NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Some of the best players in the country are rising to the challenge as the stakes go up at the EYBL Finals at the Nike Peach Jam. The games have been ultra-competitive as teams compete to advance out of pool play in front of a packed room full of college coaches.
Anthony Bennett (Brampton, Ontario/Findlay Prep)
2012, PF, 6-8, 220 pounds
Bennett displayed the game that has everyone buzzing about his meteoric rise up the rankings over the last several months. The physically-gifted 4-man has the frame of an NFL tight end with the game of a skilled PF. Bennett showed his ability to knock down open 3s and use his superb athleticism to grab offensive rebounds and finish at the rim. There's no question he has the potential to be one of the most productive players in the 2012 class at the next level.
Marcus Hunt (Riverdale, Ga./North Clayton)
2012, SG/SF, 6-5, 205 pounds
Against the previously-undefeated Team Takeover, Hunt finally had his moment. The muscular and athletic wing dropped 27 points and is the kind of player you know has it in him and this performance may have opened up his game. A capable shooter, he's a powerful driver who is going to make a living at the line in college.
Archie Goodwin (Little Rock, Ark./Sylvan Hills)
2012, SG, 6-foot-5, 185 pounds
This is his first event back since dislocating his wrist in early June and Goodwin, a competitive wing, had himself prepared to compete. His motor ran high and again he proved difficult to guard off the drive. His shot isn't there yet and he wears a cumbersome brace on his non-shooting hand but he's a legitimate elite player.
James Robinson (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha)
2012, PG, 6-3, 200 pounds
Once again, it's not the numbers but the package for the position. Robinson is in command of Team Takeover and he's got all the tricks. In a year that few point guards are true orchestrators, Robinson is a maestro. He hasn't shot it as well as he did in June but the rest of his game has been sharp and he's a guy with a competitive edge.
Terry Rozier (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Shaker Heights)
2012, PG, 6-0, 165 pounds
He is a slick scoring point guard who has had an up and down summer (mostly up) and he was huge in a defeat versus the Georgia Stars. Rozier is very long and athletic with solid skills and range to 22 feet. He had 24 points, seven rebounds and four assists versus the Georgia Stars. Look for his recruiting to blow up with many high majors (Michigan State, Louisville, Miami and a few others) getting involved.
Nerlens Noel (Everett, Mass./Tilton School)
2013, C/PF, 6-10 215 pounds
He is one of the best defenders in the country, let alone the 2013 class. Noel is a big man who takes away the rim and is a shot-blocker deluxe who has been working to improve his offensive game (and it shows). He is a very long, solid athlete who is a solid rebounder and is improving his scoring in the paint. He can now attack some off the dribble inside 10 feet, but he still scores mostly on dump-offs and put-backs but. Noel is unquestionably one of the top players/prospects in the 2013 class.
Julius Randle (McKinney, Texas/Prestonwood Academy)
2013, PF, 6-8, 235 pounds
Although there are some others in the 2013 class who are making a case for the top spot, Randle hasn't done anything to lose his No. 1 ranking with his dominant play. His ability to rebound the ball and push it up the floor puts a lot of pressure on the defense as he is near impossible to stop with one player.
Kameron Williams (Baltimore/Mt. St. Joseph)
2013, SG/PG, 6-2, 175 pounds
He is a long and a solid athlete who is wired to score. Williams can play some point guard, is an excellent slasher and a good shooter with range to 22 feet. He may not have a major national profile right now, but he is building one. He has a chance to be an ESPNU 60 player if he keeps on his current pace.
Rasheed Sulaimon (Houston/Strake Jesuit)
2012, SG, 6-4, 185 pounds
He handles it with confidence on his dribble drives and at any time can pull up on a dime and nail it from midrange. His long range shot is fluid, accurate and he can hit from deep behind the arc. His defensive stance is low, wide and he has quick feet and active hands. Sulaimon plays each possession with great energy and is always capable of having a big game. Duke has a stud waiting in the wings.
Ricardo Gathers (LaPlace, La./Riverside Academy)
2012, PF, 6-7, 240 pounds
He's a physical specimen who possesses tremendous power and athletic ability .When he catches the ball on the blocks he will power it up through the body of the defender. He welcomes contact and usually finishes at a good percentage. Plus, he scores a good percentage of his points from the free throw line. On the glass, he not only goes and gets rebounds he takes them away from others with hands like vice grips. His top schools are St. Johns, Syracuse , Texas, Arizona and LSU.
Michael Qualls (Shreveport , La./Huntington)
2012, SF/PF, 6-5, 200 pounds
He's an incredible athlete who soars above the rim to score and grab rebounds. He scores his points using his athleticism whether he is filling the lane in transition or flying in for an offensive rebound. He can go and find most balls near or above the rim and shows the ability to drive when there is a clear path to the basket. Inside of 15 feet, he is comfortable and dangerous. Mid-majors are offering.
JaQuel Richmond (Greensboro, N.C./High Point Christian)
2014, PG, 6-1, 170 pounds
Richmond was very impressive in the U16 game vs. Team Takeover during the morning session. The physically-gifted PG has a strong handle and speed with the ball which allows him to get in the paint at will. He continually raced past defenders for floaters and finishes, and spent a great deal of time making Takeover pay at the free throw line. The young lead guard is the most recent in a long line from the state of North Carolina.
Prince Ibeh (Garland, Texas/Garland Naaman Forest)
2012, C, 6-10, 230 pounds
As one of the top shot-blockers at the EYBL, Ibeh impacts a game without having to score the basketball. He is an impressive runner and rebounder who controls the paint and is able to give his team a chance by effecting the opponent's field goal percentage. He has tremendous upside because he is just learning the game and has drawn the attention from some of the elite programs in the country.
Player to watch
Anthony Barber (Hampton, Va./Hampton)
2013, PG, 6-2, 165 pounds
Barber is still learning the point guard position, but he is at his best in the open floor where he can score or find an open man. His dribble can take him to any spot on the floor and he is crafty and quick enough to finish in the lane. A capable 3-point shooter with a world of room to grow, he needs to improve his decisions with the ball to reach his potential.
• Hunt has generated a lot of interest with his play this spring and summer. He has Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Florida State and Memphis on him.
• Brice Johnson (Cordova, S.C./Edisto) has been on an absolute tear making 29 of 33 field goal attempts.
• CIA Bounce showed that this event is not all about offense. The Canadians took seven offensive charges in their overtime loss to BABC.
Mike LaPlante, a recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting, has over 20 years of coaching and recruiting experience. Dave Telep is the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com. His college basketball scouting service is used by more than 225 colleges and numerous NBA teams. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter. Paul Biancardi, who has been a head coach and assistant on NCAA tournament teams, is the national director of basketball recruiting. He is also one the voters for the McDonald's All-American Game and Gatorade Player of the Year. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.