Cauley and Austin do battle
The highlight matchup of the EYBL Qualifier was an impressive one. With Spiece Mo-Kan taking on Texas Pro for an invitation to join the Nike travel circuit, Willie Cauley and Isaiah Austin went head-to-head in an impressive battle.
Arguably Austin and Cauley are the two best shot blockers in the class and both of them are long and athletic 7-footers who take pride in being a game changer. Having the opportunity to go up against each other they brought their top games.
Austin showed that he is the more skilled player of the two knocking in a three, taking Cauley off the dribble, and having a mid-range jumper, but he also was the victim of numerous blocked shots. It isn't often that a player can contest Austin at the apex of his leap, but Cauley was able to do that.
For his part offensive Cauley also was blocked several times by Austin, but he ran the floor, even showed an ability to pass in transition, and had several dunks that put Mo-Kan in the lead for much of the first three quarters of the game.
The two went at each other as hard as they could for all four quarters, and Cauley had to finish with a near triple-double as he was a shot blocking machine, though he didn't get double-figure points. Austin definitely got the points and rebounds needed for a double-double, and didn't quite block as many shots as Cauley.
Overall it was a good test for both of them, and truth be told the individual matchup played to a draw as the four-star Cauley went step for step with the five-star Austin.
Danuel House, SF/SG, Texas Pro – The athletic wing from Houston had a solid game in a losing effort. House scored it well from the outside by making shots, and of course had his standard one crazy athletic dunk per game. What makes House interesting is that he is also a very good rebounder from the wing spot and can defend all three positions on the perimeter. He needs to get stronger and tighten his handle, but the pull up jumper looks good and the athleticism is elite level.
Danrad Knowles, PF, Texas Pro – Better known as "Chicken", Knowles was easily the most entertaining player to watch simply because of his mannerisms and the fun he has playing the game. While extremely skinny, Knowles profiles as a face up power forward right now. He can stretch the defense with the three and also is long and athletic so he can block shots. Knowles must get stronger and gain a better sense of how to play, but he is definitely someone who could end up at a high-major with a little refinement.
Jelon Hornbeak, SG, Texas Pro – Hornbeak had a relatively quiet game, but the talented and skilled wing did make a few moves that opened eyes. He is a strong player who has a good handle and that allows him to get to the rim at will, but at the same time he has to be more aggressive in order to be as effective as he should be given his high skill level and good athleticism.
Marcus Paige, PG, Martin Bros. Attack – It was another solid, but not great game from Paige. Now he did lead Martin Bros. to one of the EYBL berths, so it was a good day, but Paige didn't quite have an epic performance. He did everything well, hitting some shots, getting others involved, and being a leader, but he didn't have that signature performance he has been looking for.
Brice Johnson, PF, Carolina Ravens – When it comes to passing the look test very few do it better than Johnson. He has a long and lean body, runs the floor very well, and is an explosive leaper. Right now his potential is more than his production. Johnson spent a lot of the game in foul trouble, but did have some buckets and blocked shots when he was on the floor. Gaining strength will determine exactly which level Johnson gets to.
Semi Ojeleye, SF/PF, Spiece Mo-Kan – It was a great game for Ojeleye. Not only did he hit the game winning three ball with 2.0 seconds left, but he was dominant virtually all game long. Ojeleye looked more like a small forward than a power forward as he had the day before, and proved to be a good rebounder and an excellent scorer. More performances like this one, and Ojeleye will be one of the most heavily recruited players in the entire class.
Clayton Custer, PG, Spiece Mo-Kan – With the game on the line Mo-Kan put the ball in Custer's hands and trusted him to make smart decisions. That is a lot of faith to be showing in a freshman, but Mo-Kan did just that. Throughout the game Custer made open shots, found teammates, and did a pretty good job of handling some pressure defense. For a young prospect on a pressure stage it was an impressive performance.