- Adam Finkelstein
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THOMPSON, Conn. -- The Hoop Mountain Prep Classic spanned the course of four days and featured a deep collection of talent from as far north as Canada and as far south as Florida. In total, 26 teams took the court before the action came to an end. This was undoubtedly the most talent-laden field in the event's six-year history.
Kelvin Amayo (Riverside, N.J./Nia Prep)
2011, SG, 6-foot-4, 210 pounds
Amayo continued his recent string of strong play this weekend, pouring in 37 points against the Kiski School (Youngstown, Ohio) on Saturday, including 24 in the first half. An incredibly powerful perimeter player, Amayo causes huge matchup problems, as opposing guards bounce off him on both ends of the floor, and he can facilitate for others, too. He is at his best in the open floor. He attacks the rim running downhill, while able to change his speed and direction with inside-out moves to both sides. He has a full assortment of counter moves inside the paint with pro hops, Euro-steps and spins. The only possible knock on Amayo's performance was that he didn't incorporate his jumper, but it's hard to fault him for attacking the defense and taking the highest-percentage shot possible.
Casey Carroll (Youngstown, Ohio/Kiski School)
2011, PF, 6-8, 200 pounds
Carroll was the focal point of his team's offensive attack. Long with a cut physique, Carroll is a skilled inside-out scorer with range to 22 feet. He can make shots off the catch or the dribble and can seal and score around the rim with good dexterity. He moved well for a player his size, showing some deceptive bounce and developing strength with toughness inside the paint. Although skilled on the perimeter, Carroll projects as a face-up four at the next level because of his inability to defend the perimeter on a consistent basis.
Kareem Canty (Lexington, N.Y./Bridgton Academy)
2012, PG, 6-0, 175 pounds
With his team struggling to score, Canty was forced to shoulder the majority of the offensive load on Sunday. He demonstrated the full gamut of his offensive repertoire, being a blur with the ball in the open floor, weaving his way through defenders, masterfully changing speeds and direction in attack mode and finishing plays around the rim with dexterity and body control. While not a pure shooter, Canty is a volume shot-maker off the dribble and made several tough pull-ups late in the shot clock to bail his team out. Defensively, he has the quickness, toughness and core strength to pressure the ball the entire length of the floor.
Ricardo Ledo (Providence, R.I./South Kent School)
2012, SG, 6-6, 185 pounds
Ledo rebounded from a poor first outing on Friday night to turn in an efficient encore on Sunday. He is a pure scorer who can put the ball in the basket from all over the floor. His Achilles heels have traditionally been his jumper and decision-making, but he turned both of those areas into strengths on Sunday. He established his jumper early with four first-half 3-pointers (including two from NBA range) and passed the ball extremely well off the dribble, at the end of drives to the rim and coming off the ball screen. At this point in his career, there isn't much Ledo lacks from a talent standpoint, but the next step in his development will come when he learns how to read the defense and put his versatility to work to become more consistently efficient.
Players to watch
Chris McCullough (New York, N.Y./Salisbury School)
2014, PF, 6-8, 195 pounds
McCullough is a reclassified freshman forward who is long, mobile and extremely athletic. He runs and jumps with ease, gets his head on the rim with quick bounce and has an emerging face-up skill set. He handles the ball with great poise for a young big man, showing an ability to be a trail ball handler against pressure and face up to create his own shot in the half-court set. He is active on the offensive glass, runs in transition and has a developing touch from the free throw line.
Samuel Dingba (Cameroon/Salisbury School)
2013, PF, 6-6, 210 pounds
Dingba recently arrived from Cameroon and shows tremendous physical tools. He has good size and great length, and he possesses a naturally-strong upper body and thick frame and maximizes those tools by showing no hesitation to play through contact in the paint. He has good hands and great feet for a young big man, running the court with long fluid strides and making agile changes in direction with a soft touch and range to 15 feet. While his ball skills and feel for the game are raw, Dingba has high upside with his rare combination of physical gifts.
• Jerel Scott (Albany, N.Y./Worcester Academy) had two solid performances this weekend. A high-level athlete with a terrific length and a tremendous frame, he is as good a physical prospect as you will find.
• While Wilbraham & Monson Academy (Wilbraham, Mass.) is known for the strength of its frontcourt, it was the backcourt of Jaylen Brantley (Springfield, Mass.) and Andrej Pajovic (Montenegro) that came up big in a win over Brimmer and May School (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) on Sunday. The point guard tandem showed composure making decisions against pressure, knocked down a series of big shots from the perimeter and made timely plays on the defensive end.
• Quinnipiac assistant coach Scott Burrell was in the stands on Sunday and didn't leave disappointed, as both Bobcats commits played at an extremey-high level. Ousmane Drame (Boston/Marianapolis Prep) showed terrific potential in the post as a highly-skilled southpaw, while Zaid Hearst (Baltimore/Salisbury) is one of the most physically-tough players you will find. He is a volume scorer and excellent perimeter defender.
• Given the lack of available big men still on the board, Ryan Rhoomes (Middletown, N.Y./Nia Prep) and Nemenja Djurisic (Montenegro/South Kent) are both must-see prospects for programs still in search of a post. Rhoomes has a powerful build, good hands and feet, and a high upside if he is ever able to put his tools together on a consistent basis. Djurisic is a physical post who combines a crafty skill set with a tremendous feel for the game.
Adam Finkelstein has been a coach or scout at the high school, college and pro levels. He was an assistant coach in Division I by the age of 24 and worked as a scout for Marty Blake, the NBA's director of scouting.