Spiece Run N Slam Evals (Part 1)

In part one of our recap of the Hensley Memorial (aka Spiece Run N Slam) All Star Classic, we recap the performances of Michigan targets Kevon Looney, Vince Edwards, a big time dual-sport target, rising 2015 target Jalen Brunson, and much much more.

 Evan Boudreaux, 2015 PF, Team NLP 17s -- Boudreaux isn’t the most athletic kid, but at 6-7 and 215 lbs., he compensates for that with a quality skill set.  A classic inside-outside threat, he mixed it up in the paint by grabbing rebounds and/or posting up – then showed he has the mid-range jumper and the three-ball in his arsenal. All of that was on display in 27 point outing Saturday. He’s not a superstar, but is a guy would know his role and could help a team in a variety of ways.  His recruitment to this point reflects that colleges notice the same thing.

Jalen Brunson, 2015 PG, Mac Irvin Fire 17s –- Many believed this heady floor general to be one of the hottest players on the circuit heading into the last weekend.  But for one exception, his showing at Spiece did nothing to change that impression.  The 6-0, 170-pounder’s performance in his opening game of the tournament was clearly one he’d like to have back.  In a contest where he showed an ability to create for a team without stars Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander, he over-dribbled into some uncharacteristic turnovers in the second half and missed a number of good looks – including a potential game winner. He finished with 10 points one-point defeat.  What followed was a verbal scolding from dad, Charlotte Bobcats assistant, Rick Brunson, that would have made John Chaney (dad’s former coach at Temple) proud.  Old-school basketball observers would classify it as “hard coaching.”  If those cringing with disapproval would have stuck around for young Brunson’s following game they might sing a different tune.  The deft-shooting sophomore scorched the nets all day Saturday, beginning with his 29 point, seven-triple effort that morning.  He cited effort as his biggest area of improvement. He admitted he didn’t have “it” Friday evening after the long car ride. Much to the chagrin of the opposition, he had found it again thanks in part to the chiding of his father. Suddenly, whether spotting up or a pulling-up, he was a marksman from deep. That just made his dribble drive game all the more effective.  Brunson really thrives finding his teammates in the halfcourt off penetration and in transition .  He can be guilty of being too deferential at times and will convert on more of his basket attacks as he gets stronger, but one can see the makings of a quintessential floor leader – one that  is already among the most heavily recruited in the country.

Vince Edwards , 2014 SF, All Ohio Red 17s -- Spiece wasn’t to kind to Edwards this weekend. In the three early games we observed him in he showed flashes, but he never put together a big time game. There was an instance where he showed some ball handling skill with a flurry of behind-the-back and crossover moves, and during another span he was a fierce rebounding presence. He won’t be a guy that lights up any particular stat column, but will register in all of them. He possesses above average athleticism and a long, lanky frame that help him be a factor on the defensive end as well.  Despite his quiet moments during this weekend’s games, we are nonetheless convinced that Edwards could be the ultimate “glue-guy” for whatever team he winds up with.

  • From Scout.com analyst Brian Snow in Spiece Run N Slam: Day 3
    • Vince Edwards, PF, All-Ohio Red – While Tate gets it done with athleticism and toughness, Edwards does it with skill and versatility. He definitely will be a stretch power forward in college, and Edwards can shoot the ball or get to the rim using the bounce. Also Edwards did a solid job of rebounding the basketball and overall had a very good weekend.

Josh Jackson, 2016 SG, Dorian’s Pride 17s –- Finally after hearing about him all season, basketball observers from across the country are finally getting a look at what enthusiasts from Michigan have known for a while.  Josh Jackson is big time prospect.  That was evident in the opening game of the tournament.  There he showed off the aspect of his game many consider the most in need of improvement – his jumper.  Jackson rained threes. Triple after triple – five by our unofficial count – found nothing but the bottom of the net. That just made him more fierce getting to the rim, where his size and strength allowed him to finish despite heavy contact. The biggest chink in his armor over the weekend was his composure.  After receiving a technical foul for reacting emotionally to a foul call in a big time match up with the Milwaukee Running Rebels, he was forced to spend the majority of the first half of the bench.  That just served to agitate him (and one of his supporters in the crowd that taunted the ref mercilessly before being thrown out of the gym later in the game) even more. He cooled off a bit while on the bench, but wasn’t able to find his earlier groove.  Chalk that up as an aberration for an immensely talented youngster that to date has been the model of precociousness.  He still appears to be on track to be one of the best players from the state of Michigan in quite a while

  • From Scout.com analyst Brian Snow in Spiece: Run N Slam: Day 1
    • Josh Jackson, SG/SF, Dorian's Pride – He is old for his grade, but that does nothing to diminish Jackson as a prospect. He is an elite athlete who finished impressively above the rim, and then showed the developing jumper by knocking in several deep triples. His handle looks improved as well, and overall the game is really coming around for Jackson who is one of the elite players in the class.

  • From Scout.com analyst Brian Snow in Spiece: Run N Slam: Day 2
    • Josh Jackson, SG, Dorian's Pride – It is scary to think how good Jackson could be in a few years. He is already putting up big numbers at the 17 and under level against top competition. His scoring has always been there, and he is a big time athlete, but Jackson also can distribute at a high level, and is playing defense as well. Consistently Jackson has been as good as any player on the floor and is putting up big numbers

Kevon Looney, 2014 PF, Milwaukee Running Rebels 17’s – Even in what his coach described as a bad outing the five-star power forward lived up to the hype. At 6-8 210 lbs. Looney impacts every aspect of the game. Offensively his face up skills are impressive.  He has range out to three point land, but really thrives attacking the basket.  He can grab a rebound defensively and lead a break himself – and if defenses don’t stop the ball he’ll take it all the way. Defensively he is a shot blocking presence in the paint, but can also use his athleticism to defend on the perimeter. Milwaukee Running Rebels coach Shelby Parrish called him a “stat sheet stuffer.”  At the same time, Parrish insists there are things his star pupil is still working on.  One is consistent intensity.  One must account for the fact that Looney plays with shot happy guards – and that may contribute to an appearance of lacking intensity.  Second, while can play with his back to the basket, his low post arsenal is still developing.  And finally, while he can put it on the floor with either hand, he is more comfortable going to his right.  Based his work ethic and the prodding from his family and a coach that would call a nearly thirty point, 14 rebound night a bad game, chances are good that he’ll make those improvements.  Also worthy of mention is his leadership.  Looney never once showed his frustration with shot selection of some of his teammates, never hesitated to pass to them ball.  The biggest example came during a fiercely contested match-up with Dorian’s Pride.  During a key offensive sequence late in the second half he passed to one of his teammates in the corner. The stocky reserve passed up an open look for a baseline runner.  The result was an airball that led to a transition opportunity and ultimately a trip to the free throw line for Pride.  The first one to offer encouragement and direction was Looney.  It was an occurrence that won’t show up on a stat sheet, but was nonetheless telling about what kind of factor this young man could become for some lucky program.

  • From Scout.com analyst Brian Snow in Spiece: Run N Slam: Day 1
    • Kevon Looney, PF, Milwaukee Running Rebels – It is clear at this point that Looney is 100 percent a power forward and not a small forward, but that is completely irrelivent to the argument on how good he is. The bottom line is he is an elite face up power forward, and as long as he plays like it he is nearly impossible to contain. Looney has long arms, dominates on the glass, has a nice touch from three, and is a pretty solid athlete. He is by no means super explosive, but he plays hard and flat out knows how to play. He was absolutely dominant in an event opening win and showed why he is one of the premier players in the entire country.

Jae’sean Tate, 2014 SF, All Ohio Red 17s -- If this kid plays football anything like he plays basketball then the guys on the gridiron are in serious trouble. It was all about getting to the cup for Tate at Spiece. He still doesn’t have textbook form on his jumper, but that doesn’t matter because his game has never been about shooting from distance.  His strongest attribute was and is bullying his way to the basket. Whistle after whistle sounded as the south-paw drove relentlessly and almost exclusively to his left.  And even though the opposition knew what he was going to do, they still couldn’t stop him from getting to the cup.  When he got there, he showed himself to be one of the more effective finishers in the tournament.  He got off the floor with ease, and teammates rewarded him few alley-oops.  He’s also a tenacious rebounder that seems to always out-tough his opponent.  It’s a virtual certainty that this youngster will be a thorn in the sides of teams throughout the Big Ten over the course of his career. That is, of course, if he opts to play basketball.  Those headaches will be avoided if he opts to play football.  It’s not always easy to project how good a prospect will be if he switches sports, but with Tate it’s easy.  6-5, 225, with explosiveness, and the type of hardnosed mentality that coaches in every sport love – this kid has what it takes to be a force on the gridiron.

Cassius Winston, 2016 SG, The Family 15s -- Winston may only be a freshman, but he is already a very cerebral player. You can tell that he thinks the game while he’s playing it. He never seems to take too many shots and appears to tailor his attack plan to the flow of the game.  He scores when his team is lagging.  If they’re on he’ll consistently find the open man.  His jumper wasn’t falling while at Spiece, and he admitted that it’s a part of his game that he is working on.  .  In the meantime he can get to the rack almost at will and views the court very well. With three more years of high-school ball to develop his game and fill out his slender frame, college coaches are already lining up in anticipication of how good he will be.

Roscoe Hill also contributed to this report

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