On the second day of the July evaluation period I spent the morning session in Suwannee, Ga., at the UA Finals then the evening at the Nike Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C. Jaylen Brown had it going at the Finals, while Ben Simmons stole the show at Peach Jam.
SIMMONS STEALS SHOW
In front of a standing room only crowd on court one of the Riverview Parks and Recreation Center in North Augusta, S.C., Ben Simmons
, of Montverde (Fla.) Academy, put together one of the signature performances of the summer.
College coaches, scouts and fans were buzzing about the 6-foot-8 combo forwards game. Simmons was aggressive, physical and showed his versatility by spending majority of the game on the ball for Each 1 Teach 1.
Simmons was aggressive with the ball in his hands, attacked the basket at every opportunity and showed off his ridiculous passing skills. In transition, he was virtually unstoppable, as he either finished at the basket or drew a foul. When it was said and done Simmons’ team got the win and he finished with 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting and tossed out seven assists.
For the past few months we have listed Simmons as a power forward, and he can certainly be effective at that spot, but I think it’s time to slide him over to the small forward position. The LSU
will be able to adequately defend that position at the next and I think his offensive skills continue to develop and lean that way.
Regardless of his position, Simmons is an elite talent that continues his strong summer tour. He was the camp MVP at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, had his bright moments at the LeBron James Skills Academy and on a big stage, in an intimate, but jam packed atmosphere, Simmons left no doubt about who was the top prospect on the floor, and likely in the country.
The next step in Simmons’ development is to develop his shooting. He’s a fine shooter from mid-range, but once that extends to three, it makes him that much more effective off the bounce.
BROWN SHINES IN DUEL
showed up ready to go at the Under Armour Finals Thursday morning in a match up with 2016 wing Josh Jackson
Brown, a 6-foot-7 strongly, built wing, started the game by hitting a pair of catch and shoot three-pointers and then striped Jackson at half court and soared in for a dunk in transition. Brown continued to shine, knocking down two more three-pointers and closing with 18 points at the half.
In the second frame, Brown looked to drive the ball more. He’s such a good finisher at the basket, as he’s strong, knows how to use his body and is elite athletically. He showcased those traits and had numerous strong finishes at the basket.
In all, Brown finished with 27 points and was an efficient 10-for-14 from the field. It was the type of performance you would expect from a top five player in a big time match up. He’ll in contention for the top spot in the 2015 class.
Although Jackson didn’t play as well as Brown, he certainly had his moments scoring 16 points on 6-for-15 shooting in the win over Game Elite.
At 6-foot-6, Jackson has a long, lean frame. He’s a terrific athlete with good mobility, especially laterally. He missed all three of his three-point tries, but he was able to connect on shot opportunities at the rim and with floaters. There’s a lot to like about Jackson’s game, as he can impact things on both ends of the floor at a major level.
OTHER NOTABLE PERFORMERS
Allonzo Trier, SG, Athletes First: Trier, a 6-foot-5 guard, struggled from the field at times against CIA Bounce, going just 6-for-20 from the field. But he still had a major impact on the game. Trier consistently drew contact on his drives to the rim and made 12 of his 14 three throw attempts. He’s one of the top scorers in the country and he’s able to create his own shot and get a good look at the rim just when he wants. He did hit three of his eight three-point attempts. Trier finished with 27 points in the loss to CIA Bounce.
Mustapha Heron, SF, The City: This tough, physical wing prospect headed to Pittsburgh was sensational Thursday morning. In a battle with DC premier, Heron scored 33 points and scored them in a variety of ways. Most that follow basketball recruiting know Heron can score at the rim, but his mid-range pull-ups and off the catch long-range shots are starting to go down with consistency. His arsenal is developing and he’s becoming more of a complete player.
Antonio Blakeney, SG, E1T1: As the game against Team CP3 wore on, Blakeney, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, began to show his scoring prowess. He struggled from three, hitting just one of his eight attempts, but he was able to get out in transition and make plays and was the benefactor of a number of Simmons’ assists. Blakeney’s ability to score the ball has improved, as he’s much more than just a shooter. He’s able to go off the bounce and create shots, score on the move and certainly his athleticism when he gets to the rim.
Dillon Brooks, SF, CIA Bounce: Brooks opened some eyes at the LeBron James Skills Academy and he was at it again at the Nike Peach Jam on Thursday. The 6-foot-6 wing prospect is strong, aggressive, tough and physical, but he’s also turned into a versatile scorer. Brooks made his only three-point attempt, hit a pull-up from 18-feet and then went to work around the basket. He attacked to the rim with aggression, scored through contact and even posted up for buckets. He’s a bonafide high major player and is due a big rise when Scout.com updates the player rankings.
Isaiah Briscoe, SG, NJ Playaz: It took the 6-foot-3 combo guard a little while to get going, but once he did it was impressive to watch. As I mentioned earlier in the spring, Briscoe has slimmed up his frame and is a couple steps quicker than he was last year, which makes it easier for him to get into the lane. He lived at the free throw stripe against Team Takeover, as he went 17-for-20 from the line. He’s so aggressive off the dribble and can take hits on the way to the rim. He hunted mid-range pull-ups, showed his floater and played with toughness. He scored 33 points on 8-for-18 shooting and led the Playaz to a tough victory.
|Trier looks to score (Dean Legge)