Nike EYBL Day 1 recap
J-Mychal Reese, Omar Calhoun, Wayne Selden steal the show on Day 1
HAMPTON, Va. -- The spring evaluation period is in full swing as session one of the 2011 Nike Elite Youth Basketball League got under way at the impressive Boo Williams Sportsplex. All the games are intense because, unlike many weekend tournaments, every game counts. Nike's top travel teams, featuring a heavy share of prospects in the ESPNU Super 60, have begun competition in a three-month league that will culminate with a champion being crowned in July at the Nike Peach Jam. We will be covering the action each day and will let you know who is standing out.
J-Mychal Reese (Bryan, Texas/Bryan)
2012, PG/SG, 6-foot-2, 170 pounds | Team: Houston Hoops
Reese is a clever scoring guard. It is clear the lefty is confident and comfortable at putting the ball in the basket in transition and the half-court set. With a quick, low crossover dribble or a hesitation dribble he can get to the basket. His scoring prowess also allows him to create fouls on opponents. He is an excellent passer off his penetration and has good vision to find an open teammate. Defensively, he does a great job of anticipating passing lanes and coming up with his share of steals.
Omar Calhoun (Middle Village, N.Y./Christ the King)
2012, SG, 6-foot-4, 185 pounds | Team: N.Y. Gauchos
He is one of the better scorers in the 2012 class. Calhoun is a volume scorer, but can really light up the scoreboard when he gets on a roll. He can put the ball in the basket in a number of ways. He is a solid shooter with range on his jumper to 22 feet. He can put the ball on the floor and either create his own shot or get all the way to the cup. He had it going on Day 1 in a losing effort to All Ohio to the tune of 38 points.
Brannen Greene (Monroe, Ga./Mary Persons)
2013, SG, 6-5, 185 pounds | Team: Southern Kings 16's
He is a someone who could definitely have an impact on the 2013 rankings by the time the spring is over. He has great size at almost 6-6 with the ability to play either wing position. He is a great shooter with range to 22 feet and a good athlete dunk on his opponent in transition. Greene has grown at least a couple of inches over the past year, which makes him a great prospect. He is a dynamic talent with unlimited upside.
Kale Abrahamson (West Des Moines, Iowa/WDM Valley)
2012, SF, 6-7, 190 pounds | Team: All-Iowa Attack U-17
His combination of size, athleticism and skill level are Kyle Singler-esque and he has a great feel for the game. Although he has a low release on his jumper, he can shoot it from behind the arc and he showed the ability to go get his own shot off the dribble. He sees the floor and makes plays for his teammates, but where he excels is scoring the basketball. He has been operating a little under the national radar, but schools like Nebraska, Iowa and Wake Forest have already started to make a strong run for his services.
Darrick Wood (Washington, D.C./NIA Prep)
2012, SG, 6-4, 175 pounds | Team: Playaz Basketball Club
He's got an arsenal of offensive weapons at his disposal and unleashed a bunch of them opening night. Brimming with confidence, Wood has an air of Jeremy Lamb in terms of his body type and offensive abilities. His midrange game was tight and the next step is to go out and replicate his performance. Word on the street was that he's been hot out of the gate this month, so maybe the EYBL Hampton experience has him rolling.
Three to watch
Wayne Selden (Roxbury, Mass./Tilton School)
2014, SF, 6-4, 190 pounds | Team: BABC
Selden easily could have been the leading scorer of the day as he plays on both the U-17 and U-15 teams (he played two games to everyone else's one). He is an impressive specimen for a player his age and also has a mature game to match. He has a scorer's mentality and can knock down perimeter shots or power it to the rim. He made a big-time athletic play finishing a two-handed dunk in traffic through contact. The elite schools have already taken notice as the offers are starting to come in. His play this weekend should only intensify the competition.
Jabari Bird (Richmond, Calif./Salesian)
2013, SG, 6-6, 170 pounds | Team: Oakland Soldiers
He had a chance to test himself against one of the best wings in the 2012 class, Archie Goodwin (Little Rock, Ark./Sylvan Hills), and Bird should be feeling pretty good about his own game. The junior had trouble hitting shots while his sophomore counterpart put on quite the display at both ends. Bird can do it with his jumper, at the rim and most importantly on the defensive side of the floor. One of the top wing players we've seen so far in the 2013 group, Bird made his biggest impression with his competitive desire.
Shimi Ojeleye (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa)
2013, SF, 6-6, 220 pounds | Team: Spiece MoKan Elite
He is a super tough and super strong wing. In high school, he can play either small forward or power forward but he projects as a wing at the collegiate level. He is strong with a 220-pound body. He is an excellent rebounder and does the dirty work inside. He is also a good shooter with range to 20 feet. Ojeleye is a good athlete who can power through his opponent or jump over him when the situation dictates.
• There were some outstanding individual matchups of top-rated players. It is always great to be able to evaluate a player when he is being pushed by an equal counterpart. The All-Iowa Attack versus Charlotte Royals game featured two of the top point guards in the 2012 class -- North Carolina pledge Marcus Paige (Marion, Iowa/Linn Mar) and Florida commit Braxton Ogbueze (Charlotte, N.C./United Faith). Ogbueze won the statistical battle, but Paige, who struggled in this game, found a way to lead his team to a one-point victory.
• If you like watching developing interior players, the BABC versus Alabama Challenge game was the place to be. BABC's shot-blocking specialist Nerlens Noel (Everett, Mass./Tilton School) squared off against Jimmie Taylor (Greensboro, Ala./Greensboro). Both are highly rated post players from the 2013 class. Noel, who is developing his all-around game, was dominant controlling the paint in this game. He scored and rebounded at a high level and as always swatted his share of shots. Taylor couldn't get it going and his team suffered a lopsided loss.
• CIA Bounce, the Canadian contingent, showed that it is a serious threat in this tournament. It is a balanced team; inside they have a mountain in 7-foot-5 Sim Bhullar (Toronto/Huntington Prep) to go along with Stefan Jankovic (Mississauga, Ontario/Huntington Prep) and Anthony Bennett (Brampton, Ontario/Findlay Prep), while one of the top 2014 prospects in Andrew Wiggins (Toronto/Vaughn) dominates on the wing. They flexed their muscle as they dismantled Team Texas Titans, which features ESPNU's top 2013 prospect Julius Randle (McKinney, Texas/Prestonwood).
Mike LaPlante, a recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting, has over 20 years of coaching and recruiting experience. Paul Biancardi, Dave Telep and John Stovall contributed to this piece.