Commentary

Knight, Thompson steal the show at the Kreul Classic

Originally Published: December 23, 2008
By Reggie Rankin | Scouts Inc.

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- The Kreul Classic is one of the most prestigious invitational tournaments in the nation. It features 24 boys (16 and 8 team brackets) and 8 girls' teams from around the country. Proceeds from the 19-year-old event is a go to charity. The Classic provides full tuition scholarships to Florida Atlantic University and numerous monetary awards to students in need. Director Jim Reilly and the volunteer staff did a terrific job with this event that goes toward a great cause.

A pair of the top prospects in the Class of 2010 entertained the crowd right from the start; PG Brandon Knight (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Pinecrest) and PF Tristan Thompson (Newark, N.J./ St. Benedicts Prep) once again showed that they can compete at any level.

In a match up that was played independent of the tournament was the Hawk Kreul Challenge game. This game featured two of Florida's powerhouse programs -- Boyd Anderson out of Lauderdale Lakes and Montverde from Orlando. Class of 2010 prospect Justin Jackson, a 6-8 forward, led Montverde with 20 points and a relentless effort on the offensive glass, but it was not enough. Boyd Anderson depended on the explosive senior perimeter play of Martavious Irving and Bryan Bynes. Irving and Bynes combined for 33 points and numerous open-court highlights to beat Montverde 64-45.

Standouts Players

Brandon Knight PG (6-3,175)
Junior, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. / Pine Crest

Knight continues to impress with his speed and quickness in the open court and ability to beat his defender off the dribble. His first step is a blur, and he can be at the rim scoring with an acrobatic layup before the help-side defense can react. Knight uses a variety of dribble moves to get into the lane but a few of his favorites include the left to right crossover, inside/out move and spin move. Usually the crossover leads to a floater in the lane, and the spin move ends with underhand layup arching over outstretched hands. He also displayed a midrange game that included a pull-up jumper going to his left. When the defense was lucky enough to cut off his penetration, Knight found the open man under the basket without any difficulty. Knight looked stronger, his arms and shoulders seem to have increased in size and definition. He also could absorb more contact when he attacked the rim. He is still a streaky shooter from behind the arc, but Knight's much more consistent when he has time to set when the defense backs off because of his threat to attack off the dribble. Knight does a good job running the offense, but he could be more vocal at times. For the most part, Knight makes good decisions with the ball, his turnovers come when he leaves his feet to pass and when his crossover dribble gets too far in front of his body and the defender get's a hand on the ball. He is a big-time on-ball defender with great lateral foot speed.

Tristan Thompson PF (6-9, 215)
Junior, Newark, N.J./ St. Benedict's Prep

Thompson seems to play with more confidence and aggressiveness each time I see him. He runs the floor with extra long strides and finishes with dunks ahead, over or around defenders with his head at rim level. His defensive rebounds are just as impressive; he uses his incredible length to snatch the ball and start the fast break with a bust-out dribble. In the half court, he attacks off the dribble both ways, and in the post, he uses his quickness to perfection. Anytime he feels the defender is too close, Thompson quick spins baseline on the left block that usually results in a dunk. He also showed the ability to flash from the low post to the high post and knock down the turn around jumper. He did a great job getting his body squared to the basket. He has a seemingly unreachable left-handed jumper because of his length and elevation. Defensively, he played with his hands up and forced the offensive player to shoot over him. Also, he covered ground quickly in the lane to block shots. This extremely talented forward with be a major contributor at Texas from Day 1 with continued improvement.

Markel Starks PG (6-2, 170)
Junior, North Bathesda, Md, / Georgetown Prep, Committed to Georgetown

Starks is a lead guard who is extremely quick off the dribble. He plays with great pace and has a terrific burst of speed to go by his defender. Starks has an excellent handle. He is low, pounds the ball and he executes a variety of dribble moves. Starks uses the crossover going both ways, between the legs, hesitation and spins. He attacks and beats defensive pressure without difficulty. He can get to the rim in transition as well as in the half court and finish with great touch and body control. Starks is great at getting deep into the lane and finding an open teammate for an easy drop off pass for a layup. He can pass with either hand in traffic and loves to use the wrap-around pass in tight areas. He scores off the dribble by rejecting ball screens and with his midrange pull when he can't get all the way to the rim. His shooting range is comfortable to the arc. Starks has good form elevation release and follow-through. He also does a great job setting up his scoring moves or penetration by using pass and shot fakes to raise his defender out of position to create an advantage. Starks will need to add strength and not press or attempt to do too much because this is when he turns the ball over. He has quick hands and good lateral foot speed when defending the ball. Starks also has a good basketball IQ and displayed leadership skills.

Tamir Jackson
Jason O. Watson for ESPN.comTamir Jackson is one of the standouts in Rice's surprisingly deep 2009 class.
Tamir Jackson SG (6-3,180)
Senior, Newark, N.J. / St. Benedict's Prep, Committed to Rice
Jackson was very aggressive on the offensive end of the floor. He attacked the rim in transition and in the half court. Once the ball was rebounded, he sprinted the lane and created scoring opportunities for himself just by running hard throughout the game. Jackson is a great athlete who has good size for a shooting guard. He is athletic and tough enough to finish at the rim on a regular basis. He can knock down the open 3 off the catch when he is set, and he loves to drive and slash from the left side of the floor. Jackson has good elevation and a smooth release. When he is in the flow, he can score in bunches. His confidence seemed to grow throughout the game. He was also affective with his midrange pull-up, and he could find the open man when he drew a second defender. Jackson is a good ball handler and underrated passer. He plays hard, but Jackson could improve as a rebounder and on ball defender. Jackson is very capable but at times he get's to close to a live dribble which causes him to get beat. Jackson should be a major contributor for the Owls as a freshman.

Xavier Martin PG (5-9, 155)
Junior, Miranar, Fla. / Miramar

Martin is small but a very complete lead guard. He is cat quick. Martin pushes the ball in transition on the dribble or by passing ahead to a wing sprinting the lane. He has a low and tight handle and beats pressure with ease. Martin can get into the lane in the blink of an eye to shoot his floater or to draw and kick to an open shooter spotting up on the arc. Making the open 3 is not a problem for Martin; he elevates and shoots it with confidence. Martin is fearless and competes the entire game. He plays with great energy and pace and is the leader of his team. Martin can change speeds and set up the offense effectively. He needs to add strength but is stronger than he looks. Martin takes good care of the ball and plays major minutes every game. On defense, he is a major disrupter. He applies extreme ball pressure, has quick hands and uses great lateral foot speed to beat the offensive player to the spot.

Surprise Players

Martavious Irving SG (6-2, 195)
Senior, Lauderdale Lakes, Fl. / Boyd Anderson, 86/MM

This strong, physical guard has an NFL body. He sprints the lane in transition and can get to the rim or spot up for the open 3. He is a streaky shooter from behind the arc, but when his feet are set he can make you pay. Irving can drive both ways, but he seems to favor the right side of the floor. He attacks the basket with a baseline drive or midrange pull-up -- if the spot-up 3 is not available. He drives and finishes through contact with ease because of his tremendous strength. If the on-ball defender is not in position, he will be knocked out of the play. Irving is a great on-ball defender who possess excellent lateral foot speed and quickness. He uses his body well to knock weaker players off the ball when they meet body to body and is capable of defending all three perimeter positions. Irving plays with good energy and passion on both ends of the floor.

Justin Jackson PF (6-7, 200)
Junior, Monteverde, Fla. / Montverde Academy

Jackson has continued to show steady improvement and looks to be playing with confidence. He has always played hard with great energy and now his skill has taken another step forward. Jackson can make plays off the dribble both ways. He likes to attack the baseline going to his left and his midrange jumper looks much smoother -- although he must continue to work toward extending his range. His elevation is the same, but his release and follow-through have noticeably improved. In transition, Jackson outruns other forwards for uncontested layups and can finish above the rim with authority. His passion for the game and to compete helps him be a good defensive rebound and a great offensive rebounder. He repeatedly got his hands on the ball throughout the game and the result usually was a put-back basket. Jackson is difficult to box out because he never stops moving. He can gain control of loose balls and rebounds simply because his tremendous effort and desire to want the ball. On the defensive end, he can block shots but must gain strength to have consistent success defending in the lane and learn not to crowd a live dribble which can result in him getting beat on the drive. Jackson has great upside, and if he continues to improve, his recruiting will sky rocket.

Quincy Miller PF (6-8, 190)
Sophomore, Winston Salem, NC. / Quality Education Academy

This long, thin forward has a tremendous motor. He plays with high energy and is active the entire game. He runs the floor relentlessly with extra long strides. He makes his presence felt on the offensive glass. Miller does a great job keeping the ball alive in and out of his area. He scored on tips or by rebounding and powering back up. Miller can shoot the 12-15 foot jumper off the catch in the lane or when trailing in transition when he has time and space. His shot clearly needs some work; it is flat and has a low release. At times, he wills the ball in the basket with his effort and emotional play. His lack of strength hinders him from finishing plays, but he should solve that problem as he get's older and more experienced. He also displayed great hands when he received drop-off passes created by guard penetration. Miller showed he was a good interior passer. He feed the other inside player from the high post with excellent touch on the ball. Defensively, Miller can block shots on the ball or coming from the weakside. He also uses his length in the post by putting his hands up and holding his position. Miller is a work in progress and has a great upside.

Bryan Bynes SG (6-3,170)
Senior, Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. / Boyd Anderson
Bynes can provide highlights in transition. He sprints the wing and will finish over defenders as he attacks the rim with great speed and explosiveness. Bynes is very thin and will need to add strength, but he is stronger than he looks. He is wiry and has the ability drive and slash both ways to the rim although he seems to like going left. Bynes has a nice midrange pull up jumper. He has great elevation and a smooth release. From behind the arc, Bynes can knock down the open 3 when he has his feet set, but he is still considered streaky. He is a good ball handler and decent passer. He can beat his man with a quick first step and can find the open man when he draws a crowd in the lane. His long arms and athletic ability help him keep the ball alive and get it back on the rim. Defensively, he has excellent foot speed when defending the ball and quick hands to keep the ballhandler at bay. Bynes plays with urgency and can make winning plays late in the game.

Travis Elliott PF/C (6-8, 230)
Junior, Lauderdale, Lakes, Fla. / Boyd Anderson

This strong and physical post player is very productive. He runs the floor the entire game and can finish drop-off passes through contact with ease. He posts up strong in the half court and takes his time before using his strength and great balance to make his post move. On the right side of the lane, he likes to shoot the turn-around jumper to the middle. He elevates over defenders and has a great touch at the top of his jump. Elliott will also quick spin when he feels the defender is too close. He is a good passer out of the post when doubled or feels he can't get of a high percentage shot. His passes out to the post feeder or across to the weak side are sharp and crisp. Elliott is a terrific offensive rebounder. He competes for rebounds in a crowd and he can be counted on for a couple put-back baskets each game. On defense, he covers ground well and works to keep the ball out of the post. Elliott is a blue-collar player who can finish on a consistent basis. He must work to improve his ball handling skills, but he has a tremendous upside and should be a hot recruit in South Florida.

Marvin Baynham PF (6-7, 195)
Junior, Miami / Norland

This long and active power forward plays with tremendous effort. He must add strength; he is wiry. Baynham is an above the rim finisher in transition and when he receives drop-off passes in the lane. Baynham also scores in the lane with a jump hook over his left shoulder and quick drops steps. A relentless rebounder on both ends, Baynham uses his quickness and length to beat opponents to the ball and provide his team with a couple put back baskets each game. He has a knack to draw fouls because of his aggressive style of play and has a nice stroke from the free-throw line. Baynham does a great job working to get open. When posting, Baynhan makes him a great target. He is always moving and providing the passer with a target hand. Baynham maintains contact with the defender until the ball is passed and he releases to gain possession. On defense, he plays with great urgency, which makes him a terrific post defender. Baynham works to push him man out the lane and in the deep post, and he understands how to use his quickness to release and full front. He also is a good weakside shot-blocker. Timing and the ability to cover ground is something Baynham does naturally. Baynham must work to expand his game out on the perimeter, but this workhorse has tremendous upside.

Notes

• 2009 SG/PG Jason Calliste (Winston Salem, N.C./ Quality Education Academy) is a smooth combination guard who can rebound and push the ball on the pass or the dribble and run the half court offense. He is a good ball handler and passer in traffic. Calliste can draw a second defender and kick to an open teammate. He also knocks down the open 3 with regularity. Calliste is steady, plays under control and is very productive on the perimeter.

• 2010 prospect SG Sam Mills (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons) is extremely quick off the dribble. He can get to the rim at will with his crossover and inside out dribble moves. Mills does a great job using the jump stop to avoid charges. He also can drive, slash and kick. Mills is a good athlete but must work on his perimeter jumper to take his game to the next level.

• 2009 SG/PG Robert Berger (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./ Dillard) is a very well-rounded player. Berger is a good ball handler and passer, which allow him to earn time at the point although it is not his true position. He makes open 3s and works hand defending the ball. He is steady and is capable of scoring big numbers.

• Six-foot-9-inch junior Javonte Reddick (Winston Salem, N.C./ Quality Education) can rebound on both ends of the floor with his excellent length and ability to jump over or around opponents for fast break starting boards or scoring tip ins. He has a good touch in the lane as well. Reddick has great upside and is one to watch.

• Six-foot-2-inch Damien Steadman (Winston Salem, N.C./ Quality Education) is a quick off the dribble point guard. He uses a variety of dribble moves to get by his defender. He is aggressive, plays with energy and can finish at the rim with either hand with excellent body control.

• Utah signee Jeremy Olson (Suwanne, Ga./ Collins Hill) runs the floor extremely well and can finish with excellent touch. The 6-10 center keeps the ball high away from the pesky guards. He has a nice left-handed jump hook and works hard to defend the post by using his body to push the opponent out of the lane and plays with his hands up. Olson is an above average athlete and a good-looking post prospect.

• Olson's teammate 6-6 senior SF Reed Buck is a very efficient player. He can shoot the three, put the ball on the floor, finish above the rim in transition and crashes the offensive glass. A pleasant surprise and could be a sleeper.

• Deerfield Beach (Fla.) has a terrific pair of wing players in senior SF/PF 6-6 Lonnie Robinson Jr. and 2010 prospect SG/SF 6-4 James Williams. Robinson is an above the rim finisher in transition and can make the open three when set. Williams is a good shooter with three point range.

• Miramar/ Fla. senior SG Ryan Weems made his presence felt with his ability to make open 3s. He spots up in transition and reads penetration in the half court.

Reggie Rankin is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. He was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton. He played at Ohio University from 1986-1990 and was an all-MAC first teamer his senior season.

Reggie Rankin

College Basketball Recruiting