Recruiting Targets at Rumble in the Bronx 2005

Last weekend's 2005 Rumble in the Bronx showcased a number of potential Big East recruits among the 40 teams competing for the 17 and Under title. The event is usually dominated by New York City teams, but this year the GC Ballers (Western New York) won the championship by beating the Juice All-Stars. The following is a review of several probable Syracuse recruiting targets, based on Friday and Saturday's pool play.

Brad Sheehan – (2006) – Sheehan was one of the biggest kids at the tournament, easily measuring in at about 6-10 or so. He is still very skinny and will need to put on more weight, but he's relatively mobile for a player of his size. The Albany City Rocks, who won two of three games in pool play, played 2-3 zone for a majority of the time that Sheehan was in. Brad patrolled the middle of the zone, trying to block shots, rebound, and jump start the fastbreak with outlet passes.

During Friday night's 68-41 win, Brad played a pretty solid all-around game against an undersized and overwhelmed Rams AAU (Va) team. He scored 9 points, grabbed 6 boards, blocked 4 shots, and also added a steal and an assist as the City Rocks used their size and speed to demolish the Rams. Sheehan turned in a highlight play midway through the second half, when he blocked a shot on one end, then ran the court and finished with a very nice one-handed dunk in traffic to cap off the fastbreak. It came out of nowhere and seemed to surprise even his teammates. He also hit a nice lefty-hook and made 3 out of 4 free throws with a pretty smooth shot.

After a decent showing on the first evening, Brad struggled mightily on Saturday afternoon when he faced a much bigger, stronger, and faster Miami Tropics team. He got into some foul trouble and finished with only 4 points and 3 rebounds. He did not look comfortable bodying up against the Tropics big frontline players, and looked like he wasn't quite up to the speed of the game. Brad also had a series of his short-range shot attempts blocked, which is never a good sign for a 6-10 interior player.

On the plus side, Sheehan did show a really nice mid-range jumper, hitting one from about 12 feet out on the baseline, and he also made a driving bank shot from about 5 feet. Word is that Brad has improved dramatically in the last few months and if he can continue to work hard, he should turn into a nice prospect. One thing to keep in mind is that this is one of the first times that he's played against real top level competition. He looks like he would definitely benefit from a redshirt year if he comes to Syracuse.

Curtis Kelly – (2006) – Kelly is one of the top interior players in the class of 2006, thanks to his combination of outstanding physical ability to go with his emerging post-up skills. Unfortunately, he plays C/F on the Gauchos AAU team and his teammates have very little interest in getting him the ball, and as a result, his game suffered. At times, Kelly tended to get agitated when he didn't get enough touches, and started to jog back on defense and make only a token effort at posting up on offense. But when he is motivated to play hard, you won't find a player his size that covers ground in the open court more smoothly. Unfortunately, at this stage he has a tendency to run very near the center of the court when he should be running on the wing of the fastbreak. This causes a lot of spacing problems and negates some of his effectiveness in transition.

Kelly poured in 14 points on Friday night, even though he missed a majority of the first half the game. The Gauchos' opponent (Augusta Stars), pressed all game, so the Gauchos posted Kelly at half court and used him to try to finish after they broke the press. The problem was, much of the time the ball never got past halfcourt because of careless ball-handling. Even when it did, much of the time his teammates ignored him. He did have one incredible one-handed tomahawk dunk, but he was underutilized for the most part.

On Saturday, Kelly started off his game with a horrible sequence of plays. On two separate occasions he turned the ball over by spinning into a double-team a la Warrick vs. Vermont. What is truly amazing is Kelly's ability to alternate between making dominating and dumbfounding plays. He tends to force bad shots when he gets frustrated, and has no problem hucking it up with 2 or 3 guys drapped all over him. He also has a case of "happy feet" and almost always shuffles before he puts the ball on the floor.

Curtis helped the Gauches come back from a huge deficit late in the second half, when he had a great sequence with 6 points, a handful of rebounds, a blocked shot, and a fullcourt mad-dash that he capped off with a great assist. He handles the ball surprisingly well in the open floor. He also showed last year at ABCD that he can be a very effective passer when he is teamed with other interior scoring threats.

Even with the strong push late in the game, he still only finished with 8 points and 8 boards, but did make a few noteworthy plays. He hit one beautiful shot from the right wing where he faked one way, then spun around and rose up above the defense and drilled a smooth lefty jumper from about 6 feet out. He also had a great putback where he was originally out-positioned, but tapped the ball 3 times before gaining possession and tossing it in off the glass.

Kelly has a very good frame to work with – broad shoulders, but it seems that he has a little bit of baby fat to get rid of. He's also left-handed, so if he were to come to SU, there would be immediate comparisons to Derrick Coleman. Kelly didn't play particularly well on Friday and Saturday, but you could see glimpses of brilliance, and his size and mobility make him a bigtime prospect.

Melquan Bolding – (2007) – This is a name to remember, as most Big East teams will be recruiting him. Bolding is about 6-3 with an absolutely uncanny ability to play above the rim that has earned him a #33 overall ranking in the class of 2007 by In warm-ups, he was throwing down 360 dunks with ease, and in the first game against Rams AAU, he scored almost all of his points on a variety of high-flying dunks. He has great open court speed and really knows how to attack the rim in transition.

On Saturday, Bolding went up against a much tougher team (Miami Tropics) that had several big bodies on the interior. He scored 5 points in the game's first 3 minutes, hitting a three pointer from the top of the key, and muscling in an off-balance drive from the wing. After that, the Tropics adjusted their defense to force him out on the perimeter, where he is not particularly comfortable. They also used a fullcourt press, and Bolding had a great deal of trouble getting the ball over the halfcourt line.

Bolding went on to score 13 points during the 61-63 loss, hitting 4 of 8 free throws and adding a pair of fastbreak baskets, but for the most part he was held in check. What became readily apparent is that Bolding is really an undersized forward, at least at this stage of his development. His ball-handling was sloppy and his passing against the press was beyond lazy. He did redeem himself somewhat with 2 nice assists late in the game, but his 6 early turnovers kept the City Rocks from closing the gap until the second half. He also showed little ability to create offense other than long spot-up jumpers or head-down drives to the rack.

Bolding has the athletic tools to be a top player in the 2007 class, but he will need to expand his game to include more astute ballhandling and play-making, while developing an intermediate offensive game as well. Considering that he may be re-classified as class of 2008, it appears that he will have plenty of time to work on his game.

Jonathan Flynn (2007) – Flynn is the point guard for the GC Ballers and was a teammate of Paul Harris this past year at Niagara Falls High School. He just turned 15 and has a pretty nice feel for the game for such a young player. He and Robert Garrison make up a very nice backcourt for the 2005 Rumble Champs. Flynn had a nice three game run in pool play with 10/8, 12/7, and 14/4 in the scoring and assist columns, very impressive considering the number of weapons on the Ballers (even without Harris).

Physically, Jonathan looks a lot like Josh Wright, but he's much bigger than Josh was at the same age. He's probably about 5-10/5-11 and has clearly grown some since OrangeNation saw him in February. He will probably end up being bigger than Josh by the time he gets to college. He has very nice jumping ability and good quickness to go with a nice handle. His crossover dribble looked very good in the early game on Saturday, but failed to help him get spacing when he was going up against a tough Metro Hawks team in the late game.

Flynn is also pretty unselfish and loves to advance the ball with long, crisp passes. He gets into trouble a lot when he overpenetrates or dribbles too much, but that can be said for most young point guards. He also has a penchant for making flashy no-look passes which are spectacular when they connect, but somewhat embarrassing when they end up in the stands. His outside shot has decent release, but he tends to fade backwards before he lets go, so his shooting wasn't as good as it could have been. Still, he hit one long three and added a few mid-range shots.

One nice sign is that he already shoots a true jump-shot, unlike Josh Wright, who shoots more of a set shot. Defensively Flynn was pretty good when he was on-the-ball, but he had a bad tendency to lose his man when he was playing off the ball. It will be interesting to see how he does at the sneaker camps against top competition. Sources indicate the Flynn is very interested in Syracuse, but SU will continue to evaluate him before making any scholarship offers. Look for Flynn to be a definite Big East target in the upcoming seasons.

Miles Beatty – (2007) – Beatty is the starting point guard at St. Anthony's and headed up the Playaz AAU team, which normally features Gerald Henderson and Wayne Ellington. Both of these top prospects were in California at the USA Dev. Festival, so the Playaz struggled in pool play, losing all three of their games. I caught the last 30 seconds of their game on Friday and came away extremely impressed with Beatty. He's got a very nice solid build at 6-2 and may remind some people of Mike Bibby in his style of play and physical abilities.

Beatty spearheaded a furious late comeback. The Playaz were down by 10 points with 30 seconds left, but cut it to 3 points before eventually losing. Beatty started the comeback by hitting a running bank shot from the wing. He was fouled on the play and sank the free throw. He then picked off an errant pass for a steal and handed out an assist to cut the deficit to 5. After the opponent made a free throw, Beatty charged down the court and hit a very long three pointer to cut it to 3. All of this in a span of 30 seconds! He had a chance to tie the game, but missed an off-balance turnaround 3-pointer at the buzzer. He probably would have had a cleaner look if his teammate's pass wasn't aimed at his ankles. I didn't get a chance to see him play in his other two games, but I heard he played very well throughout.

Tyrell Lynch – (2006) – 6-7/6-8 PF from Niagara Falls. Nice looking prospect, but not quite a top 75 type yet. Has decent, but not great athleticism. Pretty mobile and made a handful of 6 to 8 foot jumpers and had some dunks due to his superior size. SU will probably keep tabs on Lynch to see how he progresses in the event that DeShawn Sims or Curtis Kelly don't end up in Orange.

Another final name to remember:

Justin Burrell – (2006) – Burrell is a 6-7/215 pound forward for the Long Island Lightning AAU team. has him listed as a 2 star prospect, but that won't last long. He was the talk of the tournament after an extremely impressive game on Friday night. Burrell is already very well-developed from a physical standpoint, with nice shoulders and thick biceps and triceps. His ability to wreck havoc on the baseline was so obvious, I took note of it even though I wasn't directly watching his game! Curtis Kelly was playing on Court 6, but every time I looked over to Court 5, Burrell was throwing down a vicious dunk in traffic or skying above everyone to grab rebounds.

The same thing happened on Saturday, when I was checking out Jonathan Flynn. Burrell was playing two courts over, yet I still saw him score about 10 points on baseline moves. In total, I only spent about 10 minutes watching the Lightning play, but Burell still stuck out in my mind from all the plays I saw him make… I would have liked to see to if he had other skills besides the obvious run/jump athleticism, but one of his AAU coaches called him "the Manchild" and assured me that he can shoot it and handle as well. I'll reserve judgment until I see him play again, but I came away impressed. At the present moment he has not committed anywhere and his only scholarship offer is from Jacksonville State. Grades are apparently a serious issue, which may explain why he has received only modest interest from mid to high D1 schools so far, but that is bound to change after his showing at Rumble in the Bronx. Look for Syracuse to keep on eye on his development over the next few months.

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