We went to the vault and pulled out some of our old LeBron James high school footage because if we were ever going to begin releasing it, what better time than during game 6 of the NBA Finals? Here’s a nasty two-handed dunk that he had against Kettering Alter at the University of Dayton arena. Be sure to stay glued to CityLeagueHoops, as we’ll be releasing more unseen LeBron high school footage over the coming days.
Wichita State’s Malcolm Armstead has been a busy man. He was a starter for Oregon, but wanted to find a better fit. In a relatively unprecedented move, he decided to transfer to Wichita State despite the fact that they had no scholarships. He worked at a used car lot and took out student loans to pay his tuition, but it looks like the calculated gamble has paid off. And a final four later, Armstead has drawn some buzz from NBA teams.
Training alongside Myck Kabongo and Carl Jones , Armstead was able to stand out with his size and super quick release shooting the ball. The lefty was automatic from the three point line, used his strength to finish through contact, and used his old school game to throw Kabongo off-pace. He turned his ankle during the first workout, only allowing him to participate in the ball-handling part of the second session. Still, we were able to see enough during the morning to understand why Rich Paul was so happy to sign him as a client, and why he has generated some NBA buzz.
Carl “Tay” Jones is the best guard to don a St. Joseph’s jersey since the days of Jameer Nelson and Delonte West. The 6’0 senior led the team in scoring his final three seasons after making a major mark on the Cleveland high school scene. Playing his freshman year at Solon alongside Ohio State product Dallas Lauderdale, Tay transferred to Garfield Heights and helped transform Sonny Johnson’s program into a powerhouse throughout the state of Ohio.
We caught up with Tay at Cleveland State, training alongside Texas sophomore Myck Kabongo and Wichita State’s Malcolm Armstead with Columbus-based trainer Peter Patton. He shot the lights out of the ball from mid-range, showed off his blazing speed, and was outstanding creating his own shot off of the dribble. Signed with Rich Paul’s Klutch Sports, Jones has had numerous NBA workouts and has done a great job of setting himself up for opportunities at the next level.
The NBA Top 100 Camp came to a wrap on Saturday night with the Celtics upsetting the absolutely stacked Mavs in the ‘ship. Ja’Quan Newton poured in 32 points and Cheick Diallo was named MVP, even though he’s a year younger than the majority of the competition. John Lucas, Brian Merritt, and the rest of their staff did an amazing job of not only assembling talent with NBA size, but of getting the players to exert outstanding effort. As a whole, it was an outstanding camp that provided the opportunity for a number of players to explode.
Here are a look at some of the guys who caught our eye on the final day of the 2013 NBA Top 100 Camp:
Ja’Quan Newton, 6’3, PG, 2014-The MVP of the championship game, Ja’Quan Newton was downright unstoppable against Josh Perkins and the loaded Mavericks. He had the type of swag that you’d expect out of a Philly guard, letting it be known that he was cooking after every made bucket. He drove left and right, converted amongst the trees in the lane, and was simply impossible to guard off of the dribble. Newton didn’t hit many jumpers because he didn’t need to. Ranked in the bottom half of the top 100 by some, Ja’Quan will be soaring up after his showing this weekend.
Kelly Oubre, 6’6, SF, 2014- Oubre is one of those players who could give you flashes of brilliance mixed with spurts of complacency. Having observed him a number of times at Fort Bend Bush, there would be three minute stretches that you felt like you were watching a future first rounder mixed with times that you forgot he was even on the floor. At the NBA Top 100 Camp, he put it all together. Oubre showed off his athleticism with huge dunks in transition, shot the ball well from three, and put the ball on the deck better than we saw in the high school season. He will be playing a different role at Findlay Prep and if motivated, should certainly catapult up the rankings.
Craig Victor, 6’8, PF, 2014- One of the more skilled four men in the class of 2014, Craig Victor was one of the most productive guys in the morning session. He brought out his full bag of tricks, stretching the defense with his ability to shoot the rock, yet scoring with ease on the blocks with his nimble footwork. Victor’s improved versatility and diverse skill set have made him one of the more sought after power forwards for ’14.
Caleb Martin, 6’6, SF, 2014- Well known since his freshman season, it seems as if the Martin twins have been around forever now. However, both Caleb and Cody have made significant additions to their games respectively. While it was Cody who won the ‘ship, it was the play of Caleb that really caught our eye. The 6’6 wing was tough to stop off of the bounce, hit deep three pointers, and finished above the rim. Headed to NC State, Martin has the talent to come in and help out immediately on the wing.
Brekkott Chapman, 6’8, PF, 2014- In our first time seeing Chapman, we couldn’t help but be blown away with the amount of versatility that he brings to the table. The lefty stretched the defense with his ability to shoot the three, blew by most power forwards off the dribble, and ripped the rim off a few times. Brekkott is without a doubt one of the top rising seniors on the west coast and should definitely be in contention for the McDonald’s All-America Game.
Fresh off of opting out of his contract to enter free agency, Denver Nuggets’ star Andre Iguoudala took to the court to show elite junior Devin Booker. Iguodala showed some of the tricks that he picked up throughout his NBA career on Booker, utilizing a series of reverse pivots and jabs to show the youngster his craft. Booker responded by shooting the lights out from beyond the arc. Each player had spurts in which they hit three shots in a row, then had an impromptu dunk-off at the end. Interactions like this are what makes the NBA Top 100 Camp such a special event, allowing NBA All-Stars the chance to spend time with the players who could ultimately be following in their footsteps.
Following the Friday morning session that was loaded with games, the players went through a skill development session, got some dinner, and were back on the hardwood yet again. Debates were settled, matchups were outstanding, and the competition was heavy. We wound up with an an overall outstanding game of basketball, led by John Lucas and Co.
Here are a few of the standouts from Friday’s nightcap:
Karl Towns vs Skal Labissiere A late arrival to the camp after finishing up final exams, Karl Towns made his debut on the spring circuit. There was no more fitting game for him to make his debut than in a matchup with a fellow top-10 big man, Skal Labissiere. Towns started the game off by imposing his presence defensively, then showing his offensive arsenal via his soft touch and nimble footwork in the post. He was later used as a trail big man in his opening game with his new team and provided a threat with his constant presence as a three point shooting threat. Labissiere, on the other hand, did the majority of his work within 15 feet of the basket. He hit a number of soft jumpers from outside of the key, exhibited an automatic jump hook, and showed outstanding timing as a shot-blocker. Labissiere won the battle statistically, finishing with 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 blocks based on our count. Kentucky-bound Towns dropped 10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 assists, walking away with the W.
Dwayne Morgan, 6’7, PF, 2014- Coming off of a strong showing at the Adidas EuroCamp in Italy, Dwayne Morgan carried his inspired play over to the NBA Top 100 Camp. He was a great finisher in transition, had no problem beating power forwards off of the dribble, and used his length to be active on both ends of the court. The Baltimore product will be a great fit in UNLV’s four out offense next year, bringing the versatility to blow by bigger forwards and the size to post smaller ones.
Charles Matthews, 6’5, SG, 2015- It was my first time seeing Matthews since last spring and I couldn’t be more impressed with the strides that he’s made in his game. He appears to have grown to a legit 6’5, has filled out, and gotten much more explosive. Chicago’s best sophomore was unstoppable slashing to the rim and even though he only converted on a few buckets, he draw an absurd amount of fouls. We didn’t get the chance to see the point guard skills that so many have raved about, but we definitely saw why he’s ranked in everyone’s top 25.
Caleb Swanigan, 6’8, C, 2016- One of the youngest players in attendance, Swanigan carved out his own space in the key and got the ball virtually whenever he wanted. A below the rim player at this point, the 275-pounder used his outstanding footwork and great hands to maneuver around defenders en route to the basket. Swanigan has been consistently losing weight, and given his combination of hands/footwork, expect him to be one of the more highly sought after 2016 posts in the Midwest.
Derrick Jones, 6’6, SF/PF, 2015- The most explosive athlete in the camp was unquestionably Derrick Jones. Making the transition from power forward to small forward, Jones knocked down a pair of three pointers and was an absolute monster in transition. Philly’s best in the class also cleared a number of near 7-footers, showing everyone in Charlottesville why many have him in the top 20 of the 2015 class.
The morning session of the NBA Top 100 Camp started off with a lot of intrigue. Scouts were buzzing about the Stephen Zimmerman/Thon Maker matchup, debating which players were going to be next to blow up, and trading tidbits about guys who stood out. The two morning games provided inspired play and even though there were a few blowouts, there was a lot to be learned.
Here’s a look at a few of the players who stood out in the morning session:
Justin Jackson, 6’7, SF, 2014- Never one to give you a crazy highlight, Jackson brought the efficient scoring game that he’s known for to the NBA Top 100 Camp. He shot the ball well from deep, raised up to drop soft mid-range jumpers, and used his height to convert in the paint. Justin filled up the scoring column just as well as anyone in the camp and will be expected to do so once he steps foot on campus at UNC.
Cheick Diallo, 6’9, C, 2015- Cheick Diallo exploded at the 2013 Flyin’ To The Hoop in Dayton, and has only continued to get better since then. Now ranked #10 in the country by ESPN, Diallo has began to show off an offensive game that has a considerable amount of potential. He can finish around the rim with both hands, looks to dunk everything in the paint, and even hit a jumper facing the basket. Throw in the fact that he dominated on defense and you have an outstanding performance from this rising junior.
Stephen Zimmerman vs Thon Maker The matchup of the top centers in the 2015 and 2016 classes never came to fruition, as Zimmerman and Maker never shared the floor at the same time. Brian Merritt is known for always matching up the best of the best, so it certainly served as a disappointment when their respective coaches didn’t play them together. When they were on the floor, Zimmerman hit a jumper, jump hooks with both hands, and controlled the paint on D. Maker wasn’t quite as productive, but ran the floor and showed mobility unlike any seven footer at the high school level. All in all, it was a solid performance by two players who are both making major strides in their respective games.
BJ Stith, 6’5, SG/SF, 2015- The son of former UVA star and Denver Nugget Bryan Stith has been a fixture in the 2014 rankings for a few years, but has constantly improved. He was great coming off of screens, raised up from mid-range, and showed surprising athleticism finishing above the rim. Stith is going to have the opportunity to contribute from day one at UVA, and he certaintly has the skill set to make that become reality.
Jordan McLaughlin, 6’0, PG, 2014- One of the more athletic point guards in the country, McLaughlin was a beast running the pick and roll Friday morning. He exploded by defenders, showing the IQ of when to use ball screens and when to go away from them. The Cali product also played great defense and distributed the ball at a high level, showing why he is one of the truly elite lead guards in the 2014 class.
The NBA Top 100 Camp has long served as one of the country’s elite high school events, bringing together players of all shoe affiliations at the University of Virginia for three daysk of outstanding basketball. The players are coached by former NBA’ers who are looking to get in the coaching side at the next level, letting these guys gain valuable experience with the best of the best. The three days of basketball were mixed in with invaluable classes to help the players with how to deal with the media and some of the issues that they’ll encounter throughout their careers. John Lucas, Brian Merritt, and the rest of their staff did an outstanding job from top to bottom on the first day of live action.
Here’s a look at the top players that we saw from the night session of Thursday’s action at the NBA Top 100 Camp:
Shaqquan Aaron, 6’8, SG/SF, 2014- This Louisville recruit was easily the best one on one player that we saw in the night session. The lanky wing used his above average handle for an off-guard to glide into the lane, finishing creatively amongst the defense. Having ran into so many issues with his transfers at the high school level, look for Aaron to rise up in the rankings after his outstanding play this spring on the circuit.
Myles Turner, 6’11, C, 2014- The hottest player in the high school level is Myles Turner, a near 7-footer from Texas. Our first time observing him showed us a mobile big man who can hit the short jumper facing the basket, while also dominating on the defensive end. Turner even showed off a couple of counter moves in the post, living up to the acclaim that so many media outlets have placed on him.
Chance Comanche, 6’10, PF/C, 2015- Another player who we were getting our first look at is Chance Comanche. At every bit of 6’10 and possibly even 6’11, Comanche runs the floor and moves with the fluidity of a guard. He didn’t do a ton on the offensive end, but showed off elite quickness getting off the ground both as a offensive rebounder and shot-blocker. Comanche is a high upside player whose best days of basketball are certainly ahead of him.
Josh Langford, 6’4, SG/SF, 2016- One of the youngest campers in attendance, Langford was able to use his athleticism to get to the rim against his older foes. The Alabama native used is explosive first step to get to the rim, finished above the defense, and hit outside jumpers when left open. Langford is one of the more physically developed players in the class and comes from a strong basketball family, leaving his future looking awfully bright.
Kevon Looney, 6’8, SF/PF, 2014- The pride of the Milwaukee Runnin’ Rebels was perhaps the most dominant player at NBA Camp. Looney drew bigger defenders out to the wing, posted up smaller forwards, and controlled the glass. The consensus top ten player also just recently announced that he will be cutting his list soon, and is being recruited by virtually every team in the country.
Iona’s Lamont Jones has been known as a scoring guard throughout his career. He got buckets when he was at Oak Hill and then running with Tyreke Evans at American Christian, produced at Arizona, then finished 3rd in the nation in scoring at Iona. At 6’1 though, he needed to prove that he could run a team and that’s what he was looking to prove at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas. “MoMo” was effective running the pick and roll, scored at will, and showed surprising poise distributing the rock. With 12 workouts set up with NBA teams, he will try to convince NBA GM’s that he is able to run the show at the next level.
Here is our full interview with MoMo touching on his past, what he learned from Scott Machado, and what he’ll bring to an NBA team:
CityLeagueHoops: One of the biggest knocks that people have on you has to do with your transfers and verbal committments to colleges. Let’s hear your side of the story.
Lamont Jones: They were all decisions that I had to make to better myself to better my life. Going from USC to Arizona, then Arizona to Iona, I just had to make the best decisions for myself. At SC, I was ready to go and then Tim Floyd resigned. He was the coach that I was going to play for. At Arizona, with my Grandmother getting sick, I just had to travel home so much to see her…which brought me to Iona. I think being at Arizona helped me out as a point guard. It helped me be more of a vocal leader and learn to play point guard. Then going to Iona helped my scoring and allowed me to put it all together.
CLH: Playing alongside Scott Machado, you were forced to play off of the ball until your senior year. What positives, if any, were you able to take from playing shooting guard?
LJ: It helped me learn how to read double teams, but also let me play off of the ball. Playing the point, I was doubled a lot because I had to score the ball. I also learned how to be more of a vocal leader, be more positive than negative, put people in the right spots, and act more calm on the court instead of screaming at guys. Certain players need to be talked to in certain ways, and that’s what I learned the most.
CLH: What did you learn from Scott?
LJ: I can say that he really showed me how to use all of my teammates and knowing where to get them the ball at. I think that he did a great job of getting guys where they could be successful.
CLH: What are you looking to improve on out here at Impact?
LJ: I’m just trying to get better day in and day out on the screen and roll. I think a lot of what the NBA is today is pick and roll, and out here, I’ve learned how to make the right reads. Sometimes I feel like I need to be a little bit less aggressive scoring the ball, but that’s my natural mentality. I think I’m starting to make a great combination of scoring the ball and getting my teammates involved.
CLH: What do you think that you’re going to surprise teams with in workouts?
LJ: My motor and ability to run the pick and roll. I think that a lot of people feel that I only want to score the ball; That’s not the case. When I have guys around me who can score the ball as well as I can, that makes my job easier. When I was at Arizona, I had Derrick Williams and Solomon Hill, so I didn’t have to score. I just had to get everyone in the right place, pass them the ball, and then they did the work. It’s the same thing in the league with guys like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony. I am willing to pass the ball and want to pass the ball, but the situation that I was in forced me to score.
Aquille Carr was the most popular player in high school basketball this past season and sent shockwaves through the basketball industry when he announced that he was skipping college to begin a professional career overseas. The first stop for the 5’6 guard was the Adidas EuroCamp in Treviso, where he competed against many of the top International players in the world. By all reports, it certainly served as a learning experience for Carr and while he didn’t dominate against the group of potential draftees, he did give observers a few glimpses of why he was high school basketball’s most exciting player.
For more videos from the Adidas EuroCamp, be sure to check out our friends at HoopsFix.