This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to North Carolina for the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions. This tournament is one of the biggest AAU events of the year, and most of the action takes place on the campuses of Duke, UNC, and NC State. I spent all of my time either at the Dean Dome or at one of the 3 Duke locations (excluding 2 late night trips to random high school gyms to see specific match-ups). I'm sure Cameron is great when it is filled, but it really is a tiny little dump.
This year Nike required all of its top teams to be at the EYBL tournament in Los Angeles, and the majority of the guys UK is recruiting in 2011 happen to play for these teams. Because of this, I spent a lot of my time at Bob Gibbons watching the top players from the class of 2012.
The following is my list of notable players:
2011 - Adonis Thomas - Thomas is a 6'6" wing from Memphis that will be an absolute home run for any college team. He is very athletic, very skilled, a great rebounder, and one of the top overall prospects in the class of 2011. He has a great basketball body, and his game is just very polished for a player his age. He shoots the ball fairly well, but he is most effective as a slasher. He finished inside all tournament long with dunks, floaters, hooks, and great passes for easy buckets. For Memphis Magic Thomas plays inside a little more than I expect him to in college, but he was effective inside nonetheless. Many people feel like Thomas is a heavy Memphis lean, but we all know that could change if Coach Calipari decides he really wants Thomas in Lexington (Adonis Thomas Youtube).Thomas' team-mate Chris Jones (Tennessee Commit) was very good all weekend. He is a good athlete, he handles the ball well, he shoots well, and he has a great feel for the game. His only major weakness is his size (5'10"). Expect a major upgrade for Tennessee at the point in 2011, because he's already better than Maze and Goins were last year. Also keep an eye on Memphis Magic shooting guard Andre Hollins. He was one of the better outside shooters at the tournament, and he is considering several SEC schools.
Chane Behanan: Behanan is a 6'7" big man from Bowling Green Kentucky. In the game I saw, he was most definitely the best player on the floor, and he was doing almost all his scoring in the paint. He is a really good athlete, he rebounds well, and he blocks some shots. In any normal year, Behanan would be a priority for pretty much every team that had a chance with him. The problem for people that would like to see him end up at UK is again UK's 2011 recruiting class looks as if it will probably include some pretty impressive names (good problem to have). If for some reason UK misses out on a couple of guys, Behanan is a very capable option they could pursue (Chane Behanan Youtube).
I only saw Behanan play one game, and it was easily the most entertaining game I saw the whole weekend. Behanan's Ohio Basketball Club was playing against Rich Soil (lead by 6'1" point guard Tavon Sledge) in the wreck center on Duke's campus. I got to the game with about 5 minutes left in the first half, but I sat on the far side and couldn't see the score board. Right away I noticed these teams were really getting after it. Both had bouncy, quick, and big athletes at every position, and they were flat out all over each other. In fact I thought I was watching the end of a very close game. I was really surprised when the buzzer went off and I got up to check the scoreboard and saw a double digit Rich Soil lead at halftime.
The second half is really when this game got crazy, though. Rich Soil was still up about 10 points with 8 minutes to go in the game, when they completely collapsed in every way possible. The team got 4 technical fouls, and their coach got ejected for screaming at the guy who is in charge of evaluating the referees (These AAU events are often used as clinics for referees as well, and there is usually someone evaluating their performance at every game). With less than a minute to go, it was a tie game, and Rich Soil was left with only 4 players that hadn't fouled out. That is when their coach was ejected. After 3 made free throws (one of the technical free throws, and 2 made free throws after their 2-2 zone was forced to foul), Behanan's Ohio Basketball Club was up 3 with just a few ticks left. The crazy thing is Ohio Basketball Club then gave up an open look from long range for the tie, but Rich Soil ultimately came up short. It was the most entertaining game of the weekend by far.
Cody Zeller: Zeller is a 6'10" smooth big man that can run the floor as well as anyone. His brother Tyler Zeller plays for North Carolina, and the way he plays is actually similar to his brother in a lot of ways. He is probably an inch shorter than his brother, but he is also much smoother, and has a lot more perimeter game than his brother, including a jump shot all the way out to the 3-point line. He is a high major prospect, and he will likely end up being a McDonald's All-American. Zeller's Indiana Elite (Team Indiana) 17U team was the favorite to win the entire tournament, but they ended up losing a very close game to the tournament's eventual champions (Long Island Lightning) in pool play at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Zeller had a chance to tie the game with 2 made free throws down the stretch, but he missed the front end of a 1 and 1 (Cody Zeller Youtube).
During both of the Indiana Elite games on Duke's campus it was funny to see both Tyler Zeller and Miles Plumlee in the stands watching. Plumlee was watching because his brother Marshall Plumlee is also on that team. Plumlee isn't quite as polished as his brothers were at this point in their development, but he is very athletic. He is a high major recruit.
Two players playing their high school basketball in Kentucky are also on that Indiana Elite squad (Ge-Lawn Guyn, and Vinny Zollo). Scott County's Guyn is a long point guard that is getting more and more looks by major schools. He isn't overly speedy or athletic, but he has a high basketball IQ, and he is long for his position. Vinny Zollo is the Clarke County big man that I think plays a lot like Josh Harrellson only with a much better motor (Keep in mind I like Harrellson's game more than about 99% of all Kentucky fans). Zollo works as hard as anyone on the floor. He gets his hands on almost all rebounds in his area, and he is on the floor after every loose ball. He has a decent jump shot, but his strength is really his motor and his overall maturity. If he were just 2 or 3 inches taller he'd be one of the most sought after recruits in the country.
Kadeem Jack: Most UK fans have already heard of Jack, because he flirted with the idea of coming to UK this year in the class of 2010. That seemed to go out the window when Terrence Jones signed with UK, though, and Jack has since decided to go to prep school. Jack is about 6'8" and really athletic. He is a great rebounder, specifically on the offensive end, but he isn't a very polished player overall. He will probably still go to a major school, but I don't see him being a priority for UK in the class of 2011 (Kadeem Jack Youtube).
Cezar Guerrero: Guerrero was kind of a sleeper going into the Bob Gibbons Tournament (ranked outside the top 100 by rivals), but I saw him score 30 points on Saturday Morning against the New York Panthers. He's a really fun kid to watch, because he is such a high energy player, and he can also score from anywhere on the floor. I expect him to jump up in the rankings in a big way, and the Belmont Shore point guard deserves it. His teammate DeAndre Daniels (committed to Texas) also looked impressive. He was knocking down shots from everywhere, and he will be a nice pickup for Texas (Cezar Guerrero Youtube).
Derrick Gordon: Gordon is a 6'3" guard that plays for St. Patrick (the same high school as Mike Gilchrist), and he was voted the tournament's overall most valuable player. The Western Kentucky commit lead his Long Island Lightning (along-side fellow standout guard Kareem Canty) to the tournament championship. Those two guards were spectacular all tournament long.. As an interesting side note, their AAU coach is former UMass player (Under Calipari) and high school all-american Dana Dingle (Derrick Gordon Youtube).
Jerome Seagears: DC Assault has 2 point guards worth watching. Quinn Cook is a top 20 player, and he is very good, but I thought Jerome Seagears was one of the best players I saw all weekend. He showed a great feel for the game, good first step quickness, a good ability to handle the ball, and a good jump shot from mid-range. Quinn Cook is a little shorter than Seagear, but he has a better jump shot. He has offers from everyone, and can really put points on the board. DC Assault's 6'8" forward Jordan Goodman also had an impressive game. The long combo forward can bang inside as well as face up from the perimeter and take bigger defenders off the dribble (Quinn Cook Youtube)
2012 - Andre Drummond: Drummond was the best overall prospect in the entire tournament. I first saw his CBC team take on Adonis Thomas and the Memphis Magic. He reminded me of a more athletic Greg Monroe. He does all the things Greg Monroe does so well, Size, strength, passing, mobility, and decision making, but I think he will be a better overall low post scoring threat than Monroe on top of that. He is pretty much unanimously ranked the #1 overall prospect in the class of 2012, and I expect UK to be very involved with him (Andre Drummond Youtube).Shabazz Muhammad: Muhammad is one of the top wings in the 2012 class. He is extremely athletic, and he is a prolific scorer from anywhere on the court. The 6'5" lefty can score inside against smaller players, and he is also a great shooter from long range. He is definitely someone I expect UK to go after in the class of 2012. His Dreamvision teammate Winston Shepard came into the tournament with a good reputation, but I only saw him play for about 2 minutes before he got hurt with what seemed to be a high ankle sprain. I imagine his Findlay Prep team will be on TV several times this year, so I'll have to catch him at that time (Shabazz Muhammad Youtube).
Hanner Perea and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera: Hanner Perea is one of the most athletic players in the country. At 6'7" he does a lot of his scoring off of put backs and easy dunks. He is a very good rebounder and shot blocker, and he is good for several posterizing dunks per game. He is from Colombia, and he has now been in the states for just over 2 years. Perea is a high major player, and UK will almost certainly be involved with him (Hanner Perea Youtube).
His Indiana Elite teammate Smith-Rivera is also a high major player. This strong guard can do everything offensively. He handles the ball well, passes well, and he can create his own shot from anywhere on the floor. If he has a weakness it is his average athleticism, but he is an exceptional basketball player, and a high-major recruit (D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera Youtube).
Ryan Arcidiacono: Arcidiacono was the major story at Bob Gibbons. He flat out tore it up all tournament long, and he will move up exponentially when the 2012 rankings are released. He is a 6'3" point guard with a great feel for the game, but he can also shoot and score from anywhere on the floor. He delivered passes all weekend long that were right on the money, and he was also among the leading scorers in the 16U division. He got knocked in the head on night one of the tournament and had to get 8 stitches on his forehead. He was wearing a bandage over his eye for the rest of the tournament, but that didn't even remotely slow him down. He is a high major player, and I hope UK pursues him (Ryan Arcidiacono Youtube).
J.P. Tokoto: Tokoto is a 6'6" long athletic wing that plays for Wisconsin Playground. He is one of the top ranked players in the country, and he might be the most athletic player in the entire class. Beyond that, he is extremely skilled when it comes to handling the bal, passing, and scoring off the dribble. If he has a weakness it is his jump shot, but he looks to me a lot like a future pro that would be perfect for John Calipari's system at UK (J.P. Tokoto Youtube).
Amile Jefferson: 6'7" Jefferson is a high major wing that does almost everything well. He is a really long player that is very skilled. He scores a lot of his points by posting up smaller players and finishing in transition. He is a good ball handler, and a very good passer as well. (Amile Jefferson Youtube)
Kevin 'Yogi' Ferrell: Ferrell is a 5'11" guard from Indiana that loves to break guys down off the dribble and create shots. He's a scoring point guard that loves to pull up in the mid range for jumpers and floaters. This weekend he was playing up with Indiana Elite's 17u team. He needs to work on his ability to see the floor and deliver crisp passes, but he is one of the best there is when it comes to creating a shot for himself off the dribble. (Yogi Ferrell Youtube)
Cameron Ridley: Ridley was an unknown to me prior to this tournament, but he put in a dominant performance against Indiana Elite's 4 17u big men (Zeller, Plumlee, Zollo, and Ajou). The 6'10" Texas big man doesn't appear to be very big on the national scene right now, but he reminds me a lot of a young Eric Dampier. I expect him to start getting a lot more attention nationally this summer, and he looks to me as if he may be a sleeper for a high major program.
2013 - I honestly didn't watch but one set of 15u games, because quite frankly Coach Calipari doesn't show much interest in players that early. I did watch one set of 15u games at the Dean Dome on Saturday, and this is who stood out to me.
Aquille Carr: Carr is a 5'6" point guard that was just dominating at the 15U level. He was all over the place for Team Melo. His only major weakness is his height, because he does everything else very well. The kid looks as if he's probably already done growing, but he will be a fun player to keep an eye on going forward (Aquille Carr Youtube).
Team takeover and the younger of the giant Canadian brothers were also next to me, but he got hurt right away and they got smoked by the mercy rule (20 point lead under 4 minutes means game over), so I just watched more of Team Melo.
Feel free to post questions and comments in this thread.