The Kentucky Derby Festival is one of the nation’s most historic events, and things got popping off with the Derby Basketball Classic. Sponsored by Under Armour, the game blends some of the best players from the UA Association with recruits bound for the elite local programs, giving the faithful a glimpse to see what their future rosters will look like. Indiana and Louisville were well represented and even though UK didn’t have any recruits in the game, the Big Blue Nation still showed out to see some legit hoops.
Players such as Victor Oladipo, Devin Robinson, Cody Zeller, and Tyler Ennis used this game to show NBA scouts why recruiting guys and colleges alike missed out on. This year was no different, either. It was ultimately the purple squad that walked away with a 127-119 W in an up and down affair. As one can imagine, there were plenty of players who proved that they weren’t quite getting the respect that they deserved in the national rankings, too.
Here are a few of the standouts from the 2015 Derby Classic:
Thomas Bryant, 6-10, PF/C, Huntington Prep (WV)
The MVP for the victorious purple squad lived up to his billing as one of the best big men in the country. Like he did early in his high school days, Bryant showed off his ability to stretch the D with his 3 three pointers. He showed off his new arsenal on the blocks too, along with toughness that you don’t usually see in all-star games. The IU faithful came out to see their most highly touted recruit and through his 19 points, he did not disappoint.
Donovan Mitchell, 6-3, SG, Brewster Academy (NH)
Undoubtedly the immediate crowd favorite, Donovan Mitchell showed out in front of his future fans at Freedom Hall. After killing it in the dunk contest at the Night of Future Stars, he continued in the Derby game itself. Leading all scorers with 21 points, you got to see what Mitchell was all about. He was a beast in transition, fearless attacking the rack, and locked down on either guard spot on D. While Donovan didn’t shoot it too well (1-6 from three), you could still see why he’s going to be loved in Louisville.
Justin Simon, 6-5, PG, Brewster Academy (NH)
Built for a game of this setting, Justin Simon gave the fans exactly what they wanted in Louisville. The big lead guard was amazing in transition, got everyone the rock in scoring positions, and converted at the rim. With TJ McConnnell’s graduation, Simon will have plenty of opportunity to get immediate burn at Point Guard U.
Dedric Lawson, 6-8, PF, Memphis Hamilton (TN)
A reclassed member of the class of 2016, Dedric Lawson showed off the versatile skill set that made Memphis want him to college a year early. He shot the ball well from the perimeter, used his length to defend multiple positions, and showed the skill level that will alow him to go to work inside and out. Dedric is the prototypical hybrid forward who can play everywehre on the floor, as his stat line of 14 points, 8 boards, 5 dimes, 4 blocks, and 2 steals reflected.
Diamond Stone, 6-10, C, Dominican (WI)
The most highly touted player in the game showed why he is going to help Maryland contend for a national championship. He threw out a flurry of moves on the blocks, showed off his soft touch around the rim, and used his size to create a ton of space inside. The Young Legends product has been doing it big on the Under Armour circuit for years now, and should continue at Maryland.
Daniel Giddens, 6-10, C, Oak Hill Academy (VA)
A straight monster in the paint, Giddens showed what he’s all about at Derby. He’s not going to hit you with any Dream Shakes right now, but what he does offer simply cannot be taught. The Oak Hill product looks to rip the rim off every time he gets the ball, has an NBA body, and is as good of a defender as you’ll find in a center for 2015. Giddens showed all of the makings of Ohio’s State’s next potential NBA bound big man in his 15 point, 8 rebound performance.