Pitt Jam Fest: Day Two

Rick recaps Saturday's action at the Hoop Group's Pitt JamFest.

Saturday's action in Pittsburgh offered an opportunity to re-watch some of the emerging targets from Friday to get a better feel for those new names, but there were also a few new prospects sprinkled in that weren't mentioned last night.

The City 15s were led by a 6-3 shooting guard from Brewster Academy named Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell was one of the most impressive prospects of the day as he lit it up Saturday morning. The first thing that stood out about Mitchell's game was his shifty handle and his aggressiveness when attacking the basket. He has a big naturally strong frame for a guard, though it looks underdeveloped at this point, and he knows how to use his body when driving and trying to finish. He also possesses a strong first step with the burst to create space when he changes gears. After the defense was softened, wary of his desire to penetrate, he buried two picture perfect threes from deep, and a third off of a nasty stepback. For the game he finished with 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field including 3-of-5 from 3-point range. The Musketeers have a bit of a Brewster pipeline built and they've been up to see Mitchell there already, but his recruitment is also crowded with Providence, Boston College, Cincinnati, Creighton, Iowa, Florida, Marquette, Seton Hall, and UConn also involved.

Charlie Thomas, a 2016 power forward for DC Premier's 17s, continued to come on strong Saturday after a decent showing on Friday night. Thomas is fit with a big, strong upper body. He showed good effort and enough athleticism when running the floor to make plays, and he snatched a few great out of area rebounds. Highlights of his eight-point, 11 rebound performance came when he chased down a loose ball into the front court and dribbled behind his back to avoid an oncoming defender before jump stopping and dishing off to the open man ahead for a layup, and again when he flashed to the open space at the free-throw line twice and swished a pair of quick release jumpers. He missed his only three attempt, but his form looked smooth and comfortable from that range. More importantly, he didn't start floating and looking for jump shots, but rather showed off his physical nature by setting hard screens and trying to bury switch defenders below the block on the roll. With offers from Towson and UMBC, Thomas has seen his stock start to rise recently with Wisconsin, DePaul, Virginia, Providence George Washington, George Mason, VCU and Xavier all showing interest.

One of the top Xavier targets in action on Saturday was 2016 Ohio forward Seth Towns, and Mike Pegues was courtside watching. While Towns has been a Xavier target for a while now, Pegues was also able to get a good look at his teammate, 6-7 Matt Moyer, who is one of the fastest rising forwards in the 2016 class thanks to his play so far this spring. The Musketeers were one of the first programs to offer Towns last year, and he's done nothing but improve since. At 6-8, Towns is a knockdown 3-point shooter with range that can get really hot in a hurry. Like any bonafide shooter, he has a tendency to float on the perimeter but his game is more than just spotting up. As he's added strength, he's added confidence inside when finishing and rebounding. He's also shown the ability to score on the block with his back to the basket, though that part of his game is still a work in progress that could continue to raise his stock as he shows it more. Moyer is a long and athletic prospect with tons of potential. He showed off his ability to make highlight reel plays with a couple of monster dunks on Saturday, and looked to be at his best when attacking in transition. He also showed the ability to attack the basket in short two or three dribble bursts from the perimeter. He still has plenty to work on, but if he continues to show an improved skill level and consistent productivity, he has high-major upside.

Other Notes:

- While Marquez Letcher-Ellis (pictured), who was featured in last night's recap, didn't have a big game in DC Premier's win over Richmond Squires Saturday evening, the 6-6 2016 prospect did show off more of a well-rounded skill-set that added to the confidence that he can play the three at the next level. He moves well laterally, can handle it enough (needs to work on left hand still), and looks capable of spotting up in limited opportunities. Add in his nose for the ball, athleticism and motor, and he's a very intriguing prospect.

- M.J. Walker, a 2017 wing, has without a doubt created the most buzz at the PItt Jam Fest this weekend. While it's a little too early to take his recruiting seriously considering he'll likely be a top prospect in his class, the youngster deserves mention for his performance the last two days. A flat-out bucket getter with a big strong frame and plenty of athleticism, at 6-5 Walker is a very difficult match-up even for 17 year old wing defenders.

- Coach Steele was in Kansas City at the Jayhawk Invitational on Saturday. One of the top Xavier prospects at the event was Indiana 2015 shooting guard K.J. Walton. Walton is a versatile scorer, and he showed exactly that by hitting long threes and creating his shot off of the dribble, according to sources in attendance. He's receiving the most interest from Michigan State, Cincinnati, Butler, Indiana, Minnesota, Iowa State and Xavier

- In Sacramento, Xavier had eyes on two of its top point guard prospects, Nick Noskowiak and Jalen Brunson. Both were impressive. Noskowiak scored 15 and 20 respectively in his two games on Saturday, including hitting 4-of-9 from 3-point range, while Brunson dropped 20 and 12 in two wins with his Mac Irvin Fire team, and also had his exceptional court vision and passing ability on full display as he finished with 21 assists over the two games.


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