Flyin’ To The Hoop: Top Underclassmen
SLAM takes a look at the top youngsters from Flyin’ To The Hoop.
In what could honestly serve as the model for your ideal national high school event, the Good Samaritan Flyin’ To The Hoop lived up to it’s rep this year and put on yet another outstanding event. While many of the nation’s top seniors were doing their thing in Springfield, Mass at HoopHall, Eric Horstman and Branden Cultice did a sick job of getting a few of the nation’s top seniors along with a ton of the best underclassmen under one roof for one hell of an event.
There were teams from eight different states that drew the likes of John Calipari, Thad Matta, Chris Mack, Mick Cronin, and Brian Gregory down to Trent Arena to check out the talent. The hospitality room was off the hook with ribs, wings, and everything else you could imagine catered by Fricker’s. After the games were over, organizers hosted a social in the host hotel that allowed coaches, media, and organizers to kick it and network with each other into the wee hours of the morning. All in all, a legit weekend with some great hoops.
These are some of the top underclassmen who caught our eye:
Jabari Parker, 6-7, SF, Simeon (IL), 2013
Chicago legend Sonny Parker‘s son, Jabari, was the top youngster in Dayton. Equipped with a game similar to a young Paul Pierce (although a bit less explosive), the do-it-all sophomore played all five positions for Simeon in their blowout victory. Jabari gave fans the full monty, showing off a nasty post game, shooting the ball well from three, dropping a few dimes, and handling the rock in the open court. We had Jabari ranked No. 11 in the Fresh 25 after seeing him a little on the heavy side over on the summer. Fast forward six months and 15 pounds less, you’re looking at a dude who will definitely be cracking the top 5 next time around.
Tony Parker, 6-9, PF/C, Miller Grove (GA), 2012
In probably the most dominant game that I’ve seen out of him in a while, Parker did his thing in Miller Grove’s win 18 and 18. He did a great job of rebounding the ball out of his area, caught everything thrown to him in the three second area, and shot the ball well facing the basket. If Tony can continue to play with this sort of passion every game, expect Miller Grover to do some major damage in Georgia’s state tourney.
Gary Harris, 6-4, SG, Hamilton Southeastern (IN), 2012
It was a bag of mixed emotions with Mr. Harris from FTTH. In Game 1, he straight stole the show after he put 29 on the board. In Game 2, he struggled with the physical play of Traevon Jackson and was held to 4 points. When he was on, the junior showed off the versatile package of acrobatic drives to the tin and jumpers that have made him a top-25 guy. Having the dunk of the tournament didn’t hurt his cause, either.
Zak Irvin, 6-6, SG/SF, Hamilton Southeastern (IN), 2013
Irvin lived up to his billing as one of the top sophomores in the Midwest with his slick play in front of Ohio State coach Thad Matta. Labeled by some as just a shooter, Irvin exhibited a slashing game that some scouting reports say doesn’t exist. He had no problems getting to the cup, pulling up from mid-range, and even tried to bang on someone once. With that being said, its easy to see why Illinois, Baylor, Ohio State, Indiana and Michigan State are recruiting him.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes, 6-4, SG/PG, Christian Faith Center (NC), 2014
The latest in the Canadian lineage of Ro Russell showed why he’s considered a top 50 freshman by most scouting services with his gorgeous jumper, slick court vision, and advanced skill set. He’s not a guy who is going to blow you away with one particular trait, but the youngster has a basketball IQ and court savvy unlike most ballers his age.
Malik London, 6-9, PF/C, Chillicothe (OH), 2012
Most look at a gangly kid standing 6-9 and MAYBE 200 pounds soaking wet and think, ‘He’s too skinny.’ Malik London proved all the haters wrong, dominating his game to the tune of 18 points, 14 rebounds and 8 blocks. There’s still a lot of work to go in terms of back to the basket game, but the tools are there and he’s showing a much improved game facing the cup. London doesn’t play against the world’s best comp during the high school season, but we”ll be able to see him against some big time cats when he’s running with Ohio Basketball Club on the adidas AAU circuit.
Sim Bhullar, 7-4, C, Huntington Prep (WV), 2012
Though playing limited minutes in both games, the tallest player in American high school basketball did his thing in front of a nearly sold out crowd at FTTH. The 7-4 junior averaged 17 and 11 in his two games in Dayton and shot an astounding 70 percent from the field. The package of size, hands and ability to finish with contact have drawn suitors such as Pitt, UConn and West Virginia to vie for his services. Simply put, the massive center knows what he can and can’t do. And when he gets it in the paint, you may as well just chalk him up for two points.
Charles Mitchell, 6-8, PF/C, Wheeler (GA), 2012
Mitchell was one of the guys who really surprised me at FTTH after only seeing him play sparingly on the AAU circuit. Looking like a defensive end prospect, he told us he strictly plays hoops and it will stay that way in college. With the soft touch, great hands, and mobile feet that he possesses, we definitely see why. So does Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Wake Forest, Maryland, and all of the other schools that have offered him a scholarship.
Deontae Hawkins, 6-7, PF, Dayton Dunbar (OH), 2012
After winning a state championship last season as a role player,”Teddy” took his game to a whole other level and is now the focus of Dunbar’s offense. The face-up four man did a great job stretching the D with his ability to shoot the ball and was active as both a rebounder and shot blocker. It would have been nice to see him take over and demand the pill a little more, but that’s just not his style and it’s done him well thus far.