Digging through Dallas
SLAM samples the Texas hoops hotbed.
The second stop of my Texas two-step was in Dallas, home of a top-10 player in every single high school class. Usually stoked to get to Texas at any available opportunity, I have the curse of being there in their gloomiest times possible. It was in the 30s in the Big Apple this past trip, and anyone who was down at All-Star weekend last year (ask SLAM Editor-in-Chief Ben Osborne) remembers the ice storm that shut the city down. I made a scheduling error and there were only games on three days during my week in Dallas, so I had a bit of down time to get some killer grub and check a few things out.
When I wasn’t in the gym, I made a stop down to the JFK Memorial and checked out the Mavs/Magic game. Hedo Turkoglu old school with his 13-point, 17-assist, 5-steal game and I got hooked up with some DOPE seats (much love to Mavs Account Exec Mark Kent), so it was a pretty legit trip overall.
Here are some of the guys who did their thing in D-Town.
Julius Randle, 6-8, PF, Prestonwood Christian, 2013
It wasn’t the best game to evaluate Randle, given that he and his Prestonwood boys were up by 30+ for the majority of the game. The No. 1 player in the Class of 2013 showed off his inside/out game and the ability to truly play either forward position, a la fellow lefty forward Terrence Jones. Julius appears to be a bit more explosive than when we last checked him out in the summer, and if he continues to develop at this rate, it’s going to be hella hard to see anyone overtaking him for the top spot in the sophomore class.
Emmanuel Mudiay, 6-4, SG, Grace Prep, 2014
While many others were rated higher, Mudiay was the best player on the floor for either team. He shot the ball well from deep, slashed on just about anyone, and even played a bit of point guard when Branch was in the locker room. Though he’s not popping up on anyone’s top 2014 lists right now, Emmanuel is definitely a guy who will see his name in the initial 2014 Fresh 25.
Isaiah Austin, 7-0, PF, Grace Prep, 2012
SLAM’s No. 2 player in the Class of 2012 left you with a mixed bag of emotions in the blowout loss. On one hand, it’s simply startling at times to see a true 7-footer fluidly bring the ball up the court and beat people off of the dribble. On the other hand, it becomes increasingly frustrating to see Austin refuse to utilize his length down low on the offensive end. The Baylor recruit was able to change the game on the defensive end by blocking a handful of shots and altering countless more. Once Austin puts a game in the pivot together with his face-up skills, he’s going to be a nightmare for opposing coaches in the Big 12.
Antwan Space, 6-7, PF/SF, DeSoto, 2011
Having caught him last year in Dallas when he wasn’t popping up on anyone’s top-150 lists, it was great to see the progress that Space has made to his game in the last year. Simply a high energy guy before, the Florida State recruit now has the skills to actually hit you with a couple of counter moves on the blocks. With an inside/out game like that, don’t be surprised to see Space land a spot in the final Fresh 75 when it’s all said and done.
Matt Jones, 6-5, SG, DeSoto, 2013
Jones, known as one of the better pure shooters of the Class of 2013, struggled mightily with his J throughout the game. The sophomore, who plays his AAU ball with the Texas Titans, stepped his game up in the second half and finished with 18 points. While it certainly wasn’t his best game, the skills that he possesses that put him in SLAM’s Fresh 25 were still easily noticeable.
Jamal Branch, 6-2, PG, Grace Prep, 2011
Branch had an up-and-down game, struggling with a leg injury that sent him out for a chunk of time. One of the best passers in the senior class, he tended to get a little too cute with the rock at times and made some careless turnovers in the loss to DeSoto. The Texas A&M recruit is a catalyst who already knows how to run the pick and roll, so we remain confident that he’ll be straight once he hits College Station.
Zach Peters, 6-9, PF, Prestonwood Christian, 2012
The blowout dub wasn’t the best spot to check out Peters, who looked like a grown man going up against boys in the game we peeped. Playing less than half of the game, the chiseled Kansas commit used his strength and ability to finish around the cup with either hand to acquire a double-double in less than half of the game. We’ll definitely be checking out Peters on the AAU circuit where he’ll go up against cats his own size.