Several of PC's top recruiting targets were playing at the three day Providence Jamfest over the last weekend. Here are some of the impressions I came away with on them...

Naadir Tharpe (NE Playaz):
The primary reason why I went to the Jamfest was to see Nadir play and I was not disappointed. He has a reputation as a pass first point guard and it is plain to see why after watching him for just a couple of minutes. He is always looking to pass and has a great natural ability as a playmaker with great court vision that cannot be taught. He has a nice looking shot that was on and off during the tournament.

Unfortunately his team had a really tough break at the beginning of the tournament running out of gas and losing in the second round after having only had five guys for their first game (they actually had to play 5 on 4 for the first 8 minutes until a 5th guy showed up) which was only two hours earlier. As a result Playaz did not wind up playing against any of the top teams which was unfortunate.

Naadir seems like a great kid with a great attitude. I had sent him a facebook message after his loss saying that his team had a really tough break coming back so soon after that earlier game and his reply was "Thanks, but we still should have won that game, no excuses". If anyone is worried about him being a soft commitment to PC I would not worry too much. While just about every player at the tournament showed up to the site wearing some sort of AAU team sweatshirt or jacket, Nadir showed up in full Friar gear all three days. I think he is going to be a great PC advocate over the next year in the New England Prep School circuit.

Khem Birch (Expressions Elite):
If Coleman was our no 1 target in 2010 and Tharpe was our no. 1 target in 2011 then Khem Birch should be our no 1 target for 2012. He is an absolutely incredible shot blocker who owned the paint and the glass for most of the games he played. He is a real intimidating force inside and it would be fun seeing him play along side Brice for a couple of years. PC could get scary good defensively in a couple of years with Khem on board. I did not see to much of an offensive game from him and I am told that it is still developing but his Expressions team had so many scorers he did not get the ball too much inside. He did have some good low post moves however. During the feature game on Sunday against CBC he more than held his own with Drummond after the first few minutes. He needs to put on weight but has the frame where that will not be too much of a problem.

Khem is another guy who seems like a really great kid and also seems to have developed a solid relationship with Nadir. This is the guy I really want to be a future Friar.

Ricky Ledo (Expressions Elite):
Ricky was the MVP of the tournament in my opinion. I heard there was an issue with his outside shot but he looked like Ray Allen all weekend long. I didn't think he could miss for awhile. From my vantage point it seemed like he had a great first step, nice handle, great range, very good athletic ability, and was able to create his own shot easily. This was my first time seeing him play and I think he is going to be a big-time player.

I also saw Ricky interacting quite a bit with Nadir. He seems like quite the character and a bundle of energy. He was everywhere talking with and joking with everyone (and I mean everyone) all weekend long and spent sizable amounts of time playing with and shooting around with the little kids in between games which I thought was nice. I guess he is just a high energy type of kid. One thing that did worry me is that he seemed inseparable from Michael Carter Williams all weekend.

Andre Drummond (CBC):
A man among boys. Everyone else is still developing physically but Andre already has an NBA ready body. He is an incredible defensive presence inside. He tried to block everything he could and the refs let him get away with a few goaltending calls. More polished offensively than I was expecting and he went the full length of the court on a couple of fast break opportunities. He has a nice stroke from the free throw line although he did miss a few. Definitely a one and done player and lottery lock. However, I will take Khem Birch on my team for 2 or 3 years rather than just 1 year of Drummond.

Alex Murphy (NE Playaz):
Alex was one of the guys on Playaz who missed the first game so I did not get to see as much of him as the others. He had an off tournament shooting wise but you can see that all of the tools are there. Nice stroke from the outside and he is not afraid to mix it up underneath. He is going to be a nice addition for whoever gets him, but if PC is not on his current list I would not waste too much time on him with all the other talent out there.

Vince Van Nes (CAB):
He is every bit of 6'11" with a lot of coordination for a man his size. He played most of the first game on Saturday morning as CAB was resting Drummond to be ready for the rest of the tournament. He looked good but this was a first round game so the competition was very weak. He played only sparingly during the rest of the tournament basically just giving Drummond rest so it was hard to draw any conclusions other than to say that he needs a lot of work but the potential is there. I can see why PC gave him an offer.

Other Observations:

The new athletic complex at Central is incredible and a great place to hold this type of tournament.

This was my first time going to one of these tournaments and I had a blast. I would highly recommend that any basketball junkie go to one of these tournaments. I just wish they had some type of program for the public. There were a lot of other players who struck my eye and would have liked to have known who they were.

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