Split between three locations and multiple divisions, I spent most of my attention on the 17U bracket that featured a number of outstanding performances from upperclassmen, underclassmen, state players and top recruits the Badgers are currently recruiting.
Unfortunately, there were a few noticeable absences: King James Shooting Stars all state guard and current Wisconsin target Cameron Wright was not in attendance, Net Gain Sports guard and former Iowa commit Chanse Creekmur did not show up for their first game and Wisconsin Swing forward, and top state prospect, Kyle Kelm was held out of action due to injury.
That being said, the tournament was not lacking for talent and many of the big names showed up and showed off throughout the weekend. Today, we look at the weekend's top point guards.
Maurice Cooper-Jones – REACH Legends (Michigan)
Cooper-Jones should have the nickname ‘The Roadrunner.' Simply put - the fastest player I have seen with the ball in his hands in a while. Extremely explosive both in a half court set and out on the break. While he appeared to be no taller than 5-foot-7, Cooper-Jones used superior athleticism and speed to more than make up for his lack of size. In addition to possessing premium speed and athleticism, Cooper-Jones had a very tight handle on the ball and utilized a variety moves to shake off defenders with ease on his way to the basket. Although he appeared to have some difficulty finishing over taller defenders, he was able to employ a deadly mid range pull-up jumper that was made even more effective by his ability to create space. Additionally, his on ball defense appeared to be relentless and suffocating.
Josh Gasser – Wisconsin Swing
Gasser appears to be an extension of the coach on the court, as he plays with a lot of poise and outstanding court vision from the point guard position. Good looking form on his shot, which he knocks down on a consistent basis, but he seems more comfortable taking the ball to the hoop. While Gasser does not possess world-class athleticism, he appears to have strong fundamentals and a supreme knowledge of the game that he utilizes to outplay his opponents. That being said, it will be interesting to see how he handles playing on the ball at the next level where the opponent and the game will only be that much faster than they are right now.
Reggie Smith – Mac Irvin Fire (Illinois)
Very strong and well built lead guard. Reminds me a bit of Sherron Collins who also happens to be hail from Chicago. Smith could get to the hoop at will and finished well when he got there using his upper body strength to shield off defenders. Appeared to have good form on his shot, although he seemed to be a bit off at times throughout the tournament. On defense, Smith played the passing lanes exceptionally well and was able to read his opponent and explode into the passing lane for the steal. Similarly, Smith applied intense ball pressure on the opposing point guard, disrupting the flow of the opposition's offense and often times forcing a turnover.
Darrell Longstreet (16U, played up on Playground Elite 17U)
Did not see much of him throughout the weekend but nevertheless appeared to be blessed with exceptional athletic ability and quickness. Appeared content setting up other teammates and looked as though he was just as comfortable looking for the assist as he was creating his own shot. Defensively he applied good ball pressure, although he did struggle to contain the uber-quick Cooper-Jones throughout their matchup.
Charles Lee (16U DTA-Devin Harris Superstars)
Once again did not get to see him play all that much, but I could not help but think that if he was only three inches taller (only 5-foot-7) and 20 pounds heavier, that he would have virtually every program scrambling for his services. Appeared to have a very advanced understanding of the game and a calming presence at the point to go a long with a nice looking jumper. Additionally, he consistently applied intense ball pressure and played the passing lanes well.
The REACH LEGENDS completely outplayed the 17U playground elite team as they displayed superior hustle, desire and aggressiveness throughout the contest. Maurice Cooper-Jones, as well as a number of other quick guards, presented were unstoppable all game and seemingly had their way with the Playground guards, including on the boards as the entire REACH team crashed the glass on virtually every play.
Flavien Davis appears to be back with the Wisconsin Scholars program which is extremely well coached and ended up winning the 17u championship. Flavien certainly was one of the top performers in that game and I assume he excelled throughout the tournament given that his team won the championship and he was clearly their best player.