Over the years, the Nike Hoop Jamboree has turned into one of the best venues for viewing young prospects. As they do every year, a group of 130 rising freshman, sophomores and juniors from all over the country descended on the campus of St. Louis University for the four day camp. Included among the group were two players from the state of Kansas -- Travis Releford and Jordan Cyphers -- as well as several regional talents and national players that could appear on the Kansas radar at some point. Keep in mind that these are still young kids so plenty is going to change over the next few years.
PLAYERS OF INTEREST AT THE HOOP JAMBOREE
Travis Releford - Having been offered a scholarship nearly a year ago, there’s little question that the 6-4 guard from Shawnee Mission (KS) Bishop Miege is among Bill Self’s top targets in the class of 2008. A top ten player nationally, Releford got off to a slow start by his standards. However that changed when he went to his coach and asked to be moved to the point guard position. With the ball in his hands, Releford looked as good as advertised as he beat defenders off the dribble, scored on pull-up jumpers, got out for dunks in transition and found teammates for easy baskets. On the other end he played his usual tough defense, grabbed some boards and created easy opportunities for transition baskets. He’s still not completely healthy after his March ankle injury but he’s certainly on his way back.
Jordan Cyphers - A late addition to the camp, the 6-2 rising junior from Wichita (KS) Southeast held his own against some of the country’s top underclassmen. An excellent run and jump athlete, he also handles the ball pretty well, finds teammates and generally attacks the basket. He’s most comfortable in the open court and he’s a terrific defender who uses his extremely long arms (6’9” wingspan) and quick hands to wreak havoc on opposing ball handlers. He’s emerging as perhaps the best prospect in what is a pretty nice class of 2008 group from Wichita.
Nick Williams - A smooth scoring wing guard from Mobile (AL) LeFlore, the 6-3 Williams has emerged as one of the better jump shooters in the class of 2008. Equally confident curling off of screens for catch and shoot opportunities as he is pulling off the dribble he’s a load to handle because of his strong 210 pound frame. He is sometimes a little shaky in his shot selection but he’s got the bounce to finish over bigger defenders and his size allows him to do a nice job on the glass.
Scott Suggs - Considered by many to be the top prospect in what is shaping up to be a loaded class of 2008 group in the St. Louis area, Suggs was on his game. A long and skinny wing, he uses his 6-6 size, above average ball handling and smooth mid-range game to cause defenders nightmares. Because of his pretty jumper, solid skill level and afro he’s going to remind a lot of people of Josh Childress. Adding weight to his 169 pound frame is an obvious priority but it was a great sign to see him taking the ball to the basket much more than he has in the past. His bread in butter is a shot fake and jab step that he uses in combination to shake defenders before raising up for a jumper or driving by on the baseline.
Leonard “L.A.” Pomlee - Another class of 2008 prospect, the 6-8 BF from Davenport (IA) Central is a shot blocker with emerging offensive game. He’s starting to fill out his once slender frame and uses his quick leaping ability and 7’2” wingspan to go over defenders for short jumpers, hooks, dunks and offensive rebounds. He’s being closely monitored by top programs throughout the Midwest and he’s showing much more fight around the hoop than he did this time last year. It’s going to be important that he continues on improving his footwork, especially with his back to the basket.
Daniel Orton - Only a rising sophomore at Oklahoma City (OK) Bishop McGuinness, Orton has been establishing a reputation as one of the premier rebounder/rejectors in the class of 2009. He runs extremely well, hits 12 to 15 foot jumpers with ease and has a terrific frame to work with. Not surprisingly, he isn’t always as aggressive as he could be but it’s important to remember that he’s only 15 years old and still has plenty of time to develop and his ceiling for improvement is virtually unlimited.
JaMychal Green - This big time athlete from Montgomery (AL) St. Jude plays the game above the rim and he’s absolutely relentless on the glass despite his relatively slender 205 pound frame. He runs the floor like a much smaller player, blocks shots straight up or coming from the help side and is more than willing to get physical in the paint. His footwork needs some help and he’s got a tendency to waste dribbles making sure there is air in the ball but he wasn’t near as raw as some had suggested previous to camp. He’s going to have coaches from every major program watching him closely this summer and it appears that the class of 2008 prospect is just scratching the surface of his potential.
John Brandenburg - Another standout from St. Louis, the 6-11 BF/C is a very nice looking prospect. He runs extremely well, already shoots a jump hook and faces up for short jumpers, has a good frame and he’s a quick leaper around the hoop. The biggest question about the St. Louis (MO) DeSmet product is just how competitive he’s going to be in the paint but for the most part he scrapped and didn’t back down from physical play at the Jamboree. His recruitment has a chance to take place at the highest of levels provided he gets a little bit more consistent with his performances.