Kings of The Court
Kids to watch from the King James Shooting Stars Classic.
Dru Joyce was amongst those who were dramatically effected when the NCAA passed its bylaw banning AAU tournaments or showcases being held on D-1 campuses (unless there was a pre-existing contract). After having his King James Shooting Stars Classic based at the University of Akron for nearly half of a decade, he was forced to expand his tourney across at least three counties, with some gyms spanning over 40 miles from each other. Needless to say, it wasn’t the most friendly for media peeps like myself traveling from gym to gym.
The talent was there though, no denying that. Here’s a look at some of the top PUNKS that caught our eye:
Quincy Miller, 6’9, SF/PF, D-One Sports 17U, 2011- There wasn’t a player here in Akron more dominant than the guy that some have compared to Kevin Durant. Dropping more than 30 in each game that we caught with our eyes, he made his case for top player in the class of 2011. Miller can truly do it all. He needs to continue to get stronger and work on his footspeed, but I don’t see another player more offensively skilled than “The Young Truth”.
Julius Randle, 6’8, PF, Texas Titans 15U, 2013- Now we’d heard the rumors about Randle from our trusted confidant Glenn Smith. We decided to go see if they were the truth with our own eyes once the Titans got off of their chartered flight in Akron. Randle was as good as advertised, bringing a bit of everything to the table in a chiseled 235 pound frame. The youngster was a manchild in the paint, handled the ball well in the open floor, and knocked down a number of three pointers when left open. We saw him foul out two potential high-major big men in a little over half of a game. Easily the best freshman in the country in my eyes.
Chane Behanan, 6’7, PF, Ohio Basketball Club 17U, 2011- En route to getting his squad a trophy in the 17U division, Behanan was the focal point offensively for Ohio Basketball Club. Always known as a bruiser, he has made strides taking his game to the outside in order to keep the D honest. In addition to the jumpers that he drilled from mid-range and beyond the arc, the one time Cincy commit was a beast on the glass and had a number of power dunks. Behanan is currently still on the board and considering Kentucky, Louisville, West Virginia, Kansas, and Cincinnati amongst others.
P.J. Hairston, 6’6, SG/SF, CP-3 All-Stars 17U, 2011- After a lackluster showing at the Pitt Jam Fest, P.J. came back with a vengeance in Ohio. I don’t know if there was a player in the state shooting the ball better than him this weekend, which included a flurry of bombs from NBA range. The power wing had a number of tough finishes in traffic, but needs to continue to improve upon his defense before he takes the floor for Roy Williams and Co. at North Carolina.
Michael Gbinije, 6’6, SG/SF, Team Takeover (DC) 17U, 2011- Duke’s first recruit of the class of 2011 was not the flashiest guy that we saw, but was certainly one of the most consistent. He already has great size for a wing, displayed a silky smooth mid-range game, and is a lot better defender than most give him credit for. Coach K knows how to get it done in terms of guys that will perfectly fit his system Gbinije is in the next in the Dahntay Jones/Gerald Henderson mold.
Elijah Macon, 6’8, PF, All Ohio-Red 17U, 2012- Macon was MIA for a couple of tournaments this spring due to prior commitments, so it was good to see the highly touted big man in Akron. Most sophomores don’t have the size and athleticism that he offers, which allowed him to be a beast on the boards and finish everything in the paint with a dunk. He didn’t get the ball as much as he would’ve liked to with his back to the basket, but still showed enough against guys a year older to warrant his lofty ranking. The former West Virginia recruit has re-opened his recruitment, opting to stay closer to home for his collegiate career.
Zach Price, 6’10, C, King James Shooting Stars 17U, 2011- The big fella was the victor in his anticipated matchup with 6’10 Amir Williams out of Detroit for the battle of best big man in the Midwest. Price converted on a number of lefty hooks, blocked a handful of shots, and had a monstrous power dunk (seen in the video on the left). With Michael Chandler de-committing from Louisville, it leaves even more of an opportunity for Price to play early on at Louisville early on in his career. Zach is far from a finished product though, but has the potential to be a really nice center down the road.
Nick Harney, 6’7, PF, Ohio Basketball Club 17U, 2010- I don’t know if there was a player at the tournament that exploded more than Harney, who almost dropped 20 in every game that he played in. Known as more of a dirty work guy for his high school team, the Cleveland native was able to show his entire package in the more open flow of AAU basketball. 17 foot jumpers, smooth drives to the rim, and explosive dunks were all the regular for Harney, who remains undecided upon heading to prep school or attending a D-1 college as a Prop-48 student next year.
Stevie Taylor, 5’9, PG, All-Ohio Red 17U, 2011- The tiny guard continues to turn heads. After killing at Boo Williams, he carried over his strong play here in Akron. Range was not an issue for the Columbus native, who also had analysts asking if he was left handed based on his ability to shoot floaters with either hand. The main obstacle to overcome for him is convincing power coaches that he’ll be able to finish/defend in BCS conferences, but that didn’t stop Providence (amongst tons of mid-majors) from putting an offer on the table early on.
Shane Larkin, 5’11, PG, Florida Assault 17U, 2011- Like Taylor, Larkin isn’t the biggest or most explosive guy on the planet but compensates for his lack of size with incredible skill. There were times that he was simply unstoppable for the Florida Assault, whether it be stroking NBA threes or converting on nifty takes to the cup. Some of the upper echelon schools have strayed away early on and are making a mistake, but that hasn’t stopped Clemson and South Florida from offering.
Jehvon Clarke, 6’1, PG/SG, Ohio Basketball Club 17U, 2011- If we were looking for the person who best handled the ball on the string, Clarke would win that award with the moves he put on this past weekend. The scoring guard had a number of crossovers and inside-outs that would have made an AND-1 Mixtape, but did it within the flow of the offense so that it didn’t disrupt his team’s chemistry. Still more of a shooting guard at this point, Clarke is getting love from a lot of mid-major programs with some high-majors watching from the background. If he can prove that he can run the show full time at the next level, watch out.
Bishop Daniels, 6’3, SG, CP-3 All-Stars 17U, 2011- Arguably the most athletic guard in the country showed that his complete game is really starting to develop. He’s putting the pieces of the puzzle together and using his explosiveness to get by cats off of the bounce, while also raising up to shoot over them from deep. While he’s a capable shooter, Bishop needs to keep getting reps to improve his consistency and make a little better choices in terms of shot selection. The potential on D and sheer athleticism is going to be enough to warrant him a high major scholly, though.
Tony Farmer, 6’6, SF, King James Shooting Stars 15U, 2013- Farmer was a straight beast at the 15U level, playing the perfect role of power wing. He was forced to play the post a bit more than he usually does with his high school team, due to King James’ lack of size, but was still mad productive (averaged nearly 20 ppg for the entire tourney). Still a bit rough around the edges, Tony needs to continue to hone his outside skills, but definitely has the potential to be a top 25 guy by the time it’s all said and done.
Malik London, 6’9, PF/C, Ohio Basketball Club 16U, 2012- In terms of level of activity, I’im not sure if there was a more active big man on the 16U level. The dude was a straight animal on the glass and blocking shots, using his pogo stick legs to jump twice in the same amount of time that it took others to jump once. London is still very frail and will need to bulk up and improve upon his skill set, but he showed enough to have a number of national recruiting services peg him as a sure fire top 100 guy.
Matthew Jones, 6’4, SG, Texas Titans 15U, 2013- Known as just a shooter in his home state of Texas, Jones brought the full package to the table in the home of LeBron James. The DeSoto freshman had his slashing game in full effect in Akron, scoring nearly 30 points in one game of the Texas Titans championship run. Even though he’s not regarded as one of the elite freshman in Texas by some media outlets, he definitely showed us enough to catch our eye and believe that he can be a high-major player down the road.