- Adam Finkelstein
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – For the third consecutive year, Live in the A.C. provided East Coast teams with an alternative to Las Vegas in the third and final week of the summer evaluation period. Here’s a look at some of the major headlines.
Drawing a Crowd
The newly crowned Nike EYBL champions, New Jersey Playaz, served as the co-host of this event and like any good host they put out quite a spread on Wednesday night as Isaiah Briscoe and company were the main attraction for a crowded gym full of coaches.
While Briscoe hasn’t formally cut his list yet, Arizona and St. John’s are widely perceived, right or wrong, to be the two leaders at this point. St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin was front and center Wednesday night along with Arizona assistant Emmanuel “Book” Richardson, who has deep roots in the Northeast region. Jay Wright and Eddie Jordan were also in attendance as Villanova and Rutgers are both looking to play spoiler in the sweepstakes for one of the nation’s best playmaking guards.
Briscoe’s backcourt mate, ESPN 60 guard Temple Gibbs, is also coming off a big week at the EYBL Finals. The development of Gibbs’ jumper was on full display on Wednesday as the rising junior drilled five 3s in a win over Maryland 3D while attracting the likes of Villanova, Temple, and other local Big East and American Conference schools.
For college coaches the third week of the live period is mostly about “baby sitting” as they affectionately refer to it. That means that their time watching games isn’t so much about evaluating talent as much as it is being seen by the recruits they are targeting. The more a coach is visible at a prospect’s games, the higher priority the prospect is to that coach … or at least so the theory goes.
However, the most efficient recruiters are the most organized, and so they are able to be seen at all the necessary games while still finding opportunities to utilize their last week on the road to discover some new talent. The search for “sleepers” or prospects that they can identify now and further evaluate during the fall came up with a few new names in the 2015 class this week:
Kasper Christiansen – The 16 year old native of Denmark headlined a team full of international products named Global Squad. While none of them currently play their high school basketball in the U.S., the team spends the better part of the month here in hopes of returning to play college basketball a year from now.
Based on his performance this weekend, Christiansen will certainly have plenty of opportunities. He has good size at 6-foot-9, a developed and diverse skill set, and plenty of upside as he gets stronger and gradually adjusts to the physicality of the American game.
Evan Fisher – Coming off a fairly disappointing spring, Fisher has had a much better summer and a particularly strong showing here. Listed at 6-9, he had coaches buzzing on Thursday night about his versatility as he stretched the floor with his shooting range. His performance seems to have solidified his spot on a mid-major track as he landed new offers from Siena and Loyola to a list that already included Delaware, Drexel, and Towson, among others.
Brian Parker – The Ohio native has been playing with the Pennsylvania-based PK Flash all month long, anchored primarily in the Northeast. And so while he may be a well-known Division I prospect at home, he was a man without a reputation in recent weeks. That’s now changing as he’s being recognized for his power on the perimeter, versatile game, and incredible rebounding ability from the backcourt.
Another typical strategy of college coaches in the final days of the summer evaluation period is to try and get a jump start on some of the up and coming young talent. There was plenty of that this week with a long list of youngsters who have a chance to develop into high-major prospects. Here are some of the most notable:
Jeff Dowtin – A lead guard with good size at 6-2 and even better length, Dowtin led his DC Blue Devils squad to a spot in the semifinals of the Under-16 field. He’s smooth off the bounce, very fluid with the ball, and capable of making high level plays going through the lane.
Aaron Thompson – A long, lefty lead guard in the class of 2017, Thompson has made rapid physical strides over the course of the travel season and is one of the primary playmakers for a Team Takeover Under-15 squad that added Live in the A.C. to their long list of hardware from this season.
Cameron Reddish – He won’t see his first day of high school for another month, but the Team Final phenom has already found himself firmly on the high-major radar. He oozes talent and upside as a roughly 6-6 guard who handles the ball well, is extremely long, and still totally undeveloped physically.