Jones shows pro-level skills
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- The Big Shots I event was comprised of 125 teams predominantly from the Southeast and Texas. Big Shots II will follow with 150 teams. Big Shots president Jeff Schneider, a former longtime Division I assistant and head coach at Cal Poly, and vice president Kevin Schneider conducted the event this past weekend at Socastee High School in Myrtle Beach, S.C. College coaches watched talented players, some with a national reputation and some without, compete and perform. This event was ideal for discovering talented players without national rankings. Let's take a look at some established players in the ESPNU rankings and some who might someday find their way in. The winner of the U-17 Gold Division was Team Takeover (Washington D.C.). The U-16 Gold Division winner was the West Virginia Wildcats. Florida Elite brought home the trophy in the U-15 division.
Standout playerPerry Jones (Duncanville, Texas) was on a tear in Myrtle Beach. Jones performed at a high level at the LeBron James skills camp last week and continued to dominate the opposition at both ends of the floor at Big Shots. Jones possesses an extremely high skill level, which includes the ability to consistently knock down the midrange jump shot and the confidence to attack the basket and score from the perimeter. What stands out about this young man is his vision and ability to pass the ball to open teammates. Defensively, he is a game changer. He blocks shots on a consistent basis, and when he secures a rebound on the defensive end, he can take it and run the fast break. He needs to make simple plays with the ball and not get out of control. Presently, he is a power forward, but there is no doubt that as he works on his 3-point shooting and his left hand, this Baylor commit will be a bona fide small forward at the collegiate level.
Surprise playerPapa Samba Ndao (Dallas/Montverde Academy), a 2010 prospect, was outstanding throughout the two-day event. The 6-foot-8 wing took the ball strong to the basket, used his speed to score easily in transition and played with explosion on both ends of the floor. Samba Ndao is a smooth operator who uses a quick first step to beat his man off the dribble and get to the basket. He is an excellent on-ball defender, is difficult to break down off the dribble and, with his length, is hard to get shots over. He pursues the basketball when the shot goes up, corrals the rebound and starts the fast break.
A pair of leftiesReco McCarter (Goldsboro, N.C./Wayne Country Day) is a long, wiry, strong southpaw small forward who can score in a variety of ways. McCarter handles the ball with efficiency; he loves the cross-over dribble and hesitation dribble when attacking the defender, and gets to the basket and finishes with good success. In transition, he finishes above the rim while using his athletic ability to dunk over defenders. He exhibits good body control on his way to the rim with a smooth pull-up jumper. Defensively, he uses his length to contest shots and level off the drive. McCarter scores efficiently and has the ability to put points on the board quickly.
Jeremy Jeffers (Greenfield/Wilson, N.C.) also proved to be a stellar southpaw. He is a small forward with range and accuracy on his 3-point shot. Also impressive is his ability to get in the lane and pull up for a jump shot. He will drive to the basket, get in the paint and score or make the proper kick-out pass. He plays with high energy, is active and is an opportunistic offensive player who looks for ways to score, including hitting the offensive glass for second-chance points. On the defensive end, he plays smart position defense on the ball and uses his 6-6 frame to his advantage. He is an excellent student, and his passion for the game shines on the court.
High energyAntonio Hall (Alachua, Fla./Gainesville) is an aggressive, attacking small forward who gets to the rim and can finish through contact. He makes the open perimeter jump shot when he has his feet set and a clean look. He handles the ball on the break and in the half court with his head up and a purpose. He demonstrates a skill for passing to open teammates when he penetrates. Hall plays the game with a high motor on the offensive end. He does a good job but needs to do a better job rebounding the ball.
SharpshooterDaniel Alexander (Dripping Springs, Texas) is a great catch-and-shoot player. At 6-8, he has ideal size for a perimeter player. Alexander is at his best when playing pick-and-pop, two-man basketball. Alexander possesses a quick trigger from the perimeter, and shoots with great confidence and focus. He has the perfect shooter's mentality: He will continue to shoot whenever open, regardless of the result. Alexander is an efficient offensive player who takes advantage of his defender's lapses in concentration to get the shot off or to beat him down the floor in transition.
Big impactStephon Smith (Dallas/Woodrow Wilson) has an NBA body: He is extremely strong and powerful, with long arms and broad shoulders. He plays the game with high energy and great intensity. He is a powerful player on the blocks and possesses good hands. He can catch and score in the post using his power and athleticism against defenders. The bulk of his points are on putbacks off offensive rebounds or on dump-off passes from his teammates' penetration. He is a monster on the backboards on both ends and rebounds out of his area. On the defensive end, he is alert and active, and can defend a power forward or center because of his toughness and disposition.
A fresh faceTyler Lewis (Statesville, N.C./Forsyth Country Day), a 2012 prospect, is the epitome of a pure point guard. What is remarkable about this young player is his ability to handle a fast break with poise, patience and the extraordinary skill to find an open teammate and deliver the ball on time and on target. As he creates for his teammates, Lewis possesses a knack for finding scoring opportunities for himself. He can shoot the open 3, has a sweet midrange game and knows when to go all the way to the basket or dump off at a moment's notice. He needs to get stronger to enhance his overall game, especially when guarding the ball in an effort to keep his man out of the lane. His basketball IQ is off the charts. What makes him special is his instinct to make big shots and plays when the game is on the line.
Kevin Brooks contributed to this report.
Paul Biancardi, who spent 2007-08 as an assistant coach on Rick Majerus' staff at Saint Louis University, is the national recruiting director for ESPN Scouts Inc. He has 18 years of coaching experience at the Division I level. He was an assistant at Boston University, Boston College and Ohio State before becoming the head coach at Wright State, where he earned Horizon League Coach of the Year honors in the 2003-04 season. He is on the selection committees for the Gatorade National Player of the Year award and the McDonald's All-American Game.