UA Louisville: Top Performers

The Under Armour circuit has carved out a national niche in the grassroots world thanks in part to its superb marketing ability, but the Association’s talent level can support its own weight as well.

While all three apparel circuits hosted national events within several hours’ drive, I spent my entire weekend at Under Armour’s round robin event in Louisville. The MidAmerica Sports Center is a grand facility to stage an AAU event, and the multitudes of college coaches generally seemed to enjoy the experience.

All that of that leads to what’s actually important: the players. Under Armour features arguably the No. 1 player in both the 2016 and 2017 classes, Josh Jackson and DeAndre Ayton, respectively. Jackson at times took command in Louisville while Ayton did not play due to a minor injury, but according to UA he’s expected to compete in New York next month.

Meanwhile, it was a rising junior, point guard Trevon Duval (pictured above), who at times stole the show.

Here’s a look at the weekend’s top performers:

Class of 2016

Josh Jackson, WF, 1 Nation — I featured Jackson during the weekend but include him here as an epilogue. After his epic 41 points, seven rebounds and six assists versus K.C. Run GMC on Saturday afternoon, he faltered during his squad’s final two contests. Jackson always makes an impact defensively and as a playmaker, but his jump shot abandoned him as the weekend wore on and he continues to struggle mightily from the free throw line (40 percent through two events). He may be the most gifted athlete in the class, however, so here’s hoping the Saturday afternoon version resurfaces as the summer progresses. His overall averages include 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, an indicator that even through inconsistency he manages to compile elite numbers. Clearly, in sum he continues to pose a threat to everyone else in the 2016 class as the potential No. 1 prospect.

Joey Brunk, C, Indy Hoosiers — A 6-9 center, Brunk performed very solidly for a team that has been outmanned at times on the circuit. He possesses sure hands, nice touch around the basket and from the foul line (81 percent), good passing skills and is a fundamentally sound, two-handed rebounder. Brunk also has the frame to add significant muscle, given that he carries some bulk that he has yet to convert into lean mass. What he lacks is great length or much in the way of run/jump athleticism, though he does run fine. He does his best work utilizing polished footwork to score close-range buckets and draw frequent trips to the line. Ultimately, at his size and with his efficiency (64 percent field goals), he’s an easy call for high-major programs and worthy of his top-100 status.

Kameron McGusty, SG, Houston Defenders — McGusty will get his own story later, but for now let’s just observe with admiration the fact that a three star, unranked prospect is leading Under Armour in scoring with over 20 points per game. And let’s also point out the obvious: He won’t remain a three star or unranked for long.

Markelle Fultz, SG, D.C. Blue Devils — Don’t be surprised if Fultz makes a jump from his current perch at No. 34 in the class. He’s No. 3 in scoring and makes it look easy, utilizing an advanced mid-range scoring game to create for himself off the dribble. His two-dribble stepbacks remind of UNLV freshman (and soon to be pro) Rashad Vaughn.

Scoring off the dribble is an area Fultz excels

Fultz’s long arms and outstanding ballhandling skills are major assets, and his ability to bend at the waist gives him options to invent shooting angles while mid-air. In terms of athleticism, body type and style, he appears to be a potential prep All-American for next spring.

Nick Marshall, C, Team Thad — This Memphis-bound big man doesn’t possess the most dynamic offensive ability but is a true, 6-11, 245-pound center who understands his role and competes fiercely to succeed at it. He doesn’t score a lot of points but makes the most of his opportunities — frequently dunks — as evidenced by his 69 percent shooting from the field. He has a long way to from the free throw line and generally needs some oil to grease the mechanical edges, plus average reflexes, but he throws down slams, blocks shots, pulls down boards (nine per game), runs hard and possesses commendable stamina for a big man.

Dewan Huell, PF, Team Breakdown — Huell played like a McDonald’s All-American each time I watched him. He’s very quick off the floor and utilizes his springs for numerous interior finishers, and he also elevates explosively for boards and blocks. Meanwhile, he sits down in the post and unleashes a smooth and quick jump hook with range to eight feet. That’s a weapon that will serve him very well in the future as well as the present. Huell’s energy also impressed and the fact that he’s naturally a finesse player but one who understands the traditional role of a 6-9 big man. He’s averaging a strong 16 points, eight rebounds and two blocks per contest for Breakdown.

Class of 2017

Trevon Duval, PG, We R I — Let’s put it this way: Duval, No. 18 in the class, became one of the weekend’s big surprises. How is that possible? Well, for one thing, he has grown from 6-1 last summer to 6-3 now. He also has grown as an athlete, as he now finishes over the top and racked up multiple dunks during the two games I watched. He’s a true point guard with legitimate NBA floor general size who now boasts excellent quickness yet has retained his blue collar edge. Duval is a tremendous ballhandler and passer who also possesses legitimate three-point range. Additionally, he’s a quick and very tough defender. Playing up a year, he’s No. 5 on the circuit in scoring at 18 points per game; he also shoots a respectable 47 percent from the floor, ranks No. 3 assists and leads the league in steals. Duval now appears to be a legitimate contender as the point guard in the rising junior class.

Hamidou Diallo, CG, N.Y. Jayhawks — The Jayhawks became a college coaches’ darling over the course of the weekend, as several of their prospects appear to be relatively under-recruited high-majors. Well, Diallo is a young guy playing up in age and certainly has notched an impressive. Standing 6-4 and possessing classically Northeastern ballhandling ability, Diallo creates a great deal of action for himself off the dribble.

Diallo’s game revolves around quickness and adroit dribbling

He carries the lean, angular frame that suggests continued athletic improvement, already he runs with lively speed and bounce. He made some nice passes on the move as well and appears to be a tall, legitimate combo guard for college. He’s averaging 12 points per game at the 17-under level and quickly is proving to be highly multi-faceted.

Billy Preston, PF, MWA Elite — While rising senior Terrance Ferguson is the star for MWA, Preston has been a productive points/rebounds man so far this season. He’s a well-constructed athlete who runs well and has good hand-eye coordination and balance. Already, he’s comfortable scoring with his back to the basket and in transition. He’ll need time to further round out his skills but is an established blue-chip talent in his class.

Class of 2018

Naz Reid, PF, Sports U 15s — Reid has graced these virtual pages due to his play with USA Basketball, but this was my first look and simply put, he appears to be a potential elite. At 6-8, 215 pounds, he’s much more physically advanced than the average high school freshman and there’s always a concern the skinnier guys will catch players fitting that description, but Reid also thrives on skill. He’s No. 10 in scoring in the 15-under division, No. 8 in field goal percentage, No. 4 in rebounding and No. 5 in blocks. He’s a big guy who likes contact yet also displays flashes of becoming a legitimate face-up player as well. Reid will generate a great deal of discussion over the next several years.

Bol Bol, C, KC Run GMC 15s — To answer the obvious question, yes, Bol is the son of former NBA big man Manute. Not quite as tall as his 7-6 dad — and, in my opinion, that’s likely a good thing — the 6-10 rising sophomore isn’t some novelty act famous only for his last name. Bol moves better than his father and already possesses impressive skill. He’s very, very thin and that will loom as an issue if he can’t gain weight while his peers bulk up, but his production in the 15-under division speaks for itself. He leads the league in scoring (17ppg) and blocks, and he ranks top 10 in rebounds and three-pointers made. It’s too early to make a strong projection, but clearly he’s a legitimate talent to watch.

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