May 8, 2007

Jayhawk Invitational top performers

After spending the weekend at Kansas University for the Jayhawk Invitational,'s Justin Young breaks down his top five performers from the event.

A pair of sophomores shined while three Midwestern four-star prospects stepped up in tournament play.

Jayhawk Invitational top performers
Xavier Henry, SG, Athletes First

On the first night of the Jayhawk Invitational inside Allen Fieldhouse, the five-star guard put on a memorable show. Scoring a quiet eight points in the first half against eventual champs KC Pump N Run, Henry erupted in an offensive onslaught that was memorable.

The 6-foot-6 guard scored 28 points in the second half and did it every which way possible. Perhaps the most impressive part was his ability to recognize mismatches. When things weren't working from the wing, he went right to the post and took advantage of his commanding strength against other guards.

There was a flare of Kobe Bryant to his game. Without trying to sound too sensational, Henry has the potential to be a big time scorer at the highest level when it is all said and done. His approach to the game is much more mature than most guards two years from graduating from high school.

It doesn't come as a surprise that Memphis, North Carolina and Kansas, who was certainly happy to have him on campus over the weekend, on his list. Ohio State and Louisville are also trying crack into the top three. His older brother, C.J., was a former Kansas commit but opted for a baseball career. His contract ends at the end of the season and may reconsider a return to the hardwood. The brothers could be suiting up together in college.

Scott Suggs, SG, St. Louis Eagles

Had the St. Louis Eagles won the tournament and stayed away from the trainer's table, Suggs would have been the easy choice for tournament MVP. The 6-foot-5 guard had a great weekend despite a bum ankle that could have easily slowed down his production.

The four-star prospect did what he's always done hit shots from the wing and made great passes. But what impressed the most was his overall toughness. Suggs finished around the rim and despite his ankle injury, he attacked the basket and scored at the rim. Often times, he was fouled and then converted shots at the line and dusted himself off and went right back to work.

Suggs went for 20-plus points against the toughest teams the Eagles faced and was the offensive spark in the clutch.

Boasting 18 scholarship offers to date, Suggs continues to be one of the most intriguing wing players in the class of 2008 because of his versatility.

Jared Berggren, C, Howard Pulley

In today's game, big men like to shrink their size and play away from the basket and shoot jumpers. Not Berggren. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound Wisconsin commitment knows his role and strength. He went to work inside the paint on both ends of the floor and proved to be the top big man in the tournament.

Berggren powered the opposition while on the blocks and pushed guys around to get position in the post. He scored with dunks, jump hooks and drop offs from penetrating teammates.

As a rebounder, his just too big to get around on a box out and played the enforcer role nicely. His game is perfectly suited for Wisconsin and the Big Ten. The Badgers got this done early. Good for them, because the rest of the conference would make his a priority this year.

Michael Dixon, PG, KC Pump N Run 16U

The sophomore piloted his crew all the way to the championship in the 16 and under division and a case could be made that Dixon was the best overall point guard in the event.

The 6-footer changes gears and roles with ease. When he saw a hole, he hit it. When he saw an open teammate, he delivered a pass that led to a score. When he needed to score, he put in the points. Dixon did all of this without turning the ball over and valued every possession.

His shot still needs work and his lack of perimeter scoring. That was one of the few knocks on his game all weekend. Dixon extenuated his strengths as well as his teammates.

With early offers from Creighton and Missouri State, Dixon will certainly earn more scholarships after July when coaches get a chance to see more of him. High-majors Kansas State and Missouri have made him a priority while a host of other programs have him on the must-see list already.

Jordan Taylor, PG, Howard Pulley

Right from the start, Taylor put his stamp on the tournament. His frame is college ready and you can tell he is putting in the work off the court to have himself ready for the call at the college level.

Already committed to Wisconsin, Taylor showed his ability to run the team and changed gears when needed. He's comfortable pushing the ball as well as playing in the half court in a controlled pace.

Taylor won't be an immediate impact guy for the Badgers but by the time his junior and senior year comes along, he'll be ready to step into the starter's role and contribute with efficiency.

Justin Young can be reached at

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