Simmons making moveSince his Pangos All-American performance in June of 2012, Ben Simmons has had some serious buzz about him in basketball recruiting circles.
At the City of Palms Classic this week that buzz ramped up a notch.
Simmons, a native of Australia, who is already committed to play his college basketball at LSU, showed dominance at times and helped lead Montverde (Fla.) Academy to the City of Palms Championship.
Simmons opened up the event by scoring 31 points and reeling in 12 rebounds. He followed that up with a 20-point, 12-rebound effort. In all, he averaged 18 points and 13.5 rebounds through four games at the City of Palms Classic.
So what makes Simmons so special?
Simmons brings versatility to the forward position. He's capable of defending both perimeter and post players. He's gifted athletically, runs the floor well and at 6-foot-8 has a strong body with lengthy arms.
Offensively Simmons has good skill. Although not a great shooter from three, he's capable of making shots to 22-feet when his feet are set. For his size, he handles the ball well enough. On the block he has a hook shot and is able to face up defenders and attack.
Another area Simmons excels is rebounding. In all four games at the City of Palms, Simmons recorded double-digit rebounds. He pursues rebounds in and out is area and is athletic and strong enough to be a high-level rebounder at the next level.
Malik Newman is the current No. 1 in the 2015 class, but Simmons is certainly making his case. Word out of California is that 6-foot-9 post player Ivan Rabb is making a run at the top spot as well, so it appears there's a nice battle brewing in the 2015 class.
Allen shows competitivenessJahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justice Winslow may be Duke's top three rated recruits, but Grayson Allen, a standout at Riverview (Fla.) Providence, made it quite clear at City of Palms, he will be heading to Duke looking to play early and often.
In the opening round against Bellflower (Fla.) St. John Bosco, Allen matched up with elite 2014 wing Daniel Hamilton. The 6-foot-4 Allen pressured Hamilton, forced him into difficult shots and overall made his night difficult.
Offensively, Allen, who is a very good athlete, is at his best when he's in attack mode. He was aggressive with his drives to the basket and because of his strength, ability to adjust his shots and pure athleticism; he finished well at the rim. His aggressiveness and physical play also helped him get to the free throw line 20 times against St. John Bosco.
The bottom line is Allen is a competitor. He has a reputation as a hard worker and he's a guy that has made improvements to his game. Duke will have plenty of options on the wing next season and it appears Allen isn't content on being just another guy. He's headed to Duke looking to make a major impact, just like the rest of Duke's freshman class.
Whitehead doesn't let upAfter July, Isaiah Whitehead jumped to the No. 1 shooting guard in the 2014 class. His performance at the City of Palms Classic only reaffirmed his position as an elite player and the top shooting guard in the country.
Whitehead scored 102 points in four games, including a high of 37 points on opening night. The Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln standout also averaged six rebounds and nearly six assists a game.
A Seton Hall signee, Whitehead showed he's a terrific scorer that can fill it up in a variety of ways. The range on his jump shot is deep and he's a consistent shooter out to three. Perhaps his biggest strength though is his mid-range game, where he's able to create space using his body and handle and make pull-up jump shots with ease.
Another thing that stuck out about Whitehead at the City of Palms Classic was his overall skill level. He handles the ball quite well and has very good vision. While he's bound to play majority of his time off the ball in college, he's skilled enough and passes the ball well enough where he may end up playing the point guard position down the road.
At 6-foot-4, Whitehead has strong body. He's physical, tough and plays well through contact. Because of his physicality, strength and athletic ability, Whitehead is also a good rebounder from the guard position.