Heating up on Hunter
During the July evaluation period, at least one player that was already on the coaching staff's radar always seems to play their best when a coach is watching, and ends up becoming a priority target.
This year that prospect just might be Michigan forward Vince Hunter.
Hunter should be a familiar name to MusketeerReport subscribers. He's shown up on the Hotboard for a while, and he's a guy that really impressed when I had the chance to evaluate him this spring.
At the Adidas Invitational event, Hunter is getting the chance to showcase his hard work over the course of the last year in front of Xavier's coaching staff. Friday evening, Hunter put on a show, scoring 33 points while leading his Detroit Stars team to a win over Indy Eagles Basketball Club.
Hunter has come a long way in the course of the last year. The development of his handle completely changed his offensive game. He is now constantly in attack mode, looking to get the ball to the rim on every possession. At 6-foot-7, Hunter has length and plenty of athleticism, which he uses to finish above the rim.
The combo forward is at his best when he gets a chance to get out and play in transition. He has so many physical tools, including body control, that makes it really difficult to keep him from getting exactly where he wants to go with the ball. He's also worked hard to improve his shot, which still needs to become more consistent, but he can now be relied upon to knock down the open jumper.
On the defensive end, Hunter's lateral quickness and length helps him when defending on the perimeter, while his length and explosiveness allows him to make plays in the passing lanes and block shots. He isn't as thick as a guy like Devin Williams, but he's fairly strong already and physically ready to compete in the college game, with the frame to add more bulk at the next level.
Hunter closed that game out and preserved a win over Indy EBC by drawing multiple and-ones in the closing minutes, showing off his will when attacking the hoop and ability to finish through contact. His performance on Friday was a strong one, and more interestingly it was in front of Coach Steele, but the body of his work over the last several months suggests that he may be a scholarship-worthy target. Don't be surprised to see the coaching staff really turn up the heat here.
Bluiett blowing up
Trevon Bluiett is at the top of the list when it comes to Xavier targets in the 2014 class.
Landing the 64th ranked player in the 2014 class will prove to be a tall task though, if he continues to play the way he's been playing at the Adidas Invitational this week.
After a strong round of pool play with his temporary Indy Spiece 17U team that is different from the Spiece team he played with during the Nike EYBL and Spiece Run N' Slam event in the spring, Bluiett scored 31 points in his team's final game of the tournament, a close loss to the Northern Kings. Plenty of coaches were there to watch his performance, including Cincinnati, Butler, Indiana, Michigan and Xavier among others.
Bluiett is one of the more interesting stories in the 2014 class. Originally known as an out-of-shape, sharp-shooting combo forward with slow feet, Bluiett has worked hard to transform his body and improve his conditioning and athleticism. He now resembles a true shooting guard at 6-foot-4, and claims he wants to be a combo guard.
Friday night he took another step in that direction, as he handled point guard duties for his team at different times throughout the game and looked comfortable. He has good feel, passes it well and his handle is strong enough to shoulder primary ball-handling responsibilities.
Make no mistake about it though, Bluiett is at his best as a scorer. An elite shooter, he showed off his range by connecting on multiple threes from a few feet behind the line. He's consistently shown that he is a high-level scorer, and proved that again Friday evening with 31 points, but it was also interesting to see him so willing to facilitate when he had the ball in his hands as the point.
His development has been intriguing thus far, and it will be fun to watch his game continue to evolve over the final two seasons of his high school career.
As expected with two new coaches on staff, there are some new names that the staff has been checking out already in the evaluation period.
One player that Coach Steele has been watching at the Adidas Invitational is 2013 wing Deshaun Morman. Morman showed off his athleticism and ability to score efficiently by attacking the rim early and often on Friday. He needs to develop his skill level still, but right now his athletic ability allows him to score by slashing and finishing at the rim. Morman also impressed as a defender, making his impact felt on that end of the court throughout the game.
Another prospect that has been receiving some looks from Xavier's staff this week is 2014 forward Isaac Copeland. Copeland is a 6-8, long and lanky face-up four man that has all types of upside. While playing on the David West sponsored Garner Road 17U team with North Carolina commit Isaiah Hicks and Louisville commit Anton Gill, Copeland showed flashes of brilliance on Friday.
He has tremendous bounce around the basket, and put that on display when blocking shots on defense and posterizing defenders with dunks on offense. At this point, if Copeland doesn't get a put back opportunity or dunk in transition, his offensive game mostly consists of jump shots, where he shows a smooth stroke with soft touch out to the perimeter. He also showed some ability when putting the ball on the deck, so he has a chance to continue to expand his skill-set. He has to add weight and get stronger, but if he can do so and become a little more tenacious inside, he has the chance to become a very talented face-up four with good size and length.