Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Top 10 player accolades from July
By Dave Telep
The worst time to write a column about what you saw in July is right after July. The month needs to marinate on your mind so one can process what we just lived. So, nearly three weeks out from the month that was, I sat down to recall a few of the top players of July.
In the spirit of Telep's top 10, we give 10 categories and a plethora of players of influence from the most important month on the circuit.
1. Best motor big/guard: We’ll entertain motions to rename this the inaugural “Reid Travis” award and therefore hand out the overall best motor title to ... forward Reid Travis. Pac-12 aficionados close your eyes and picture the second coming of Jon Brockman, because that’s whom Travis reminds me of most. On the guard side of the ledger for the best motor, Lourawls Nairn impressed me from start to finish. There was a noticeable chip on his shoulder and he went hard at LeBron and continued through Peach Jam. The guy has no off button.
2. Toughest guard/big: In a best-of-three coin flip, I went with Romelo Trimble over Joel Berry at the guard spot. Trimble’s expression didn’t change all summer, and in clutch situations he showed no outward signs of panic while making winning plays. In terms of the bigs, Cliff Alexander is simply a menacing prospect who dunks everything around the rim. He’s difficult to go around, impossible to go through, and while he’s got a huge reputation, he believed in himself this summer and attacked his opponents.
3. Best passer: There isn’t another guard in the class who can deliver the basketball with the precision and touch that Tyus Jones is capable of doing. Feathery touch, uncommon vision and consistent results.
Class of 2014 Seton Hall PF commit Angel Delgado rebounds with a chip on his shoulder.
4. Top rebounder: The answer here is Alexander by the numbers, but I’m going with Angel Delgado. The Seton Hall pledge doesn’t have Alexander’s size, yet he scraps, battles and sees the ball coming off the rim as well as anyone since DeJuan Blair. Reminds me of Paul Millsap. It seems like the best rebounders often times are the players with the most to prove, not the most natural talent. Delgado punched his player’s card in July, that’s for sure.
5. Best shooting exhibition: If you happened to be in Las Vegas at the end of the month, you likely witnessed the performance(s) of Brady Ellingson of Ray Allen Select. The way he shot the ball and from different spots was crazy. He was making 6-8 3s per game during a July 24-26 stretch. Everyone in the gym was dog tired, but watching this kid pop 3s energized us all and carried onlookers through the final period. Put it this way, his success was an addiction; you wanted to come see his next game.
6. Best under-the-radar story:C.J. Jackson, a 5-foot-11 combo guard, led Aim High to the championship of the Best of the South in Suwanee, Ga. Jackson had zero Division I scholarship offers before July. He was the No. 1 shooter for Olympic High, the 4-A undefeated N.C. state champions. The son of a Division II coach, Jackson went bottoms up behind the arc, and through his results on the court and MVP at the Best of the South, he earned two offers following the event.
7. Offensive player of the summer: This is a difficult category, so allow me to explain my choice. Stanley Johnson’s diverse palate of scoring options hooked me. The guy went for big numbers on occasion, posted up, drove and took contact, crushed 3s and did it consistently. For me, the entire month was a series of impressive outings, and he did it in more ways than his peers were capable of doing.
8. Defensive player of the summer big/guard:Myles Turner swatted his way into a tier separate from the rest of the country. No one patrolled the lane, blocked and influenced more shots. As a shot-blocker in high school (erase what you know happened in college), I’d go Nerlens Noels, Turner then Anthony Davis as they entered their senior year. Did I just write that? That’s elite, elite company. Now, in terms of wing defenders, the Bruce Bowen of the class is Justise Winslow. He cares the most, embraces the role and flat out locks guys up. His Houston Hoops team was laced with scorers. Winslow handled his business on the other end at a defensive level equal to the offensive output of Justin Jackson and Kelly Oubre.
9. Best under 6-0: When Tyler Ulis takes home the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as a college player, remember where you first read the prognostication that he’d win said award. BTW, the F.P. Naismith goes to the nation’s top player 6-0 tall or less. Ulis handed out 17 assists in a game and it was against Tyus Jones! When you’re his size, one slip up and the doubters line up against you. Ulis navigated the waters of elite travel ball and picked up more admirers than just about any guard on the circuit. I heard one Hall of Fame coach turn to his assistant and say, “tell me why we aren’t recruiting HIM!” Too late, Ulis is down to Iowa, Michigan State, Southern Cal and Kentucky.
No. 35 recruit Isaiah Whitehead might be the most talented scoring guard in the country.
10. Biggest improvement guard/big: Emmanuel Mudiay shot the basketball better than he had in previous summers, so that was noticeable, especially at the elite level. However, the single biggest improvement I noticed was the demeanor and attitude of Isaiah Whitehead. A commanding offensive player, Whitehead’s body language left an indelible mark in my notepad. Good for him, because he’s a true offensive talent. In terms of bigs, I’ll go center Thomas Welsh over Abdul-Malik Abu. Last summer, I slapped a mid-level grade on Welsh. This time around he looks like a lock of a top-100 prospect to me.
Favorite non-top 100 performer:Robert Cartwright, PG. He was on my pre-summer must-see list and I fell hard. This is a kid who holds himself accountable, has a tricky handle and will make shots. After watching him, there’s no doubt he can command a program as a freshman point guard. At CP3’s camp, he distinguished himself as a maniacal worker.
Best game I never saw: There’s not much you can do about it when you’re 2,307 miles away. So, I did what we do in this day and age and turned to Twitter for updates. Sitting in Orlando at the Super Showcase, one couldn’t help turning to Twitter for updates on the Daniel Hamilton/Tyler Dorsey vs. Emmanuel Mudiay/Malik Newman matchup at the Fab 48 in Vegas. Mudiay and Newman combined for 65 in a loss. Junior center Stephen Zimmerman had 21 for the winners, and Dorsey and Hamilton scored 34 and 31, respectively. Shootout!
Best player not in the current top 100: Tennessee-bound power forward Phil Cofer was a completely different player once he switched travel teams. The guy’s not a big power forward, but he’s got length and amazing bounce and athleticism in the lane. He’s the kid that pursues rebounds out his area and crams home put-back dunks.
Guy I wouldn’t want to screen me: Isaac Haas. At 7-0 and 280 pounds, he’s a man mountain. Having watched him set screens (he’s good and will get better once a college coach instructs him), there’s danger at the elbows.
Game’s on the line, who takes the last shot? After we pound it into Jahlil Okafor, my big man accurately reads the triple-team and zings a cross-court pass to small forward Justin Jackson who drives from the wing and lofts the signature shot in high school hoops: the Jackson floater. It’s a devastating shot released by a guy with a condor wingspan. Game on the line, we’re tossing it to him for the patented release and finish.