St. Louis Summer Classic: Day 1

ST. LOUIS – The second evaluation period tipped off in St. Louis on Friday as a number of talented teams from the Midwest squared off. While a nearly 100-degree day and no air conditioning made for some challenging conditions, there were still several standouts, including 2012 point guard Semaj Christon.

Semaj Christon, PG, Cincinnati Knights – Even in a loss to a tough and balanced Kingdom Hoops squad, Christon had arguably the day's top performance as he went for 16 points and numerous assists on a number of highly difficult moves. When Semaj has the ball in the open floor, his ability to create scoring opportunities for himself or teammates is very high-level. Because of his speed, quickness, handles, vision, and ability to finish difficult looks near the rim, Christon is very tough to stop with the ball in his hands. His jumper still needs work, and at times he can be passive with the ball in his hands, but overall, he's a high-major point guard.

Kyle Washington, C, Howard Pulley – Despite being saddled with foul trouble, Washington still made his presence felt at times in a close win over the Illinois Wolves. Washington owned the defensive glass, to the tune of double-digit rebounds, and also patrolled the paint on the defensive end. Kyle didn't block many looks, but made sure to contest when necessary and is also outstanding in communicating with his teammates on the defensive end. His hands need work on the offensive end, and at times he can get jumpy and put up a quick look when he gets a touch, but his ability to run the floor, and rebound and defend are what currently makes him attractive to high-major programs. It didn't hurt that his vision is also solid for a big man.

Tyus Jones, PG, Howard Pulley – After a slow start that included a few turnovers, Jones slowed down his game and steadily got things under control. Once a few jumpers and runners began falling, Tyus created enough space between his defender to run an offense and maintain control of the ball in a game in which possessions were at a premium.

Darreon Reddick, PG, SW Illinois Jets 15's – A big-bodied point, Darreon uses his 6-3 frame to simply overpower smaller guards on the way to the basket. Even more impressive is Darreon's willingness to play physically and draw contact from bigs once he gets around the rim. There are times when his handle is a bit too casual and turnovers become a problem, but Reddick will be a player to track as the years go on.

Darius Austin, SF, SW Illinois Jets 15's – Austin has always had an imposing frame for a young wing prospect, but now his handle and jumper are improving to go along with it. While in the spring Austin did his damage in small spurts, in a dominant first half against Mokan, he asserted himself off-the-bounce with aggressive takes to the bucket that often resulted in baskets or fouls. His jumper, although still flat at times, is also steadily improving. Now comes the time when Austin plays in attack mode for entire games and takes the next step in his development.

Brinkley Jolly, PF, Mokan 15's – After being thoroughly outplayed in the first half by a physically imposing SW Illinois Jets squad, Jolly and his Mokan teammates took the punch to the mouth and delivered the real knockout blow in the second half. A long-armed and big-bodied forward, Jolly has some room to grow into his frame and already does some damage around the basket. He made a living scoring off of down screens with both hands, often catching passes and patiently reading his defender and faking before dropping in another bucket.

* 2012 shooting guard Casey Kasperbauer shot the ball well from the outside to help lead a balanced Kingdom Hoops victory over the Cincinnati Knights.

* Purdue commit Jay Simpson did a nice job of initiating contact on the defensive end and on the defensive glass in a matchup with Kyle Washington. The 2012 power forward still has a problem absorbing contact on the offensive end, however and shies away from contact far too often.

I only caught Willie Cauley for a little while in a win against The Family, but he made a very impressive block that was followed with him sprinting the floor and being rewarded with a perfect lob for an alley-oop.

Although the game was well out of reach in a loss to The Family 16's, Indiana commit James Blackmon scored the ball in a variety of ways and played hard throughout the contest.

Illinois Wolves 2012 power forward Brock Benson will get some mid-major love for his flurry of activity around the basket. Benson did a nice job of crashing the glass and keeping the ball high when he got the ball in his mitts. His production helped the Wolves back into the game after an early 12-0 hole against Howard Pulley.

Shots weren't falling for Siyani Chambers, but the lefty point man did an excellent job of finding open teammates and creating looks when the game turned into a track meet.

The Spiece Indy Heat 17's could have easily overlooked the All-Iowa Attack second unit, but Purdue commit Bryson Scott and Indiana commit Trey Lyles both played extremely hard and helped put the game out of reach early. Bryson Scott continued to play in attack mode the entire game and never let up while Lyles showed no fear attacking off the bounce with an improved handle, or producing near the basket.

Illinois Wolves teammates Jerron Wilbut and Jamal Millison both can create space to get off shots, but didn't hit with consistency. Still, both players continued to play hard and make plays on both ends.

Semaj Christon has a final four of Xavier, Illinois, Providence, and Georgetown. The 2012 point guard claims offers from all four programs, and intends to visit Illinois sometime in the near future. Christon also said that Xavier and Georgetown are on him the hardest and that Xavier is the current favorite. Semaj plans on making his decision before he leaves for Brewster Acadermy in September.

Siyani Chambers claims offers from Central Michigan, Santa Barbara, UC-Irvine, Cal Poly and Nebraska. Harvard, Stanford, Washington State, and Georgia Tech have also been in touch.

Kyle Washington claims offers from Penn State, Iowa State, Marquette, Wisconsin, and Drake. Wake Forest, Xavier and Clemson have also shown interest.

Jerron Wilbut claims offers from Southern Illinois, Nevada and Missouri State. Virginia Tech, Boston College, Washington State and Dayton are also tracking.

Darius Austin has interest from Illinois, Ohio State, Xavier, Michigan, Southern Illinois and Missouri State.

Darreon Reddick has interest from Michigan, Xavier, Southern Illinois and Missouri State.

Baylor, Purdue, Ohio State, Penn State, Northwestern, Kansas State, Minnesota, Michigan State, Missouri, Cincinnati, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State all took in the Howard Pulley and Illinois Wolves 17U clash.

Illinois, Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State and Purdue all had assistant coaches present during the Spiece Indy Heat and Family 16U game.

Southern Illinois head coach Chris Lowry and San Francisco head man Rex Walters caught the Mokan and SW Illinois Jets 15's contest while assistant coaches from Illinois, Ohio State, Xavier, Michigan and Purdue were also tracking.

Xavier assistant Travis Steele and Illinois assistant Jay Price were both on hand to watch Semaj Christon take on Kingdom Hoops.

AJ Hammons and his Spiece Indy Heat teammates drew assistant coaches from Indiana, Florida, Ohio State, and Purdue.

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