Top underclassmen shine for USA


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Coach Don Showalter of Wellman (Iowa) Mid-Prairie High School, who has produced gold medal finishes at the 2009 FIBA Americas U-16 Championship and the 2010 FIBA U-17 World Championship, directed the 2010 USA Developmental National Team mini-camp that featured 14 top sophomores and 19 top freshmen at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

The outstanding play of SF Aaron Gordon (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty), C Jahlil Okafor (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) and PF Jonathan Williams III (Memphis, Tenn./Southwind) all had dominant performances and separated themselves from the deep pool of talented, young players.

Standout players

Aaron Gordon

2013, SF, 6-foot-6, 210 pounds

The long, active forward ran the floor well and finished above the rim with authority. Gordon attacked the basket from a variety of angles, hit open mid-range jumpers and when his jumper becomes more consistent watch out. Gordon also rebounds and blocks shots in and out of his area, has a great motor and plays with urgency. He has Stanford, Washington, Kansas, Arizona and Arizona State on his early list.

Jahlil Okafor

2014, C, 6-8, 253 pounds

Okafor can flat-out score in the low post. Whenever he had a foot in the lane he either scored, got fouled or both. He has excellent touch and feel around the basket and loves to spin into his moves, when he's not using his big body to power the ball to the rim through contact. Okafor displayed good hands and rebounded everything in his area. He must get in better shape in order to run the floor more consistently, but the true post is a load to handle in the lane. Okafor already has offers from Illinois, DePaul and Michigan State.

Johnathan Williams

2013, PF, 6-9, 203 pounds

The long, athletic lefty is a combination forward supreme. He is very active and terrific at defensive rebounding, as well as starting the break. Williams also ran the floor like a deer and finished above the rim in traffic on the break or off quick baseline slashes. He can also face and hit open mid-range jumpers with range to the arc, but he must work to make that shot a consistent weapon. He blocks shots in and out of his area as well. So far Williams likes Memphis, Tennessee, Georgetown and Texas.

Jordan Swopshire (O'Fallon, Ill./Fort Zumwalt West)

2013, SG, 6-5, 178 pounds

Swopshire is a long-armed wing who can make deep jumpers on a consistent basis. He spots up on the break and spaces on the side of dribble penetration. He will size up his defenders and if their hands are down, you can pretty much count it. Swopshire has great confidence in his stroke and he displayed the ability to pass the ball when he drew a second defender. He must continue to build his game skills wise, but he is a shot-maker who can get hot quickly. Swopshire has offers from Arizona, Florida, Notre Dame and Marquette.

Anton Beard (Little Rock, Ark./Parkview Magnet)

2014, PG, 5-9, 185 pounds

Beard is a strong lefty lead guard who can make shots, finish in the lane with great body control, as well as draw and kick to open teammates. He made rhythm dribble pull-up jumpers with range to the arc and a smooth, confident release. Beard ran the offense and continually held my attention with his ability to make scoring plays. He is more of a shoot-first point guard, but that works out just fine when you are making them like Beard does.

Theo Pinson (Greensboro, N.C./Oak Ridge Military Academy)

2014, SF, 6-5, 170 pounds

Pinson has super athletic ability and runs the floor extremely well. He is a lob-catcher on the break and looked to dunk whenever he had a clear path to the rim. Pinson also attacked the offensive glass on a regular basis and is a tip-dunk threat if he's not boxed out aggressively. He handled and passed pretty well, especially in the open court, and has a floater in the lane, but is a streaky shooter with range to the arc. He is also capable of defending both wing positions. Pinson's early list includes Purdue, Clemson, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Tennessee.

Larry Austin (Springfield, Ill./Lanphier)

2014, PG, 6-1, 160 pounds

Austin was aggressive on every catch and got to the rim at will thanks to his ability to handle the ball and finish in traffic. He is a tough lead guard who competes, breaks defensive ball pressure and can get the ball to open teammates thanks to his great court vision when he penetrates and kicks or drops off. He even finished one fast break above the rim. Austin also hit mid-range jumpers but must improve his consistency. The youngster plays with energy and urgency on every possession. Austin has heard from Illinois, Michigan State, Arizona, Purdue, Virginia, Florida State and Indiana.

Players to watch

Dakari Johnson (Brooklyn, N.Y./St. Patrick)

2014, C, 6-9, 235 pounds

Kentucky, Louisville, Xavier and Virgina Tech already have made the big-bodied post a top priority. Johnson is a big-time area rebounder on both ends and plays very unselfish. He scores with power drop steps through contact and is a good, willing interior passer. As his conditioning improves, so will his explosiveness and he has off-the-charts upside.

Kadeem Lattin (Houston, Texas/Second Baptist)

2014, PF, 6-8, 180 pounds

Lattin is an extra long combo forward who runs the floor like a gazelle. He has a good motor with matching basketball IQ. He finishes above the rim with ease and can handle the ball good enough to be an effective straight-line driver. Plus, he can hit the open mid-range jumper with time and space. He must add strength and improve his back-to-the-basket moves, but on defense he blocks and changes shots. The youngster has huge upside and Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Memphis and Houston have already taken notice.

Surprise player

Parker Cartwright (Valley Glen, Calif./Loyola)

2014, PG, 5-8, 125 pounds

The smallest player at the camp was a fearless competitor. Cartwright is a true point guard with good speed and quickness with the ball, as well as a terrific basketball IQ and feel for the game. He drew multiple defenders with his penetration and hit the open man on drop-off passes or kick outs. However, what was most impressive is that Cartwright knocked down open jumpers on a consistent basis when the defense backed away with range to the arc.


Class of 2014 wing Stanley Johnson (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) is strong and physical with a good basketball IQ. He makes goods decision with ball when he attacks the defense, is a good mid-range scorer and passer. He does the little things that help his team win. Johnson is going to have the Pac-10 schools all over him.

Class of 2013 SF Jabari Parker (Chicago, Ill./Simeon) was productive, consistent and continued to impress with his skill and feel for the game.

Class of 2013 SF Malik Price-Martin (Miami Gardens, Fla./Monsignor Edward Pace) displayed off-the-charts athletic ability. He is a lob-catcher, drop-off finisher and rim-level rebounder who blocks and changes shots. Louisville, South Carolina, Miami, Kansas State and Clemson are all on Price-

Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton. He played at Ohio University from 1986 to 1990 and was an All-MAC first-teamer in his senior season.