Kyrie Irving – Irving started off really slow at this event, but warmed up nicely in the last three games. He was outplayed by Brandon Knight and had two match ups with Josh Selby which were a draw. Still, there were many reasons for his sluggish play. First off, he is accustomed to playing with lesser talent and being the go to man. Yeah, I know that all of the kids at the NBAPA were go to guys, but he had a hard time adjusting to not getting the ball where he wanted it. He did not team well with Tyler Lamb. [private] In fact, Lamb, a shooting guard often tried to receive the in bounds pass when Irving was the true point in the game. When Lamb did get the ball, well, that was that for he was going to shoot. Irving showed he needs work on the consistency of his outside shot, but he is more than capable of remedying this. It should also be noted that he played in many east coast AAU events last year. What I’m getting at is he did not know some of the guys at the event, so it took him a bit to find his comfort zone.
Tyler Thornton - Tyler constantly talks to his teammates and plays a really smart floor game. His defense is solid, but he does have trouble keeping up with speedsters like Joe Jackson. He continues to work on his outside shot and is more than capable of running the point. He became more aggressive as the camp went on and that served him well. Needs to cut down on the occasional drives where he takes it into the teeth of the defense. He will likely surprise a few with his play once he is at the point for a team that plays as a team.
Josh Hairston – Hairston is adjusting to the hype and as we reported here, he’ll transfer to Montrose and that will help in that the competition is better. Hairston has been forced to play out of position and by floating outside working on his jumper, his inside game has suffered and slightly regressed. Hairston is a victim of being labeled a Dukie and prospects come at him hard, but he must learn to match their intensity being more physical on the boards and around the glass. He’ll be fine, but getting his inside game back in shape will help his confidence which has been slightly shaken of late.
Ray McCallum – Ray was no match for the speed of Joe Jackson in that he had trouble turning the corner on him. Still, McCallum is a pure point guard that generally does not hurt his team. It is clear that he is a notch below Knight and Irving, but he is steady and never shaken when beat. IOW, he bounces back quickly. He was not particularly aggressive on the offensive end at the NBAPA and had trouble getting his shot off when taking it down the lane if he didn’t have an outlet. He is quick with the ball and an adept ball handler, but he did struggle with the likes of Knight and Jackson. I think a little more upper body strength would help his game tremendously.
Joe Jackson - He had a great camp and proved himself the fastest of all the PG prospects. He would on occasion look for his shot instead of teammates, but could not be stopped when going into the lane. He plays good on ball defense and despite being wiry and slender he is unusually strong with his movements. Needs work on his outside shot, but is a scoring point that will give teams major head aches when he is on his game. You had to see Jackson play throughout the whole tournament to appreciate him. I have seen where some watched these kids the first two days and formed an opinion from that instead of the entire body of their games.
Tarik Black – As advertised with a solid body and loves to work in the paint. Did a great job against the much bigger Fab Mello and has two key baskets to help his team win the championship game. Not a great spot up shooter nor can he put the ball on the floor like some c, but he is more than efficient with his overall game and his presence is strong when in the game. Much more advanced than Tsafack at this stage, but he is learning the game of hoops as well in that he starting balling at a late age.
Brandon Knight - Knight is freakishly good, but his team did not win a single game. I am not sure what that says, but he has all the tools which make coaches drool. He is by far the best PG prospect in his class and there is a significant drop off to get to the next tier. Some people say he is selfish, but there is nothing he supposedly does wrong that cannot be fixed. Outside shot is spotty, but he is a blaze of motion with the ball and takes it to the rack with tremendous authority. Knight is very confident and is college ready right now.
Dominique Ferguson – He started slowly, but he woke up in the final two games. I feel he needs to be more aggressive on defense and down low. Still, the package is there and he has long arms and a body that is perfect for development. If he learns to play with an attitude of aggression, watch out.
Harrison Barnes - Started slowly by his standards and looked tired. His teammates did not get him the ball a lot, yet he still came away a stat stuffer by tournaments end. He struggled mightily on the front end of one and ones and was double teamed a lot. He is not a super presence when taking it into traffic, but he gets the shot off. Good inside/out play and gave maximum effort. Very smooth in all aspects of his game and plays with a quiet confidence at all times. He is not a rah-rah guy, keeping his emotion in check much like Trajan Langdon did in his days at Duke.
Andre Dawkins – Andre got saddled on one of the weaker teams and he didn’t like losing. He continued to show improvement on both ends of the court. This is a kid just now discovering his athleticism and what he can do with it. Dawkins scored on most anybody and played hard even when his team was down and out. He resurrected his team for a late playoff run. Still needs more work on his handle and creating his shot off the dribble.
Fab Mello – Mello didn’t disappoint. In fact, he played better against the best than he seems to in AAU tournaments against lesser competition. His size and ability to run the floor is impressive, but he is clueless on how to use his body with positioning. If he masters that, watch out for he will be a beast. Needs polish on his offensive game, but has all the tools to be the real deal. Struggles mightily with communication and seems to create more pressure than there really is. [/private]