ORLANDO, Fla. - The 17-and under AAU Super Showcase got going on Saturday, and with the older players rested, they came to play. Also the younger prospects were fighting for their July, so they were bringing it as well. With a lot of good action going on in the gym, it was Aaron Thomas who completely stole the show with a pair of performances.
Showcasing his skills
It had already been an impressive summer for Aaron Thomas, but the Queen City Prophets star took his game to a new level on Saturday with his two performances. Playing in a loaded pool, Queen City knew they would be challenged, and Thomas felt it was his time to step up.
In Thomas' morning game against the New York Gauchos he was hot from the field, and used his improved ability to handle the ball to get to the rim at will. Not only did Thomas get going and make an impact scoring, but he also fouled out Omar Calhoun who really struggled to guard him. The Gauchos won the game and that kind of over shadowed Thomas' performance, but the best was yet to come.
In an evening game against an absolutely loaded Georgia Blazers squad, Thomas was simply unconscious. Going against five-star shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell, Thomas took the challenge and simply went to work, and quite honestly there was nothing Caldwell could do to stop him.
At near 6-foot-5 with long arms and a high release, it is tough to contest Thomas' shot, and quite honestly it didn't matter if someone was contesting. Thomas was simply in the zone. In the first half he didn't even miss on his way to 21 points, and they came from three, off the dribble, and at the foul line.
Then he didn't really cool off in the second half. He did miss a few shots, but still he didn't slow down very much. Going into the fourth quarter Thomas was 12-13 shooting from the floor for a total of 34 points. He would get another four points in the fourth quarter to finish with a game high of 38, and had coaches shaking their heads with his performance.
Queen City got the win, and to do so they needed more than just a performance from Thomas. Jalen Ragland and Charlie Byers also put in work. Byers hit big shots and scored going to the rim while Ragland was an absolute marksman from deep. Those two did enough to complement Thomas to help Queen City come home with a five point win.
Other Notable Performances
Jakarr Sampson - The small forward just keeps on getting better and better. He was great during June, and that has kept on going through July. While his team struggled against the CP3 All-Stars, Sampson did not. His pull up jump shot is becoming a major weapon, and of course the athleticism is simply tough to match. Sampson also showed an ability to drive some to his left, which he hasn't done in the past. He scored over 20 in a big loss, and really was the only bright spot for his team.
P.J. Hairston - At times he gets too attached to his jump shot, but that wasn't the case in his opening game of the Super Showcase. Of course Hairston did make shots from deep, but mostly he used his strength to attack the rim off the dribble. By doing that Hairston made himself significantly more difficult to guard, and it showed in his production and efficiency from the field.
Dezmine Wells - Wells did what Wells does, and that is absolutely play like a freight train going to the rim. He used his straight line speed with the ball to push the pace and score before the defense was able to get back. Also what Wells does as much as anyone is get to the foul line. He is so strong with his drives that he invites contact, and if he doesn't finish through contact he has a chance to earn points from the charity stripe.
Jacob Lawson - The very athletic power forward was on his game. Lawson hit a few mid-range jumpers showing an added skill level to his game, but still what he did best was block shots and be active on the glass. He was a factor down low with his length and athleticism, and then on offense he finished off misses and simply was a man on the offensive boards. That activity level makes Lawson an interesting prospect in a class looking for a breakout big man.
Tevin Glass - Glass is definitely a player who will be discussed heavily when the new rankings are released after the summer. He is a long and athletic forward who runs the floor well, and has the frame to really fill out. At this point he is more prospect than player, but the upside he shows is impressive. He can block shots, score inside the paint, and is active running the floor. Strength and experience are needed, but for a 2012 prospect he is very impressive to watch.
Shaquille Johnson - Johnson is a small forward who is really coming into his own. He is capable of knocking down perimeter jumpers, but it is his athleticism and strength that are most impressive. At 6-foot-5 he finishes well above the rim with explosive leaping ability, and has the knack for finishing through contact. He does need to refine his handle some, but the shooting is there, the athleticism is there, and so is the motor. Really there is a lot to like about this young Georgia prospect.
Devonta Pollard - The book on Pollard has been that he is a freak athlete with limited skill, well that book might need to be re-written. During his team's loss, Pollard was hitting jumpers in the mid-range at will, and then got on the glass with his length and big time leaping ability. The combination of scoring with skill and using his athleticism led to a big game, and showed by so many schools are high on him.
Gavin Ware - A big man with good hands and broad shoulders, there is good reason why Ware is considered one of the better big men in the south in the 2012 class. He has the ability to root out defenders with his strong lower half, but at the same time has enough explosion to throw down impressive ally-oop dunks above the rim. Ware didn't get too many touches with his back to the basket, but he can flat out get things done when given the opportunity.
Fred Thomas - While Pollard and Ware get nearly all the attention on the team, Thomas also deserves some. He can hit shots off the dribble and off the catch well beyond the three point line, and also has the athleticism to be a good defender on the wing. His handle does need some attention, but his length and ability to flat out knock down shots makes him a high-major target going forward in the 2012 class.
Kennedy Meeks - The 2013 big man is one of the better long term guys in his class. The back to the basket center is a dying breed, but Meeks is bringing it back. He loves to get physical down low, and is at home in the paint. He has hands like vice grips and a soft touch down low. Also he knows how to carve out space with his thick lower body to go along with impressive footwork. Though he is still learning, Meeks is going to be one of the bet in his class before it is all said and done.
Hans Brase - While Meeks gets most of the attention for Team United, 2012 power forward Hans Brase is no slouch in his own right. Brase can score down low with a solid touch, is mobile enough to guard on the perimeter, and showed an ability to rebound the ball in traffic. He isn't an elite athlete, though he is athletic enough, and his hands are very reliable. A re-classified player it seems that Brase is just now coming into his own as a prospect.
Kadeem Jack - Now that he is for sure headed to prep school Jack is comfortable and back with the New York Gauchos on the circuit. Playing with his usual team, Jack is looking great. He is blocking shots, scoring off the bounce, using his athleticism to its fullest, and also displaying good footwork. He is a skilled power forward who can use versatility to get it done on both ends of the floor. Schools are coming in hot and heavy for Jack, and clearly he is becoming one of the premier unsigned big men in the 2011 class.
Derrick Wilson - Just a steady player, Wilson did what he had to do to get the Gauchos the win. He is extremely strong and likes to use that going to the rim. While his shot still is not reliable, he is making strides in that area as well. Most importantly you want your point guard to be reliable late in the game, and time after time in a close game Wilson made a big play or scored a big bucket to help his team get the win.
Branden Dawson - Quite simply there is no slowing down Dawson right now. He is rebounded like normal, but now also he is playing hard to go along with being a great athlete with improving skill. With the light bulb seemingly having gone on for good with Dawson, he has strung together impressive performances one after the other. Rebounding is a given with him, and now he is finishing around the rim as well as anyone, and also has added a fairly reliable jumper to his game.
Andre Drummond - The nation's top overall 2012 prospect, Drummond is super talented. On offense when he showed the desire to score he did so using a hook shot off of a hard post up. Defensively he blocked shots and ran the floor. Also Drummond displayed impressive court vision making several impressive passes. Still watching Drummond there was a desire to want more out of him, as he took some time off and didn't bring it on every possession. He clearly could have taken over the game at any point, but didn't do so.
Tavon Allen - Along with Drummond, Allen also had an impressive game for Connecticut Basketball Club. The forward scoring going to the rim, and used his strength to finish in traffic time after time. Scoring was what Allen did better than anyone, but he also corralled rebounds at a high level, and simply was the x-factor in his team's win.
Keith Frazier - There aren't many 2013 prospects with better tools than Frazier. A shooting guard with good size, a sweet stroke, and big time athleticism, Frazier is working to put it all together. He wasn't super productive playing up at the 17-and under level, but still the flashes were there that pointed to him being a big time prospect down the road.
Stevie Taylor - Taylor isn't playing at 100 percent with a leg injury, but he did do an excellent job of getting to the rim by using his hesitation dribble and quick first step. He didn't finish around the hoop as well as usual, but Taylor did create for his teammates off those drives and also applied constant pressure to the defense.
Trey Burke - Taylor's running mate in the backcourt also had an impressive showing in a big All-Ohio Red win. He had it working from deep knocking down several three pointers, and then when the defense closed out on him out of control he went around them and made a drive for a bucket. Burke finished with over 20 points, and was the biggest reason why All-Ohio cruised to an easy win.
Shannon Scott - Due to the Georgia Blazers and Southern Kings merging into one team, Scott had to adjust to new teammates, but that didn't stop him from being solid. He is an absolute terror in transition where he attacks the rim and knows when to pass or when to score on his own. He needs to stay in attack mode in the half court as he can be a ball reversal guy instead of a threat when he gets to passive, but if he can train himself to be aggressive all the time and not just in transition, he will be a lot to deal with.
Aaron Thomas entered the tournament with offers from Clemson, Duquesne, Detroit, and Iowa. Also Purdue, Louisville, Miami, and Cincinnati have also been active in his recruitment.
Stevie Taylor has offers from Richmond, UNC-Wilmington, Ohio University, George Mason, James Madison, Toledo, Providence, and Miami-Ohio.
Jacob Lawson counts offers from Seton Hall, Miami-Florida, West Virginia, Alabama, NC State, Wake Forest, and Florida State. Also he is hearing from Syracuse, Iowa, Colorado, and Clemson.
Fred Thomas is hearing from Alabama, Georgetown, and Mississippi State.
Kadeem Jack now has a list of Rutgers, Cincinnati, Xavier, St. John's, Miami, Arkansas, Texas, Kansas, Kansas State, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Louisville.
Hans Brase has heard from Davidson, Cornell, Dartmouth, Charlotte, Navy, Stanford, UNC-Greensboro, and UNC-Ashville.