- Reggie Rankin, RecruitingNation
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- As pool play concluded and the playoffs began at the AAU 17 Super Showcase, a big-time performance was turned in by super-talented class of 2011 combo guard Austin Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.), who controlled the game for Each One Teach One with his ability to score, handle the ball and pass. We also located a diamond in the rough in 2011 center Willie Kouassi (Miami/Center of Life Academy). This young, 6-foot-10 post runs like a deer, finishes above the rim and blocks shots on a consistent basis for Team Breakdown.
Rivers has established himself as one of the best long-range shooters regardless of class. He has great confidence in himself to take and make 3s if given just a little time and space. Rivers likes a rhythm dribble into his shot and possesses a fairly quick trigger that comes from countless hours in the gym working on game shots from game spots at game speed. What's equally impressive is his floater when he gets in the paint, something that is an advanced skill for most high school and even college players. It separates him at an early age.
Rivers is now driving the ball to the basket with a good change of speed and with a burst of speed as he gets closer to the rim. He shows tremendous savvy on the floor with his ability to score and make the assist when needed. He continues to improve through a strong work ethic, which he needs as he becomes more of a household name. Florida coach Billy Donovan and his staff have a great one on the horizon in Rivers.
Kouassi (Miami/Center of Life Academy) is an active and mobile post who plays with urgency the entire time he is on the floor. His strengths at this stage are his ability to sprint the floor, rebound with authority on both ends in and out of his area and finish drop-off passes above the rim in traffic. On the defensive end, Kouassi is an excellent shot-blocker on the ball or coming from the weak side. He possesses great length and timing. At about 215 pounds he needs to add strength but makes up for it with quickness around the basket. His hands are good, but his skill package needs immediate attention. Once he adds a back-to-the-basket move and counter moves, and also improves his ballhandling, this young post will take his game to the next level. It should be fun watching Kouassi develop.
• Andre Drummond (6-10, 225; Oakdale, Conn./St. Thomas More) -- A long and athletic post player, Drummond recently reclassified from the 2011 class and might now be the best prospect in 2012. He runs the floor very well, often taking dishes on the fast break for easy dunks. He has some work to do offensively but he can face up to 12 feet and hit jump shots. He has no real back-to-the-basket game right now, but it is still early in his career. We fully expect him to develop before he graduates.
Drummond is a good rebounder, as well. He has solid hands and feet, which are a definite prerequisite for good big men. Add in the fact he is an exceptional shot-blocker and it's easy to see why he is among the top players in the 2012 class. His transfer to St. Thomas More should definitely help him because he will face much better competition on a nightly basis.
• Kyrie Irving (6-1, 165; Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick) -- Irving is a smooth and multiskilled scoring point guard from the 2010 class. He led his team to an upset of the powerful All-Ohio Red team in pool play at the Super Showcase. He is an excellent scorer and is great off the bounce, where he can use his skilled dribble to create for himself and others. He is a very good shooter with range to 22 feet. He is also a very good finisher once he gets in the paint. Kyrie is a decent defender, as well. He has a solid build with nice length and solid athletic ability. In time he should be more than solid on the defensive end.
• Keon Moore (6-3, 165; Windsor, N.C./Bertie) -- Moore is a newfound shooter in the 2011 class who drilled five 3-pointers in the game Scouts Inc. watched. He scored mostly off the catch-and-shoot and showed range to 22 feet. He also showed he is not only a shooter, but a skilled driver who can score some off the bounce. He was average defensively but he possesses solid size and athletic ability and should be a solid defender in time. Moore would be a sleeper right now but is starting to awaken.
Reggie Rankin covers basketball recruiting for ESPN Scouts Inc. John Stovall also contributed to this report.