Finishes like this one have been few and far between for 247Sports' No. 2 2014 prospect Jahlil Okafor.
Garden Grove, Calif. – After a competitive opening session, Saturday’s games saw several Friday night stars pick up where they left off. Noah Vonleh, ranked as the third-best recruit in the Class of 2014 by 247Sports, stole the show in both the morning and evening sessions on Saturday with his consistent, high-level play. Coming off a 23 point, 12 rebound effort in a Day 1 opening round victory over team Europe, Vonleh led his USA 2014 Red club in two wins Saturday by making 15-of-23 field goals to score 44 points and grab 21 rebounds.
Vonleh, a 6-foot-9 forward from New Hampton School (N.H.), consistently displayed his athleticism by getting to the rim through traffic and outworking others on the glass. Playing with the proverbial “chip” on his shoulder, he showed particularly well against the taller, foreign-born Tony Trocha in a 102-72 thrashing of team Latin America.
DAY 2 TOP PERFORMERS
In addition to Vonleh, several other top prospects stood out on Saturday:
Dante Exum and Ben Simmons
The Australian pair turned heads Friday night with their electric play. Saturday, each proved they belong in the conversation with the top American athletes. Exum, a 6-foot-4 point guard is a steady floor leaders with a decisive first step. In the morning session against USA 2014 Blue, Exum finished with 13 points and 7 rebounds to lead the Aussies in a 83-61 rout over the likes of Jahlil Okafor (7 points, 5 rebounds) and Trey Lyles (16 points), Justise Winslow and Daniel Hamilton. Exum then responded with 12 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists in a hard-fought victory over team Africa, 56-44, later that night.
Despite the attention Exum was receiving, his teammate Ben Simmons, a 6-foot-6, left-handed shooting guard from Melbourne, Australia, was quietly putting together his own strong showing. Simmons, like Exum, is an incredibly smart player who moves without the ball extremely well to get open for clean looks at the basket. In the morning session, Simmons connected on 8-of-11 field goals to finish with 18 points and 7 boards. Against team Africa, he added another 13 points and 6 rebounds.
Exum and Simmons each have plans to play collegiately in the United States. Their fathers each played at the highest levels in the Australian professional basketball leagues. Exum, whose mom and dad are originally from the state of North Carolina but moved to Australia to pursue basketball, professionally, says a move to the U.S. will be “comfortable” for him. While Exum did tell us his dad is handling all of his recruiting, did mention that LSU, Vanderbilt, SMU, and St. Mary’s were among the colleges showing interest. Exum also said he was not sure if he was considered a 2013 or 2014 prospect. Born in July of 1995 he’ll be entering his senior high school season. However, we are trying to confirm when high school graduation is in Australian and we believe it is each December, meaning that Exum would have to join a college program after non-conference play at the start of the Spring Semester. This likely translates to Exum graduating in December 2013, enrolling in a college in the Spring of 2014, and then becoming an early enrollee for the Class of 2014.
Similarly, the younger Simmons will be entering his junior season in high school, meaning he likely qualifies as a Class of 2015 prospect, which is a scary thought. If so, many basketball recruiting analysts are already billing Simmons as a top 10 recruit in the 2015 class.
Chris Walker, a 6-foot-10, Florida bound power forward, was dominant in a 100-64 win over team Asia Saturday night. Playing for USA 2013 Red, the seventh-best prospect in the Class of 2013 by 247Sports scored 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting. He also had 3 blocked shots to go along with 13 rebounds. Walker showed by Florida’s Billy Donavan was in hot pursuit the past two summers, demonstrating a tightly-wound baseline spin move after the catch in the post, as well as soft touch around the rim. Walker runs the floor extremely well for a player his size as his hustle in transition helped to pad the box score.
Australian point guard Dante Exum has been a hit at Adidas Nations.
Walker played alongside fellow 2013 Florida commit Kasey Hill, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Montverde Academy (Fl.). The pair already looked comfortable together on the court as Hill was on the delivery side of many of Walker’s buckets. Hill was smooth with the ball in his hands, and shows nice ability in using his dribble to get to scoring spots for himself on the floor. His full development will come in college when he learns to rise on his jumpers, vertically. Today, Hill tends to lean away from the basket on his release, which is not all that uncommon for a smaller guard who typically needs that type of release to create space over taller defenders. However, when he’s not being defended that fall-away lean is the big reason why his jump shots are hitting the front rim more times than not.
Jarrell Martin is having a strong tournament all around. Saturday, the 6-foot-8 forward from Madison Prep (Baton Rouge) used his hustle and athleticism to make the tough plays in two victories for his USA 2013 Blue squad. Martin, no stranger to battling it out for rebounds, combined for 13 boards in his two games. More surprisingly was his 33 points on the day with 20 coming in an 8-for-12 shooting effort in a narrow 77-72 win over team Latin America. Martin is very quick off his feet, and played smart with the ball in his hands when in the paint using a variety of hesitation dribbles and up fakes to keep the taller defenders guessing. Martin, already considered the No. 19 recruit in the 2013 Class by 247Sports may have played his way up the national rankings by a spot or two this weekend.
Ahead of Martin in the 247Sports player rankings is 2013’s Jermaine Lawrence at No. 17. Lawrence has been a consistent inside presence for USA 2013 Blue this weekend. Saturday morning the 6-foot-10 power forward from Bayside, N.Y. stood out with an 18-point, 11-rebound effort. Lawrence is a college-ready big man whose motor never stops running. Many consider Syracuse to have the inside track for his services, but the thought of Lawrence joining both Kasey Hill and Chris Walker in Gainesville should have Gator fans salivating.
4-star, and still undecided shooting guard Allerik Freeman played his best game of the tournament Saturday night in USA 2013 Red’s 100-64 win over team Asia. Freeman, whose decision making is sometimes questionable, poured in 19 points. Notably, he added 9 assists, which is what college coaches want to see. There’s little doubt Freeman can shoot the basketball. However, he’s not a true spot-up shooter, meaning that when he’s attacking the elbow areas or the baseline with the dribble his ability to distribute the basketball is imperative. Saturday night he did that with near perfection.
2013’s Jordan Mickey held his own on Day 2. Saturday morning Mickey scored 12 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in a tight victory over the uber-athletic team Africa. Later that night, Mickey upped his average with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. The 6-foot-7 forward from Grace Prep Academy (Tex.) has taken unofficial visits to schools like Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisville, Ohio State, LSU and West Virginia, but remains undecided.
NEWS & NOTES
Stanley Johnson will be visiting the University of Arizona on Tuesday, August 7 following the Adidas Nations championship round Monday evening in Long Beach, Calif.
Grace Prep Academy’s Emmanual Mudiay said he plans to stay relatively quiet on the recruiting trail until next summer. He’s not ruling out unofficial visits, but did suggest that he plans on keeping a low profile to focus on his high school team’s success in the fall. Mudiay is rated as the fourth-best prospect in the Class of 2014 by 247Sports.
2014’s Shaqquan Aaron is still deciding on a high school. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard has reemerged onto the national recruiting scene after an unplanned sabbatical that left him reevaluating not only his basketball life, but life in general. Aaron was attempting to transfer from powerhouse Mater Dei High School a year ago to Taft High. However, California’s governing body (CIF) ruled his transfer ineligible, which would force him to sit out the season. Aaron ran into trouble at Taft later that season and was dismissed from the school. In speaking with Aaron Saturday, he remained positive, but also cautious in not wanting to reveal where he’d end up playing this season. “I’m going to enroll in a few weeks,” Aaron said. “I’m just keeping things as quiet as possible because of what happened before.”
2013's Jarrell Martin's high energy leads to plenty of points and rebounds.
Nerlens Noel, the 247Sports top recruit in the Class of 2012 is serving as a college counselor at the event along with many other already proven college standouts such as Louisville’s Peyton Siva, Connecticut’s Ryan Boatwright, the Florida duo of Erik Murphy and Patric Young, Mason Plumlee (Duke), Ray McCallum (Detroit), Andre Roberson (Colorado), Joe Jackson (Memphis), and Baylor’s Pierre Jackson. In speaking with Noel, he’s already embracing the challenge of what lies ahead. “It feels good to get up and down the court with these guys” Noel said. “The game is really fast and it’s good to get a feel of college is going to be like. I feel comfortable, just need to continue to push myself and try to learn as much as possible from this.”
**Player Evals on every USA player (four rosters) to follow in the Day 3 Adidas Nations recap.**
Gary Randazzo is a west coast recruiting analyst and publisher of WildcatSportsReport.com. Follow him on Twiter @garyrandazzo.
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