Over the last week of 2011, Rivals.com national basketball analyst traveled through the Carolinas to attend the Beach Ball Classic and HighschoolOT.com Holiday Invitational. Here's a look back at what we learned during the trip.
1. Moving forward, Milton is going to be tough to beat
After watching them play in Myrtle Beach, it's hard to figure out how Beach Ball Classic champions Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton arrived in Myrtle Beach with only a 5-4 record.
Head coach David Boyd's group was terrific at the Beach Ball, showing off their deep, talented and athletic group that played together as they ran the gauntlet of Miami (Fla.) Senior, Louisville (Ky.) Ballard, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman and Highland (Utah) Lone Peak without a loss.
Of course, it didn't hurt that Milton has four high major seniors who play like high majors.
The Eagles can play big through unsigned Rivals150 senior Tevin Glass who is a mobile interior player. Virginia-bound Evan Nolte is another Rivals150 product and can shoot the ball with range or hit cutters out of the high post. In the backcourt, Georgia-bound three-star combo guard Charles Mann is a big, steady and physical guard while Auburn signee Shaquille Johnson is quite likely the single most dynamic run-and-jump athlete in the country.
Finally, there is sophomore point guard Jalyn Patterson. A 5-foot-11 floor general, he is the glue that holds the team together and that says something given his youth and that he's surrounded by so much talent on a senior-laden team. He pressures the ball defensively, looks comfortable in an up-tempo or grind-it-out game and will be one to watch down the road.
2. The future of the BYU backcourt is in good hands
They ran out of gas in the finals against an athletic and stacked Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton squad, but the Highland (Utah) Lone Peak duo of Nick Emery and T.J. Haws were plenty impressive. In fact, BYU fans should be quite excited about the junior (Emery) and sophomore (Haws) who have already committed to play for the Cougars after they combined for 163 points and went 27-53 during the first three games of the tournament to get Lone Peak into the finals.
At about 6-foot-2, Emery is a flashy and crafty off guard who will pull the trigger on any look he gets within 30 feet. Because his range is so ridiculous, he's much better creating towards the rim than one might expect given that he's no overly athletic. The younger Haws goes about 6-foot-4 and has some combo guard in his game and is a bit more lengthy than his teammate. But, he can also shoot the heck out of the ball and has ridiculous range himself.
3. Stauskas a great fit for Michigan
When Zack Novak graduates in the spring, Michigan is going to lose a tough and versatile leader who has a knack for getting under the skin of opposing fans. Fear not Wolverine supporters, Novak's replacement is on the way.
Southborough (Mass.) St. Mark's senior Nick Stauskas is the perfect replacement for the scrappy Novak. Like Novak, Stauskas plays with a huge chip on his shoulder and is willing to scrap it up a bit with opponents. Stauskas is also an excellent shooter with deep range, a flashy passer and a guy who takes the floor with a significant amount of confidence.
Currently ranked No. 79 nationally in the class of 2012, the four-star wing is part of an excellent Michigan recruiting class and he should be able to contribute right away.
4. White is an effective system player
Some guys need a lot of creative freedom to produce, some are at their best in a system where they've got very specific roles. Andrew White is a guy who looks like he could be comfortable in either situation but he seems like a very solid system player.
A verbal commitment to Kansas, the 6-foot-6 White is a well built small forward who plays a patient and solid game. While he can get out and finish in transition, you wouldn't qualify him as a slasher and he's not a guy who is going to take a bunch of dribbles and continuously probe the defense for shots.
What the four-star, who ranks No. 56 nationally does is find his spots on the floor and make three-point jumpers at a high rate. He plays physically on the defensive end of the floor and he rebounds at both ends of the floor.
What makes him so effective is that he does it all while seemingly never getting out of control or stepping outside of his comfort zone on either side of the floor. Book him as a guy who appears to be an excellent fit for what Bill Self expects out of a small forward in the Jayhawks system.