Deep in the Heart of Texas
Recap of D/FW Metroplex Hoops Classic.
by Aggrey Sam
Last weekend, I headed out to Big D for the D/FW Metroplex Hoops Classic. On the heels of the last basketball game I attended, I was hoping for some better action and at the very least, some competitiveness. Wish granted. Featuring most of the top players in Dallas, an underrated hoops hotbed (Deron Williams, Chris Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kenyon Martin, etc.), the event held at SMU’s brand-new Crum Center, a beautiful practice facility, was my first AAU event of the spring. Kids I’d heard about, but hadn’t seen yet, would be in attendance, as well as prospects I’d seen in the past and of course, sleepers who I’d be exposed to for the first time. Before I get down to the nitty-gritty, I want to thank the SMU men’s basketball staff and my man Glenn Smith for his hospitality and running a top-notch event. Check out his insights on the high school hoops scene in the Dallas area at metroplexhoops.com.
As far as the event itself, the team with the most hype coming into it took home the title–but it wasn’t easy. Team Texas–featuring arguably the three top players in the state–pulled out a double overtime thriller over the underdog Houston Clippers in the chip, as Phil Pressey (son of current Hornets assistant coach and former NBA standout Paul) hit the game winner from the foul line in the waning seconds. On to my evaluations:
–Devonte Abrams, 6-7 sophomore forward: Abrams is a kid that hoopheads in Dallas are excited about, and it was easy to see why. A long, mobile and athletic youngster with a solid skillset,if and when he turns his potential into production, he’ll be a hot commodity.
–LaMark Barnes, 6-5 junior power forward: Originally from New Orleans, Barnes played the role of big man quite admirably for Team Texas, despite his height. An intimidating widebody with good feet, Barnes is a freaky athlete who had arguably the dunk of the tourney in the semis.
–John Bohannon, 6-8 junior forward: Bohannon is a prospect who had a lot of hype as a younger player, and while it’s cooled to an extent, he’s still a force to be reckoned with. A slim, face-up power forward, he’s able to stretch the defense with his shooting ability and ball skills, but he’s also an adept finisher around the basket, preferring to use his length and touch over athleticism.
–Cameron Clark, 6-7 junior wing: Arguably the top prospect in the state, Clark has garnered national attention this spring as a consensus top-50 player nationally. Long and extremely athletic, what sets him apart is his shooting ability, especially as his high release is almost unblockable, since he already has good size and gets excellent lift.
–Randy Collins, 6-5 junior forward: Collins is a kid who doesn’t necessarily pass the look test at first glance, but at the end of the day, he makes a major impact on the court. It’s hard to classify his position, as he did everything from bring up the ball to post up for the Houston Clippers, but he’s a strong, savvy kid who relies more on being crafty than his physical gifts.
–Curtis Davis, 5-10 sophomore point guard: A lightning-quick lead guard, Davis impressed with his ability to push the pace and also know when to slow down the tempo. He’s rail thin right now, but fearless going to the rack, a solid distributor, a pesky defender and knows how to navigate the trees when driving into the lane.
–Thomas Gipson, 6-6 sophomore power forward: Gipson is very highly regarded in the Metroplex for his physical, take-no-prisoners style of play. A rugged insider with a nice touch, he’s a rebounding machine who will be a priority recruit for many schools, even at the highest level if he continues to grow.
–Jordan Green, 6-3 sophomore guard: A Michigan native, Green is a slim kid with a pretty stroke and good quickness. Additionally, he showed nice athleticism, solid playmaking ability and a willingness to defend.
–Geoffrey Groselle, 6-9 sophomore post: Groselle, like the two previously mentioned sophomores, suits up for the Mark Cuban-sponsored Dallas Heroes squad. He’s still a work in progress, but with his touch, feel for the game and added strength, he’s a prospect to watch in the future.
–Chris Gulley, 6-5 junior wing: A long, athletic wing, Gulley ended up having to guard much bigger players for his undersized Dallas Mustangs team. While he acquitted himself well by being active and hitting the boards hard, on the offensive end, he displayed his full repertoire by hitting a number of deep treys, slashing to the bucket and finishing and being an overall terror in transition.
–Daylon Guy, 5-10 junior guard: Guy, better known as “Chucky” (because the game is like child’s play to him), played the role of a scoring combo guard for Team Texas, as their starting point guard (Pressey) is one of the best in the nation. However, he showed that he had a good understanding of the game and was unselfish, as well as a lethal scorer, as he knocked down jumpers from all over the court and got to the basket with ease.
–Perry Jones, 6-10 junior post: Oozing with potential, Jones showed flashes of the player he could become down the line. The Baylor commitment primarily played on the perimeter at the tourney, and while it was nice to see his versatility, touch and ballhandling ability, the moments when he chose to impact the game in the paint showed that his game and athleticism are better served on the block.
–Tre Lynch, 5-11 junior guard: Lynch was similar to Guy in that he’s a scoring lead guard, but since he was the primary ballhandler, his skills were more obvious. While he’s not a true point, he penetrates effectively, but his deep shooting range and dynamic moves to the basket were his strong suits.
–Keaton Miles, 6-6 sophomore wing: The cousin of Utah’s CJ Miles is a long, slender swingman who has a lot of tools at his disposable. Miles has the size and athleticism to finish at the rim and a nice shooting stroke from deep.
–Jack Miller, 5-11 junior guard: Miller is a quick and feisty lead guard, who can also play off the ball due to his tremendous shooting ability. Although he didn’t seem like a true point, he brought a lot of hustle and overall intangibles to the table.
–LeBryan Nash, 6-6 sophomore forward: Nationally known since before he entered high school, “LB” has matured into a true inside-outside threat. With a chiseled frame beyond his years, the ability to create off the dribble and excellent athleticism, he’s one of the elite players in the Class of 2011.
–Drew Parker, 6-1 junior guard: Parker’s entire Houston Clippers squad was a revelation to me, but as the straw that stirred the drink, the bouncy floor general stood out the most. Although he was often on the ball, he also displayed great range of his J, a variety of moves to get to the bucket and finish at the rack or from the mid-range area, a knack for making plays on D, superb court vision and a nice feel for the game.
–Phil Pressey, 5-9 junior point guard: Pictured at left, the pint-sized Massachusetts transplant didn’t wow me as much as he did last summer, but upon reflection, it seemed that he didn’t feel like he needed to force the action with the talent around him, as he wasn’t the only capable ballhandler. Still unbelievably quick and one of the best passers you’ll see in the high school game, he’s also very crafty (I’m guessing he watches a lot of CP3, with his pop being on the Hornets’ staff), has surprising athleticism (his one-hand bang in the semis had the crowd rocking) and proved to be extremely clutch, with no less than three game-winning buckets in the event.
–AJ Price, 6-2 sophomore guard: Price distinguished himself before I even knew his name (no laptop jokes, please), as his sweet stroke and poise were impressive for an unheralded youngster. With his length and ballhandling ability, he could develop into a nice-sized combo guard or a sharp-shooting wing down the line.
–Byron Randle, 6-3 guard: Yet another member of the Houston Clippers, Randle was more of a glue guy, as he often had the toughest defensive matchup, but was also called on to score when needed. A solid secondary ballhandler, he’s an effective slasher, knocks down open shots, is a handful in transition and uses his solid frame and athleticism to help out on the boards.
–KC Ross-Miller, 5-11 junior point guard: KC is another prospect who has received his fair share of hype in his young career, and while some may have felt he was overrated in the past, he proved that his game has caught up to his name. A bulldog of a point guard, he bullies defenders into the paint, where he can finish adeptly or find open teammates for easy baskets.
–Ricky Scott, 6-3 junior wing: Outside of Parker, Scott was the kid I’d never heard of prior to the event who impressed me the most. A strong and aggressive slasher, he can keep the D honest by knocking down jumpers, but he is also an excellent rebounder for a guard, a solid ballhandler and uses his athleticism and hard-charging mentality to impact the game at all times.
–Stephon Smith, 6-6 junior forward: Steph, who’s originally from New Orleans, has defined his game since I first watched him play as a freshman. A true threat down low and on the perimeter, he uses his powerful frame and soft touch to muscle opponents on the inside, but now he’s able to drive by post players or hit jumpers.
–Reggie Sonnier, 6-4 junior wing: A smooth lefty with a deadly J, Sonnier’s demeanor and effort were immediately obvious. However, it then became apparent that he possessed even more ability, as he’s a bouncy athlete, a tough defender and and a more than capable ballhandler.
–Jamison Sterns, 5-11 junior guard: Sterns, a one-time Baylor commitment, is a bit of enigma to folks in Texas, but I’ve always been a fan. He has a stocky (that’s a nice way of putting it) body, he’s not a true point and is way too short to be considered a wing, but he simply knows how to score and his athleticism, especially for his body type, is amazing.
–TJ Taylor, 6-3 junior guard: Most likely the best overall prospect at the tournament, this was my first time watching Taylor, a recent Oklahoma commitment, play. I wasn’t disappointed, as the big-bodied guard hit jumpers from all over the place, distributed the ball to get easy buckets for his teammates, played with high energy, made plays on D and got to the rack at will and used his athleticism to finish with both flair and toughness.
–Bakari Turner, 6-2 junior wing: Turner, a Baylor commitment, was quietly effective at the event. A slasher with a solid jumper and good athleticism, he was more of a jack-of-all-trades than a straight scorer.
–Chris Udofia, 6-5 junior forward: Although he was posterized on back-to-back plays in his team’s semifinal loss, Udofia was a consistently solid player throughout the tourney. Long and very active on the inside, he showed a nice touch touch and battled down low despite facing bigger players most of the time.
–Julian Washburn, 6-7 junior forward: Washburn, the son of former NC State star Chris, is a kid who always has had great potential, but still hasn’t put it together yet. Well, it looks like he’s starting to do that, as he knocked down occasional jumper, took his man off the dribble and got to the cup, defended well on and off the ball and did some dirty work on the inside.
–Kevin Williams, 6-1 junior point guard: A strong lead guard with good range, Williams overpowered other guards to get to the bucket at will. In addition, he has the court savvy to find his teammates and shoots the mid-range J proficiently.