffic.
That's no longer the case; he's gotten much quicker off the floor when jumping off of both feet and doesn't need to gather himself around the goal in traffic near as much as he used to. His jumper also looks reworked.
"I've been working hard on my jumper," said Randle. "You didn't see it as much today but I'm really trusting it and feeling comfortable with it."
Because he's so big and strong, onlookers often want Randle to play more around the hoop. He will do it when he needs to and the matchup calls for it, though and onlookers just have to understand that attacking from the perimeter and playing facing the basket is a big part of his game. It's also a big part of his recruitment.
"Everybody tells me I can play facing the hoop," Randle said. "Coaches like that I can attack off the dribble and that I'm versatile."
On the school front, Randle is still looking at the same six of Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, N.C State, Oklahoma and Texas.
He's visited the Gators and Wildcats officially and told Rivals.com that he'll visit N.C. State the weekend of Jan. 25. He also said he'll take visits to Kansas and Texas sometime in the next month or so. Like Texas, Oklahoma received a fall visit and Randle said that he may replace the Texas official with an official to OU.
Grandstaff goes off
Already a four-star prospect in the class of 2015, 6-foot-4 guard Austin Grandstaff from Rockwall (Texas) High, isn't exactly a secret. But, he's still a sophomore and coaches and fans are just starting to get familiar with him.
With more games like Friday's, Grandstaff's already-strong stock will continue to rise.
Scoring a day-high 35 points, Grandstaff was in attack mode and scored on an impressive array of pullups, floaters and quick-trigger jumpers. He was aggressive and hunted his shot, but Grandstaff was never selfish and also helped out on the glass while he racked up five assists and four rebounds.
He also came up big when his team needed him the most. As time expired, Grandstaff went deep on an inbounds play, catching a long pass, controlling himself and hitting a heavily contested runner from about eight feet as the buzzer sounded to win the game.
Oklahoma, Texas A&M, UMass and Arizona are among the schools that have been in to see the sophomore, while Syracuse, Alabama, Kansas, Nebraska and TCU have also been showing early attention.
The overall talent level at Dallas (Texas) Prime Prep is pretty silly. Senior four-star big men Jordan Mickey and Karviar Shepherd both rank in the top 50 nationally in the class of 2013, while junior point guard Emmanuel Mudiay is the No. 2 player in the class of 2014.
With all that talent and more, it's freshman shooting guard Terrance Ferguson who's really been generating a buzz of late.
Described to Rivals.com as a Ray Allen-like shooter, the 6-foot-4 (maybe 6-foot-5) freshman was pretty darned impressive on Friday afternoon. Obviously he's got a long way to go to be Ray Allen, but the skinny wing is absolutely a lights-out shooter from deep and he's got a long and rangy frame and looks to be a good athlete.
Right now, he's got it pretty easy as his talented teammates draw so much attention, he gets lots of wide open looks. But Ferguson looks to be the real deal and a no-brainer as a potential high-major prospect.
Oklahoma State has signed a good player who will fit its style in senior wing Leyton Hammonds. His 6-foot-8 listing is likely a bit on the generous side, but the Richland (Texas) High product is a wing with tremendous size, good athleticism and a nice-looking jump shot.
Hammonds moves pretty well laterally and has good length, which allows him to be a good defender and his handle isn't bad. Where we really liked Hammond was when he slid into the high post against the zone and acted as a versatile face-up four man who dished to cutters and hit elbow jumpers. When he gets stronger in the OSU weight room, we can see him playing some at the four so that the Cowboys can create matchup problems with quickness and athleticism.
Reigning state champions Dallas (Texas) Kimball is off to a slow start and looked a bit out of sync on Friday night. Kimball's wing trio of senior Keith Frazier and juniors D'Angelo Allen and Trent Brinkley is potentially as good as any in the country, and the three showed flashes in a loss to Richardson. A five-star shooting guard and one of the top unsigned players in the country, Frazier is a shooter with deep range, good athleticism and the ability to attack some off the dribble when he wants. Allen is a slasher and has the length and feet to develop into one of the country's better perimeter defenders while Brinkley is a solid three-star who plays with strength and has a good jumper. Frazier still seems to be a bit all over the map with his recruitment, but LSU, SMU, Texas and Texas A&M look to be emerging.
Dallas (Texas) Madison senior power forward Devante Robinson has a chance to really help out his recruitment this winter. A long and athletic 6-foot-8 power forward, the skinny Robinson has some skill to go along with his top-notch run-and-jump ability.
He's got to refine things a little, but his jumper looks pretty good to at least 18 feet, he has pretty good hands and his body is one that can be built on easily. Texas State, Oklahoma and UTEP have shown some early interest in the senior who has grades. According to his summer coach Erven Davis, Robinson is mulling the possibility of attending prep school to boost his recruitment.
Keep a close eye out for Madison (La.) Prep sophomore combo guard Brandon Sampson. A 6-foot-4 ball handler with a beautiful jump shot, the lengthy 2015 prospect has the look of a future high-major prospect. We're expecting that we'll be covering him plenty down the road.
While Austin Grandstaff provides the perimeter scoring, Elijah Thomas provides the interior punch. A 6-foot-8 power forward, the four-star sophomore is a broad-shouldered and tough big man with great hands. Thomas is a good athlete, but what stands out is how crafty he is in the lane and how he already understands how to use his body for position and to ward off defenders as he spins to either shoulder. Thomas fouled out on a highly suspect offensive foul call (apparently catching a pass is illegal in Texas), but had 21 points and double-digit rebounds before he went to the bench.
Dallas (Texas) Woodrow Wilson has a nice tandem of Division I signees Zach Colemanand Trey Washington. A long and skinny 6-foot-7 combo forward, Coleman is inked with UMass and looks like a nice player in the A-10. He operates well in the high post, runs the floor in transition and has some nice upside with his game. A sub six-footer, Washington is a speed merchant who really pushes the tempo. Wyoming added him late in the signing period and should be happy with the results.
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