With a full day of action on Saturday at the Hoop Group's Pitt Jam Fest, there were some great opportunities to catch some of Xavier's top targets in the 2013 class. One of the themes of the day was strong play from the forward prospects that Xavier is in on.
One of the first games of the day saw Devin Williams' Ohio Basketball Club team take down DC Assault's "B" team with Xavier head coach Chris Mack sitting court-side. OBC was down by double-digits at halftime but responded with some strong defense and some big shots by 2013 guard Kevin Johnson from Summit Country Day to pull off the comeback win, 50-49.
Williams didn't get the ball near enough in the post, but when he was able to get his hands on it (usually by grabbing an offensive rebound), he used his wide, strong frame to power into the defender and draw contact. He's an excellent free-throw shooter, and put that skill on display with a perfect 8-for-8 performance from the line.
In one of the late games of the night, Williams and OBC picked up another win over an SEBL team from North Carolina.
OBC once again failed to get Williams the ball enough, but he did get a few more opportunities on offense, and showed off good footwork with quick spin moves in the post. He finished with just nine points, but he also stood out more on the defensive end. Matched up against an opponent that was at least 6-foot-8, and at least a similar weight, he was able to limit his effectiveness by keeping him off the block and forcing him to catch the ball six to eight feet from the basket.
Williams is one of the better rebounders in the entire class, and his value as a post defender is underrated. There have always been concerns about his lack of lift around the basket and how it would affect his ability to score, but with the way he shoots free-throw and the rate at which he gets to the line, that will always help him accumulate more points - and he doesn't need to be able to jump high to score at the charity stripe. He also has some nice post moves and a smooth jump shot from 15-feet. Williams is a very low-risk prospect.
Another forward who's been a big-time target for Xavier's staff over the last several months is DC Assault's Kris Jenkins.
Jenkins took on another Xavier target in Maverick Morgan and his Martin's Wolverines. DC Assault easily handled the Wolverines, and Jenkins certainly got the better of the matchup between Xavier targets - though they obviously weren't going head-to-head.
The skilled combo forward got off to a fast start and showed off his highly-skilled mid-range game. In the second half, while playing with a lead, Jenkins was content to play the role of spot up shooter. He was rather quiet other than connecting on three long balls to give him 22 points for the game.
Another forward who has been on the Xavier staff's radar that stuck out today was Vince Hunter.
Though Hunter is another combo forward, he couldn't be more different from Jenkins.
A big-time athlete, Hunter plays with energy and toughness on both ends of the court. His tenacity on defense and the glass, ends up leading to transition opportunities for him.
The biggest difference between Hunter's game now and where it was a year ago, is his handle. He is now a much more effective scorer due to his ability to handle the ball a little bit. While his skill level could improve with both his handle and his shot, he's now able to get out and make a lot more plays with his ability to put it on the deck a little more. Defensively, Hunter brings versatility with the size, length, lateral quickness and instincts to guard a two through four.
The Detroit forward is on the verge of blowing up this spring. He's a big-time athlete and play-maker on both ends of the court with great length. If his skill continues to improve, the sky is the limit for him.
Adding to the Forward List
While the staff is trying to prioritize which of the several forward targets they want to pursue the hardest and figure out which would be the best fit, there are other names still getting thrown into the mix.
One such player is WestChester Hawks 2013 forward Samuel Dingba.
Dingba stood out on Saturday due to his impressive build and his ridiculously high motor. The native of Cameroon was all over the place, diving on the floor after loose balls and leaping off the floor for rebounds.
While his offensive game is still a little raw and he'll need to develop more ways to score, he proved on Saturday that his ability to finish through contact and go strong to the rim might be enough to make him an effective scorer. At 6-foot-7 with springs, he threw down several impressive dunks, including a few and-one poster dunks on defenders. He's also developed a jumper that he made three or four times from 12-15 feet.
He's a great athlete that refuses to be outworked on the court. He can block shots, defensive rebound and defend away from the rim. On top of all of that, he's a very bright kid that is seriously considering Bucknell and Yale, and his AAU coaches gush about his character. His list also includes Xavier, Seton Hall, Quinnipiac, Delaware and Boston.
Dingba is a very intriguing option and will likely see his recruitment blow up a little bit here in the next few months with coaches getting the chance to see him. Xavier may very well be one of the schools who turn up the heat.
Mack Watches a Shooter
In the 3 p.m. time slot, Coach Mack was sitting center court for the Florida Mustangs game against New Heights to watch 2013 shooter Steven Haney.
Haney's led the way for his Mustangs with 25 points, as they knocked off the opponents from New York.
Haney is a lights out shooter from the perimeter with a super quick trigger. He showed a lot of confidence and swagger with good range and no conscious when pulling from deep. When the defense came flying at him, he was comfortable putting it on the floor and he even made some shots off the dribble. He's 6-foot-4 with decent length and he's a decent leaper. However, he doesn't have the quickest feet and he's never going to be a great defender.
Haney might not be a position of need with Myles Davis already in the fold, but Xavier will continue to keep an eye on him.
Others That The Coaches Watched
MusketeerReport also caught Mack watching Devin Williams, Kris Jenkins, Maverick Morgan and Shane Hall.