Xavier High on Harden
Xavier's coaches are definitely looking for a big-time scoring wing in the 2017 class and Elias Harden might be their top choice.
Harden finished with 17 points (6-17 FG, 3-7 3PT, 2-3 FT) and six rebounds in a 69-61 loss to Baltimore Elite during an afternoon viewing with Xavier assistant Mike Pegues in attendance. He also posted 16 points (4-13 FG, 2-5 3PT, 6-10 FT) and four rebounds while helping his team to an 80-72 win over Urban DFW Elite in an early morning game with Travis Steele watching.
Harden just flat-out knows how to score. He has a pretty stroke from deep and a smooth game off the bounce. He's not an exceptional athlete but his length and wiggle off the bounce allows him to create shots. He showed off some nice step-back maneuvers and hesitation moves on Friday. On the defensive end, he's competitive, locked in, and solid on the ball.
Assistants Check Out Minnesota Duo
JP Macura's former AAU team, D1 Minnesota, has two Xavier recruits this year in priority big man target Jericho Sims and point guard McKinley Wright.
Sims was excellent in a morning performance as he finished with 17 points (6-7 FG, 5-8 FT), four rebounds, and two blocks in 17 minutes with Steele watching him. He played pretty well during the afternoon game I saw, posting a double-double with 10 points (4-8 FG, 2-2 FT), 12 boards and three blocks. In the final game of the night, he had seven points (3-3 FG, 1-3 FT), eight boards, and two blocks with Pegues in attendance.
Wright had six points (2-9 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-3 FT), three rebounds, and two steals in the early game. He followed that up with seven points (2-5 FG, 3-4 FT), four rebounds, and three assists in the second game. In the final game of the night, he was brilliant with 19 points (5-10 FG, 9-9 FT), five rebounds, and three assists.
Sims' potential is off the charts. He is a freakish athlete with legit size and a good frame. He also showed some touch and face-up skills on offense. His biggest limitation at this point is his motor. When he plays hard, like he did in the first two games on Friday, he completely changes the game at both ends and on the glass with his size and athleticism. At times, he just doesn't bring it.
Wright is a quick point guard that plays extremely tough. The aspect of his game that jumped out the most during two viewings on Friday was his ability to draw fouls. He was able to bail his team out of a lot of bad possessions by getting into the lane and drawing contact. He also rebounds really well for a guard. He's a good passer and he knows how to run a team, but he is certainly not a shooter.
Davis Shows Off Shooting Stroke
Later in the afternoon, I had my first opportunity to see North Carolina guard Jordan Davis. Davis is a unique player in the sense that he has a lot of the tools to be a lead guard but he prefers to play off the ball.
He showed a strong handle, good quickness, and a sweet 3-point stroke on Friday. With pretty good size at 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, his quickness also makes him a solid defender that can check either backcourt position. He finished with 11 points (4-8 FG, 3-4 3PT) in 19 minutes of action in a 77-69 win over the Dallas Mustangs.
Davis just recently received a Xavier offer last month after an unofficial visit to campus. He also has offers from Miami, Butler, and Kansas State.
2018 Targets Stand Out at Adidas Finals
I had my first chance to see 2018 targets David McCormack and Kiyon Boyd from Team Loaded VA in their evening game against D1 Minnesota. Neither played a lot as the younger guys on a 17U team, but both are clearly studs.
McCormack is just a massive human being. He posts up aggressively and once he has a defender sealed there's nothing they can do to stop him. He also has a soft touch on his shot. He needs to trim up a little bit but he still runs the floor hard and stays active despite his enormous frame. He finished with seven points (3-5 FG, 1-1 FT) and two rebounds in 11 minutes. He has an offer from Xavier and visited for the Musketeers' senior day win over Creighton last season. He also has offers from schools such as Kansas, Maryland, Baylor, Georgetown, NC State, Miami, Auburn, Wake Forest, Texas A&M, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech and South Carolina.
At 6-5 and 200-pounds, Boyd has an impressive frame for a 2018 wing. He's a good athlete that can get into the lane with his handle and score in transition, but he also showed a confident stroke from the outside. He had 11 points (3-7 FG, 1-2 3PT, 4-4 FT) in 14 minutes. In addition to Xavier, he has offers from schools like Louisville, Georgetown, Maryland, Florida, Baylor, Auburn, Providence, Miami, Texas A&M, and Cincinnati.
- Chris Mack made his way to North Augusta for the Nike Peach Jam and Nike Peach Invitational.
- He was among the large group of coaches who went off site to watch Alex O'Connell's Team United. O'Connell put on a show, finishing with 26 points on 11-of-22 shooting, including 3-of-8 from 3-point range. In the second game of the day, he had 13 points (4-20 FG, 1-11 3PT, 4-8 FT). He also added offers from Louisville and NC State.
- Jamal Cain played really well in front of Mack, scoring 28 points (9-15 FG, 4-8 3PT, 6-7 FT) with seven rebounds and two assists.
- Jermaine Samuels continued a strong week at Peach Jam with Mack and Luke Murray watching him. The Musketeers have been recruiting him hard for a while now and he definitely looks like a top priority at this point. He had nine points (2-5 FG, 1-2 3PT, 4-6 FT) and three rebounds and two assists in his first game on Friday, and 17 points (7-12 FG, 3-5 3PT), 16 rebounds, and three assists in the second game.
- Obviously, Samuels' teammate, Kimani Lawrence, has also seen a lot of love from the XU staff this week. He had 13 points (5-13 FG, 0-3 3PT, 3-4 FT), four rebounds, and two assists in game one, and 11 points (5-7 FG, 1-1 3PT, 4-6 FT), four assists, and three rebounds in game two.
- It looks like Xavier is continuing to recruit Jordan Nwora despite having Jared Ridder already in the fold as Mack and Murray both watched him. Like Ridder, Nwora is also a shooter that will likely play as a face-up four. He didn't have his shot working on Friday, though. He finished with five points, five boards and two assists in his first game, and 11 points (5-16 FG, 1-6 3PT), seven boards, and six assists in the second game.
- Mack also checked out the first commit of his 2017 class, Jared Ridder. Ridder had three points (1-6 FG, 1-4 3PT) and five rebounds in his first game of the day, and three points (1-6 FG, 1-4 3PT) and seven rebounds in game two.
- Mack also saw Nojel Eastern post 11 points (2-6 FG, 1-2 3PT, 6-6 FT) and eight boards during an afternoon game. Eastern had six points (3-5 FG, 0-1 3PT), three rebounds, and two assists in his second game.
- Xavier is doing everything it can to seal Paul Scruggs' commitment. Travis Steele left the Adidas Finals in Spartanburg early in the afternoon to fly back to Indianapolis where Scruggs (and Wilkes) had returned to play with their UA Indy Hoosiers team at the Adidas Invitational, a smaller tournament. None of the other schools recruiting Scruggs showed up from what I'm told.