FT. WAYNE, Ind. - Every year the Bill Hensley Memorial Run 'N Slam is one of the best tournaments to check out underclass talent. This year is no different, as some impressive 2012 and 2011 class members were on top of their games as was 2010 Illinois commitment Jereme Richmond.
J-Rich puts on a show in loss
On Friday night it was Josh Smith who put on a show to represent the 2010 class in a big way, and on Saturday night Jereme Richmond who took his turn in the spotlight. The 6-foot-6 wing from Chicago was absolutely on his game for the Mac Irvin Fire.
What makes Richmond so impressive is the variety of ways that he can score. Not only is he a very solid shooter from beyond three point range, but also he has the mid-range game that many top players in the class don't have. In fact, in the mid-range Richmond is absolutely dynamic.
Saturday night he showed that he can score facing up his man and off the pull up, or he can also do damage when posting his man and making a move of off it. No matter how well he was defended or how his shot was contested, it seemed that from the mid-range Richmond was absolutely money.
Despite Richmond's best efforts, and they were quite impressive, Mac Irvin fell Spiece Mo-Kan in dramatic fashion. In a tie game, Will Spradlin was sent to the line for a pair of free throws with eight seconds left, and as he was all game, Spradlin was money.
The Kansas State pledge is one heck of a shooter, and despite the best efforts of the highly athletic Mac Irvin team, they couldn't stop Spradlin from scoring. Whether it was off the catch or off the bounce, Spradlin made plays and got his team the win.
Though Spradlin was good, the story was clearly Richmond. With an impressive basketball physique, he showed the ability everyone knew that he had all along, but didn't always show.
Underclassmen make big impression
The state of Indiana is absolutely loaded with talent in the 2012 class, and a lot of that talent was on display with the Spiece Indy Heat squad. The most physically-impressive player on the team is A.J. Hammons. At a legit 6 feet 11 and 270 pounds, Hammons is a physical presence who has skill. Maybe the most impressive thing about Hammons is that he is already a very advanced passer for a young big man. Along with his ability to make impressive passes, especially outlet passes, Hammons also has a mean streak down low and likes to finish with authority. As he gets in better shape and more experienced, his game will only continue to flourish.
Alongside Hammons are two other big time targets. Combo forward DeJuan Marrero and wing Raphael Davis both showed off impressive ability on Saturday. Marrero can play either forward spot with ease, and is just as capable scoring inside as he is from the mid-range and even to the three point line. Davis is a good looking athlete who is at his best going to the rim off the dribble, but is also capable of hitting shots from deep.
Another very impressive 2012 is J.P. Tokoto. Tokoto received an offer from the in-state Wisconsin Badgers recently, and he showed why on Saturday. Playing up at the 17 and under level against All-Ohio Red, Tokoto made some nice plays. At 6-foot-5 with long arms and athleticism, he looks the part, but more importantly he also can play against the bg boys. Right now he is at his best going to the rim where he can use his impressive ability to handle the ball in traffic, but also his shooting stroke looks to be solid from deep.
Not to be outdone by others in his class was Elijah Macon. The 6-foot-7 combo forward from Columbus, Ohio was on his game for the All-Ohio Red 15 and under squad. Using his athleticism and good frame, Macon finished above the rim in traffic, and also controlled the glass. More so than anything he showed where he can dominate a game against his peers, and took advantage of it leading his team to a winning effort.
The 2012 class showed out, but the 2011 class was not to be out done. One of the better performances from a rising junior was turned in by Amir Williams from The Family. In a game against All-Ohio Red, Williams was an impressive force down low. At 6-foot-9 with good athleticism and a long wing span, Williams blocked at least a half dozen shots, and altered numerous others. In fact his presence alone caused All-Ohio to rely exclusively on perimeter jumpers. Then on offense Williams showed some aggressiveness and a decent touch from the foul line. Overall it was a huge improvement from just a week previous in Akron.
While Williams was the biggest factor on defense, it was Carlton Brundidge that got it done for The Family on the offensive end. The scoring dynamo proved once again that when he is in attack mode very few players can defend him. In the second half of the game alone, Brundidge was near 20 points and simply had moments of dominance.
The game, which came down to the final seconds, was a good one. Randle and Egwu didn't play a ton of minutes, but when they were in there they were impressive. Egwu has a unique ability to block shots, and on offense he finishes above the rim quite easily. Also he has some feel for the game, and is getting better every time he steps on the floor. Randle has the look of a big time point guard who can score. Right now he is able to take his man off the dribble with ease, and when he gets into the lane he knows when to shoot and when to pass.
On Team Indiana Darwin Davis is the man who runs the show, and he put his best foot forward. Despite being only 5-foot-9, he can flat out get it done on both ends of the floor. With the ball in his hands he is lightning, and though he can get a little out of a control at times, he more often than not makes good things happen. On defense he is like a gnat who simply disrupts any kind of flow that an opposing guard tries to get in.
Jeremiah Davis is more of a scorer. At 6-foot-3 with a physical frame, he is a capable shooter from deep who can also handle the rock and get into the lane. At times his shot selection can be questioned, but the ability is definitely there.
Up front Gant and Etherington both had their moments. Gant is a skilled power forward who rebounds, shoots it well from deep, and can block some shots. As he gets more physical and assertive, he will see his production increase greatly. Etherington has the look of an impressive shooter on the wing with a big time competitive streak in him. He needs to work on decision making, but still he made winning plays on offense and defense down the stretch.
Though Richmond was the star for Mac Irvin, 2011 prospects Mike Shaw and Wayne Blackshear also had their moments. Shaw showed good three point range, and an ability to play down low on both offense and defense. While he didn't have his best game, his skill set just oozes with potential. Blackshear is a smooth operator on the wing. With a jump shot that is pure, Blackshear is a threat every time the ball is in his hands. Despite missing on some shots that he usually makes, Blackshear made numerous big time moves for Mac Irvin.
One more 2011 who had an impressive showing was Blake Justice. An under the radar player from Ohio, Justice has good size for a shooting guard, with a lot of ability. While not a great athlete, Justice is a good athlete who can really shoot it from deep. His scoring ability helped C-Biz upset All-Ohio in pool play.
One of the best performances out of the 2010 class was turned in by Terone Johnson. The future Purdue Boilermaker is a scoring machine for the Eric Gordon All-Stars. Johnson went right after a big and experienced Illinois Warriors backcourt to the tune of 28 points. To get those buckets Johnson scored on impressive drives, with pull up threes, and by getting to the foul line. Offensively there wasn't much more that Johnson could have done.
One of the guys trying to stop Johnson was one of the more competitive players in the 2010 class, Brandon Spearman. Spearman is not the best athlete in the country, but he is adequate in that regard, and makes up for it with a high level motor and big time offensive ability. He shot it well from deep, made some nice passes, and overall made all the little plays to help the Illinois Warriors get the win.
Another reason why Larry Butler's crew was able to pull it out was due to the strong play of Vander Blue. His shot wasn't falling, but he did everything else. Blue was able to get past everyone off the dribble with his lightning quick first step, and from there he used his unreal court vision to spot open teammates and make plays. He needs to find consistency with his jump shot, but everything else is in the repertoire. Blue even did an excellent job of denying Johnson the ball late in the second half as Eric Gordon was getting back in the game.
An under the radar 2010 player is Jameer Hanner out of Philadelphia. Hanner is a nice athlete at 6-foot-7 who has a developing game down low. Also he blocks shots, runs the court, and shows decent hands. He needs to get much stronger, but in Team Philly's win over C-Biz he showed some flashes of solid potential.
After a subpar showing at the King James tournament in Akron, J.D. Weatherspoon bounced back nicely. Weatherspoon, who as always had a few nasty dunks, stepped up his all around game. He did a good job of rebounding the ball as well as playing defense. Also he mixed in a few jump shots along the way, but it was his passing, rebounding, and defensive effort that made the difference for All-Ohio against the Wisconsin Playground Warriors.
Also giving a big boost to All-Ohio was Anton Hutchins. The mid-level wing scored in double figures, and did it mostly with effort and athleticism. With Adreian Payne leaving early and Jordan Sibert injured, Hutchins' scoring was needed in a big way, and he really rescued All-Ohio in the first half.
In that showdown between All-Ohio and Playground, Jared Sullinger and Evan Anderson hoped to matchup quite a bit, but that didn't happen. Anytime that one of the big guys breathed near the other a foul was called putting both on the bench in foul trouble in both the first and second halves. When in the game Sullinger got the best of the action with his power moves inside and impressive board work, but Anderson had his flashes as well with a nice hook shot and a good stroke from three point range.
Anderson isn't the only towering frontcourt player for Wisconsin Playground. Ben Mills is actually taller than Anderson, and seems like he is still growing. At over 7-feet tall, Mills can be a presence, and he possesses a nice touch when facing the basket. He has to get tougher and more active, but his sheer height is undeniable.
Brandon Spearman gave a list of Nevada, Dayton, Xavier and Illinois State.
Jordan Manuel says he is hearing from Louisville, Dayton, St. Joe's, and Cincinnati.
Amir Williams has interest from Michigan State, Miami, Notre Dame, UCLA, and Oklahoma to go with an offer from the in-state Wolverines of Michigan.
Mike Shaw says he is hearing from Texas, Louisville, USC, Cincinnati, Xavier, Marquette, and "basically every other school".
A.J. Hammons says he has offers from Purdue and Indiana, and also he is hearing from Ohio State and Marquette.
DeJuan Marrero rattled off a long list of Ohio State, Wake Forest, Oregon State, Michigan, Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, and Valparaiso, with Valpo and the Hoosiers being offers.
Anton Hutchins just took his ACT and could get some offers soon. So far he has interest from Kent State, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Toledo, and Dayton.
Darwin Davis has an offer from Ohio University and interest from Xavier, Memphis, Butler, Indiana, and Wake Forest.
Jeremiah Davis rattled off an offer list of Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ball State, Purdue, Xavier, and Cincinnati.
Austin Etherington recently received an offer from Xavier, and he is also hearing from Butler, Indiana, Purdue, and Northwestern.
Justin Gant has full rides from Iowa, Wright State, Bradley, and Indiana State with interest from Xavier, Purdue, Butler, Michigan State, and Northwestern.
Blake Justice is hearing from Butler, Eastern Michigan, and numerous Mid-American Conference schools.
Jameer Hanner says he has heard from Georgetown, William & Mary, and Temple.