Monday, July 20, 2009

Hoop Group Elite Camp, July 6

This article was originally written on July 6.

READING, Pa. – The most important – and busiest – period of the recruiting calendar kicked off Monday, as high school prospects and college coaches began their month-long journey around the country. While most of the top players went to the LeBron James Skills Academy in Ohio, the Hoop Group Elite Camp also had its share of talent in attendance at Albright College.

Here’s a look at some of the top players – out of about 700 – that NBE checked out on the first day Division-I coaches were allowed to attend:

Khalil Murphy, 6-7, APEX Academies (N.J.): It was the tale of two performances for Murphy. When I first saw him play, he seemed out-of-shape and the sort of guy who could definitely improve his conditioning. However, after a few possessions, he showed how versatile and talented he is. He can handle the ball fairly well, makes excellent outlet passes and can defend multiple positions. He’s also quicker than he looks and can finish down low.

Tyler Harris, 6-5, Half Hollow Hills West (N.Y.): Tobias’ younger brother showed a better stroke than I saw from him at the St. John’s Elite Camp on Wednesday, and demonstrated his range. He also pump-faked defenders who didn’t respect his dribble-drive enough. However, he does not have much explosiveness and is a step slow. On the other side of the ball, he is a good defender because of his length.

Mike Buffalo, 6-2, Wings Academy (N.Y.): Buffalo was very impressive offensively, scoring the ball in a variety of ways. He does have an awkward-looking jump shot because of its rotation, but he knocked down a long-range three as well as a mid-range pull-up. He was at his best driving to the basket, though, finishing well at the rim. On one occasion, he drove past Tyler Harris and used his body to completely knock Harris out of the play and clear the way for an easy deuce.

Malik Thomas, 6-7, Wadleigh (N.Y): The lanky wing recently visited Seton Hall, but he will need to play better if he wants to make an impact at the Big East level. He is extremely skinny and needs to put on a lot of muscle. He seemed timid at times and got beat off the dribble and outmuscled defensively. On the positive side of things, he is long and has athleticism, and also showed a solid pull-up.

James Bourne, 6-6, Bishop O’Connell (Va.): The big man from the mid-Atlantic showed a great drop step and very solid footwork with his back to the basket. He gets very good post position and makes himself available for entry passes. Bourne has good hands and can finish effectively.

De’Mon Brooks, 6-6, Hopewell (N.C.): The athletic forward from North Carolina can finish very well, and showed an impressive reverse lay-up right off the bat. He is a good rebounder and gets second opportunities for himself. Furthermore, he had a couple of nice blocks defensively and demonstrated solid handle.

Marcus Romain, 6-3, Thomas Jefferson (N.Y.): Romain seems like he can be a very, very good player if he gets a little more seasoning. He is very thin and did not get pushed around a little bit, but his offensive game is well-rounded and impressive. He has good one-on-one moves, and can beat defenders off the dribble. Romain also hit a nice pull-up jumper while getting fouled, and also showed the ability to finish at the rim with contact.

Aishon White, 6-2, Nia School (N.J.): With DeShaun Wiggins on his team, he did not have a chance to touch the ball that much – and no, that’s not a compliment to Wiggins. However, he had several nice cuts to the basket and ran the floor very well for transition baskets. He ran the pick-and-roll well and showed good hustle. White also gets good lift on his jumpers, and has a good-looking stroke.

Mike Poole, 6-6, St. Benedict’s (N.J.): Poole struggled throughout much of the contest NBE watched him in, getting to the basket on several occasions but failing to finish. He beat his defender and got open shots, he just couldn’t knock them down. As usual, Poole showed off very solid versatility and all-around game, but nothing in particular stood out.

Devin Brooks, 6-0, St. Raymond’s (N.Y.): An extremely quick point guard, Brooks has tremendous handle and can get past his defender with an assortment of dribbling moves. He finished at the rim once getting into the lane. However, he did seem out of control at times, and turned it over too often.

Shane Southwell, 6-6, Rice (N.Y.): When perusing the 60-plus team rosters at the camp, arguably the top player on paper was Southwell. However, while he did demonstrate his versatility and all-around game, he was not as aggressive at either end as he is with his AAU team, the New York Gauchos. He did show his ability to defend multiple positions, but did involve himself too often offensively.

Ishaq Pitt, 6-3, Ridge (N.J.): A player who certainly made his presence felt offensively was Pitt, who had a handful of basket-and-fouls during the course of the first half. He got to the basket at will and finished with contact on multiple occasions. He has a strong body for a guard and uses it well.

Aquil Younger, 5-10, West Catholic (Pa.): Another very quick point guard, Younger was very difficult to stay in front of. He has a great handle and gets into the lane often. Younger has good vision and is a very solid and flashy passer. However, he struggled to finish and missed multiple open opportunities at the rim.

Joel Brokenborough, Hodgson Votech (Del.): The versatile swingman played well at both ends of the floor, defending solidly on-the-ball and also finishing offensively. He had an impressive dunk in one of the games and can score. He is active and aggressive at each end. Brokenborough also showed a flash of his pull-up, mid-range jumper.

Melsahn Basabe, 6-7, St. Mark’s (Mass.): Had hoped to tune in to his match-up with big man Shaq Duncan, but Duncan did not show up until the later session. Still, Basabe rebounded the ball well and had a good follow at the rim. He cut well to the basket and caught the ball for chances around the rim. However, he needed to be more aggressive at both ends, as he missed several chances to block shots and also did not actively try to score. Furthermore, he’s clearly not comfortable handling the ball and was beaten off the dribble by smaller but quicker opponents.

Coaching Notes:

- On the Big East side of things, coaches from Pittsburgh, St. John’s, Villanova and Rutgers kept a close eye on several players.

- It was a mid-major feeding frenzy in Reading on Monday, as coaches from Albany, Siena, Hartford, Delaware, Towson, Marist and many other schools were in attendance.
Representatives from Atlantic-10 schools Saint Joseph’s and Temple were also spotted by NBE.

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