If you believe the advertising campaign, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." But this statement cannot hold true in relationship to AAU basketball. Some of the players at this week's events in Vegas displayed such impressive talents that we cannot keep them a secret; they have become the talk of the national recruiting scene through their remarkable on-court exploits. Therefore, instead of coming home with the secrets and keeping them to ourselves, we have decided to share five things that we learned while on the summer Vegas AAU circuit.
1. Perry Jones could be the fastest-rising prospect in the 2010 class
Perry Jones (Duncanville, Texas/Duncanville) used the hardwood in Las Vegas as his personal canvas; he painted a portrait that clearly states his case as one of the elite prospects in the Class of 2010. Though listed as a center, this 6-11 versatile player has the ability to play multiple spots on the floor. He has more than enough ballhandling skills to play out on the perimeter. Jones also has impeccable passing skills and dexterity for a big man, which allow him to initiate a break by grabbing a defensive rebound, dribbling up the floor, and either finding an open man or finishing above the rim in transition, while remaining under control. When you factor in his perimeter shooting, Jones has all of the goods to develop into a top prospect in the class and future pro.
2. Fabricio Melo needs time to develop
Center Fabricio Melo (Weston, Fla./Sagemont) came into the Adidas Super 64 event with a blossoming résumé. After he put together some dominant performances at the Amare Skills Academy, the expectations were quite high for the No. 1 center in the class. However, after evaluating a few of his games, it became clear that Melo needs time to hone his skills and fundamentals. He struggled scoring in traffic due to some poor habits like bringing the ball down and lack of footwork. He has a powerful frame, runs hard and can even hit the 3-point shot. But his improvement on the block will determine his impact at the next level.
3. Quddus Bello is one of the summer's breakout players
Quddus Bello (High Point, N.C./Westchester Country Day School) may have more athleticism than any player in the Class of 2011. He has springs that allow him to finish off plays emphatically above the rim, even in traffic, despite not having a muscular frame. He accomplishes this task without changing expressions or displaying any extra, unnecessary emotions. If he improves his perimeter skills and ballhandling, Bello could become a dominant wing player throughout the remainder of his high school career as well as in college.
4. The Atlanta Celtics 15s are stacked
The Atlanta Celtics have been known for producing a few studs -- Dwight Howard, Josh Smith and Derrick Favors come immediately to mind -- through the years. When we watched the Celtics' semifinal game at Rancho High School, we knew they would be talented, but we didn't anticipate them having at least eight Division I prospects. Led by 6-7 William Goodwin (Decatur, Ga./Southwest DeKalb), 6-5 Damien Wilson (Mableton, Ga./Pebblebrook) and 6-5 Jordan Adams (Lawrence, Ga./Central Gwinnet), the Celtics have a chance to dominate the club basketball circuit for the next few years.
5. Cady LaLane and Chris Crawford are not going to be flying under the radar much longer
Every summer there are always a few prospects who raise their stock significantly with coaches and scouts alike. PF Cady Lalane (Orlando, Fla./Oak Ridge) and G Chris Crawford (Memphis, Tenn./Sheffield) were the chosen candidates this time around. Lalane has a terrific lengthy frame with solid bounce and quickness. He has a soft shooting touch out to the elbow and he can convert on the inside, although he needs to get stronger. With his performance here he should be added into the upper echelon of the ESPNU 100. Crawford also was outstanding. He is a prototypical 2-guard who can knock down the jump shot either off the bounce or in a catch-and-shoot situation. He has tremendous savvy and he was easily one of the most consistent talents all week in Las Vegas.
Joel Francisco and Antonio Williams cover basketball recruiting for Scouts Inc.