By Ian Powers
The Nike EYBL took place over the Memorial 3 Day weekend with a number of future stars on display. Here is a recap of the top prospects.
Jabari Parker 6-7 220 Simeon/ Chicago, IL 2013 – Chicago seems to churn out talent year after year. They may have the best player in the country regardless of class. Parker is simply a special talent. He can get his own shot, create for others, and defends on the wing like a man possessed. He has lost weight, which has added explosion to his skill game and the results are great. He also does a good job on both backboards. He can control a game in many ways and it is a joy to watch. He is a great talent and maybe an even better kid and the sky is the limit for his long-term potential. Take your pick between him, Randle, and Noel as maybe the three best NBA prospects at this event.
Julius Randle 6-8 245 Prestonwood Academy/ McKinney, TX 2013 – For much of the weekend Randle struggled. He missed shots that he normally makes and had three defenders running at him whenever he would start to make a move. On the final day that all changed. Randle seemed to take his matchup with fellow 2013 elite big Nerlens Noel personal. He manhandled Noel with his big body down on the box and stepped out and knocked down a couple of long balls, controlled both backboards and led the break on occasion. Randle finished with 20pts and 17 rebs. He is still a little left hand dominant, but has an intriguing package for a man of his stature. He is an elite talent and only needs to turn the switch for a full 32 minutes to get the most of his great ability.
Nerlens Noel 6-9 215 Tilton School/ Everett, MA 2013 – Noel is simply the instinctive shotblocker in the country. He has great timing and great length. His ability to block and alter shots can change games and is a big reason why he is so highly thought of. He is beginning to develop a back to the basket game to go along with his incredible length. He runs the floor like a deer and crashes the offensive glass consistently. He needs to add strength but the tools are all there for him to be in the discussion as the country’s # 1 junior.
Willie Cauley 6-10 215 Olathe NW/ Overland Park, KS 2012 – Cauley is a long fluid athlete whose best days maybe ahead of him. He is an active shotblocker with excellent timing. His game with his back to the basket is improving and his ability to run the floor and athleticism to finish at the rim is elite for a big. He needs to get in the weight room and polish his moves down low but he has a very good upside and a great chance to play in the league if he wants it bad enough.
Marcus Paige 6-1 160 Linn Mar/ Marion, IA 2012 – Many consider Paige to possibly be the best PG in the class. That discussion is still up for debate, but he belongs in the conversation. He is the definition of a pure PG. He excels at running a team and makes it a priority to get others involved. He can get to the basket and will keep you honest from the outside. He did not show that elite burst that I would like to see, but he did more than enough to solidify himself as one of the top floor generals in the country. Roy Williams will be very pleased when this kid arrives in Chapel Hill.
Justin Anderson 6-6 215 Montrose Christian/ Montrose, VA 2012- Anderson has been on the scene for years. Once thought to be a top 5-10 player in his class, he has seen his rankings drop somewhat recently. It has seemed to motivate him because the time he has put in on his game is apparent. Once a suspect shooter, he has now developed a stroke that has to be respected. He is an elite athlete with a great NBA ready body. He really helped his Boo Williams team gut out a tough win against the New York Gauchos. He recently committed to Virginia. He needs to tighten up his handle and continue to become a more consistent shooter, but the physical attributes that you would want in a two guard are all there.
JMychal Reese 6-2 170 Bryan/ Bryan, TX 2012- Reese continued his strong play over the weekend in Los Angeles. I have yet to see anyone on the circuit keep this kid out of the lane. He gets to the bucket and is capable of taking contact and finishing at the rim. He has a variety of finishes and did a great job neutralizing Rodney Purvis in their head-to-head matchup Sunday evening. He made some plays and had his mid range game working as well. He is the x factor for his Houston Hoops team and a big reason why they go into the Peach Jam as a # 1 seed.
Rasheed Sulaimon 6-3 183 Strake Jesuit/ Houston, TX 2012 – The more I see this kid play, the more I appreciate his game. He already had a great stroke, but this weekend he showed a little wiggle in his game that allowed him to attack the rim. On a couple of occasions, he attempted to posterize a few bigs over the weekend. His defense maybe what makes you really take notice. He takes pride in that end of the floor and is capable of defending all 3-perimeter positions. He is a tough kid that played through a sprained ankle and helped his team in a big way. He is a great "get" for Coach K and the Duke program.
Brian Bridgewater 6-6 230 Episcopal/ Baton Rouge, LA 2013- This kid is an undersized four but you would never know it if you could hear him play. That’s right, I said hear him play. He is a powerful and explosive leaper and finishes at the rim in a way that can be heard throughout the gym. He finished a dunk in one game that looked as if it would take down the entire backboard. He flashes the ability to step out and shoot the 17 to 18 ft jumper and can create some off the bounce. He rebounds well despite giving up 4-5 inches in height. He is a man-child. He’s been offered by Alabama for football, but he may have a future on the hardwood.
LJ Rose 6-3 188 Westbury Christian/ Houston, TX 2012 – Rose was thought to be the top PG in the class for the last couple of years. While he may not be held in that regard anymore, he is certainly good at what he does. He won’t beat you with quickness or athleticism, but he will beat you with his IQ. He is a great passer and a consistent spot up shooter. He looked to be a step quicker than he was the last time I saw him. He doesn’t have the greatest lateral quickness, but he showed a willingness to defend this past weekend and did an adequate job.
Tyus Jones 6-0 160 Apple Valley, Apple Valley, MN 2014 – Jones came in to this event as the newly anointed # 1 ranked PG in the 2014 class by ESPN. He displayed himself quite well. He plays with a maturity and a pace of a much older player. He can shoot the ball to three, create off the bounce, and make the right decisions on the break. With Jones running your team, you don’t have to worry about him making bonehead plays. He is steady and talented and should be one of the elite players in his class when it’s all said and done.
Adam Woodbury 7-1 220 SC East/ Sioux City, IA 2012 – Woodbury is an intriguing big who has some skill to go along with his effort. He can score with the jump hook over either shoulder. He finishes around the basket with both hands and runs the floor extremely well. He doesn’t scream athlete by any stretch, but he plays hard and lays it on the line. Could stand to be a little more physical and he has some problems finishing over length. Is not a great rebounder. What he does give a team is effort and a skill level that many bigs don’t have.
Jake Layman 6-8 190 King Philip/ Wrentham, MA 2012 – What a find this kid was over the weekend. He was my sleeper pick for this event. He is long and skilled. He can shoot the long ball, showed some ability to put the ball on the floor, can get out and fill a lane and has very good athleticism at the rim. He reminds you of a Gordon Hayward type but with more length and athleticism. Could be a face up four, but I think he is skilled enough to eventually move to the wing. With added strength, he can be a very good player at the college level and possibly beyond.