Jordan Brand: Day One Recap

NEW YORK — The capitol of the world is hosting the Jordan Brand festivities for the remainder of the week, as 26 of the country’s top prospects have converged in the Big Apple for the Jordan Brand Classic. Games tip off on Friday night.

Unlike other postseason all-star events, Jordan Brand actually features three contests: an International game, a Regional game, and finally the National all-star game.

The national and international players are participating in the practices, and that’s where we’ll direct our coverage for the next couple days.

The practices are shorter than those at McDonald’s, for example, but all four sets of the national and international teams did do some scrimmaging.

Top Performers

Malik Newman (pictured above), SG — This unsigned shooting guard told Evan Daniels today that he doesn’t intend to sign a letter of intent nor take official visits. From a recruiting point of view, all that means is that he’s more or less locked in to his current opinions — whatever those may be — and will maintain flexibility in case something changes at the program of his choice during the summer. Scholarship papers bind the school but not the player, and obviously no coach would attempt to strong-arm a player of Newman’s caliber.

On the court, he enjoyed some outstanding moments with the ball. Newman is a pure wing but did showcase to the NBA scouts in attendance that he can be effective as a transition playmaker. He calls his own number plenty, of course, but he also made several nice dishes and demonstrated solid court awareness.

Deyonta Davis, PF — Relatively quiet at McDonald’s practices, Davis asserted himself far more boldly on day one in New York. The Michigan State-bound big man didn’t do anything dramatic, he simply caught the passes he should catch in traffic, frequently, and finished with dunks. He also looked more comfortable posting up and attempting short hooks, and his overall size and athleticism showed up on defense as well.

Isaiah Briscoe, PG/SG — The postseason has been very kind to Briscoe. The future Kentucky Wildcat is much stronger and fitter than he has been in the past, and on day one he made numerous plays changing direction with the ball off the dribble.

Briscoe has surpassed expectations in April

His ability to shake free in traffic and between defenders has impressed NBA people the past three weeks and could enable him to blow up in college in the meantime. He knocked in a couple jump shots today as well, something he must do more consistently as he steps up in competition.

Cheick Diallo, C — He actually was fairly quiet on the day, but Diallo gets mention here solely on the basis of his magnificent tip-dunk. The unsigned senior timed a teammate’s missed jump shot and exploded off one foot to reach back and corral a long rebound from distance, then brought the ball back across his body to ram it home. He also did make at least one short baseline jump shot, but all in all his offense looks behind the curve relative to his elite peers. Still, he’ll bring energy, toughness and stupendous athleticism to his ultimate collegiate selection.

Yves Pons, WF — A 6-5, 197-pound power wing from France by way of Haiti, Pons is a very strong and athletic slasher who skies for slams and attacks aggressively off the bounce. Blessed with long arms, he also grabs offensive rebounds and projects as a potentially elite defender. Though not the quickest release, he also proved he can hit an open three-pointer. A key for the internationals is that they fall within the 16-under division, so Pons would be no older than a Class of 2017 prospect in relation to his American peers.

Rui Hachimura, PF/WF — Hachimura is native of Japan and has a Japanese mother, while his father hails from Benin. A 6-6, 210-pound combo forward, he’s physically advanced and very mobile with good straight-line speed. His frame suggests power forward yet he possesses sufficient quickness to potentially play on the perimeter some down the road. Hachimura has said that he intends to sign with an American college and pursue his basketball dreams in the United States.

Simi Shittu, PF — This 6-8, 210-pound power forward in Canada — he attends Burlington (Ontario) Corpus Christi — is another strong and powerful athlete who’s quick off the floor and possesses nice fluidity and offensive rebounding instincts. He’s an established college prospect for American colleges and ultimately should land at the major conference level.

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