-National Prep Showcase Elite 2011 Prospects
-National Prep Showcase Elite 2012 Prospects
Nerlens Noel, 6-10, PF/C, Tilton School, 2013
One of the youngest players in attendance at the National Prep Showcase, Nerlens Noel (#3 ESPN) is already drawing accolades in recruiting circles as being one of the top prospects in his high school class. Noel was originally a member of the 2012 high school recruiting class, but elected to reclassify reportedly due to a knee injury
A legit 6-10, if not taller with his old-school flat-top, Noel has ideal physical tools for his position, with terrific size and length and a frame that should slowly fill out in time. He has an excellent upper body, but skinny legs that will need some work down the road. Already an outstanding athlete, Noel is an active, explosive big man who is quick off his feet and runs the floor extremely well.
Not a terribly skilled player at this juncture, Noel gets almost all of his offense with sheer hustle and desire. He has limited post moves, ball-handling skills and shooting range, but is able to make a significant impact on the game with his soft hands, ability to run the floor, explosiveness around the basket and activity on the offensive glass, not having any qualms at all about the type of player he is at this stage. He's a selfless teammate who moves the ball around the court intelligently and looks to have excellent intangibles, which is a great sign at this age.
Noel's best attribute right now has to revolve around his terrific shot-blocking instincts, as he has excellent timing to go along with his size, length and athleticism. He doesn't just rely on his physical tools to get the job done, as you regularly see him talking with his teammates on defense and already possesses a pretty good understanding of how to rotate on the perimeter and recover effectively. He puts a lot of pride into his work on this end of the floor, putting a huge effort into helping his team get stops, and pumping his chest after a big play, which really sets the tone for his teammates. It's not that often that you see a player this young so interested in playing defense, so it will be interesting to see how this continues down the road.
As exciting a prospect as Noel is right now, we must remember that he's still at a very early stage in his development, and still has a long ways to go on the offensive end in particular. If he continues to fill out his frame, improves his polish and plays with the same type of intensity he showed in New Haven, he's going to have an outstanding career.
Stefan Jankovic,6-9, Small Forward, 2012, Kiski
One of the more unique prospects seen this weekend, Stefan Jankovic (Unranked Scout, Unranked Rivals, Unranked ESPN) isn't a very well-known or highly regarded player in the US right now, but will surely be drawing heavy interest from high major schools shortly.
Jankovic stands out due to his rare combination of size, skills and smarts at the small forward position, standing 6-9, with terrific ball-handling ability. He is a fluid athlete with good mobility and the ability to play above the rim, and does an excellent job creating his own shot from the perimeter with either hand and getting to the basket with a nice first step and a terrific crossover. He'll regularly grab a rebound and handle the ball himself coast to coast, showing a little Hedo Turkoglu-type flair in the process.
Very fundamentally sound, Jankovic can pass off the bounce or take the ball all the way to the rim and finish impressively himself, even if he would be well served continuing to add strength to maximize his athletic potential. His broad shoulders and well -roportioned frame lead you to believe that he should be able to do so in time, but he must improve his toughness, as he shows little to no interest in taking advantage of his size inside and tends to struggle in traffic against more physically developed players.
As a shooter, Jankovic is somewhat streaky at this point, but should be able to develop considerably in this area as he has good mechanics and nice touch, and already shows the ability to make shots off the dribble. He looked more comfortable in his slashing ability than in his shooting here in New Haven, to the point that he may have passed up some good looks to instead over-dribble into traffic, which is something to keep track of down the line.
Defensively is where Jankovic might have to improve the most to show that he can play on the perimeter full time at the highest levels. His lateral quickness is just average guarding small forwards, and his effort level can look problematic at times. He has a tendency to shy away from contact at times, leading some to question his passion and toughness.
Born in Serbia, but having spent most of his life in Canada, Jankovic has the choice of playing for either country at the international level, and has yet to make that decision at this point in time. If he continues to play as well as he did in New Haven, both countries are going to be very interested in his services.
Robert Brown , 6-4, Shooting Guard, 2011, Hargrave Military Academy
Committed to Virginia Tech
Despite sharing the ball with two more highly touted wing prospects on Hargrave Military Academy, Robert Brown (Unranked Scout, #105 Rivals, #84 ESPN) had no issues whatsoever proving his mettle as a big-time scorer at the high school level, pouring in 45 points in 59 minutes of action at the National Prep Showcase.
Brown shows average tools for his position, standing 6-4 with a skinny frame that he's clearly worked on but must continue to fill out over the next few years. He's a good, but not great athlete on top of that, mainly relying on his aggressive nature and solid skill-set to get the job done at this level.
Brown is a solid shooter with his feet set, also showing the ability to make shots off the dribble on occasion. He is an average shot-creator at the moment, showing improvable ball-handling skills and not being incredibly strong or explosive to compensate for that at this time. He makes up for that with good scoring instincts and an aggressive mentality, always looking hungry to put the ball in the basket. He struggles to finish through contact at times, but is not afraid to drive the ball right into the teeth of the defense to draw a foul or get his team a timely basket, and can also make the extra pass to an open teammate.
Defensively, Brown is a serious, competitive player with a solid wingspan and good toughness. He crashes the glass hard and likes to play the passing lanes, but can be a little bit overeager at times to make plays and is not immune to getting beat off the dribble by quicker or stronger matchups.
Brown had a strong showing at this tournament, even if he may not have the same upside as some of the other wing players seen here. If he continues to develop his frame and is able to round out his skill-set over the next few years, he'll likely be a productive contributor for Seth Greenberg in the ACC.
Marquis Rankin, 6-1, Point Guard, Hargrave Military Academy, 2011
A very quick and reactive point guard with a small frame and below average length, Marquis Rankin (#84 Scout, Unranked Rivals, #96 ESPN) is a dangerous player in the half-court both for his own scoring and playmaking ability.
Offensively, Rankin does the majority of his damage attacking the basket, taking advantage of his rangy first step and ability to finish with either hand in the lane. Despite his small stature, he has no problem throwing his body around and drawing contact, getting to the line very frequently and having no fear going into the teeth of the defense. He does a good job getting separation when he needs to by making reactive, rangy moves such as spins and crossovers, changing speeds and directions quickly to get past his man.
As a shooter, Rankin didn't show much here this weekend aside from a few spot-up shots, but appears to have good form and does a decent job from the free-throw line while also showing flashes of three-point range. Further developing this area will be key to his long-term success.
As a playmaker, Rankin does a solid job managing his team's offense, making mostly simple passes in the flow of the offense to get his assists, but also mixing in drive and dishes as well. He definitely looks to score more than pass when in the lane, but seems to have found a pretty good balance given his skill set.
Defensively, Rankin shows a good stance but is prone to being beat at times, as he's often physically overmatched and doesn't seem to put in as much effort on this end of the floor.
Despite the fact that his upside is limited somewhat by his average physical tools, Rankin appears to have the makings of a good college point guard and should be a steady contributor for Virginia Tech from day one. Further developing his playmaking and outside shooting skills will be critical to his long-term success, along with improving his defense.
Naadir Tharpe, 6-0, Point Guard, Brewster Academy, 2011
Committed to Kansas
Naadir Tharpe (#94 Scout, #91 Rivals, #73 ESPN) didn't have the greatest weekend here, not getting into the same rhythm as the last time we saw him, struggling to consistently manage his team's offense at times and having some troubles on the defensive end.
Offensively, Tharpe once again displayed his abilities as a distributor, namely showing off excellent abilities with his post entry passes while also making simple assists by finding open shooters in the halfcourt or passing ahead in transition. He showed off good ball-handling and vision throughout the week, though had some problems with turnovers and keeping his team's offense flowing smoothly at times.
As for his own offense, Tharpe did a good job finishing in the lane by displaying good body control and hitting lay-ups and floaters, though didn't have the same success with his perimeter jumper, something that appears to be streaky.
Defensively, Tharpe had major problems in the second game where he let his man blow past him a handful of times, looking overmatched physically and not showing the greatest lateral foot speed.
Tharpe may not be of the same quality of prospects that fans in Lawrence are typically used to seeing in a Kansas uniform, but he has all the makings of a solid college player. He's an unselfish point guard with a good feel for the game, and should develop into a solid rotation player for Bill Self, especially later on in his career.
Myles Davis, 6-3, PG/SG, Notre Dame Prep, 2012
A thickly built shooting guard forced to run the point with his school's unbalanced roster, Myles Davis (Unranked Scout, Rivals, ESPN) is a gritty player who plays hard on both ends of the floor. From an athletic standpoint, Davis quickness and explosiveness are both underwhelming, though he makes up for it in part with toughness and hustle.
On the offensive end, Davis' game heavily revolves around his jump shot, which he can hit spotting up or pulling up off the dribble and already has NBA three-point range. Davis hit a variety of threes in his two games here, many of which were pulling up with a hand in his face, and he does a very good job keeping his balance in those situations.
In terms of attacking the basket, Davis wasn't able to do much in a half-court setting, not having the athleticism to consistently turn the corner or elevate over opposition in the lane, though he did a good job not forcing the issue with his own shots and instead making some solid but unspectacular drive and dishes. He doesn't show the passing instincts or have the feel to run a team's offense as a full-time point guard, but it's clear he's not a selfish player and is trying to make the transition.
Defensively, Davis has an aggressive stance with good fundamentals, and he does a good job of really pestering the opposition without losing control. He did an especially good job defensively in his second game, where he drew an impressive three charges coming both on and off the ball.
Looking forward, Davis already projects as a deadly outside shooter and tough defender at the college level, though concerns about his position and athleticism may be tough to overcome projecting to the next level.
Wayne Selden, 6-4, Shooting Guard, Tilton School, 2014
One of the youngest players in attendance at the National Prep Showcase, you would have never guessed that Wayne Selden is just a freshman in high school based on the way he carried himself at this event. Standing around 6-3, with a nice frame, good length and solid athleticism, Selden looked like he fit in comfortably from a physical standpoint with players who were as much as four years older than him.
Selden's biggest contribution in his lone outing in New Haven had to revolve around his perimeter shooting ability, knocking down an impressive six 3-pointers in the lone game we saw. He has somewhat of a slow and flat-footed release, but was deadly with his feet set, knocking down shots from well beyond the arc at times, and doing so confidently at that.
Selden also showed some shot-creating ability, driving the ball both left and right with a nice first step and even finishing around the rim emphatically when given the opportunity to do so. He appears to have solid court vision as well, making some very heady, creative passes to teammates that demonstrated a pretty advanced feel for a game.
Selden certainly isn't a bashful freshman, he talks quite a bit with his teammates, directing traffic confidently and showing far more maturity than you would expect from your average freshman. His lack of experience showed on a couple of occasions in the form of some bad decisions, but all in all it was tough not to be impressed with he handled himself on the court.
While it's certainly way too early to be drawing any long-term conclusions about a player this young, Selden looks like a guy to keep an eye on for the future based on his performance at this tournament, particularly if he continues to grow and develop his skill-set.
Shaquille Thomas, 6-8, Small Forward, Alif Muhammad NIA, 2011
Committed to Cincinnati
The nephew of former NBA player Tim Thomas, Shaq Thomas (#97 Scout, #132 Rivals, #93 ESPN) is a smooth and long athlete with a solid developing skill set, though still appears a ways away from putting it together.
Thomas does most of his damage offensively operating from the mid-range area where he shows a comfortable handle and good instincts in finding open space, mixing in crossovers and turnaround jumpers to get open. He shows the ability to hit a lot of tough, contested shots in the 10-15 foot range, though his shot selection definitely leaves something to be desired, and his deep range is not consistent.
While Thomas will occasionally have an impressive athletic dunk on an open cut to the basket, he is not a physically assertive player, preferring to operate with finesse and not seeking out contact with his slight frame. Defensively, things are worse, where Thomas is frequently lackadaisical in his efforts, letting his man beat him in isolation or not boxing out for rebounds, playing nowhere near his potential.
Looking forward, Thomas has some intriguing physical tools and flashes of potent skills, but his approach to the game is holding him back from reaching his potential, though he still has plenty of time to get things together.
Anthony Joseph Perez Cortesia, 6-9, Small Forward, Lee Academy, 2012
Although not particularly productive in the two games we saw him play here, Anthony Joseph Perez-Cortesia (Unranked Scout, Rivals, ESPN) (or Anthony Perez-Cortesia or Anthony Cortesia) is still worthy of a mention due to the intriguing skill-set he shows.
A legit 6-8 or 6-9 small forward with nice athleticism, Cortesia is a solid ball-handler with good range on his jumper. He can create his own shot with a nice first step and excellent footwork, and is very effective in transition, showing outstanding fluidity and dexterity for a player his size. When left open on the perimeter, Cortesia has pretty shooting mechanics and the ability to make jumpers with range well past the 3-point line.
Cortesia still seems to be getting his feet wet when it comes to the level of competition he's seeing here in the US, as he only recently arrived from his native country of Venezuela. His toughness, fundamentals and intensity level aren't where they need to be at the moment, as he lacks the strength to finish effectively around the basket and is almost a non-factor defensively and on the glass. He refuses to use his size and athleticism in the paint in post-up situations, and didn't show any interest at all in crashing the glass on either end of the floor. Offensively, he's a bit passive and doesn't seem to know how to use his tools effectively just yet.
Cortesia is rumored to be leaning to committing to Frank Martin at Kansas State, and that might be the best thing possible for him considering the things he needs to work on and the discipline that is demanded of players at that program. Once his effort level and toughness starts to catch up with his talent, Cortesia could be a very interesting prospect.
Elijah Carter, 6-2, Point Guard, Brewster Academy, 2011
An athletic combo guard with very good length and a solid build, Elijah Carter (Unranked Scout, #109 Rivals, Unranked ESPN) is a dynamic weapon on the offensive end with a decent set of developing skills.
In terms of scoring the ball, Carter is at his best going to the basket, where he finishes well with good body control, creativity, and touch. He finished on a variety of floaters, lay-ups, and finger-rolls this week, adjusting in the lane to help-side defenders when necessary. He isn't the greatest ball-handler, but he takes advantage of holes in the defense in the half-court and transition.
Carter's perimeter jumper is inconsistent at this stage, though he shows the ability to hit spotting up and pulling up, showing little hesitation to throw up shots when he's open. His shot selection can use some work, as could his somewhat sloppy shooting form.
As a point guard, Carter is still very much a score first player, while he doesn't appear to yet have the mentality to run a team full time. He occasionally makes some nice passes on drive-and-dishes or in transition, but is looking for his own offense in most situations.
Defensively, despite showing good ability at times, Carter takes plays off too frequently and is prone to getting beat off the dribble due to not moving his feet, though to his credit he will try and stay in plays even after he's beat.
Looking forward, Carter will need to work on being a more balanced floor general should he make the transition to the point guard transition, and should work on being more consistent with his perimeter shooting and defense regardless of what position he ends up playing. If he's able to do so, he has all the makings of a very good college player.
Durand Johnson, 6-6, SG/SF, Brewster Academy, 2011
Committed to Pittsburgh
A long and athletic wing who plays strong two-way basketball, Durand Johnson (Unranked Scout, #115 Rivals, Unranked ESPN) had a good weekend here and is an interesting prospect over the long term.
On the offensive end, Johnson is a dynamic scorer who can put the ball in the basket in a variety of ways, being dangerous both from the perimeter and attacking the basket. Johnson struggled with his outside shot in the games here, not hitting from three-point range this weekend, but he showed good form and has a reputation as a good shooter, something that is easy to see.
In terms of attacking the basket, Johnson shows good body control and creativity along with the ability to change hands with the ball and finish with both hands at the rim, while he also has no problems drawing contact, getting to the free-throw line frequently this weekend,
Defensively, Johnson has a very aggressive stance with good fundamentals, and does a great job using his length to bother the opposition, getting into his man well both on and off the ball.
Looking forward, Johnson has good physical tools for either wing position while having a nice set of skills and the mentality to consistently play hard on both ends of the floor. His game could still use more polish in all areas and developing better consistency on his outside shots and more strength for his frame would both help, but he already is on track to be a very good college player, and something more down the line isn't out of the question.