from Rick Lewis and the Phenom Hoop Report at www.phenomreport.com….
UA Hoop Group Pittsburgh Jam Fest Regional Top 10
Our own Ryan Mattocks watched all of the action at the Under Armour Hoop Group Pittsburgh Jam Fest. Here are his 17U evaluations and his regional Top 10 from the weekend.
1. Player: 6’3 Troy Caupain
Hometown: Cosby, Virginia
AAU Team: Team Loaded 17U
Evaluation: The #2 prospect on Phenom Hoop Report’s Top 25 list from the Phenom 150 event held in Winston-Salem, NC just a few short weeks ago, Caupain stood out in Pittsburgh as well. On the final day of competition, Caupain displayed an energy level and love for the game while many other players’ body language indicated a desire to be anywhere but the gym. The 6’3 lead guard has garnered recent attention from high-level programs Cincinnati, Missouri, and Virginia and for good reason. His motor is turned on not only on the offensive end – he utilizes his long arms to clear off defensive possessions with rebounds and pushes the break in any direction he pleases. Put up 17 points in Team Loaded’s win over a talented New York Rens squad (featuring the Jam Fest National Top 10 #9 Jermaine Lawrence) with a combination of explosive moves off the bounce, finishes around the hoop in transition, and creating offense off of his stellar defense. Caupain posted huge rebounding numbers for the position at Cosby (VA) and there’s no question he’ll be a factor on the boards at the next level. If he keeps defense as his priority and doesn’t force things too much in the half-court, Caupain may be a household name to college basketball fans sooner than later. Needs to focus on fine tuning his midrange game – gets by almost anyone in front of him put can over penetrate at times. Also needs to learn to move more consistently away from the ball as help side defenders in college basketball recover more quickly on ball reversals than any AAU/High School competition he sees now.
2. Player: 6’7 Devin Robinson
Hometown: Richmond, Virginia
AAU Team: Richmond Squires 17U
Evaluation: Watching this kid on Friday night against the SC Raptors Elite (and outstanding 2014 F Dante Buford), I wondered how long it would take for him to blow up on the national scene. With a handful of D1 head coaches in attendance, Robinson torched the nets from the opening tip, knocking down 3s from multiple spots on the floor and in different situations (a pull-up, coming off a ball screen, and a spot-up). Form isn’t perfect but the result often is. Also flashed a turnaround jumper from 17’ with a defender draped all over him. What sold me on the versatile Jeremy Lamb stunt double was his unselfishness and court vision. Slight frame could use 15+ pounds of muscle. Eats space off the bounce now and can only imagine how effective he can be in 2 dribbles or less if he continues to grow. Can probably guard the 2 + 3 positions in college but not physically ready to shutdown 4’s (even undersized 4s). Has the length to wreak havoc on a stat sheet.
3. Player: 6’6 Donte Samuels
Hometown: Rocky Mount, North Carolina
AAU Team: North Carolina Red Storm 17U
Evaluation: Plays bigger than 6’6 at this point but a kid that may take some time before he finds his niche at the next level. And that level will be Division 1. Samuels manned the post for an extremely undersized NC Red Storm team but showed the ability to step out and do some nice things in the midrange in a Friday night tilt against the Queen City Prophets (OH). One possession saw Samuels catch and face out of the mid-post with a pretty reverse pivot move before putting the ball on the floor and attempting to finish with the left on a spin. Although the shot didn’t go, the sequence advertised his advanced ball skills and footwork for everyone in the gym. Samuels’ handle in the open floor was fine but he struggled dribbling in traffic and especially when facing contact. Was stripped of the ball a couple times and needs to work on upper body/hand strength in order to cut down on live ball TOs. Impressed my coach’s eye by talking on ‘D’ – called out a ball screen loud enough for people in the stands to hear. Showed good timing on a couple blocks and also hit a kick out three. A little stiff in his legs on his strides means he wouldn’t time well on a rim-to-rim sprint and he barks at the officials a little too much for my liking, but Samuels is definitely one to watch and would/will probably get more national attention if he can hit the magical 6’8-6’9 range.
4. Player: 6’5 RJ Curington
Hometown: Dyer, Indiana
AAU Team: Team Loaded (VA)
Evaluation: This young man has chipped away and chipped away at building his game for four years at Oak Hill Academy and is starting to see the fruits of his labor. Concerns about his handle were quieted in the first half when the smooth guard, known for being a great catch-and-shoot player, pump faked to get his defender airborne before penetrating deep into the lane to finish. He may not quite be the man you want with the ball in late game game fouling situations where intense ball pressure is inevitable, but Curington certainly didn’t stick out as a poor ball handler in Pittsburgh. One thing that’s never been questioned is his athleticism, which was plugged in on Sunday vs. the NY Rens. Tried to hammer it down in a tight space with 1-hand in the second half of a tight game against a team full of athletes. Also seemed to make the right play virtually all the time – pulling up for a floater off of a jump stop instead of over penetrating and getting his shot blocked, reversed the basketball for a better shot for a teammate than the one he could’ve taken himself. Would like to see the mild-mannered junior have a little more bulldog in him but most coaches accept the fact that you can’t really teach “it.” Instead, Curington will most likely end up being a nice complementary piece on a team where he’s surrounded by guys with bigger roles. He’d be a nice piece to have though, that’s for sure.
5. Player: 6’2 Josh Newkirk
Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina
AAU Team: D-One Sports 17U
Evaluation: Many BCS coaches will want this young man to run their offenses in years in the coming years and it was evident why on Saturday when his D-One Sports club squared off against the BSA (PA) 17U’s. The beauty of Newkirk’s floor game is that he truly doesn’t try to force things. His running mate Torian Graham (ranked #2 on my National Top 10 list from the event) was white hot from the jump and Newkirk fed the flame. Penetrating deep enough to cause the defense to sink and help, Newkirk found Graham 3 times in the early going with pinpoint passes that led the wing into his three point shot (all of which went in). Newkirk’s passes have ‘college speed’ and he will not have much difficulty adjusting to the speed of the game on the offensive end at that level. Defensively may be a different story. The long-armed PG made himself smaller in the game when defending the ball be not extending his arms and utilizing his wingspan to dissuade or deflect passes. This technical flaw, if fixed, will help the quick footed Newkirk create more turnovers and push the ball in transition, where he thrives. He stepped up his offensive production in the second half of D-One’s double-OT win by hitting the second level of the ‘D’ and finishing with floaters or runners. Compact body is built for the college game – very strong.
6. Player: 6’1 Isaiah Tripp
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland
AAU Team: Under Armour Baltimore Finest 17U
Evaluation: The first thing I noticed about Tripp’s game was his yo-yo like control of the basketball. His play on the defensive end was also inspiring – he closed out on shooters consistently and seemed to be operating in general defensive concepts when others were either daydreaming or hugging a man regardless of ball position, etc. Looked well-adjusted to coming off ball screens as he rose up and knocked home a jumper going shoulder-to-shoulder and maintained excellent upper body control/form in doing so. Crashed the glass consistently from the weak side (actually looking for a body to put his on and box out). Reminded me of John Wall in the sense that he almost preferred to use his off-hand when penetrating and finished exceptionally well with it as well. The lefty showed poise in maturity in not complaining to referees when calls didn’t his or his team’s way. Impressive prospect who’s a sure-fire D1 player. Could be impact high major if he learns to use his wingspan more on the defensive end – quick feet!
7. Player: 6’7 Rodney Williams, Jr.
Hometown: Richmond, Virginia
AAU Team: Richmond Squires
Evaluation: The 6’7 Squires big man set the tone early in their Friday night matchup with the South Carolina Elite by rebounding unapologetically and using his solid frame to get big on screens. He gets every bit out of his 6’7 size, unlike so many of the fragile beanpoles who tip-toe around the perimeter all game. Where Williams, Jr. differentiated himself was in his ability to stretch the defense. He coolly knocked down a 17’ jumper over a slower defender who was late in closing in the first half. Off the catch, the PF dazzled the crowd with a spin move into the lane in which he finished. An undersized (height) four at the high-major level, Williams could step into a Southern/Big South/MEAC level program tomorrow and produce. Interesting prospect to watch.
8. Player: 6’3 Jarod Williams
Hometown: Richmond, Virginia
AAU Team: Richmond Squires
Evaluation: Williams’ incredible strength was apparent early in both his body and how easily he gets into the lane off the dribble. Once there, the 6’3 G whose play has created a little buzz for himself on the national level can finish in a couple ways. Prefers to go off glass but mixed in a runner when attacking the rim straight N/S. Brought out a spin move in the second half that he finished with a kiss off the glass that caused a slight murmur from the crowd – who tries to be on their best behavior when coaches are in attendance. What impressed me most about Williams was his unselfishness and team first attitude. He busted his butt back on defense twice after teammates committed live ball TOs, sacrificing his body along the way. That sort of play will never get the hype it deserves because it doesn’t show up in the stat sheet. But as Williams is finding out, coaches absolutely love it and covet it in their evaluations more than the public could ever fathom. A pleasure to watch. Needs to watch the one-handed passes on the perimeter because once you commit to throwing it, there’s no going back.
9. Player: 6’7 Elijah Moore
Hometown: Grafton, Virginia
AAU Team: Wave Basketball Club 17U
Evaluation: The intriguing prospect came out of nowhere in the second half of the first game I took in of the entire event, a 6 o’clock affair that was over by halftime. Moore’s Wave team was totally overmatched by the Shining Starts (OH) and was down big early. Still, Moore didn’t do anything of note in the first half. My notes for him in the first half are literally blank. The second half was a different story. The lanky SF with a frame that seems to belong in a college uniform skied for defensive rebounds with two hands, getting well above anyone else vying for the rock. He finished well in transition and picked his spots effectively by converting a 3-pt. play the old fashioned way around the rim and spotting up for a jumper when filling the lane a little later. Another guy who eats up a lot of real estate off the bounce, Moore could turn himself into a lethal midrange threat his final year in HS if he’s not chained to the post out of necessity because he’s tall. Interested to see his progression on the defensive end as well – is he quick enough to guard a college SG?
10. Player: 6’ Rodney Moore
Hometown: Clayton, North Carolina
AAU Team: D-One Sports
Evaluation: I make an effort to NOT include guys outside of the 2013 class when making lists because I feel the focus should be on rising seniors, but every once in awhile there’s a younger who simply cannot be denied. Moore showed outstanding body control in the open floor by taking contact and finishing high off the glass. His on-ball defense is strangling and he’s comfortable putting it on the deck with either hand. He’s a kid that looks so fluid once he leaves his feet that an up and switching hands looks like its second nature to him. I’d like to see him pull-up with his feet squared up to the rim off the dribble going to his left and in the PNR game a little bit, but that’s nitpicking. Loves to get out and run – must make sure he makes rebounding a priority.