This week has produced some new names and others who surprised with their improvement, but on Saturday at times it was the established high-majors — including several who've already committed — who stepped into the foreground.
Brandone Francis, PG/SG, Florida Elite — Few players compete with as much vigor or personality as this future Florida Gator. Though not a classical point guard in a ball distribution sense, Francis succeeds in part because he knows no boundaries. At times this hurts him because he'll force a pass that results in a turnover or gamble unwisely on defense, but he certainly wins more than his fair share of outcomes on the risk/reward continuum. He isn't known to be a great shooter but knocked down multiple jumpers in a hard-fought win over the South Texas Spurs, including several threes. He also used his overpowering physical strength and fullcourt speed to burrow his way to the rim. From an intangibles perspective, he constantly attacks and confronts, maybe mouthing off a little more than he should but, there again, that's just who he is competitively. He burns hot and should enjoy a fantastic career in Gainesville.
B.J. Stith, WF, Team Loaded — Virginia happily will welcome this top-100 prospect into the fold for the 2014-15 season. Stith's play has been inconsistent this summer, but he stood out for stretches on Saturday. He's a big-time jump shooter with an ideal, high-arching shot, and he has extended his range from 17 feet (his previous bread and butter) to the three-point stripe. He also possesses the dribble moves to make a play off the bounce, though his handling versus pressure could use improvement. Stith isn't an elite athlete and perhaps that makes him less exciting to watch than some others, but his ability to fill up the net from range should earn him early playing time for the Wahoos.
Ben Lammers, C, South Texas Spurs — High-majors are involved with Lammers, and those watching him in a losing performance at the Super 64 undoubtedly came away more inclined to offer him a scholarship. Lammers isn't terribly athletic and in fact lumbers quite a bit running the floor, but when he's in the play, he's frequently in the play. He's a sure finisher thanks to good hands and soft interior touch, and he shows the makings of a jump hook. His turnaround jump shot features a low release point and needs work, but it's worth noting that he did convert one from eight feet. Meanwhile, he carries a solid frame and utilizes his body to block out solidly on the glass, making him an effective defensive rebounder. He may never be the No. 1 option for a major conference program, but he's a credible center in a class that's lacking depth at that position.
Prince Ali, WF, Florida Elite — Schools that like slashing wings definitely should check out Ali. Right now, he can get out of control and possibly is a little too reliant on his very quick first step, but the moral of the story is that he consistently beats his guy off the dribble. He's also an explosive finisher and capable of difficult shots at the rim as long as he stays under control, and his fullcourt speed is commendable.
Tomorrow's championship rounds take place throughout the city, and while most coaches will have departed some will stick around to watch prized targets compete for hardware.
The herd thinned significantly from Friday to Saturday, but we did observe the UCLA coaches at various locations along with most other Pac-12 programs along with Virginia, N.C. State and others.