Off-the-charts talent on display
Top-ranked 2012 prospect Andre Drummond dominates Day 2 of U-17 showcase
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Day 2 of the U-17 AAU Super Showcase saw an increase in the overall intensity as the tournament brackets began to take shape, with a number of close or overtime games rounding out pool play. The top-ranked player in the ESPNU Super 60, center Andre Drummond (Middletown, Conn./St. Thomas More) dominated on the floor with his off-the-charts size and talent.
2012, C, 6-11, 275 pounds | AAU Team: Connecticut Basketball Club
His size, athletic ability, mobility and ball skills for a player his size is amazing. Drummond runs effortlessly with long strides and finishes with power dunks. He is also a threat to grab a defensive rebound and go coast to coast, like a perimeter player. He is also an impressive shot blocker and simply makes every offensive opponent go to plan B because of his lane presence. Overall, Drummond is a highlight waiting to happen on both ends of the floor.
Shane Larkin (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips)
2011, PG, 5-11, 160 pounds
AAU Team: Showtime Ballers
Larkin made plays on the offensive end of the floor, creating opportunities for himself in addition to penetrating and kicking to open teammates once he drew help defenders deep into the lane. He pushed the ball on the break and displayed the ability to put the lob pass on the money. Larkin broke pressure with his great burst of speed and quickness and did a good job of taking care of the basketball when he wasn't finishing at the rim, hitting runners in the lane or making his open 3s. Larkin competed every second he was on the floor and led his team by example. He says he is getting recruited by George Mason, Alabama, South Florida, Florida State and UCLA.
Stevie Taylor (Gahanna, Ohio/Lincoln)
2011, PG, 5-9, 150 pounds
AAU Team: All Ohio Red
Taylor is a flat-out scorer from the point position who never let his defender take a possession off. He has a passion for the game and plays with great energy and urgency every time he steps onto the floor. He knocks down 3s on the break and in half-court sets. Plus, he can get on a role and make the opposing coach take a timeout. Taylor can make plays off the on-ball screen and can locate an open teammate with his court vision. Don't let the size fool you; he will attack the rim and finish with great touch and body control. Right now, Taylor's list includes Ohio, Richmond, Toledo, Providence, UNC-Wilmington and Tulane.
(Greensboro, N.C./Oak Ridge Military Academy)
2011, PF, 6-7, 200 pounds
AAU Team: CP3 All-Stars
When it comes to playing above the rim, Lawson is at the top of the list. The undersized power forward is as athletic as they come. He excels on the break where he will dunk the ball in or out of traffic. Any clear paths from the low-wing area in the half court set and he will posterize a late-help-side defender. Lawson rebounds at rim level on both ends and is very capable of defending multiple positions. He must work to hone his skills, but this young man positively affects the game with his athletic ability.
Player to watch
Aaron Thomas (Cincinnati/Aiken)
2011, SF, 6-5, 195 pounds
AAU Team: Queen City Prophets
Thomas is an athletic wing who has a great feel for the game on the offensive end and can get buckets in a hurry. He excels on the break and in the half court, where he is a powerful driver and slasher. Thomas can finish through contact at the rim with either hand as well. When he gets into a rhythm, he can take over the game. He can hit 3s with time and space, but is still a little streaky around the perimeter. When he is not scoring, he remained patient and picked his spots. This kid has had a terrific showcase and is one the watch down the stretch of July's evaluation period. Purdue, Iowa, Indiana, Dayton and Xavier have been keeping a close eye on Thomas.
• Western Kentucky commit 6-3 shooting guard Derrick Gordon (Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick) can put the ball in the basket from beyond the arc, which complements an impressive mid-range game. Gordon can also get to the rim on the break and finish.
• The Mississippi Rebels have a commitment from 6-7 small forward Tyler Poole (Hickory, N.C./Hickory), who can score inside by completing strong drives and out past the arc with a nice stroke. He has the size and skill to demand special attention from opposing defenses.
• Undersized power forward George Fant (Bowling Green, Ky./Warren Central) is a tough, physical rebounder and finisher. At 6-6, his consistent effort and urgency has made him become a force to be reckoned with in the lane for All Ohio Red.
Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton. He played at Ohio University from 1986 to '90 and was an All-MAC first-teamer in his senior season. Paul Biancardi contributed to this piece.