Reebok Notes: Thursday

On Thursday, I was able to spend the day at Philadelphia University watching the Reebok Breakout Challenge. Inside are full notes on the day’s action, including a recruiting update on 2015 forward Charlie Thomas, as well notes on a handful of 2015 and 2016 St. Joe’s recruiting targets.

I began my morning at Philadelphia University watching two guards with St. Joe’s offers: C.J. Keyser and Malik Ellison. St. Joe’s is in very different spots with the two guards. Keyser is a hyper-athletic combo guard who plays his AAU ball with Mid-Atlantic Select. The Hawks offered Keyser last summer and have been active in his recruitment since. He finished with 6 points in his morning game, all around the rim. There is no downplaying his athleticism. Keyser has exceptional lateral quickness, explodes off the floor, and plays a physical, gritty brand of basketball.

The biggest room for improvement in his game is his shooting, and that was evident on Thursday morning as he missed his two free throws and only jumper. Keyser is a menace on the defensive end and a more-than-capable ball-handler. At 6’3-6’4, with his ball-handling ability and athleticism, I have Keyser as at least an Atlantic 10 player. It would not surprise me in the least to see him in the A10 or a level up. He visited Rhode Island, St. Joe's La Salle, Providence, and more just before the July live periods began. He is a guy that I think St. Joe's, La Salle, or URI could have a great shot at landing.

In a game that starred elite talent like Diamond Stone, Elijah Thomas, and Jawun Evans, Malik Ellison slid under the radar a bit. With that being said, he was one of the most impressive players in the 10 o’clock game. Ellison appears to be every bit of 6’4 or 6’5. And I may be somewhat in the minority, but I see Ellison as a point guard, a big point guard, at the college level. On Thursday, he had 9 points, 4 assists by my count, 2 steals, and one huge block on the break. Ellison is a plus athlete, has outstanding court vision, and even knocked down a three in this one. He continues to improve, continues to grow, and continues to realize just how good he can be. His 9 points and 4 assists don’t do his performance justice. He was sensational in the morning loss.

St. Joe’s offered Ellison over a year ago and have attempted to remain active in his recruitment. Phil Martelli and Geoff Arnold watched Keyser and Ellison in this one. However, at the end of the day, I think Maryland will be very tough to beat for the Life Center Academy guard. His mother ran track there. His sister is on the women’s basketball team. His former teammate, Trayvon Reed, is a current freshman there. Maryland appears to be the team to beat. And they would be getting a terrific player with a world of upside.

In the following game, I watched 2015 St. Joe’s Prep (PA) shooting guard Chris Clover and 2016 St. Anthony (NJ) wing guard Jagan Mosely. It was not Clover’s best performance. He had a 12-point outing the night before, but was held to 5 points in this one. He knocked down a three and both free throws, but in all shot just 1-4 from 3. After the game, Clover told me that St. Joe’s has “been really active” in his recruitment and that “I visited there and Coach Phil told me I’m their #1 guy.” While it was not the most productive outing for Clover, he is a prospect that I have seen over a dozen times. I see the appeal at the Atlantic 10 level. I see the appeal at the high major level. He’s a strong 6’4 guard that is capable of playing, and defending, multiple positions. Temple, St. Joe’s, George Mason, Villanova, and La Salle are all active in the Philly Pride guard’s recruitment.

While Clover had a relatively quiet game, Jagan Mosely opened some eyes. The 6’3 guard from St. Anthony (NJ) is extremely physically developed for a 2016 recruit. He possesses terrific athleticism, a chiseled frame, and a defensive mindset. He finished Thursday’s game with 10 points, connecting of 2-3 from three, 1-4 from 2, and 2-6 from the line. His stroke needs some work, but you can’t teach his physical attributes. He could be a ball-hawk perimeter defender, plays hard, and has a terrific frame. St. Joe’s is one of several schools doing their early due diligence in his recruitment. It would not surprise me at all if Moseley turned out to be a player that picked up a few Atlantic 10 offers in the near future. He should end up projecting right at, or right above, that level.

I closed Thursday watching one of the 2014 St. Joe’s targets with an offer that I hadn’t yet seen. That player was 2015 power forward Charlie Thomas. Thomas is a physically imposing 6’7 forward who runs with DC Premier on the AAU circuit. He only played a quarter before going down with an injury, but had 6 points in that time. They came on a dunk on the break, an offensive rebound and score, and a little runner in the lane. I spoke with Thomas following the game.

“Camp’s gone well so far,” Thomas began. “I’m here, then in DC for Big Shots, then Under Armour in Atlanta, then close out July in Vegas at the Fab 48,” he said of his July schedule.

When asked to best describe his game, Thomas stated, “I’d say that I’m a stretch 4, a power forward who can face up and shoot the ball. Shooting s a strength.”

That ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, combined with his wide, physically mature frame, has grabbed the interest of a number of schools. “Xavier, William and Mary, Towson, Drexel, and St. Joe’s are all schools that have offered,” Thomas said. “Clemson is expressing interest now too.”

Most of his offers at the moment are at the mid-major level, but high-majors like Clemson and West Virginia are also lurking. According to Thomas, “West Virginia and Clemson are two that I want to visit.”

Lastly, I can’t finish this article without mentioning the performance that Derrick Jones put on in that final game. Jones dropped 31 points in about as entertaining fashion as you can imagine. He threw home monster dunks, knocked down shots from the perimeter, slashed to the hole. He did it all. There was talk that maybe Jones wasn’t quite the elite wing anymore. I am here, today, to unequivocally say that that’s false. Jones is a talent. An elite one. St. Joe’s did all they could here, offering early, trying to stay involved. Jones will play at the highest level collegiately, and has a great chance to play at the professional level. Watching him to close out the afternoon was a delight.

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