- Joel Francisco
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Although the cold weather was a shock to this California resident, the action was high-level at the USA Basketball men's U16 minicamp. Michael Gilchrist (Somerdale, N.J./St. Patrick), the No. 1 prospect in the ESPNU Super 60, demonstrated why he is considered quite possibly the best player in the country, regardless of class.
He impacts the game on many levels, and his competitive nature is peerless. His shot looks to be improved -- although it could get better out to the 3-point line -- and the pressure he puts on a defense is awe-inspiring. Furthermore, no layup or dunk is safe while he is lurking around, especially in transition.
Although Gilchrist was clearly the cream of an outstanding group of prospects, there were a few others who separated themselves from the pack with their scintillating play. Johnny O'Bryant, a 6-9 junior out of Cleveland, Miss./East Side, dominated the paint area with his rebounding prowess, and there might not be a more explosive point guard off the dribble than 6-2 junior Marquis Teague (Indianapolis/Pike)
Michael Gilchrist (6-7, 190)
2011, Somerdale, N.J./St. Patrick
After witnessing his act this weekend, I have to admit I'm on the Gilchrist bandwagon. I hadn't seen him since the 2008 Nike Global Challenge, and his game has grown leaps and bounds since then. Whether he's a 2 or a 3 is not the question, he is just a terrific all-around basketball player. His jump shot has improved, especially in the midrange area, but it needs to get more consistent out to the stripe. He is an acrobatic finisher inside and has incredible body control while double pumping in and around the bigs. However, if there is an area that needs to improve, it's his ballhandling. He has a nice burst off the dribble, but when defenders get into him, his handle gets sloppy -- particularly his left hand. Defensively, on the other hand, he is a menace to his opponents. He slides his feet very well and, because of his strength and length, is tough to break down -- not to mention he had three or four spectacular blocks in transition. Overall, he is one of the few players for whom, when he's in the game, the intensity level and quality of play automatically elevates.
Johnny O'Bryant (6-9,225)
2011, Cleveland, Miss./East Side
O'Bryant's game isn't always pretty, but this blue-collar beast is fun to watch. He has a great motor at both ends and was easily the best rebounder in attendance. He attacks the glass with ferocity and never stops until the whistle blows. Once he snags the rebound on the defensive end, he loves to fill the lane, where he can throw it down with authority. Although most of his game translates into power, he has a respectable jump shot out to the elbow. On the other hand, his post game is still in its infantile stage -- he has a tendency to bring the ball down far too often. In addition, his pivot work is still a bit sloppy; he gets off balance while finishing. However, thanks to his motor, physique and bounce, he'll continue to be one of the elite-level post prospects for his class.
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Michael Gilchrist continues tapping into his nearly limitless potential, writes Joel Francisco.