Notebook: Nation’s Capitol to serve host

In our weekly Notebook feature, the national team explores creative and broad topics from the grassroots hoops realm.

Big weekend in D.C.

Next weekend is a big one for D.C. area hoops, and Scout will be present to cover a pair of events in the area.

Keith Stevens’ National Hoops Festival tips Saturday morning and runs through Sunday. The top players in the event include Cheick Diallo (pictured above), Terrance Ferguson, Justin Robinson, Randall Broddie, Antonio Blakeney, Thon Maker, Jamal Murray, Sylvester Ogbonda, Dennis Smith, V.J. King, Dwayne Bacon, Jayson Tatum, D.J. Harvey and many others.

National Hoops Festival Schedule

10:30 – Largo vs St. John’s
12:15 – West Charlotte vs Potomac
2:00 – Our Savior vs Prime Prep
3:45 – Montrose Christian vs Orangeville Prep
5:30 – St. James vs Oak Ridge
7:15 – Paul VI vs Oak Hill
9:00 – DeMatha vs Chaminade

11:00 – Clinton Christian vs Prime Prep
12:45 – MLK vs Oak Ridge
2:30 – Orangeville Prep vs Our Savior
4:15 – National Christian vs Trinity Christian
6:00 – Paul VI vs Cesar Chavez

Scout will also have coverage from the Gonzaga D.C. Classic, which tips on Friday. The teams participating are Cardinal Hayes, Capital Christian, Mount Carmel, Gonzaga, Roman Catholic, T. Roosevelt, Calvert Hall and Riverdale Baptist.

The action begins at Gonzaga High School’s Carmody Center at 3:15 on Friday.

— Evan Daniels

Scruggs making necessary strides

Class of 2017 shooting guard Paul Scruggs has always been a kid with a lot of athleticism and an elite motor. However, early on in his high school career the question was would the physically strong and mostly developed Scruggs be able to make the necessary skill improvements to take his game to the next level.

Big Ten schools are clamoring for Scruggs

So far this season, Scruggs is answering those questions in a big way with an emphatic yes. The 6-foot-4 Scruggs has not only tightened up his handle, he is shooting the ball much better. Still, he gets an incredible number of rebounds for someone his size,and also is showing signs of being a pretty good passer. Overall Scruggs has really improved his skill set, and his production is on the rise because of it.

Scruggs has been a frequent visitor to Indiana, and the Hoosiers along with Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Xavier, and Kansas have all been a fixture in his recruitment, though at the moment there is no plan for an early decision from Scruggs.

— Brian Snow

Two juniors, one huge game

A pair of Virginia’s hottest 2016 prospects will go head to head on Thursday night. Mamadi Diakite and Sacha Killeya-Jones each has become a top priority for multiple high-major programs, and the two forwards could develop into one of the nation’s best at his position.

Diakite’s explosive style didn’t exist back in the spring

Diakite at times this past fall looked like a potential prep All-American. He has improved dramatically since the spring, when he was a gawky player without a true offensive identity and lacking skills and fluidity. These days, he’s a rear end kicker who has become explosive and also developed a blossoming face-up game. His quickness and reflexes will be assets for the remainder of his career.

Killeya-Jones, meanwhile, is a little taller and can play more of an inside-out style. He possesses some post moves and facing jumpers that also should serve him faithfully for many years.

One never knows how head-to-head matchups will play out, but both teams have at least more than one good player and hopefully the fans and coaches in attendance get to see each guy at his best.

— Rob Harrington

Boise State lands steal in Austin

On Sept. 11, 2014, we had a roundtable discussing available point guards nationally. This was my response:

I still think there's quality on the board, however. Paris Austin, for example, is a 2015 point guard from Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd that has improved at a steady and significant pace for two straight years. He gets better every time you see him and still has plenty of upside. He has no high major offers.

I'm sure there are other situations like Austin's nationally where he may not be ranked or have the attention as others in his class, but he's a sleeper who has the basketball IQ, skill and quickness to help you at the high major level.

The high major offers never came for Austin, who ended up choosing Boise State over Montana and Saint Mary's. Credit the Broncos; this is a kid who could help almost any program on the West Coast.

Austin went from a low major prospect as a sophomore to a mid-major prospect the following summer to somewhere between the mid and high major levels as a junior to a low high major guy the following summer.

That progression spoke of Austin's work ethic and talent, so it's no surprise that as a senior, he looks every bit like a kid who belongs in a high major program.

He's a pure point guard that is quick, can handle it, sees the court, knows how to run a team, takes good shots, makes his teammates better, can play fast or in the halfcourt and values defense.

Boise State successfully evaluated and recruited Austin and as a result is getting a very good point guard prospect.

Evan Daniels, Brian Snow, Josh Gershon and Rob Harrington contributed to this report

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