Steel City Stars
Recapping the Pitt Jam Fest
by Rodger Bohn / @rodgerbohn
Nicknamed the City of Champions after their recent NFL and NHL titles, Pittsburgh also is home to one of the finer AAU tournaments in the early spring, the Pitt Jam Fest. The Hoop Group has put on this event for quite some time now, with the home base being held on the Pitt campus and locations spanning across all of the major colleges in the area. The competition is fierce, the event is well ran, and it’s always a pleasure to enjoy a Primanti Brothers Sandwich in between!
While many of the nation’s top teams were there, there seemed to be a misfortune of many of the top players being unable to attend for one reason or another. Guys like Michael Gilchrist, Andre Drummond, Rakeem Christmas, Dajuan Coleman, and Elijah Macon didn’t make the journey to Pittsburgh after being expected. Obviously it’s no one’s fault, but just the nature of the AAU business.
Here’s a look at some of the top PUNKS who caught our eye:
Myles Mack | 5-9 | PG | Playaz 17U | 2011
Mack was quite possibly the most dominant cat here in Pittsburgh. The diminutive point guard got buckets on anyone he went up against, but really impressed me with the way his playmaking skills have grown over the last year. The Patterson Catholic star can bomb from deep, control the tempo of the game, and also finish in traffic. Size is the only thing holding Myles back, but it hasn’t held school such as DePaul, Penn State, Rutgers, and Providence from offering him scholarships.
Rodney Purvis | 6-3 | PG/SG | CP-3 All-Stars 17U | 2013
Arguably the nation’s top freshman guard, Purvis was the star for an undermanned CP-3 squad that was missing it’s top two post players (Jacob Lawson and Joseph Uchebu). The physical combo guard didn’t have the best weekend in terms of shooting the ball, but was an unstoppable penetrator going to the rim. Purvis seriously has a little DWade in his game with the way he contorts his body in the air and always avoids contact. Definitely a cat to keep an eye on for the next few years because he has a chance to be special.
Negus Webster-Chan | 6-6 | SG/SF | CIA Bounce/Team Takeover (CN) 16U | 2012
Oh Canada, we have another one! SLAMonline’s own Tariq Sbiet was the first one to really show him some love and now he’s blowing up in the states after his strong play on the AAU circuit. The smooth and athletic wing can do a little bit of everything, playing four positions on the floor for his AAU team due to his killer court vision and ability to handle the rock. Negus’ jumper wasn’t really falling over the weekend, but we saw enough out of him to definitely feel that he’s a guy high-major schools should be taking a look at.
Tyler Lewis | 5-10 | PG | Team Loaded 17U | 2012
Although this 155 pound point guard may not pass the look test and we aren’t quite sure if he shaves yet, kid has serious game and may be the best passer in high school regardless of class. Lewis has a smooth outside jumper and is honestly ambidextrous, explaining why he’s gathered offers from Miami, NC State, Wake Forest, Baylor, and Virginia Tech. Basketball is his pedigree too, with his older brother playing at UNC-Charlotte and his father running the Adidas Phenom Camp in North Carolina.
PJ Boutte | 5-7 | PG | Ohio Basketball Club 17U | 2011
Leading his team to the 17U title game, Boutte was dropping more dimes than a parking meter. In one game, he converted on seven alley-oops with his Ohio Basketball Club teammates. The little man is tough as nails, not backing down from any competition and attacking players well over a foot taller than him at the rim. An early verbal to Detroit, he’ll be sticking to his commitment after McDonald’s All-American Ray McCallum committed to the Titans, believing they can both play in the backcourt at the same time.
Amile Jefferson | 6-7 | SF/PF | Team Philly 16’s 17U | 2012
With his whole team playing up in the 17U age bracket, Jefferson was constantly matched against forwards a year older than him throughout the tourney. The lanky forward has drawn comparisons to fellow Philly native Hakim Warrick, which we can definitely see with his nifty footwork in the post and ability to step out and shoot the ball facing the basket. Amile certainly needs to put some meat on his bones but has the skill level and versatility to be one of the better forwards in the Class of 2012.
Sim Bhullar | 7-4 | C | CIA Bounce/Team Takeover (CN) 16U | 2012
No, that’s not a typo. Sim Bhullar is a 7-4 sophomore who SLAMonline featured back in November with his brother Tanveer. He’s more advanced than Tanveer at this point of the game, both in terms of skill set and conditioning. Sim turned some heading in a 16U game when he scored 9 straight points, on 2 dunks, a 17 footer, and a three pointer. Obviously he’s not the quickest guy down the floor and is a long ways away from being a finished product, but the package of sheer size and agility he and his brother possess have made them YouTube sensations.
Aaron White | 6-6 | SF/PF | Ohio Basketball Club 17U | 2011
The versatile forward struggled a bit in his first couple of games in pool play before turning the switch on once tournament time rolled around. Able to score from inside and out, White was a mismatch for opposing players at either forward spot. The Cleveland native currently is receiving interest from Butler, Penn State, West Virginia, and Wisconsin to name a few.
Tony Kimbro | 6-5 | SG/SF | Team Loaded 17U | 2011
Kimbro was one of the best slashers we caught in Pitt, as the lefty sliced and diced his way to the title in the 17U bracket. He was a nightmare for Ohio Basketball Club defenders to guard in the championship game, despite the fact he went left just about every time to the rim. The son of a former McDonald’s All American, Kimbro’s jumper wasn’t falling at the rate it usually does, but we could still see why most recruiting services have him ranked amongst the top 150 players for his class.
Tanveer Bhullar | 7-2 | C | CIA Bounce/Team Takeover (CN) 16U | 2013
Tanveer didn’t fare quite as well as his big bro, but gave us glimpses of why he is so heralded. He’s reportedly dropped over 60 pounds in the last year and shows off decent footwork in the post and is barely 15 years old. Time will tell how much this massive freshman improves, but he’s definitely a mammoth player to keep track of over the rest of his high school career.
Jordan Manuel | 6-7 | SF/PF | Ohio Basketball Club 17U | 2010
Manuel quite possibly had the most dunks of anyone in the tourney, usually on the receiving end of Boutte’s lobs. The Indianapolis product is a nice athlete and can shoot it from beyond the arc, but needs to improve upon his attitude if he hopes to reach his fullest potential. He will be following Boutte to Detroit and is part of what could be a downright scary recruiting class for Ray McCallum if he is able to take care of things academically.
Bryson Scott | 6-2 | PG/SG | Spiece Gym Rats 15U | 2013
Scott was the best scorer we caught in the 15U portion of the tournament, dropping 30 or more points in three different games. The stocky combo guard used his strength to finish amongst the trees, shot the lights out of the ball from the perimeter, and made some sick passes with both hands. The Fort Wayne scorer has already received interest from a number of Big Ten programs despite only being a freshman.
Rodger is the former Director of Prep Scouting at DraftExpress.com. He can be reached via Twitter @rodgerbohn.