NCB On The Trail: Xavier Simpson

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With the field expanding from 25 to 60 as the sophomores become juniors, here are 10 things to know about the prospects in the new ESPN 60 for the Class of 2016:

1. Jayson Tatum continues to make his move upward. The talented and skilled 6-foot-7 small forward has great feel and is a high-level playmaker with size and basketball intelligence. The St. Louis Chaminade College Prep standout made another slight jump within the top five, going from No. 4 to No. 3.

2. The rim-protecting dominance of center Udoka Azubuike has continued. A strong and physical low-post presence, the Jacksonville (Fla.) Potter's House Christian standout rebounds, finishes and blocks shots with power and has been rewarded by moving inside the top 10 at No. 6.

[+] EnlargeTerrance Ferguson
Kelly KlineTerrance Ferguson of Prime Prep Academy is a standout shooter in the ESPN 60.
3. There are some big-time wing scorers in the Class of 2016. These bucket-getters attack defenders and are difficult to deal with when they have the ball in their hands. Shooting guards Malik Monk and Josh Langford, small forwards Mario Kegler and V.J. King and SG Tyus Battle lead the top 20 players.

4. Shooting guard Terrance Ferguson has the sweetest shooting stroke in the top 10. Ferguson has a high release and excellent follow-through. He loves the corner jumper from behind the arc and shoots over smaller defenders as if they are invisible.

5. Combination forward Miles Bridges and point guard Dennis Smith are fresh faces in the top 10 because of their consistent production. A few dominant performances this spring on the travel circuit clearly separated them from their peers.

6. Point guard Jaylen Fisher has special court vision. The Arlington (Tenn.) Bolton standout puts the ball on time and on target and attacks the defense with his ability to penetrate. Fisher not only finds the open man but also delivers the ball in position to score on the catch.

7. Harry Giles made his debut this spring after suffering a knee injury that required surgery. The 6-9 Giles, from Winston-Salem (N.C.) Wesleyan Christian, is still rounding into form, but we did see flashes of his game before the injury from this talented power forward. He has all the tools to be a special player with terrific upside.

8. There's a lot of variety and versatility in the 2016 class. Many players can play and excel at two positions, both in the post and on the perimeter. A few examples are Bridges, Omari Spellman, Amir Coffey, Vance Jackson and Kobi Jordan-Simmons.

9. With only 10 true point guards in the ESPN 60, it is definitely a situation of quality over quantity. These point guards may be small in numbers, but all are very good players who will lead and make winning plays for their team. Newcomer Smith leads the way. Lonzo Ball, De'Aaron Fox, Trent Forrest, Derryck Thornton, Devearl Ramsey, Payton Pritchard, Xavier Simpson, Cassius Winston and Howard Washington all have had standout springs.

10. In comparison, the 2016 ESPN 60 will be better than the 2015 ESPN 60.

Bill Hensley Memorial Run & Slam recap 

May, 6, 2014
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- The Spiece Bill Hensley Memorial Run & Slam has a strong history in the Midwest. It has been the premier basketball event in the region for 20 years. This year's edition was just as good, as teams from 12 states converged here for a great weekend of hoops.

Here were some of the standouts from the event:

King James Shooting Stars Classic recap 

April, 28, 2014
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AKRON, Ohio -- The King James Shooting Stars Classic has long been one of the top events in the Midwest. With over 100 college coaches in attendance over the course of the weekend, players from all over the United States came together and provided a very good session of competitive basketball.


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Top players at Ohio state finals 

March, 24, 2014
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The Ohio high school boys basketball championships were this past weekend on the Ohio State campus in Columbus and featured many of the state's and the Midwest's best players.

In Division IV, Convoy Crestview beat Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas 71-44 to complete an undefeated season. In Division III, Lima Central Catholic upset the talented Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph squad 64-62. In Division II, Norwalk prevented Columbus Watterson from being repeat champions by winning 65-58. In Division I, Lakewood St. Edward defeated Upper Arlington 62-58 in overtime in what was one of the best high school games I have ever seen.

Best Player
Kipper Nichols
Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward
6-foot-6, 200 pounds, 2015 SF

Nichols really stepped up and showed why he is one of the most improved players in the Midwest. The multi-skilled combo forward made the state finals his personal showcase. Nichols had 25 in the semifinal vs. Cleveland East Tech and then put 26 on Upper Arlington in the final. Nichols is a tough cover with solid perimeter skills and the ability to operate in the paint as well. He is one of the best players in Ohio's 2015 class.


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Ohio's best come together in Columbus 

October, 28, 2013
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Every fall the state of Ohio sends most of its elite players to Columbus, Ohio, for the All Ohio Battle of the Cities. The event has all of the major cities put together teams in each age group (8th grade through 12th grade) and come to the capital of the state to play to see which city is the king of basketball. Every year the event is competitive. It is one of the best events of the fall in the Midwest. Here are some of the best Division-I prospects who were in attendance.

2016

Seth Towns (Columbus, Ohio/Northland)
2016, SF/PF, 6-7, 190
Towns is a skilled combo forward whose game is moving more and more to the perimeter. He has a solid handle for his size and is a good face-up shooter (though his release is a little low). He is already a priority for Big Ten schools.


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Maker, Adebayo star in John Lucas camp 

September, 30, 2013
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The John Lucas Midwest Elite camp attracts many of the top underclassmen in the country. The camp’s focus is on skill development -- the players go through various stations designed to help improve different parts of their game as well as compete in games. Here’s a look at who stood out:

Best Pure Scorers


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