Alex Poythress - In Parker's absence, Poythress helped lead the Georgia Stars to victory in their morning game against Playground Elite (WI), scoring 12 points (5-9 FG, 2-4 FT) and adding 5 blocked shots. Poythress had another solid game against Playaz Basketball Club (NJ) in the evening, chipping in with 11 points (5-10 FG, 0-2 FT), 6 rebounds, and 2 steals. With Parker relegated to the bench in the morning game, Poythress was forced to defend the post, and he did that solidly. He showed a lot of versatility on the defensive end, as he was equally comfortable chasing players on the perimeter. Poyhtress has tremendous timing as a shot blocker - he easily had three or four additional blocks in the morning game that were negated by fouls called on his teammates. While some added strength would help (especially with his rebounding), he has all the makings of an elite defender. On the offensive end, Poythress has a nice stroke, though his outside shots (he was 1-4 on 3 pt. FG on the day) and free throws were not falling. Poythress did most of his damage at the rim, off of cuts and drives to the hoop capped by some athletic finishes (acrobatic reverse layups, transition dunks, and alley-oops ). In the half court set, Poythress does not force the action, and looks like a guy who would fit in well playing with other talented players.
Rasheed Sulaimon - Playing alongside two other elite guards in L.J. Rose and J-Mychal Reese, Sulaimon's play stood out in the Houston Hoops' come-from-behind victory over MoKan Elite. Sulaimon took a little while to get going and had a relatively quiet first half, but came on really strong in the second half to finish with 16 points (6-13 FG, 2-4 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal. He definitely has a scorer's mentality, and he can get his own shot and beat his defender in an assortment of ways. Although his outside shot was not falling consistently (2-6 3 pt. FG), he was effective shooting mid-range jumpers off the dribble (he showed a nice crossover and jab step), and had some athletic finishes through contact at the rim. Perhaps most impressive was Sulaimon's play on defense. He is a tenacious on-the-ball defender, and his intensity never wavered. He showed both quick hands and quick reaction time. Although he can use some added strength, he has a solid frame and looks like he could develop into a lock-down perimeter defender.
Julius Randle - Although he had a tough game in a 57-54 loss to The Family (MI), it is easy to understand why Randle is ranked at the top of his class. He is an absolute beast and a truly imposing presence. In addition to being a tremendous physical specimen, he has a high level of skill and always plays hard. Randle dove for several loose balls and drove the lane without regard for human life. This guy picks up steam like a freight train, and whoever stands in to take a charge is either incredibly brave or incredibly foolish. Randle finished with 9 points (3-14 FG, 3-6 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. At this point (and definitely in this game), his production does not match his talent, but he is going to be impossible to handle when he figures everything out.
Jabari Parker - Parker had a relatively quiet game in a 66-54 loss to BABC (led by Nerlens Noel). Because the preceding game we watched went into overtime, we arrived at the game with only 6:30 left in the first half. In the time that we saw Parker, he scored 8 points (3-7 FG, 2-3 FT) and added 6 rebounds and 2 assists. Although he does not appear to be an exceptional athlete, Parker is as smooth and versatile as they come. He showed a solid stroke and had some nice spin moves on the offensive end, but he failed to assert himself and take the game over when Mac Irvin Fire fell behind. On defense, he is another guy who appears to be a versatile defender, as he looked comfortable guarding the post (he matched up against Noel on several occasions, though Noel was not much of an offensive threat) and chasing players down on the perimeter.