Impressive Prospects Attend A&M Hoops Camp

Only once a year can the Texas A&M coaching staff bring together a large collection of blue chip basketball prospects and that's at the A&M Elite Camp. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop let's you know who attended the camp, who looked good, and who could be committing in the near future.

The Texas A&M coaching staff welcomed a large collection of blue chip basketball recruits to College Station for the 2009 Texas A&M Elite Basketball Camp. Last year, three of the Aggies' 2009 signees attended and participated in the 2008 camp. Two current verbal pledges are participating this year, and another heavy Aggie lean is also in attendance. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop breaks down the action from the camp and evaluates the top prospects at the event.


2010

Daniel Alexander, 6-foot-8, wing/forward----Dripping Springs, TX
Tobi Oyedeji, 6-foot-8, forward----Bellaire, TX
Jamel Outler, 6-foot-3, guard----Bellaire, TX
Luke Cothron, 6-foot-8, forward ----Red Springs, NC


2010 Notes and Player Evaluations

Let's first start with the lone 2010 commit (for now), Daniel Alexander. He's rated a mid-to-high level three-star and frankly I don't understand why because this prospect has success written all over him at the next level. Why is that? Well, he is a guard with a guard's mentality when he's hitting three-pointers with a perfect, efficient stroke or when he's running the fast break and makes a great no-look pass for an assist. Then, on another trip down the court, Alexander is playing tough post defense on national prospects Jason Carter (2011), and Devonta Abron. And for the cherry on top, Alexander flies out of nowhere to slap away a point blank shot for a forceful rejection that drew cat-calls from the players on the sidelines.

It really is hard to find a weakness in his game. As with any young player in these camps, his defense was inconsistent as the focus of these camps is definitely on offense. He is a bit skinny, so he'll need to add another 15-20 pounds of muscle mass, but there's really no glaring weakness in his game. Great pick-up for the coaching staff.

You won't find a more pleasant young man than Tobi Oyedeji when you talk to him off the court. However, he's completely different on the court. Once the ball tips and he starts mixing it up inside with other great post players, he loses the nice guy image and gets down to business finding ways to get to the basket and slamming it home. In game two tonight, I counted at least four dunks. Ok, so big guys throwing down a few slams is no big deal, granted. But when you see the slam dunker step out 3-4 times to hit outside shots, and then in one-on-one drills puts a sweet cross-over dribble and goes to the hole leaving his defender in his dust, it makes you turn your head.

Oyedeji was matched up against good friend Jason Carter, Devonta Abron, and Luke Cothron, and he more than held his own against wider bodies. Tobi still looks young for his age and is slender in build, which makes what he does against thicker, top national talent even more impressive. If he doesn't gain weight before reaching D-1 ball, then he'll get pushed around by physically mature college post players. However, he's already starting to gain weight and if he can put on another 15-20 pounds of mass then he'll be a dominant Big 12 post player. His arms are extremely long and he has a very good vertical jump, so he plays taller than his 6-foot-8 frame and he's still growing. The sky is the limit with Tobi, and if he were to pull the trigger after the camp, that would give A&M four extremely athletic big men in just two classes.

A year ago, Oyedeji's teammate was also very high on Texas A&M's list. Guard Jamel Outler was destined to collect numerous high D-1 offers and the Aggies were positioning themselves to be right there in the recruiting race. However, Outler had his struggles in the 2008 summer AAU season and that spilled over to the fall season. As a result, Jamel's stock dropped and he fell from some team's top list. Well, I don't know if it's too late or not, but Outler had a huge breakout game Monday afternoon hitting at least six three-pointers and finished with nearly 30 points against the team led by Branch, Abron, and Carter. In fact, Outler dueled with Branch a good portion of the contest, and as far as offense goes, Outler had the upper-hand. He looked like a high D-1 prospect when he was a consensus Top 10 prospect in Texas.

The Aggies are involved with a couple of high profile out-of-state five star guards. Now, if they can land one of these studs, that's fine. However, other than Phil Pressey I don't know of another 2010 guard A&M is pursuing that has the skills and ability of Outler. I may be swimming against the current here, but I think Outler is worthy of an offer.

Other than the surprise African prospect from Kent School that nobody really wanted to discuss, the most physically imposing post prospect was Luke Cothron from Red Springs, North Carolina. He's considered the highest-rated 2010 prospect at the camp, and while I agree that he's the best enforcer I do think his overall skill set isn't as versatile as both Alexander and Oyedeji. I'm not sure how serious the situation is with Cothron, but you figure that Texas A&M has one more post spot in 2010 and Oyedeji just may take that spot soon. We'll see.


2011

Jamal Branch, 6-foot-2, guard----Atascosita, TX
Devonta Abron, 6-foot-8, forward----Dallas, TX
Julien Lewis, 6-foot-6, wing----LaMarque, TX
Everett Pleasant, 6-foot-4, guard/wing----Atascosita, TX
Shai Fields, 6-foot-1, guard----Pearland, TX
Jason Carter, 6-foot-8, forward----Fort Bend, TX
Kevin Wagner, 5-foot-8, guard----Lubbock, TX


2011 Notes and Player Evaluations

Naturally, I'll start with A&M verbal commit Jamal Branch. First of all, Jamal was in great shape and he looked much thicker and cut than he did last summer when I watched him at the Great American Shootout in College Station. Add in his 6-foot-2 frame to go along with his mass, and he is a physical point guard that is not afraid to take it to the lane and take the pounding. Yes, I said point guard. I know a lot of people want to call him a combo guard, but Jamal's strengths come as a point guard. He is a great distributor and assist man, with many no-look passes and drawing enough attention off the dribble to allow him to find the open man.

Branch struggles when he tries to do too much, especially when he gets it in his mind to take the outside shot. He's an average perimeter shooter. However, given his incredible quickness and the ability to penetrate the lane, he's a special ball handler and a special one-on-one defender who will create steals in the backcourt. Yes, he's that quick and that good. But, Branch needs a good supporting cast and he's at his best creating for others and driving to the basket to get to the free throw line. Overall, he's a great asset for the future of Aggie basketball, but I'm not sure in my opinion he can be considered a five-star prospect until he improves his outside shot. Still, he's very, very good.

The 2011 camp participant that has the most upside potential is Devonta Abron of Dallas Spruce and the AAU Mustangs. Speaking of Mustangs, it was a bit disappointing not to see wingman Keaton Miles or forward LaBryan Nash, but Abron is a headliner in his own right. He's already filled out and has the athleticism to match any of the 2010 posts we talked about. He's as tough as nails around the basket, but he does have some ball handling skills. He does take some outside shots, but his stroke needs a lot of work and he missed more than he made from outside the paint. He's still a little raw, but with a little seasoning he could be one of the best 2011 post prospects nationally. He's a lefty too.

Sometimes a team needs a lunch pail post man, a player that is wider and more physical who may not have the perimeter skills of a longer, thinner athlete. That player at the camp is Fort Bend Marshall 2011 big man Jason Carter. Now, he's not a wide body like Big Baby Davis or Tiny Gallon (OU Signee from Houston last year), but compared to Alexander and Oyedeji, he's thicker and a different type of athlete. He has solid basketball skills, but he's a player that cleans up the boards and does the necessary dirty work in the paint. He's a good, aggressive player that would be a very nice pick-up by the staff.

Guards Everett Pleasant and Shai Fields along with wing Julien Lewis all showed flashes of high D-1 skills, but I would have to put them closely behind some of the other guard prospects discussed. In my opinion, this trio will shake out as high three star prospects, and fringe Top 120 national prospects.

Now, because of his short 5-foot-8 stature, not many services will discuss Lubbock Estacado 2011 point guard Kevin Wagner, but this kid is a spark plug. He has tremendous elevation and plays much taller than his 5-foot-8 frame. He helped his team defeat the Jamal Branch/Devonta Abron team, and brings incredible quickness and athleticism to the position. FYI, he led his Estacado teammates to the Class 3A Championship Game scoring 27 points in the semifinal win. Given that the Aggies already have their point guard in Branch, Wagner likely won't get an A&M offer, but he'll play at a good D-1 program.


2012

J'Mychal Reese, 6-foot-1, guard----Bryan, TX (street clothes)
D.J. Griggs, 5-foot-11, guard----Freeport, TX
Rasheed Sulaimon, 6-foot-3, guard/wing----Houston, TX


2012 Notes and Player Evaluations

J'Mychal Reese was in attendance, but did not suit up due to a minor injury. I really wanted to study his game and evaluate his athleticism as some basketball experts are whispering that Reese may have already peaked physically and that his upside is somewhat limited. That opinion is certainly not shared by a majority of recruiting experts, but it is out there. Still, Reese is a very accomplished basketball prospect and will be a national recruit. There's no question about that. He's worked harder than any other recruit, so he'll be a very good college hoops player. It's common knowledge that Reese has liked A&M a lot going back to the Gillispie days. It wouldn't surprise me to see him wear maroon in three years.

For my money though, you can't get much better than D.J. Griggs. Even though he's sub 6-foot, he is a balanced athlete and can make every play from the point whether he needs to close on the basket, find the open man, or shoot (and make) the long three-pointer. He was the buzz of the 2008 A&M Elite camp and he played up to those standards again in 2009.

I didn't get a chance to watch Rasheed Sulaimon on Monday, but I've seen him listed on numerous national 2012 lists. He drew some buzz from the camp on Monday. I'll have Taylor go watch him in the morning and give us a scouting report.


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