UA Brandon Jennings Invitational recap
MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- The inaugural Under Armour Brandon Jennings Invitational, held at Milwaukee University High School, featured eight nationally ranked teams and a stellar field of players, including the top recruit in the country, SG Austin Rivers (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park).
Aaron Brown (Philadelphia, Pa./Penn Wood)
2011, SF, 6-5
The West Virginia-bound lefty wing is a straight-line power driver who can finish through contact or draw the foul. Brown will post smaller defenders, as well. He finishes above the rim on the break and from drop-off passes created by dribble penetration. Brown is also a good defensive rebounder who can start the break with a bust-out dribble, and he sprints in from the perimeter to get his share of putbacks. Defensively, Brown is capable of defending both wing positions because of his strength and athletic ability. He needs to work on his ballhandling and on his jumper, to make it more consistent, but the coach can always expect Brown to play with good energy, effort and toughness. He scored 21 points in the Penn Wood win over Crenshaw (Calif.).
Shaquille Stokes (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln)
2011, PG, 5-11
TCU, Iowa, Kent State, Colorado State and Hofstra are all on the aggressive point guard's list. Stokes pushes the ball at high speeds on the break and can finish well for his size in traffic. He is an excellent open-court passer and can find the open man in drive, draw and kick situations, although at times he can become charge-prone. He can hit midrange pull-ups and open 3s when he is in rhythm and has time to set, but he is streaky. Stokes can get in the lane at will and can make a play at end-of-clock situations, as well. Stokes is tough and competes, and although he needs to add strength, he is strong for his size. He can apply good ball pressure with his lateral foot speed and quick hands. Stokes scored 17 points in Lincoln's win over Menomonee Falls (Wis.).
J.P. Tokoto (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Menomonee)
2012, SF, 6-6
Tokoto displayed great explosion around the basket, where he can finish with touch and body control in traffic. He is a very athletic wing who knocks open midrange jumpers and 3s when he is in a groove, but his outside shooting is something he must continue to work on for it to be a consistent weapon. Tokoto excels in the open court and has a great burst of speed off the dribble as he heads toward the rim. He is quick along the baseline and has the ability to spin off the defender and score on either side of the basket. Tokoto was also a willing passer when he drew a second defender. He is long and wiry and must add strength, but his athletic ability and upside are worth getting very excited about. Tokoto scored 22 points in the loss to Lincoln. He is in the process of developing a final school list that will be loaded with high-major programs.
(Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park)
2011, SG, 6-4
Rivers scored 35 points in a hard-fought 81-79 overtime loss in which he hit a floater to tie the game in the closing seconds against a talented Boys and Girls squad. Rivers had to deal with double-teams and being denied the ball all the way out to half court at times. He was great at moving without the ball and making passes to open teammates, and at the same time he stayed aggressive and looked for his scoring spots. When needed, he created a shot or hit a deep 3 with a contesting hand close by. Rivers' toughness and swagger were on full display.
Shakir Brown (Baltimore, Md./ St. Frances Academy)
2012, SF, 6-5
The big-bodied combination forward has an excellent shooting touch with range to the arc. Brown, who dropped 27 points in a win against Chicago Orr (Ill.), is an average athlete but knows how to play and how to get open. He spots up on the break, spaces on the side of dribble penetration and is a good pick-and-pop shooter. Brown will not hesitate to use his body to post smaller defenders and is a good area rebounder on both ends. Brown is a solid all-around player who plays without wasted motion. He will be a difficult matchup on most nights. He is hearing from Maryland, South Florida and Loyola (Md.) so far.
Jeffland Neverson (Brooklyn, N.Y./Boys and Girls)
2012, SF, 6-5
The tough and athletic wing displayed the ability to defend all three perimeter positions. Neverson is long, can get to the rim on the break and uses his length in the half court to score and rebound on both ends. His aggressive and competitive approach is what makes him fun to watch. He can make open midrange shots given time, and can even hit a 3 when he is in a groove, like he was against Winter Park (16 points in the overtime win). Neverson won the game on a flat-out hustle putback basket as the clock expired. The Big East schools have a close eye on Neverson, especially Providence.
Player to watch
Jordan Dickerson (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln)
2012, C, 7-0
Dickerson is a legitimate 7-footer who is extremely mobile. He is extra long and runs the floor very well. He affects the game with his ability to control the paint by blocking and changing shots on a regular basis. Dickerson rebounds above the crowd and displayed a little offense over his left shoulder and finished above the rim on drop-off passes. His offense is way behind his defense, but as Dickerson adds strength and confidence, his game will go to the next level. If he develops his offensive skills, he could be a dominating force on the high school and college levels. Dickerson has great upside and can be as good as he wants. Hofstra, West Virginia, Virginia Tech and Kent State have all expressed interest.
• Class of 2011 6-8 PF Darian Barnes is long and athletic with great upside. He can rebound, block shots, run the floor and score around the basket, mostly from drop-offs. He is considering prep school but still has schools like Mount St. Mary's, Robert Morris and others watching very closely. Barnes scored 19 points for Penn Wood (Pa.) in a win against Crenshaw (Calif.).
• Future Rutgers SG Michael Taylor (Brooklyn, N.Y./Boys and Girls) scored 17 points in the win against Winter Park; he had some impressive deep pull-up jumpers from behind the arc and got to the rim, where he finished through contact.
• Mycheal Henry (Chicago, Ill./ Orr) dropped 24 points in a losing effort against St. Frances Academy (Md.). Henry. The powerful 6-6 wing, who is headed to Illinois in the fall, made plays above the rim on the break and finished through contact on a regular basis.
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 a first-team All-MAC selection his senior season. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.
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