FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- A full day of basketball came and went Saturday at the 2014 Spiece Run-N-Slam.
As the sun set on one of the biggest days on the AAU circuit annually in honor of the late, great Bill Hensley, several prominent Michigan targets made steps forward while others remain prospects to keep an eye on moving forward.
Top Big: 2016 C Caleb Swanigan
- Swanigan was once again strong on both ends of the floor, taking his game to another level once bracket play began Saturday afternoon. Not giving up on the fact that he feels he can handle the ball and push the floor for his Spiece Indy Heat team, Swanigan did a little bit of everything but his most damage came, once again, and not surprisingly, right inside that colored square known as the paint. Underappreciated at this stage could be Swanigan’s wingspan and timing ability in swatting shots inside, routinely sending back field goal attempts from opponents.
- Next in line: 2016 C Barrett Benson. Benson really seems more comfortable with his body as opposed to a year ago when growing pains were still an issue. Moving with great fluidity on both ends of the floor, Benson’s footwork has improved and along with that his post moves offensively have taken a major jump.
- Keep an eye on: 2016 C Austin Davis. A young man with massive hands and a full 6-foot-9 frame, Davis told me he’s really starting to come into his own as far as his body is concerned. Still learning how to use that body to his advantage remains a challenge but if Davis can get his mitts on a ball inside the paint it’s more than likely going up and a good chance it falls. Though his jumper didn’t fall, Davis is developing an outside shot to be able to stretch the floor.
Top Pure Scorer: 2015 SG Jalen Coleman
- Finally the one-featured scorer in the backcourt for the first time in his AAU career, Coleman has simply been sensational all weekend. Normally scoring in spurts throughout a tournament weekend, Coleman has been lights out from the field, especially from three-point range. Routinely having plays run for him on the offensive end, people are starting to believe he’s automatic before he even receives the ball at the top of the key or on the wing, and often times he has been. Any time All-Ohio Red needed a big bucket, Coleman was the one delivering. Off the dribble, Coleman has improved vision and playmaking ability, truly understanding what is the right play, not necessarily the best play for himself.
- Next in line: 2015 SG A.J. Turner. Turner entrenched himself in this conversation with seven three-pointers in one game, really feeling it from beyond the arc, able to get his shot off whenever he wants. Turner’s consistency is the difference for him. Like Coleman, Turner could go off at certain times earlier in his career but this weekend is proving his long hours in the gym are beginning to pay off.
The X-Factor: 2015 PF Esa Ahmad
- 6-foot-9 and extremely skilled, Ahmad had a really nice day Saturday. Very good in isolation, Ahmad spent a lot of time off the dribble drive with some impressive finishes. Most consistent throughout the day though was Ahmad’s jump shot, from three-point range or mid-range, Ahmad knocked it down with regularity. Very difficult to defend when both facets of his game are working, Ahmad is the perfect point forward, athletic four man that can spread the floor.
Mr. Consistency: 2015 PG Devin Cannady
- Cannady isn’t the star of his team and he doesn’t have to be but he certainly has a role as the floor leader and scorer when his name is called upon. Throughout the weekend, Cannady has consistently hit the few outside shots he’s been given, often coming at big times as well. Willing and capable of bringing the ball up the floor as well, Cannady knows when to push and when to slow things down for a better shot.
Top Young Gun: 2017 SG Brian Bowen
- Write the name down and remember it, especially as this young man heads into his sophomore season at Saginaw (Mich.) Arthur Hill. This spring and summer on the AAU circuit Bowen is going to blow up and rightly so. Long and skilled already at 6-foot-6, Bowen can score in several different ways, still looking for overall consistency with his outside shot. Either way, if Bowen wants to head to the hoop, he’s already a handful to corral and keep away, spending a significant amount of time at the free throw line.