Tark Classic: Day Three Notebook

LAS VEGAS - The play of 2016 small forward Josh Jackson was once again the biggest storyline at the Tarkanian Classic on Friday.

Jackson and Vanderbilt face off

Two elite prospects faced off on Friday at the Tarkanian Classic when Napa (Calif.) Prolific Prep small forward Josh Jackson and Amarillo (Texas) Victory Prep power forward Jarred Vanderbilt took the court at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

Jackson, Scout’s 3rd ranked prospect in 2016 and Vanderbilt, Scout’s 11th rated prospect in 2017, have done nothing but improve their stock this week and this game was no different.

There may not be a bigger story of the Tarkanian Classic than the play of Jackson. While his current ranking is nothing to scoff at, he’s clearly proven himself as a very legitimate contender as the top prospect nationally in 2016.

It’s not just his freak athleticism that’s unique, but also the way he uses it on every single play. There are a lot of athletes out there but knowing how to use your physical gifts to your advantage is a skill in itself and Jackson gets it.

He uses his athleticism to sky above others on the court for rebounds, he’ll block shots not just on instincts but just on pure leaping ability and his intensity combined with lateral quickness make him a terrific on the ball defender.

Add all that with the fact he’s a kid who can handle the ball and slash and finish effortlessly while playing with a nonstop motor and you have a big time prospect that is still just scratching the surface of what he could be someday.

While Jackson certainly made a big statement on Friday, so did Vanderbilt. At 6-foot-8, Vanderbilt has a good frame with long arms and really knows how to play.

Vanderbilt can score facing up or inside and used his ball skills and footwork to make some impressive shots, including a turnaround jumper and a crossover leading to a stepback long midrange jumper.

He drove to the basket, scored on the offensive glass and, maybe most importantly, exhibited a very strong basketball IQ and willingness to make his teammates better.

Vanderbilt’s combination of size, physical ability, instincts and skill easily make him one of the top prospects in the 2017 class.

Putman City West knocks off Bishop Gorman in thriller

Not many players have improved their stock nationally this week quite like Tyson Jolly, a 6-foot-4 wing from Putnam City (Okla.) West, and the attributes which make him a good prospect were evident in his team’s 52-50 overtime win over Bishop Gorman.

Jolly, a strong athlete with a good frame and length, is extremely tough and doesn’t take plays off on defense, where he’ll be able to defend most twos and threes at the next level.

He’s a capable shot maker, but it’s how tough he is to stop off the bounce that makes him especially valuable on offense. When he gets going on the bounce, the way he finishes acrobatically and through contact is tough to stop at this level.

Bishop Gorman, which had a strong performances from seniors Ugo Amadi and Nick Blair, wasn’t able to keep Jolly out of the lane.

In the loss, five-star center Stephen Zimmerman showed off his unique skill set. He’s a big time weapon from the high post or perimeter because he can either knock down that shot or use his long arms and vision to make crisp passes to cutters.

Zimmerman’s size and length help him protect the rim, block shots and finish inside, while his left-handed hook shot is unguardable at the high school level.

A strong USA Basketball Camp helped Zimmerman solidify his standing as one of 2015’s premier prospects but the way he’s played to start his senior year has only driven that point further home.

Other Standouts

* Corona (Calif.) Centennial has received a nice week out of 2015 point guard Sedrick Barefield. The SMU signee is tough to stop off the dribble, and he’s used his shiftiness and handle to create his own shots. He’s consistently knocked down some pretty impressive jumpers this week.

* Watch out for Corona Centennial’s 2016 center Ike Anigbogu. A year young for the class and new to the game, Anigbogu may be raw offensively but really impacts the game defensively with his big frame, long arms, huge hands and timing. He’s a kid with a lot of upside.

* Another Centennial post who is on track to being a really productive player is 2017 center Jalen Hill. With his terrific feet, long arms and motor, Hill is a relentless rebounder who can score around the basket. He’s also a year young for his class and is a really promising prospect.

* Redondo Beach (Calif.) Union’s 2017 power forward Billy Preston, a five-star prospect, is similar to 2015’s Carlton Bragg. He’s a good athlete with nice size but is most comfortable facing the basket and trying to impact the game with his jumper. Preston’s most underappreciated attribute is his passing ability.

* One of the most versatile players in the 2016 class is Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep forward Justin Jackson. He’s steadily improved over the last year and is now a guy who impacts the game with his scoring inside and out, but also his impressive passing and rebounding. He’s a guy who helps you win in college.

* Findlay Prep’s 2015 shooting guard and Arizona signee Allonzo Trier is a relentless scorer, who can do it from all three levels. While he’s a big time threat with his jumper and as a slasher, he also has very good vision and can make his teammates better.

* The shots weren’t always falling for 2016 Findlay Prep point guard Derryck Thornton, Jr. on Friday, but he has one of the best handle and vision combinations in the country. Thornton’s midrange jumper and basketball IQ will be valuable commodities at the next level.

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