Jamal Murray first burst on the scene over a year ago at the Jordan Brand Classic, but has been one of the few elite Canadian prospects not to venture over to the States for his high school career. Heavily pursued by all of America’s top high schools, Murray continued to build his reputation at the 2014 Nike Hoop Summit.
Jamal shot the ball well from the perimeter expanding and even showed range out to the NBA three point line. He was a solid running the pick and roll, both as a scorer and distributor. The CIA Bounce product has added some explosion in the past year, both as terms of getting by guys and finishing at the rim. Finishing with 10 points and 5 assists, Murray definitely seemed to be flourishing in his transition over to a full time lead guard, adding yet another reason why he is such a heavily touted commodity in the States.
Karl Towns has always been known as a special prospect, but he took things to another level at the 2014 Nike Hoop Summit. Never considered a bad athlete, Towns exhibited much more explosively and was vastly improved running the floor when we saw him last. The future Kentucky Wildcat drained threes, passed the ball well and finished in the paint with an array of hooks, dunks, and floaters. To top things off, he measured incredibly well for a center prospect. At 7’0 and 248 pounds, Towns owns a 7’4 wingspan and 9’5 standing reach that will be essential for “walling up” on defense at the next level.
Once the game rolled around, Towns battled foul trouble, but still managed to finish with 6 points and 8 rebounds to cap off an outstanding week of basketball.
The final day of the Phenom Hoop Challenge kicked off bright and early with one of the most hyped matchups of the event. The Karolina Diamonds and Showtime Ballers squared off in a game that had no shortage of cameras, as well as no shortage of excitement. Corey Sanders hit a lay-up at the buzzer to give Showtime the win, en route to a championship game run.
An outstanding weekend of hoops ended with the following championship games:
15U: CP3 All-Stars
16U: CP3 All-Stars
17U: West Virginia Wildcats
Here are a few of the players who stood out:
Lavar Batts, 6’1, PG, CP3 All-Stars 15U, 2017- Right there in the conversation for best freshman in the state with JJ Smith, Batts showed that he could carry over his dominance at the highest level of AAU. Previously playing with the local Carrabus Stars, He made the move over to the EYBL squad and fit in immediately. The freshman controlled the tempo of the game, got in the lane at will, and was simply special converting with either hand.
Karl Gamble, 6’9, PF, Upward Stars, 2015- An incredibly skilled big man, Gamble was one of the bigger surprises at PHC. He was deadly attacking from the elbows, used his length to bother opponents, and showed great coordination on the blocks. With interest from many SoCon teams, it’s a near certainty that mid-major and high-major programs will be showing interest after the live period.
Quate McKinzie, 6’6, PF, CP3 All-Stars 16U- A physical specimen, McKinzie did the bulk of his damage in the paint, yet also showed that he had some skill on the perimeter. He was nearly impossible to stop around the rim, attacked the basket strong from the wing, and even busted out a sly euro-step in transition. This super long forward could go a number of ways, but could easily convert into a power wing by the time it is all said and done.
Michael Buckland, 6’5, SG, CP3 All-Stars 16U- A player who we’ve been watching since he was playing varsity in the 8th grade, Buckland has made some serious strides in his game. The sister of UNC redshirt freshman Megan Buckland redshirt freshman Megan Buckland showed that he’s not the only serious baller in his family. He showed off a silky smooth jumper, finished through contact at the rim, and showed off some really nice court vision for a wing. With Theo Pinson graduating, there will be plenty of opportunity for Buckland to truly shine next year for Wesleyan alongside Harry Giles.
Jordan Whitfield, 6’0, PG, Team United 15U- With his entire squad playing up at the 16U level, Whitfield showed that he had no problem playing with some of the region’s elite players a year up. He showed off surprising athleticism, a nice floater, and was able to keep Team United in the game. Another player who has been playing varsity hoops since his 8th grade year, Whitfield appears to be following his brother’s footsteps to the division one level.
For the class of 2016, the Karolina Diamonds and CP3 All-Stars boast the top talent that the state of North Carolina has to offer. While Diamonds coach Kevin Graves has always played the Diamonds up in the 17-U bracket, there has certainly been an unspoken rivalry between the two programs. The loss of Dennis Smith Jr. certainly hurt Graves’ squad, but he still offers a unit that blends size, athleticism, and skill. On the other hand, CP3 has ascended to become the state’s top program over the past few years and offer the most talent on paper, despite the loss of 6’10 man-child Harry Giles.
It was a matchup of teams with far different backgrounds. The Diamonds have held their core in tact for years now, while CP3 has a new cast that ranges from four different states. From the tip, it was clear that chemistry was in the favor of the Diamonds and as the game went on, that became more evident. Ultimately, while they didn’t have as much in the talent department, it was the Diamonds who were able to pull away with a 75-62 victory.
Here are a few of the players who stood out:
Ty Graves, 6’0, PG, Karolina Diamonds, 2016- The heady floor general from Greensboro Page was simply outstanding in his matchup with Alterique Gilbert, scoring 16 points. He made tough jumpers off of the dribble, found the open man in transition, and controlled the tempo of the game against the bigger CP3 squad. While Ty receives the bulk of his attention locally at this point, expect that to change as the spring goes on.
Alterique Gilbert, 5’11, PG, CP3 All-Stars, 2016- One of the nation’s truly elite sophomore point guards, Alterque Gilbert brought his full arsenal to Greensboro. The shifty playmaker got to the rim at will, hit deep three pointers, and put great pressure on the rock on the defensive end. Gilbert is already a hot commodity amongst ACC programs, with Florida State and Georgia Tech already putting offers on the table.
Greg Williams, 6’5, SG/SF, CP3 All-Stars, 2016- A Houston native, Williams made the move to Virginia at Genesis Prep and hasn’t looked back. He was tough to stop attacking the rim, showed off above average vision for a wing, and a smooth jumper to go with it. This big time athlete turned a lot of heads throughout the season at Genesis and will continue to do so with CP3.
Lonzia Tyson, 6’8, PF/C, Karolina Diamonds, 2015- The most athletic big man in the game didn’t showcase his full talents, but made a significant impact on the game. Tyson used his size and athleticism to impose a presence defensively, was active on the glass, and finished drop-offs around the rim on his way to 10 points. He keeps getting better in the skill department each time we see him and it will be scary if this trend continues.
Nikola Jokic had a big time performance on the heels of his 20 point, 9 board performance on Wednesday, the Serbian scorer dropped 17 points shooting 7 of 9 from the field. Clint Capela had his best scrimmage of the week with 12 points on 6 of 9 shooting. Capela’s athleticism allows him to score over and around his defenders. Emmanuel Mudiay ran the pick and roll to perfection in this scrimmage with Nikola Jokic and could have easily finished with ten plus assists if all of his passes were converted.
The World Select Team was split into two groups for a 28 minute scrimmage (7 minute quarters, running clock). Below are stats from the game which was won by a score of 44-41 by the black team led by Jokic.
White Team – Damien Inglis, Gao Shang, Karl Towns, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Clint Capela, and Brandone Francis. Black Team – Nikola Jokic, James Metecan Birsen, Emmanuel Mudiay, Trey Lyles, and Jamal Murray.
Findlay Prep’s Kelly Oubrehas long been one of the more athletic wings in the class of 2014 and at the Nike Hoop Summit, he showed it off to NBA scouts. The Findlay Prep product came flying down the right wing and dunked on a 6’8 PAC-12 player. With Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid off to the NBA, Oubre has the chance to be KU’s most exciting player for the ’14-15 campaign.
Karl Towns has never been known as a high flyer, but on Thursday’s Nike Hoop Summit practice, showed off how much he has improved athletically. The Kentucky recruit came flying down the lane in transition, finishing with what may have perhaps been the best dunk of his career over a fellow 7-footer, who shall remain nameless.
Nikola Jokic made his presence felt on the second day of World Select Team practice. The Nike Hoop Summit has long been known as a springboard for international players with scouts from every NBA team in attendance. On Tuesday the 6’11 forward from Serbia had a great showing in front of those very scouts as he put on a shooting display going 4-4 from three point range en route to a 20 point, 9 board performance.
The World Select Team was split into two groups for a 28 minute scrimmage (7 minute quarters, running clock). Below are stats from the game which was won by a score of 41-35 by the white team led by Jokic.
White Team – Nikola Jokic, Clint Capela, Brandone Francis, James Metecan Birsen, and Jamal Murray. Black Team – Karl Towns, Emmanuel Mudiay, Trey Lyles, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Gao Shang, and Damien Inglis.
We’ve been watching Clint Capela for years now at Adidas Nations and having seen him extensively for the third time in the last three years, can attest to the substantial growth that he’s made. Developing from prospect into player, Capela showed off his explosive athleticism at the 2014 Nike Hoop Summit practices with his bouncy leaping ability, exhibited by this dunk that he caught in today’s practice.
Tyler Ulis has long been one of the more productive point guards in the class, but the major questions that centered around him revolved almost exclusively to his height. Dating back to his days in Lima, Ohio when he ran with Mike Duncan’s Ohio Basketball Club, Ulis was always right there amongst the top of his class and four years later, he finds himself there again.
Running with MeanStreets for his last few years on the AAU circuit, Tyler showed a constant path of development. While he grew, he still only found himself at 5-foot-9, but found ways to score on anyone. He learned how to use angles, create space with crafty dribble moves, and finish over the top of the defense. What makes Ulis even more impressive is that his high IQ allows him to know when to shoot it and when to give it up. On the defensive end, Ulis is a hawk on the ball and uses his quick hands to create a number of steals and/or deflections.
While many are already deeming this 18-year old a four year player for the Big Blue Nation, based on his track record, don’t be surprised if he proves everyone wrong yet again.