<
>

State Farm Tourney of Champions recap

11/30/2009

WASHINGTON, Ill. -- A diverse and extremely talented group of high school programs comprised the field of teams at the State Farm Tournament of Champions. Tournament director Shawn Powell brought in a mix of top national teams, out-of-state powers and strong local squads for the event's four separate brackets.

Findlay Prep (Nevada) -- one of the nation's elite programs -- held off challenges by equally athletic teams Quality Education Academy (North Carolina) and Brehm Prep (Illinois) in the Team Works National Classic division. Lake Forest Academy (Illinois) won the National City Invitational and O'Fallon (Illinois) outlasted the competition in the Methodist Medical Center Invitational, including runner-up Hall (Arkansas) in a thrilling double-overtime championship game. Entertainment value aside, more than 60 established top prospects, rising stars, promising underclassmen and previously unknown players made names for themselves over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Standout players

Quincy Miller, SF/PF, (6-9, 195)
2011, Winston-Salem, N.C./Quality Education
Still recovering from a preseason wrist injury, Miller began the tournament by focusing on his inside scoring. He was impressive in Quality Education's first two games (both wins) as a mobile post-up threat and explosive inside finisher, as well as a proficient rebounder and defensive presence. However, it was evident that his long-range shooting and ballhandling were both a bit rusty. That all changed against Findlay, as the slender junior rose to the occasion in his marquee matchup with the No. 11 overall player in the Class of 2010, Tristan Thompson (Brampton, Ontario/Findlay College Prep). Miller displayed his full potential as an inside-outside threat, handling the ball from end to end, knocking deep and clutch jumpers, finishing with great toughness and explosion. He appeared to be the most dangerous, versatile player on the court while carrying his team.

Cory Joseph, PG/SG, (6-3,190)
2010, Henderson, Nev./Findlay
If Miller was the event's top prospect, Joseph certainly wasn't far behind. He even garnered MVP honors for his division. The attacking lead guard simply couldn't be stopped, as his jumper was falling from everywhere, contested or not. Joseph did a tremendous job scoring in transition by pushing the pace and getting to the rim when he had the ball, or either spotting up for an open shot or filling the lane to finish plays. In the half court, he used screens to create space to shoot from deep or penetrated to get off his deadly floater. His size also allowed him to finish in the paint, contribute as a rebounder and pose problems for smaller point guards on the defensive end.

Dwight Powell, PF, (6-10, 225)
2010, Toronto, Ontario/ IMG

Although Powell's squad was disappointing (two of its best players were out with injuries), the Stanford signee was extremely impressive and gave a good effort every time he played. Known as a face-up big man, Powell lived up to that reputation by hitting shots from beyond the arc and operating as a playmaker from the high post. In addition, he showcased his versatility by handling the ball in transition and functioning as a point forward at times. However, he displayed more of an aggressive mentality by looking to drive to the hole and back down his man for aggressive finishes at the rim or quick post moves on the low block. He maximized his length and athleticism to be a major force on the glass and in the paint on defense, showing he can blend his finesse and skills with some rugged play.

David Rivers, SF, (6-6, 180)
2011, Little Rock, Ark./Hall

The versatile swingman made a strong impression with his high skill level and toughness. Long and athletic, his strength as a scorer is shooting pull-up jumpers off the dribble and getting to the basket for strong finishes or drawing fouls. Despite his slender frame, Rivers plays well through contact and is able to create his own shot with his smooth ballhandling and solid footwork on the wing. He is also capable knocking down shots from distance, creating for others with his playmaking ability and leading or finishing the break. His length and high level of activity also allow him to be a tough rebounder and defender. He will need to add strength, but all the tools are there for him to continue his development as a top all-around wing prospect.

Bruce Barron, PG, (6-2, 205)
2011, Carbondale, Ill./Brehm

A stocky lead guard, Barron's motor and toughness define his game. While his shot selection could be more judicious, Barron is a streaky shooter with great range and the ability to get hot from deep. He's a shifty ballhandler with tremendous burst who gets into the lane at will and finishes with acrobatic moves or high-arching floaters. He also can use his big body to post up smaller guards. He's a terror in transition and his court vision makes him a good playmaker. Defensively, his size and quickness make it possible for him to guard either backcourt position and he's a solid rebounder for his size. However, it's all-out hustle and intense competitiveness that make him so valuable, regardless of who he's matched up against, as he showed here when faced with the challenge of covering Joseph.

Surprise players

Willie Wiley, PF, (6-6, 190)
2012, Springfield, Ill./Springfield

He is a developing prospect with a high ceiling. An absolute rebounding machine on both ends of the court, Wiley has excellent fundamentals for a young big man. While he's still growing into his body, he's a determined, athletic and strong finisher, who sprints the floor on every possession and fights for position. He has solid post moves, good touch on his jumper out to 15 feet and is a decent ballhandler to face up slower big men and drive by them with his quickness. Defensively, he can guard all three frontcourt positions and uses his length and timing to block or alter shots.

Notes

• While two of the event's headliners -- junior Mike Shaw (Chicago/ De La Salle) and Oklahoma signee Cameron Clark (Sherman, Texas/ Sherman) struggled (in fairness, Shaw suffered a wrist injury in his first game and Clark was without two of his best teammates) -- others rose to the occasion. Junior Roosevelt Jones (O'Fallon, Ill./ O'Fallon) was one, as the stocky and versatile guard carried his team by doing a little bit of everything: handling the ball, hitting the boards, defending a variety of players and making clutch shots.

• Sophomore sensation DeJuan Marrero (Gary, Ind./ Bowman Academy) played only one game, but left a strong impression with his physical and athletic play in the paint on both ends of the floor, tough defense, transition ballhandling, court vision, advanced finishing ability, all-around floor game and mature approach.

• A pair of St. Louis area programs, Soldan and Hazlewood Central each had some exciting young prospects to keep an eye on down the road. Hall, from Little Rock, also had an intriguing group of athletes, who played a physical, intense and defensive-minded style.

Juan Anderson, a 6-5 junior out of Castro Valley, has that prototypical wing frame, but his game is rough around the edges. He has a nice feel for the game (good passer), but he needs to tighten up his handle, polish his jump shot and get much stronger to be a Division I priority.

• Highly regarded Findlay junior guards Nick Johnson and Jabari Brown did nothing to hurt their respective status as top underclassmen. Brown was almost automatic from deep and Johnson displayed his developing playmaking abilities.

Javonte Reddick (Winston Salem, N.C./ Quality Education) should be a hot commodity among high-major programs in the spring. Reddic is athletic, has a nice frame, shoots the ball out to 15 feet, runs the floor, blocks shots and finishes strong around the basket.

Aggrey Sam, a freelance contributor to ESPN.com's basketball recruiting coverage, contributed to this report.