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 wings.
Jereme Richmond – Mac Irvin Fire (Illinois)
Most likely the top player at the tournament at any level, the Illinois commit was generally playing at a level much higher than his opponents. Physically, Richmond possessed a unique combination of size, length, agility and speed and appeared to be capable of playing virtually anywhere on the floor. On offense, Richmond used impressive ball handling skills and superior athleticism to easily get to the hoop either off the dribble or while posting up in the mid range. Furthermore, Richmond finished extremely well around the hoop, especially while in transition as he was able to dunk with ease and consistently play above the rim.
While he scored almost at will, opponents were able to slow him down a bit if Richmond was forced to shoot from the perimeter. Richmond appeared to have good form on his shot but had trouble at both the free throw line and around the perimeter over the course of the weekend. Despite these struggles it appeared that, given his solid technique and apparent competitive spirit, these struggles would seem to likely have been an aberration and simply the by product of a minor slump.
Defensively, Richmond once again used his superior athleticism to terrorize opponents with block shots, steals, intense ball pressure and swarming help defense. Overall, Richmond would seem to be one of the top players in the country and certainly someone who will be an impact player at the next level.
Elgin Cook – DTA Devin Harris Superstars (16U)
Similar to teammates Charles Lee and Darnell Harris, I was unable to extensively watch Cook throughout the weekend, but I came away impressed with what I was able to see. Cook clearly possesses outstanding athleticism and a well built frame. He excelled in the mid range and posting up on the block, as he relentlessly attacked the hoop with a variety of quick and strong jab steps and spin moves. Additionally, he consistently played above the rim and routinely crashed the boards creating second chance opportunities on offense and igniting a fast break on defense. Cook's athleticism and heart is undeniable and if he is able to refine his jump shot and become a more consistent free throw shooter, he should develop into an excellent prospect.
Darnell Harris – DTA Devin Harris Superstars (16U)
Having seen Harris a few times before, I am fairly familiar with his game and always have come away impressed with his range and touch from the perimeter. Harris remains very comfortable anywhere on the court and appears to even favor playing outside the arc. At 6-foot-7, Harris is able to put the ball on the floor and present match-up problems for most big men who do no possess the foot speed and coordination that Harris enjoys. He shoots the ball with excellent technique and tremendous confidence and appears willing to pick his spots on offense while allowing others to get involved.
Marquis Mason – Wisconsin Swing (Selk)
Bret Bielema and Bo Ryan are getting an absolute stud of an athlete. Mason was consistently stronger and more athletic than virtually every player that he went up against throughout the tournament. He finished with ease and great efficiency around the basket while dominating the glass on both ends of the court. While his jump shot was a little flat at times, Mason more than made up for this by attacking the basket and playing above the rim.
Wayne Blackshear – Mac Irvin Fire (Illinois)
Blackshear appeared to be ill or injured towards the end of the weekend and did not play at all in the championship contest against the Scholars. He nevertheless showed flashes of why he is a highly coveted prospect in the 2011 class. Blackshear displayed text book form on his jump shot and a sweet touch from the perimeter. Additionally, Blackshear displayed outstanding athleticism on both offense and defense as he was able to elevate above his opponent with ease both on his shot and around the hoop. Unfortunately, the Mac Irvin Fire team ran a lot of isolation sets that mostly went to Jereme Richmond and limited the number of touches that Blackshear got throughout the weekend. This did not appear to affect Blackshear but merely was frustrating as an outsider trying to dissect Blackshear's game.