We take a look back at what we learned at the National Prep Showcase that took place in New Haven, Conn., over the weekend.
1. Noel is taking his game to new level
When you are already ranked No. 3 nationally in your class, it's not entirely easy to take your play to another level. Yet, 2013's Nerlens Noel looks to have done so. Already known as a terror on the defensive end and as a rebounder, the 6-foot-10 center showed improved offense as well.
The Tilton (N.H.) School big man has developed pretty good touch around the rim, is starting to use the glass and is generally playing with much more aggression on the offensive end. What's perhaps most impressive is that Noel can attack with one or two dribbles to his right or left from out of the high post. A big man shouldn't ever need more than a few dribbles and he makes them with purpose, is quick and covers ridiculous amounts of ground in a hurry because of his long strides.
The junior still needs to add more bulk to what is still a pretty lean frame, but he doesn't lack for fight or willingness to play physically. Noel wouldn't name specific schools that are involved with his recruitment but Kentucky, Syracuse, Connecticut, Providence and Florida are among those who have been the most active with him.
2. Texan two-stepping his way up the rankings?
During the summer, we didn't see a ton of Dominic Woodson. But, we did see enough of him to know that the Round Rock, Texas native was a high major prospect. At the NPS, the 6-foot-8, 265-pound big man at Saxtons River (Vt.) didn't just cement his status, he enhanced it.
What immediately stands out about Woodson is his physical strength. The junior is well put together and looks like he is already physically ready for the college game. Not surprisingly, that strength allows him to bully other prep school competition whenever he really needs to. What's most impressive, though, is that he doesn't have to rely on overpowering guys.
Woodson shoots the ball accurately to 20 feet, is a deft passer out of either the high or low post and he plays intelligently with his back to the basket. His recruitment is wide open at this point and the likes of Texas, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, UConn, Illinois, Oklahoma and several others have showed interest. He's on track to make a big move if he keeps playing at this level.
3. Crop of available prep school players a bit limited in 2012
There is still plenty of talent within the prep school ranks. But, it was a bit surprising that we didn't see more available talent. Many of the best players were already committed to programs. However, there were a few guys that were able to separate themselves from the crowd and it turns out that most of them were at one time committed to high major programs.
Of the 2012 players, former St. John's signee Jakarr Sampson was clearly the best available prospect. He's long, lean, active on the baseline and a big-time athlete. Others who increased their stock included combo guard Sam Cassell, combo forward Ryan Taylor and power forward Aaron Ross.
Playing at Fitchburg (Mass.) Notre Dame Prep, Cassell is a crafty guard who can heat up from deep and score from the mid-range. A former Louisville signee, Taylor plays a game similar to that of former Kansas player Mario Little. He gets on the glass, knocks down stationary jumpers and finishes in transition for Chatham (Va.) Hargrave. Finally, at about 6-foot-7, Ross is a crafty, below-the-rim scorer in the paint who can also step out and make some jumpers. He's got good strength and the former Arkansas signee seems to be getting a good figure of what his strengths and weaknesses are during his prep year at Delafield (Wis.) St. John's Northwest Military.