UA Association: Vick, Johnson among standouts
Thon Maker has proved himself as one of the nation’s top energy guys, regardless of class, and Sunday definitely was no different. His size, length, motor and athleticism makes him a guy who can really defend the paint and block shots, while he’s always going to be a threat around the basket as a scorer, especially in transition. Arizona State and Indiana are considered the teams to beat here.
For Josh Jackson’s extremely high standards, he wasn’t at his absolute best on Saturday afternoon, yet still showed why he’s one of the top few prospects in high school basketball, regardless of class. Jackson is an elite athlete and defender who can guard multiple positions, rebounds very well for a wing, blocks shots and can get to the basket whenever he wants. His shot wasn’t as on target as it has been lately, but he found plenty of other ways to impact the game.
J.J. Caldwell was very impressive on Sunday. He has a good frame for a point guard with long arms and handles the ball very well. Caldwell’s best attribute is his vision; he’s an outstanding passer who does a nice job constantly looking for teammates and making those around him better. He’s an improved shooter, who hit some jumpers on Sunday morning. Caldwell was an early commit to Texas A&M.
Billy Preston isn’t a new name to the circuit, but he certainly played with a new, more developed and more effective game in New York. Preston, who stands 6-foot-9, is filling out and in turn is playing more physical at times. He has a nice blend of being able to impact a game inside and out. When he is tuned in, he’s scoring in the paint and playing with energy, then stepping away from the rim for jump shots. He’s improved his scoring package, can consistently hit hook shots and is a good shooter off the catch. Up against the Carolina Wolves on Saturday, Preston scored 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting and added eight rebounds. He also hit two of three three-point attempts.
There’s been a decent about of buzz out of Florida about L.J. Figueroa, a 6-foot-5 wing prospect. Playing with the Team Breakdown 16’s, Figueroa played an aggressive style of ball and looked to attack the basket for scoring opportunities at every opportunity. He particularly favors floaters and high finishes off the glass. At his size, he has good length and is an above average athlete. He dunked on a defender in transition, went to the glass and showed good passing ability. He finished with 19 points and nine rebounds in a game Sunday morning.
There has been a ton of talk about Trevon Duval coming out of the Under Armour events all spring and it’s easy to see why. A lead guard, Duval is pushing 6-foot-3 and has a length set of arms. He’s quick, possesses a very strong handle, has good court vision and is also capable of making jump shots or slicing his way to the bucket for nifty finishes. On top of all that, he projects as a very good on the ball defender. Duval is already ranked No. 18 overall, but even that appears low for this elite point guard. Among the schools involved with Duval are Syracuse, Villanova, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Connecticut and Louisville.
This past year Brandon Sampson was a heavily pursued wing out of Baton Rouge (La.) Madison Preparatory Academy. Sampson ended up signing with LSU. Next up at Madison Prep is 6-foot-5 athletic wing Josh Anderson. Playing for his high school coach – Jeff Jones – on the Louisiana Elite 16’s team, the lengthy guard was a major standout. He’s a special athlete that made play after play in transition on Saturday. He’s finishes well through contact and is good at adjusting his shots around the basket. He played him some on the ball and is a good passer, but he’s at best when he’s slicing his way to the rim and in attack mode. Anderson currently has an offer from UAB and claims interest from Tulane, St. John’s and LSU.
Billy Preston and Terrance Ferguson get majority of the play on the MWA team, but Victor Bailey is an impressive looking guard prospect in his own right. At 6-foot-4, Bailey has a long, lean frame. He’s quick, a good athlete and the lefty can make long-range shots. Bailey plays well in transition, picks his spots to attack the rim and can defend the perimeter. Bailey should be a popular name in the Midlands region for high major schools.
Arguably the top prospect in high school basketball, DeAndre Ayton definitely lived up to his lofty reputation on Saturday. His size, length, athleticism and build are all pretty much exactly what you’re looking for out of a center. Ayton’s best attribute is his rebounding ability - he’s absolutely elite there, especially offensively – and he scores a lot of points on the offensive glass. On offense he can face up and hit jumpers or score around the basket, while he’s a strong rim protector on defense. It’s hard to pick against him when trying to evaluate the top prospect in high school basketball as of today. Ayton hasn’t been publicly discussing his recruitment.
Jemarl Baker plays some on the ball, but as of right now he’s best as a shooting guard. He has a pretty good frame with good length and his best weapon on the court is his catch and shoot three-point ability. If you give him space he hits at a high percent off the catch from three. Baker also plays hard on defense and is an unselfish player with good vision. Oklahoma State, Providence and USC have offered.
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