Mid-Way Recap: 10 Best Underclassmen Efforts

The youngsters came to play during the first July evaluation period. Although there were a dozens of quality performances, we picked out our top 10.

Michael Dixon

Michael Dixon, PG – On the first day of the adidas It Takes 5ive Classic, Dixon had a small group of coaches on hand to check him out. By the end of the event the small group expanded to a large cluster. The 6-foot-1, 155-pound floor general grabbed the attention of those watching and word got out that he was among the more talented 09 point guards in attendance.

Playing with the KC Pump N' Run 16's, Dixon showed that his strengths lie in his ability to create and find open teammates. The Lee's Summit (Mo.) West standout also displayed a nice mid-range game. Not only did he knock down one and two dribble pull-up jumpers, but he also showcased an effective floater. Although the 2009 class is still in the process of taking shape, Dixon is proving that he's among the top lead men in the country. (Evan Daniels)

Favors Gets Aggressive

Derrick Favors

Derrick Favors, C – The Atlanta Celtics have had a long line of NBA players come through their program, and Favors is certainly a guy that has the potential to be another one for the Celtics. At the adidas It Takes 5ive Classic, Favors went up against a trio of 2008 7-footers in pool play and more than held his own.

In Cincinnati, Favors came ready to play. The Atlanta (Ga.) South standout played an aggressive brand of basketball, went right at the opposition and displayed a handful of impressive post moves. While his offensive game looked great, he was extremely effective defensively. On the defensive end he got his hands on a lot of shots and managed to become a force inside. If he can reciprocate efforts like this he'll certainly be joining the long list of greats in the Celtics program. (ED)

Trae Golden

Trae Golden, SG/PG – There was a buzz going around about Golden prior to the evaluation period and he certainly lived up to and exceeded the hype. At the adidas It Takes 5ive Classic, Golden attacked the basket and used his 6-foot-2, 175-pound frame to absorb contact and finish once he got to the rim. His pull-jumper was on point throughout the week too, as he easily created space to get off his jumper and shot the ball with consistency.

His most impressive outing came against the Ohio Basketball Club, which boasted Kentucky verbal commit Dakotah Euton. The Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern product went for 32 points and made a nice move to the rack to get the game winner. (ED)

Wally Judge

Wally Judge, PF – Its clear that the 2009 class doesn't lack talent when it comes to the big guys. Although he's not ranked in our list of top 10 power forwards, Judge certainly proved that he cam play with some of the best in the 09 class.

At the adidas It Takes 5ive Classic, Judge used his athleticism to snag rebounds and score over defenders in the paint. We also liked the aggressive side that the 6-foot-8, 215-pound junior-to-be showed, as Judge had no problem initiating contact, backing down the opposition and making moves in the paint. The Bladensburg (Md.) High standout also showed an ability to step out and knock down deep jumpers. (ED)

Marshall Has His Moment

Kendall Marshall

Kendall Marshall, PG -- Call it a defining moment, getting your street cred or whatever you choose, the way colleges view Marshall changed after the Peach Jam. In a showcase game against Dexter Strickland and the Metro Hawks, Marshall stole the show. He scored 28 points and hit his first 4 trifectas. He was the best guard on the floor and there was a lot of talent out there.

The starter on one of the most prolific AAU teams on the circuit, Marshall has looked older guards in the eyes all summer and not blinked. The poise, pace and persistence with which he runs his team is uncanny for a kid his age. His Peach Jam performance was special and everyone who witnessed it has a profound respect for who he can become. (Dave Telep)

Deshawn Painter

Deshawn Painter, PF – He scooted out of the LeBron James Camp early which was disappointing. However, his body of work at the Peach Jam continues to get us excited about his long term abilities. We've said it before: he and Marshawn Powell could be the best AAU duo next season.

Painter's first game at the Peach Jam was an absolute clinic. We think he's a Joe Smith-clone who can score it to mid-range and drop baby hooks at will inside. He's had some thoughts of shooting 3s but if he's thinking about improving his rankings, getting inside and dominating like he's shown the ability do is the way to go. (DT)

Powell Goes Off

Marshawn Powell

Marshawn Powell, PF – One of the best performances of the entire evaluation period was Powell's effort against the Rising Stars 16's at the Peach Jam. With his team down nearly 20-points and an entire half to play, Powell strapped Boo Williams on his back and carried them back into overtime. Although they lost to the Chicago based squad, Powell finished with a game high 28 points.

The 6-foot-7, 225-pound rising junior scored in the post off a variety of moves, but his favorite was the jump hook. Powell, a right-hander, used both hands well in the post and he's just as comfortable dropping in a jump-hook with his left as he is with his right. The Newport News (Va.) Menchville product maneuvers well in the paint, has a strong frame and uses pump fakes to keep defenders off balance. (ED)

DaShonte Riley

DaShonte Riley, C – Any time a big man owns the glass and swats a bunch of shots he deserves some attention. Well that's exactly what Riley did in playoffs at the Peach Jam. At 6-foot-11 he's equipped with long arms that allow him to block shots and snag out of area rebounds with no problems.

In the semi-finals against the Georgia Stars, Riley challenged the Stars front line and clearly won the battle, as his team won and he finished with 9 points, 14 rebounds and 11 blocks. He followed that up by nearly getting a triple-double (8 points, 10 rebounds and 8 blocks) in the championship against the Gauchos.

Although Riley hasn't developed many post moves, he's comfortable stepping out to 15-feet and knocking down a jumper or facing up his defender and shooting shorter jumpers. Clearly Riley has a ways to go as a prospect, but he's as talented as any and if he devotes himself to getting stronger and adding moves he could be as good as any big man in the class. (ED)

DeShaun Thomas

DeShaun Thomas, SF – It's been hard to get a look at DeShaun Thomas. He's one of the more elusive players when it comes to tracking down when and where he'll be playing. One college coach put it best, "Every day is day 1 in that camp." With that said, we located Thomas during the evaluation period at the Kentucky Hoopfest.

With high expectations already set, Thomas didn't disappoint at Eddie Ford's event. Playing in the 16 & under division the talented 2010 prospect showed off a very skilled game. As an inside-outside threat, Thomas stroked deep jumpers with ease, but also took his game to the block when smaller defenders were trying to guard him. The Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers standout has already developed a bunch of go-to moves and is tough to defend due to versatility and skill level. (ED)

Wall Blows Up!

John Wall

John Wall, PG – Even before we got to RBK U, the calls were coming in on the cell phone. "Who is John Wall?" The Raleigh native turned it out at the event and now has the heavy hitters scrambling to learn more about him. So, who is this guy who finished camp 2nd in scoring and 3rd in assists?

He graded out at the March Carolina Challenge as the top 2009 performer but it wasn't until this month that he hosted a national coming out party. There wasn't a player at camp who could keep this kid in front of him. His quick jaunts to the basket went unchecked for 3 days and his stock rose extremely fast.

The challenge will be, and he's capable, replicating the effort and keeping the motivation up. He's got a chance to be a special guard if he continues to work on his game. (DT)

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