SNOW: USA Basketball Day Three

COLORADO Springs - The first round of cuts were made and now 17 remain in camp vying for the honor playing on the USA team that is headed to Dubai. One player who made a strong statement on Saturday night was Thomas Bryant.

Class of 2015

Thomas Bryant, C – This high school season he was a bit up and down and then he missed almost all of the summer with an injury, but Bryant really answered the bell on Saturday. During the evening session following the cuts he was the best player on the floor. Bryant blocked shots, finished around the rim, and rebounded very well. He also is excellent running the floor and when engaged and locked in is very difficult to handle give his length and natural strength. It was definitely a good step for Bryant who put himself right in contention to make the 12 man final roster.

Henry Ellenson, PF/C – Again Ellenson’s versatility and impressive skill set shined through. At times during drills Ellenson was asked to help be a press breaker and he did a good job of that. Also he showed a very good ability to move his feet on the perimeter in pick and roll situations as well as when isolated. Ellenson scored it fairly well, and overall proved he is one of the premier talents in the class.

Malik Newman, SG – Newman was being asked to play some point guard with Derryck Thornton out with an injury, and while clearly he is a work in progress in that role, Newman handled things okay. He still looks to score every time off the pick and roll and doesn’t attack the defense like he should, but he is a great shot maker and has good athleticism with a high and quick release on his shot. Given the roster it is likely that Newman will have to play some point guard, so that will be interesting to see how he fairs in that role.

Class of 2016

T.J. Leaf, PF – It was a very good day for Leaf who looks no worse for the ware after missing Thursday with an injury. Leaf has a tremendous feel for the game and he showed that with several nice passes and also his ability to set up defenders and score on his own. A good shooter from deep, Leaf was able to stretch the defense, and also he scored off the dribble some. He has to get better on the glass as a rebounder, but it was a good day overall for Leaf.

Josh Jackson, SG/SF – There is no denying that Jackson is one of the top athletes and defenders on the wing. The other thing that really stounds out with Jackson is his ability to pass the basketball. He made several of the best passes of the day in transition and also finding guys after getting into the lane. Jackson didn’t do much shooting the ball, but he attacked the glass well and finished on the inside as well.

Harry Giles, PF – Giles wasn’t quite on dominant on Saturday as he was on Friday, but he was still really good. He showed off an impressive running hook that no one in the gym had a chance of blocking, then also was hitting shots from the outside to go with it. A beast on the glass, Giles was good there, and continued to show that he is now officially back from his knee injury.

Mustapha Heron, SF – He didn’t do a great job of shooting the basketball, but Heron’s physical style of play was on full display. A lot of the drills were done in transition settings, and Heron got out on the wing and really competed. He not only scored off the bounce, but on the defensive side he showed he can be very good with his long arms and good strength. There are a ton of supremely talented wings remaining, and Heron definitely is putting himself in strong contention to make the team.

Jayson Tatum SF – When he is taking good shots, Tatum is impossible to handle. He went through one stretch during a three-on-three drill where absolutely nobody in the gym had an answer for him. He blocked shots, passed it well, and hit from the mid-range and out. After that, at times he pressed too much and took some bad shots without good results, but overall he was very good showed the big time talent.

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