Recapping the ScoutsFocus Elite80 Showcase.
Battling the grizzly falls of Cleveland, Ohio (yes, it is in the 30s in early October), I usually look for any excuse to get out of my hometown and catch some hoops in a warmer climate during the colder months. I got my wish and was able to travel to lovely mid-70s Wilson, North Carolina for the ScoutsFocus Elite80 Showcase.
Held at the home of 2007 NCAA D-2 National Champion Barton College, the Elite80 offered a mixture of highly touted upperclassmen along with some very intriguing players from the classes of 2012-2014. The one day event had more of an open gym type feel to it, with a lot of points being scored and a ton of highlights to be seen. The middle of the event offered the HOOPMIXTAPE.com dunk contest, which pegged the top high school dunkers against streetball dunkers Troy McCray and Willie Barnes. All in all, it was a great day of hoops for any basketball fan jonesing for something in early October.
In between the tobacco fields, sweet tea, and Carolina barbecue, we actually caught some basketball. Here are some of the top PUNKS in attendance:
CJ Leslie | 6-9 | SF/PF | Word of God (NC) | 2010
Leslie was a posterization waiting to happen, throwing down countless nasty dunks on the day. He appeared motivated to show off his perimeter skills, hanging out on the wing for the majority of the time unless he was punching on someone in the paint. The 6-9 combo forward showed off nasty handles for a player of his stature, but didn’t shoot the ball incredibly well from the perimeter. The one time NC State commit had to take off early to catch a Wolfpack football game, but will be attending Kentucky’s midnight madness this weekend and is still wide open in his recruitment.
Ryan Harrow | 5-11 | PG | Walton HS (GA) | 2010
The diminutive guard looked like a cross between T.J. Ford and Hot Sauce at the Elite 80. With the open style of play, it was clear that the NC State commit was looking to make as many highlight reels as possible. Harrow combines outstanding ball handling and court vision with incredible hops and quickness. He’s still going to hit the weights (only weighs 155 pounds) and improve the consistency of his J, but should still make a major impact for the Wolfpack when he steps on campus in 2010.
Reggie Bullock | 6-6 | SG | Kinston HS (NC)
Arguably the top shooting guard in the class of 2010, Bullock used his smooth style of play to get buckets despite not having the flair of some of the other competitors. The UNC commit drilled a number of deep three pointers and put the clamps on people defensively. The franetic style of play didn’t exactly cater to his style of play, but the future McDonald’s All American still put in work with the best of ‘em.
Zach Sowell | 6-7 | PF | West Carteret HS (NC) | 2010
Nicknamed “The Birdman” by the crowd, Sowell’s energetic and athletic style of play was resemblant of the Nuggets’ Chris Anderson. He threw down a number of nasty dunks and showed off some nasty footwork in the post, while also finishing at the cup with either hand. Sowell has a number of D-1 offers on the table, but is definitely a guy that local mid-major programs need to keep a closer eye on.
PJ Hairston | 6-5 | SG/SF | Dudley HS (NC) | 2011
The powerfully built wing didn’t necessarily have the flash of Leslie or Harrow, but was one of the more productive players at Barton College. He was able to simply overpower any wing that got in his path, while also serving as a monster on the glass. The North Carolina recruit shot the ball much better then when we saw him in the spring and played like a warrior all the way through the final game. Roy Williams and Co. got another good one on their hands with Hairston.
Bishop Daniels | 6-3 | SG | Word of God (NC) | 2011
Daniels is a player who is tailor-made for an open setting like this, largely due to his out of this world leaping ability and killer first step. He was crowned as the king of the dunk contest after jumping over P.J. Hairston and throwing down a number of dunks with his head near rim level. Not just a leaper, Daniels is a tough penetrator who shows an abundance of potential on the defensive end. The junior currently holds offers from a number of ACC schools, but will need to improve upon his jumpshot if he hopes to reach elite status.
Dezmine Wells | 6-5 | SF | Word of God (NC) | 2011
Wells joined his AAU teammate P.J. Hairston in the category of “power wings” that were at the elite 80. You often forget that you’re looking at a basketball player and not an elite football linebacker at first glance. That aforementioned strength enables him to be a force on the glass and a lockdown defender. The junior is a crazy athlete who is unstoppable going to the rack and finishing with contact in traffic. John Wall’s former teammate plays with great passion and even has the ball handling talents to handle the ball in the open court when needed. He does however need to improve upon his jumper if he hopes to crack top 30 status for his class. Wells already has a handful of offers from SEC, ACC, and Big East schools, but seems to be fairly open at this point of the game.
Montrezl Harrell | 6-6 | SF/PF | Edgecombe Magnet HS (NC) | 2012
Harrell was arguably the top 2012 kid that we saw at Elite80 and certainly played harder than any of his peers in that class. The long forward had a game that extended well above the rim, regardless of who he was pegged against. He showed off the ability to put the ball on the floor from the wing, finish at the cup with either hand, and clean the glass. Harrell still isn’t a small forward completely and will have to work on his J to get there, but is surely one of the bright stars in North Carolina’s class of 2012.
Andrew Wiggins | 6-6 | SF | Christian Faith Academy (NC) | 2014
Arguably the best 8th grader in the nation, Wiggins turned some heads with his at times dominant play at Elite80. The son of a former NBA player( father Mitchell Wiggins and a Canadian Olympic track star (Marita Payne), he certainly has genes on his side. The powerfully built middle-schooler could have fooled you for a college freshman with his size and broad shoulders. An import from Canada, he was able to get to the rim on just about anyone who guarded him and usually finished well above the rim. Andrew also showed the ability to post smaller defenders, surprising many with his ability to shoot a jump hook with either hand. Grassroots Canada frontman Ro Russell (who has coached Denham Brown, Tristan Thompson, and Cory Joseph) told us that “Wiggins has a chance to be one of the very best ever to come out of Canada, as long as he continues to work”. We’re right there with ya’ Ro.