The 16 and under bracket featured a backyard brawl between two teams playing six and half hours from home. In a tightly fought and well played affair, KC Pump ‘N Run squeezed out a three point victory over the KC Truth behind power forward Christian Kirk and his 20 points. For the Truth, rapidly emerging combo guard Corey Hilliard and tough forward Preston Oakes made several big shots to keep things tight.
Alex Kirk, PF/C, Houston Hoops- Kirk really is an interesting player in that he's essentially a face-up center. He's comfortable operating with his back to the basket where he's got pretty good footwork and is a terrific passer out of double teams. But, his ability to stretch defenses all the way out to the three point line is a rare for a guy with 6-foot-10 size. Not that he needed to, but Kirk once again validated his status as a legit high major big man.
Jake Kitchell, PF, SYF Players- A solid 6-foot-8 insider, Kitchell has added some bulk to his lean frame and because of that he's more suited to bang inside. He runs the floor well enough, can face up and score with a degree of skill and is a team player all the way. Expect his recruitment to take place on the upper mid level while bigger schools monitor his progress.
Brad Beal, SG, St. Louis Eagles- Beal's first foray into the 17 and under division as he led the Eagles to a championship (which earns them an automatic Peach Jam bid) that few would have predicted prior to the weekend. Simply put, the sophomore is a shot maker who always seems to come up with his biggest and best performances when it matters most. We're likely talking about the best guard prospect out of Saint Louis since Larry Hughes.
Corey Hilliard, SG/PG, KC Truth- For a second day in a row, Hilliard was terrific. We still like him as a natural scoring guard, but he does have the handles and vision to play some point if needed. A tough kid who wastes little motion, he's efficient in what he does and has a serious weapon in his pull up jumper. A capable athlete who can finish above the rim, he's going to get a lot of looks this summer.
A.J. Spencer, SF, KC Pump ‘N Run 16's- Coming alive on Sunday, the slender small forward was making plays on both ends of the floor. While not necessarily a high flyer, he is a good athlete with excellent quickness and instincts. He prefers to attack the rim thanks to his ball handling ability but shows some promise as a jump shooter from mid range.
Evan Battle, PF, Howard Pulley 16's Black- The younger brother of Tulsa small forward Armand Battle, he's more of an insider. Not flashy in any way, the 6-foot-6 sophomore just finds ways to get things done and goes about his work in blue collar fashion. He rebounds, picks his spots to score out to around 10 feet and is a hard worker on both ends of the floor.
J-Mychal Reese, SG/PG, Houston Hoops- A smooth lefty who generates tremendous lift on his jumper, Reese is a fine looking guard prospect. He's got quickness, above average athleticism and plays with a majority beyond his years. Given how heavily he's been touted since a young age, it's impressive to see him play with such poise and confidence without looking to force things.
While he would have much rather been playing on Sunday, the All Iowa Attack Red's loss during Saturday evening's playoff round did allow Harrison Barnes an opportunity to make a Sunday visit to Minnesota. Accompanied by his mother and younger sister, the wing stopped in to visit with Tubby Smith and take a brief tour before heading home to Ames.
Make no mistake about it, Xavier Jones is going to find a way to get to the rim. The 6-3 slasher for SYF is a tough as nails driver of the basketball who always seems to find a way to get to the rim. He's got body control, can pass and is a strong finisher who projects well as a mid level recruit. … Chalk up a great weekend for the Houston Hoops Brandon Peters. He continued his momentum from Saturday into Sunday and has put together an impressive spring. The more we see, the more we like him and he's definitely a guy who could thrive in an up and down system on the next level due to his high level athleticism and propensity to attack the rim. … While Brad Beal was the scoring leader, he certainly got help from his teammates and two who stood out with solid production all weekend long were 6-foot-3 shooting guard Chris Babbitt and 6-foot-3 shooting guard Hunter Ward. Just returning to action after his missing his junior year due to a torn ACL, Babbitt is a slinky wing with plus athleticism and a penchant for getting to the hoop. Ward, on the other hand, provided a consistent outside threat and banged home some very important jumpers throughout the weekend. … Only a sophomore, 6-foot-3 shooting guard Joe Coleman had an impressive weekend playing up for Howard Pulley's top 17 and under team. A strong kid who can get to the rim and finish with dunks, he also shows promise as a jump shooter. Depending upon his overall skill development, his recruitment could take place anywhere between the mid to upper level. … Finally, we mentioned him in the opening but credit the KC Truth's Preston Oakes. At 6-foot-4, he's some of the only size that the Truth has and does a good job of balancing crafty scoring moves on the interior with his ability to drain medium to long range jumpers. After taking a pretty significant elbow to the face/throat area early in the 16 and under championship game he made an impressive show of toughness coming back to lead his team in scoring. …