- Paul Biancardi, Basketball Recruiting
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Despite having the nation's No. 2 player in the country, Anthony Davis, Perspectives Charter School has struggled this season and will have its hands full in this Illinois showdown with Whitney Young, which is airing Thursday night on ESPNU at 5:00 p.m. ET.
Whitney Young is loaded this season, but ESPNU 100 SF Sam Thompson and ESPNU Terrific 25 PF Thomas Hamilton Jr. headline a deep and talented unit. Thompson, an Ohio State signee, is a fierce competitor with a ton of versatility. He has the talent and skill to play all three perimeter positions and be productive. He can score on the break by running the floor or by rebounding and leading the break, where he can get to the rim or draw and kick to an open teammate. Hamilton anchors the middle for Whitney Young and is a force inside thanks to his 6-foot-10, 255 pound frame. He has great hands, touch and feel around the basket, but what makes him truly dangerous is his passing and ability to knock down shots out to the 3-point line.
Unlike Whitney Young, Perspectives is a one-man show. Davis, a Kentucky signee, is an outstanding talent. He has improved his scoring moves off the dribble, can beat defenders attacking right or left and can knock down shots from deep. Defensively, he is an elite shot blocker with an unreal wingspan and terrific timing, he rebounds balls in and out of his area and is always a threat for an offensive put back worthy of a highlight reel. He fills up the box score so much that in his last game he came one block short of a quadruple-double with 32 points, 21 rebounds, 11 assists and nine blocks versus Juarez Academy (Ill.).
Thompson takes pride in defending his opponent's best player, but he will get plenty of helpside defense from his back line because Davis will be looking to score any time he gets a clean look.
Whitney Young's offense will try and play through the post because it has multiple players, other than Hamilton, capable of scoring or drawing a foul inside. Junior Jermaine Morgan (6-8, 220 pounds) is a long, wiry power forward with solid post moves, fellow junior Nate Brooks is always a high-energy player, while freshmen Jahlil Okafor and Paul White are solid coming off the bench as well.
On the perimeter, Thompson will be joined by North Carolina-Wilmington signee SG Luke Hager, who has shooting range out to beyond the arc and can easily shoot over most defenders at his position.
Due to all the size on the floor, look for both teams to play zone defenses. Perspectives may even start the game in a 2-3 zone and then switch to a 1-3-1 zone with Davis on the backside on free throws or after time outs.
Regardless, if Perspectives has any shot at the upset, Davis needs a lot of help from his teammates.
Paul Biancardi, who has been a head coach and assistant on NCAA tournament teams, is the national director of basketball recruiting. He is also one the voters for the McDonald's All-American Game and Gatorade Player of the Year. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.