Pitt Jam Fest: Top Seniors
Presenting the top seniors at Pitt Jam Fest.
In terms of early AAU events, the Hoop Group runs an A+ event that you’ve got to be at if you’re anywhere in the Midwest or East Coast. Rob Engemann and Chad Babel got it done yet again, bringing in elite teams from every shoe company to go at it for bragging rights.
There were quite a few members of both SLAMonline’s Fresh 50 for 2012 and Fresh 25 for 2013 in attendance, along with some sleepers who will surely make their debuts once they next set comes out. The talent was there, as was more drama than on the CW. We saw two notable EYBL coaches get bounced from the event. One particular coach even opted to throw his Pepsi all over the court after a profanity-laced tirade which involved trying to fight the ref. Only in AAU basketball….
Here’s a look at some of the top Punks we saw:
Kyle Anderson, 6-8, PG/SG/SF/PF, Playaz
The most versatile player in the Class of 2012 lived up to his rep, coming close to trip dipping on more than one occasion in Pittsburgh. It seemed as if the game came so effortlessly to him, playing the game in slow motion (hence the nickname “Slo-Mo”), picking and choosing how he wanted to get buckets. Anderson had no problems seeing over the defense to find the open man, while also shooting over smaller defenders. What’s been even more impressive about Kyle is the way that he’s developed his post skills to truly make him a problem to guard. Each time I see him, I like his game even more and he should definitely find himself moving up in the next Fresh 50 when it’s released in June.
Jerami Grant, 6-8, PF/SF, Team Takeover (DC)
The best player for the top team in the tournament was Grant, who not surprisingly seems to be shooting up the recruiting charts. Jerami showed a high activity level and used his athleticism to make a ton of plays on both ends of the hardwood. Comfy facing the basket, he showed off a promising face-up game that could allow him to play either forward spot once he hits college. Harvey Grant’s son doesn’t rock the rec specs like his pops or uncle Horace, but has the chance to make it to the same ultimate destination if he continues improving at this rate.
Mitch McGary, 6-9, PF/C, SYF Players
Coming off of an outstanding performance in Milwaukee, McGary dominated the competition yet again in Pittsburgh and led SYF to the silver championship. How they lost in pool play baffles me because they looked like one of the very best teams that the event had to offer, regardless of division. It’s not often that you see a burly big man grab a rebound, go coast to coast, and finish with a dunk. McGary has a pretty advanced skill set on the offensive end, rocking a nice J out to 15 feet and the skills to finish with either hand with his back to the basket. After Milwaukee, I thought of him as a guy who may crack the top 50. After Pittsburgh, I’m starting to realize that Mr. McGary may find himself in the top 25 by the time it’s all said and done.
Tyler Lewis, 5-11, PG, Team Loaded
The defending Pitt Jam Fest champs made a return to the finals of the gold bracket behind their diminutive point guard. He may not look like an athlete, isn’t going to bang on the break, and isn’t the strongest defender but is an absolute winner. When his team got down early in the second half of the championship game, scoring 14 straight points to lead Team Loaded back into the game. The NC State shot the lights out of the ball and made some downright amazing passes during his team’s tourney fun. Say what you want to say, but Tyler is definitely one of the funnest players to watch in the senior class.
Andrew White, 6-5, SF, Team Loaded
After reclassifying to the Class of 2012, strong play caused an opposing AAU director to cause a 20-minute delay in the game by complaining to promoter’s that White shouldn’t be able to play because he was a year older than the comp. Mind you, there had to have been 50 players there who were reclassed, but White was putting in enough work to have cats hating on him like that. The silky smooth shooter is also athletic enough to easily slash by guys to the rim and finish in traffic. Sleeper no more, Andrew is likely to blow up within the coming months.
Neville Fincher, 6-9, PF/C, Playaz
After a relatively average showing at the first Nike EYBL, Fincher came back with a vengeance on the defensive end at the Pitt Jam Fest. The Jersey product was a beast on the glass and showed great timing as a shot blocker. His offensive game is very much still a work in progress at this point, but he had no problem catching the ball and finishing with a nasty dunk. The emerging big is hearing from the likes of Villanova, VCU, Pitt, Virginia and Georgetown among others. Expect that list to grow in the coming months.
Desmond Ridenour, 6-0, PG, Ohio Basketball Club
Taking his team to the silver championship game, Ridenour was sizzling with three straight 30+ point games. A flashy point guard with handles for days, the Cleveland native was able to break down just anyone who tried to check him. There were times that Ridenour had a little too much flair for his own good, but remained one of the more exciting scoring guards to watch when everything was said and done.