FORT MYERS, Fla. -- There's only one word to describe the 38th annual City of Palms Classic: loaded. Not every event can justify the price of admission but this one has a special collection of talent.
(Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick)
2011, SG, 6-foot-3, 180 pounds
He's a good player and he's played with so many star prospects that he winds up getting the least amount of ink. Against Whitney Young, Gordon turned in a career night in front of a packed house. He lit up Whitney Young for 37 points, including six 3-pointers. Gordon's going to Western Kentucky where there's a good chance things come full circle and he'll have a plethora of plays run exclusively for him. Part of what drives Gordon is the constant motivation to prove he belongs. That same chip on his shoulder will be there a long time and the Hilltoppers are the next team to benefit from it.
Standout senior performers
James McAdoo (Norfolk, Va./Norfolk Christian)
2011, PF, 6-8, 216 pounds
There's something to be said for a guy who immerses himself and does what it takes to win. McAdoo couldn't care if he's ranked first or last, it's about wins. We were excited to see the North Carolina signee explode into rebounds. He's a good athlete, but better basketball player.
Dai-Jon Parker (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton)
2011, SG, 6-2, 185 pounds
There are athletes and then there are guys who are at the top of the food chain. Parker can sky, gets super elevation on his jump shot and checks his man on defense. He's also good for a block or defensive stop per game. The way he can get out and run is impressive. Over time he's become a stat-stuffer and legitimate combo guard. Vanderbilt will find all kinds of ways to take advantage of his leaping ability.
Austin Rivers (Orlando, Fla./Winter Park)
2011, SG, 6-4, 189 pounds
With Dick Vitale looking on, Rivers was pedestrian in the first half against Riverside. In the second half, a forearm shiver from Ricardo Gathers (Reserve, La./Riverside) got his attention and it was on. Rivers can be devastating with his arsenal of step backs and creative ways to get space for his shot. All of a sudden the future Duke Blue Devil had 28 points and five assists. His offense is what stands out because his package is more advanced than any wing in high school basketball. However, we've long subscribed to the theory that down the road in the Association he will transition (ala Tyreke Evans) into a lead guard role. His passing on Saturday only bolstered our long term vision for him.
Marshall Plumlee (Arden, N.C. Christ School)
2011, C, 6-11, 215 pounds
The natural tendency is to compare him to his brother. Plumlee gets better every year and he does it at his own pace. A hard-playing center, you toss it to him near the rim and he's going to hammer it down. An astute outlet passer, he's an excellent trigger man on the break. Where he struggles is in traffic and its a product of his lack of strength but he's getting incrementally bigger. His finishes as a senior contain a more explosive end product. Bottom line: he'll figure things out and spend three years as a fixture in Duke's rotation. Plumlee had 11 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks in his first game in Florida.
Michael Gilchrist (Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick)
2011, SF, 6-7, 210 pounds
Just when Gilchrist was about to make a comment that he could have done more, he stopped himself: "How about Derrick Gordon!" It was Gordon's big night and no one was more excited for him than Gilchrist. Our point is simple: most stars aren't this comfortable in their own skin. Gilchrist was good, Gordon was great on this one occasion. The UK-bound senior is a team guy, a winning player and from our interaction with him, he's managed to keep his ego in check and focus on winning. He'll be easy to coach for as long as he's in Lexington. The most impressive part of his game is his ability to see the floor and create not only for himself but for others. He's almost to the point where he's a better facilitator than scorer. With the kind of talent that will surround him, he should be a unifying star on a loaded Wildcats team.
Omar Calhoun (Middle Village, N.Y./Christ The King)
2012, SG, 6-3, 185 pounds
He's blossomed on the perimeter and sports the range and confidence needed to be a high-level wing. Calhoun's approach at both ends is strong and he's a guy who plays hard. He's the type of wing who looks to knock down a 3-pointer or finish at the rim. We'd love to see him develop a dribble-drive, pullup game and attack the middle of the floor. He's a Big East priority with Villanova, Pittsburgh; he feels like a priority for each school and recently visited North Carolina.
Robert Carter (Thomasville, Ga./Thomasville)
2012, PF, 6-7, 240 pounds
Carter's stint at the City of Palms was brief as his team arrived for a single showcase game. On a pair of bad ankles, Carter offered a glimpse into his game. We're always a little nervous when a fella his size starts taking 3s. Since he made them and they looked pretty good, he must be capable. There were flashes of why Florida, Florida State, Alabama, Georgia, Wake Forest and Auburn dubbed him a priority insider in 2012. His touch around the basket is excellent.
Shabazz Muhammad (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman)
2012, SG, 6-5, 195 pounds
Two games, a pair of different approaches for Muhammad. He went from owning a matchup with a smaller defender and posting him inside to playing a lot facing the basket and using his perimeter package. Muhammad is a scorer with an understanding of the game. The lefty favors a quick release ala Antwan Jamison and recognizes defenses well. Ideally, he shoots up an inch or two because he's comfortable in the paint but may need a counter move to get his shot off and over the bigs in college. Bishop Gorman unexpectedly slipped into the loser's bracket of the event despite 31 from Muhammad.
Rosco Allen (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman)
2012, SF, 6-7, 190 pounds
It's going to be fun documenting the second half of his high school career. Allen has impressive size and skills. He's the secondary option on his high school team behind Muhammad which isn't a bad thing. All of the tools are there and the natural progression for him will be the development of his personality and there are signs of his basketball ego developing. Allen works well along Muhammad because he's an exceptional passer who sees the floor well.
Katin Reinhardt (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei)
2012, SG, 6-5, 190 pounds
Mater Dei is a young team and it needed Reinhardt's deft shooting touch and swagger to set the tone. Mission accomplished. Out of the gate, Reinhardt went for 23 points on 13 shots, including a crisp 5-for-9 from behind the arc. Reinhardt has good feel on the floor and paid more attention on defense this season than he did last year. He's locked in for a high-major recruitment.
Evan Nolte (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton)
2012, SF, 6-7, 190 pounds
Think Steve Novak of Marquette fame. Nolte said he's a 4-man now and wants to transition to the 3 spot which we see happening. He's a face-up guy who is best off the catch, behind the line where he's got range. He's not a high-rebound player and his body and scoring game isn't in the paint, though senior guard Shannon Scott (Ohio State) sets him up nicely. It's early and he's open, but Virginia and Georgia are recruiting him the hardest.
Joell James (West Palm Beach, Fla./Dwyer)
2012, C, 6-10, 280 pounds
The left-hander is massive; he's listed at 6-10, 280 and that's not a point you want to argue with this guy. A true spaceater, he's developing his offensive personality. Good hands and good feet are the only key ingredients guys this young and with size truly need and he owns both. He doesn't look like he can play above the rim all the time but he can certainly rip it down. Florida, Florida State, Miami, South Carolina and West Virginia are in the mix. The Hurricanes occupy the top slot early in the process.
• Angel Rodriguez (Miami, Fla./Dr. Krop) isn't big (5-11) but he's fearless. He plays with the bravado of a bigger guard and takes his chances (six assists, 12 turnovers in first two games). His shot selection gets interesting but you can't fault the effort or hustle he plays with and he gutted out eight offensive rebounds. Frank Martin likes his fearless leaders at Kansas State, guys who play with chips on their shoulders.
• Willie Clayton (Thomasville, Ga./Thomasville) is a power forward to watch. Undersized? Sure but if the motor runs like it did on opening night all is well. Georgia, Mercer, Alabama, Charlotte and Florida State are in the mix.
• Sam Thompson (Chicago/Whitney Young) is healthy now, a shift in his status from the summer. His demeanor with a young, talented team bodes well for the move to Ohio State. Thad Matta has a coachable, versatile small forward enlisted for next year.
• Jacoby Brissett (West Palm Beach, Fla./Dwyer) is a major football recruit. Don't worry helmet heads, he's a bettter QB prospect than basketball player but should he pick hoops, we're thinking mid-major scoring threat.
• Ricardo Gathers is the muscle man of this event. He resembles Julius Peppers in high school. Gathers finished with good numbers (21 and 14) but needed 27 shots to get his total. It was an odd night because he was in great position but couldn't get buckets to fall.
• Thomas Hamilton Jr. (Chicago/Whitney Young) sank two free throws to seal a win for his team. The sophomore is spreading his wings at this event and looks more engaged inside than we've seen in previous viewings.
• There are elite 2014 players here who will one day be headliners, but play secondary roles on their squads at this stage. Shaqquan Aaron (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei), Jahlil Okafor (Chicago/Whitney Young) and Dakari Johnson (Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick) are three of five potential elite freshman in town.
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.