GBW Weekend Travel Log: Spiece Recap

GoBlueWolverine traveled back to Fort Wayne this year for our fifth consecutive Spiece Run N' Slam Classic (this year aptly subtitle the Bill Hensley Memorial Classic). There were a few notable 2008 Michigan targets in action, but the story of the tournament was the eye-popping underclassmen that put in work over the weekend.

For those the missed part one of our weekend Travel Log recapping the Purdue Nike Camp, click here.

For years the Spiece Run N’ Slam All Star Classic has been one of the top AAU tournaments in the country, and in 2007, that reputation was upheld. The strength of this year’s Friday, Saturday, Sunday action was clearly the strong crop of underclassmen. However, before we get to the young whipper-snappers, we’ll first recap some of the performances of some of the class of 2008 notables.

As we mentioned last week, Mean Streets’ Matt Humphrey is a serious Michigan target. The 6-6 shooting guard didn’t have his jumper working like he is used to, but you can tell by his picture perfect lefty stroke that he is accustomed to doing damage from the outside. He apparently had a much tougher go of it this week than last week at King James. It appeared as if every opponent got the scouting report detailing his shooting ability because he was crowded at every turn. To his credit, though, he didn’t let his offensive lull affect the tenacity he played with on the defensive end. He was extremely active in the passing lanes and displayed very quick feet which enabled him to stay in front of smaller opposition. He doesn’t didn't get to the rack as well as the Georgia Stars’ Wesley Witherspoon (whom we identified last week as another Michigan target)…nor is he as explosive. Still he looks to be a youngster that would fit well into Beilein’s system. More on him later.

Speaking of the Mean Street’s 17-and-under squad, the team’s best player is not Mike Dunigan. Nor is it Matt Humphrey or Josh Crittle. It’s the spoon that stirs the coffee... Kevin Dillard. The sub-six foot point guard helped his team come back from a 10 point deficit to Martin Brothers Select and eventually led it to a tourney title. His deft shooting from the outside and unstoppable penetration was the difference in the game against MBS. When he went to the rack and drew multiple defenders, he seemingly always found the open man. If the defense didn’t collapse, he finished the play himself. And he did it game after game after game. What a huge coup for Chris Lowery and Southern Illinois to score this commitment. The question is, with other schools coming on, (and they surely will after his impressive play), will the Salukis be able to hold on to him?

Moving on… Iman Shumpert hasn’t been as high on Michigan’s target list as he was under the previous regime, but after his performances over the last few weeks don’t be surprised if the Wolverines ramp it back up a bit. Previously thought of as combo that was more of a two than a one, he did his best imitation of a full time point guard this weekend. He also had an impressive shooting display from beyond the arc against the Mustangs Sunday morning. He canned at least four triples in addition to an assortment of pull-up jumpers. His stock is soaring right now

Draymond Green wasn’t scoring at the same clip this weekend as he had in weeks past, but he did everything else on the floor. He’s a flat out basketball player and his game doesn’t go to sleep when he isn’t scoring. He helped get The Family all of the way to the finals where they were eventually blown out by Mean Streets.

Other quick notes….

-Jason Washburn was more of a defensive presence than anything else in the outing we saw him in

-Nick Fruendt wasn’t able to duplicate the shooting performance he had at King James, and when his shot isn’t falling his offense is stagnant.

-Bret Thompson from the Illinois Warriors is another former target that isn’t as much of one under the new regime. We don’t see that changing at this point. Solid post moves and a decent jump shot, but we’d be surprised if he ventured too far from home

We’ll have word on a few other 2008 prospects that might soon be on the radar for the Wolverines later in the week. For now, though, we’ll move on to the underclassmen.

The talk of many of the scouts in attendance this weekend was talented youngster DeShaun Thomas. Expectations have reached an unfair height with the “Next LeBron James” label that has been placed on him. He couldn’t quite live up to that tag (who could?) That said, he was extremely impressive. The 6-7 lefty is very versatile, showing range out to 18-feet in the contests we watched and also displaying strong slashing ability. He already has a college body and is able to finish over or through contact. He can also find the open man when the defense collapses on him. His ability as a passer appears to be the least talked about aspect of his game, but that’s probably only because he such an effective scorer and rebounder. One area he will clearly need to work on, however, is going to his right. Even so, it’s easy to see he is being recruited by all the big boys.

We’d be shocked of if Dion Sims isn’t just as highly recruited Thomas. He too is a man-amongst boys in the 16-and-under category. He quite simply is too physical for his peers. Couple that with his outstanding skill and you have a recipe for disaster for the opposition. The 6-5, 210-pund youngster runs the point, (yes the point), for the R.E.A.C.H. Legends. That speaks to his strong ball-handling ability for his size. He’s a load going to the bucket and showed the ability to get there despite facing faster faster/quicker opposition. He has a great first step, which is enhanced by his deep shooting ability. He was ¾ from beyond the arc on his way to 20 first half points in a game Saturday night. He finished with five triples and 34 (unofficially) even though he played just under three quarters. He’s just an impressive impressive talent. The Orchard Lake St. Mary’s transfer was high on Tommy Amaker’s priority list and we’d be shocked if the same can’t be said for John Beilein. Complicating Michigan’s bid to keep this talented youngster home, though, is the fact that he will be on the hit-list of every major program in the country.

Then there was the Wisconsin Playground’s Jamil Wilson. This youngster just might have been the most impressive player of the entire weekend. At 6-7 this young man handles like a guard, is a downright excellent passer, and is explosive to boot. He has all of the tools…and he is only 16 years old. His crossover dribble from top of the key before ripping the pass down low to an open teammate for a lay-up was only one of the demonstrations of his high skill level and basketball IQ. Expect him to be ranked among the top players in the country by every service that gets the opportunity to see him first hand.

And finally, there was the Ohio Basketball Club’s Noah Cottrill. We’d heard a lot about this sophomore-to-be’s game before Spiece…and now we know why. 12 points and an eye-popping 16 assists during his quarterfinal game showed that this kid is good even when his jumper isn’t falling. He isn’t lighting quick, but he is an outstanding ball handler…and that made him practically impossible to press. On two separate occasions we saw him split a mid-court trap with a behind the back dribble before creating an easy scoring opportunity in transition. In the half court he got to the hole at will and constantly found open teammates for lay-ups. It was like clock work. After a while the opposition just started backing up so he wouldn’t go by. He already has offers from Florida and West Virginia, and Michigan headman John Beilein has known him since he was 11. This will be a big time dogfight and participants will continue to grow in number.

GoBlueWolverine will have more on all of these youngsters later in the week.

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