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Friday, July 26, 2013
UF pledge Francis bullies foes in Vegas

By Joel Francisco

LAS VEGAS -- The underclassmen took center stage during Thursday's action at the adidas 64. Despite the sweltering heat in Vegas, scouts and coaches were treated to the dazzling talents of ESPN 25 prospect Josh Jackson (Detroit, Mich./Consortium) and ESPN 60 PF Carlton Bragg. Jackson has the physical tools and a feel for the game that is rare to see for a player of his youth, leading some in Michigan to call him the best prospect the state has produced since Chris Webber and Jalen Rose. Right now I would agree with that assessment but time will tell if it comes to fruition.

Not to be upstaged by the young guys, Florida commit Brandone Francis was also impressive for the senior class.

Here's a closer look at the top stars on Day 2 in Las Vegas.

Best Player
Josh Jackson (Detroit, Mich./Consortium)
2016, WF, 6-foot-6, 180 pounds

Jackson came into the Adidas Super 64 with a lot of hype, and he more than lived up to it against Team Loaded (Va.). The rangy wing can play all three perimeter positions due to his advanced skill-set and overall feel for the game. He keeps his handle low and tight and has very little wasted motion to his game. To display his versatility, Jackson will also post up and shoot over the top of smaller defenders or if the defense sags he can drain the 3-point shot. Jackson is gifted in many areas of the game and should only get better going forward.

Brandone Francis
Florida commit Brandone Francis was a tough cover for opponents at the adidas 64.
Jack Of All Trades
Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, Fla./Arlington Country Day)
2014, 6-foot-5, 200 pounds
Committed to Florida
There is always one thing you can count on regarding Francis: He will bring energy and physicality to the game. He affects the game with his strength, skill and savvy. He can knock down 3-point shots and score through contact (had a couple of acrobatic finishes) due to his assertive nature. Overall, Francis put his stamp on this game with his versatile skill-set.

Best Shooters
Eron Gordon (Indianapolis/North Central)
2016, SG, 6-foot-4, 185 pounds

Gordon, who is the younger brother of New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon, is quite the 2-guard himself. He gets great lift on his jump shot and he has tremendous range. Gordon can pull-up in transition and is just as efficient off the catch. In addition, he has a solid burst attacking the rim and possesses the explosion to finish through contact.

Antonio Lang (Mobile, Ala./McGill-Toolen Catholic)
2014, SG, 6-foot-3, 180 pounds

Lang had his smooth jump shot on display versus the Michigan Mustangs Thursday. His shot is prolific off the catch and he sets it up very well. Lang’s midrange skills and triple threat game need polishing, but he has the frame and athleticism to garner a bevy of Division 1 interest going forward.

Maverick Rowan (Pittsburgh/Lincoln Park)
2016, SG, 6-foot-5, 190 pounds
Committed to Pittsburgh
Ohio Basketball Club has an impressive prospect in this 6-foot-5 2-guard. He is a wing who can fill it up from deep, but also has solid ball skills. Rowan attacks well off the dribble as he made a couple of nifty finishes. Jaime Dixon didn't waste any time offering Rowan, and he committed to Pittsburgh in June.

Most Skilled Youth
Mario Kegler (Jackson, Miss./Callaway)
2016, WF, 6-foot-6, 210 pounds

Kegler is a power wing with very long arms and a significant amount of bounce. His first step is pretty quick and he has the strength to finish through contact4. His midrange pull-up off the dribble is impressive as well, and his windmill dunk along the baseline exhibited his explosiveness. Despite his youth, Kegler’s defensive pressure (slides feet well) was impressive to boot.

Toughest Finisher
Henry Ellenson (Rice Lake, Wisc.)
2015, PF, 6-foot-9, 235 pounds
Claims offers from Arizona State, Baylor, Boston College, Georgetown, Iowa State, Marquette and Minnesota.
Ellenson has an ideal frame for the high-major level, with very long arms and broad shoulders. He utilizes his length, strength, moxie and solid bounce to overpower would-be defenders. In transition, Ellenson can fill the lane and throw it down in traffic. In addition, he cleans the glass with assertiveness and instincts. On offense, Ellenson can face-up on an opponent and finish in the paint or drop in an elbow jump shot. He fits that stereotype of a Big Ten power forward.

Most Fundamentally Sound
Ian Theisen (Osseo, Minn./Osseo)
2014, C, 6-foot-9, 220 pounds
Claims offers from Drake, San Jose State, Cal Poly, Vermont and South Dakota State.
Theisen has a solid frame with broad shoulders and fairly long arms. He doesn't possess much lift and is somewhat of a plodder, but his skill and savvy are high-level. He can effectively run the pick-and-roll and he seals well in the post. He can also stretch the defense with his shooting touch, which extends out to 20 feet.

Biggest Surprises
David Crisp (Lakewood, Wash./Clover Park)
2014, PG, 6-foot, 165 pounds
Has interest from Richmond, Oregon State, San Diego State and Santa Clara.
Crisp is a stocky point guard who is strong with the ball and gets to where he needs to go with the dribble. The left-hander has a nice shooting touch that extends out to the stripe and his release is tight. Defensively, Crisp has the strength and quickness to be a lock-down defender. Overall, he is one of the top sleeper point guard prospects emerging in Las Vegas.

Donaven Hale (Largo, Fla./Largo)
2015, SG, 6-foot-4, 190 pounds
Florida State, Michigan and Florida Atlantic are all showing interest.
Hale is a physical 2-guard with a fairly tight mid-range game. He gets great lift on his jump shot and his range extends out to 20-feet. Due to his approach (plays with purpose) and skill level, he should be high-major priority in the near future.

Adidas Notes

• Colorado State has a good one in wiry lefty Jeremiah Paige (Aurora, Colo./Rangeview). He has a smooth shooting stroke and some developing ball skills.

• Against Compton Magic U15, 6-foot-8 junior Carlton Bragg (Cleveland/Villa Angela-St. Joseph) knocked in deep jump shots and exhibited some fine ballhandling in the open court. However, the ESPN 60 star floated around the perimeter too much in the second half and needed to affect the game in more areas like rebounding and the post.

• Combo-guard Jonathon Macura (Lakeville,Minn./Lakeville North) is clever off the bounce, can facilitate the offense and drain deep jump shots.

• The Franchize All-stars have an intriguing perimeter duo in 6-foot-6 Damiyne Durham (Houston/Oakwood) and 6-foot-2 Patrick Walker (Houston/Grapeland). Durham is a volume shooter, but his release is effortless and smooth, while Walker is a gifted combo-guard who is always in attack mode.

• 2015 Marcus Sheffield, a 6-foot-5 junior out of Alpharetta, Ga./Chattahoochee, is a gifted combo-guard who can nail jump shots or drop off an assist in the pick-and-roll game.

• Compton Magic 2015s exploded in the 2nd half against Ohio Basketball Club thanks to a scintillating run by 6-foot-5 Rex Pflueger (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei). The bouncy junior knocked in a deep 3, finished through contact and had the play of the day when he hammered one home over the top of Bragg.