Monter Comments on USA Youth Development Festival

Chris Monter (of Monter Draft and College Basketball News) was at the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival over the weekend, and he came away immensely impressed with one Mr. Joe Crawford!

For those who missed the weekend recap of the early Festival games, click here.



Chris Monter has been following collegiate and prep hoops for a number of years. Some may have subscribed to his very detailed Monter Draft Report in the past. Over the weekend he attended the Youth development Festival in Colorado Springs and agreed to lend his considerable evaluation skills to the games' of Ronald Coleman, Malik Hairston, and Joe Crawford. Needless to say, he was quite impressed with what he saw.

"I thought Ronald played better as the camp went along. He got off to a bit of a slow start, but really came on with a nice scoring effort toward the end. He was like 3/14 from the field in his first two games, and then came up big in a loss on Saturday to the West with 26 points," Monter said. The North team had already gotten off to a 0-2 start. The Family teammates (Coleman, Crawford, and Hairston) fought hard to prevent another notch in the loss column. They combined for 63 points on 26 from Coleman, 19 from Crawford, and 18 from Hairston. Chris came away encouraged with Ronald's offensive improvement over the course of the tournament. "After the first few games he went to the basket a little more for some of his points, but most of his scoring came courtesy of a very nice midrange game," Monter said. Despite their efforts, the West (led by the Festival's leading scorer Demarcus Nelson) blew the North team out 169-138, lowering their record to 0-3.

Malik Hairston, much like Ronald Coleman, also came on strong after struggling early. "Many of the players were affected by the altitude, but he was one of the players that played better as the camp went along," Monter said. "Malik stepped his game up in the second contest with 24 points and 9 rebounds, and was outstanding the rest of the way." Monter came away a believer in Hairston's skills and was in awe of how the young man can get the job done in a number of ways. "He shot the ball well, showed some range, and was surprisingly good on the boards," Monter said. "He finished 8th in rebounding with 7.8 per game." Malik led the North to their first win in game four with a 27 point 10 rebound effort in a 119-113 win over the East. That win propelled the North to the Gold Medal game. Joe Crawford had 16 points and 5 rebounds and Ron Coleman 9 points and 9 rebounds respectively.

Though Michigan has fallen from Malik's list, I continue to be very high on this young man's game. OSU has been on him the longest out of the teams currently under consideration. Because of that (and their proximity to Detroit), I wouldn't be surprised if Columbus becomes his new home when decision time comes for him later in the year.

Even though Mr. Hairston was his normally impressive self, Chris said that there was another prepster from Michigan that stood out even more over the weekend. "Joe Crawford was definitely the best of the Michigan kids at the tournament and was one of the top 5 players there," Monter said. He continued, "Both he and Hairston made my All Festival Team." Joe did his best to carry his team to the Gold Medal with a 32 point, 5 rebound effort in the final contest. That output wasn't quite enough, as the South team won 135-116 behind 23 points and 16 rebounds from Texas commit Mike Williams. Malik Hairston finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds and Ron Coleman 12 points and 6 rebounds in the losing effort.

The 1-4 North team record didn't diminish Chris' appreciation for Crawford's immense talent. In customary Joe Joe fashion, he scored from all over the court. "Crawford basically did it all," Monter said. "He was 7/15 from behind the arc for the tournament and was VERY effective at getting to the basket. He put the ball on the floor with ease, had a very nice crossover, and had impressive strength going to the basket. He was unafraid of the contact when he went to the hole."

Joe finished the tournament tied for third in scoring with 21 ppg. He also averaged 3.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. Coleman didn't have his routine stroke from behind the arc and went 3/16. He finished with 10.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, and 1.4 apg. Hairston finished with a very impressive 20.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, and 3 apg. For a complete list of statistics and game stories visit the USA Basketball site here. Also, don't forget to visit Chris at collegebasketballnews.theinsiders.com.

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