SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. -- Nine games featuring some of the best high school programs from New Jersey and New York City, in addition to the outstanding prep program of South Kent (Conn.) made up the 12th annual Hoop Group Tip-Off Showcase. Director of team events Rob Engemann did a great job of assembling a field loaded with high-major players and outstanding coaches.
Ricardo Ledo (Providence, R.I./South Kent)
2012, SG, 6-foot-6, 185 pounds
Ledo scored in a variety of ways including some above-the-rim highlights on the break. NBA-range jumpers and the ability to get his own shot came easy for Ledo en route to his 35-point outburst against the Hun School (N.J.). He attacked defenders relentlessly off the dribble with his tight handle. Multiple crossovers, inside-out dribbles and spin moves looked to be second nature for the long, super athletic wing. Ledo also had a couple impressive offensive rebounds and played the passing lanes well, coming away with four steals. Ledo's ability to score makes him special and as he adds strength and continues to improve defensively the sky is the limit. Ledo mentioned that he has already unofficially visited UConn and has a Dec. 28 date with Kentucky and Louisville. He also likes Providence, Syracuse, Texas and Florida.
Kyle Anderson (North Bergen, N.J./St. Anthony)
2012, SF, 6-8, 200 pounds
Villanova, Miami, UCLA, Pitt, Virginia Tech, LaSalle, Depaul, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Xavier, Kentucky and Florida are all on the trail of the skilled combination forward that can also be considered a point forward because of his ballhandling and passing ability. Anderson is a tough matchup on the high school level and that should continue once he arrives on a college campus. Anderson did his damage inside the arc with drives from the wing and by posting up, where he drew multiple fouls and made excellent passes out of the post when doubled teamed. He was also terrific on the glass pulling down 10 rebounds (five offensive), while scoring 23 points and leading St. Anthony's to a 62-50 win over Gill St. Bernard's. Anderson must work on extending his shooting range, being more explosive around the rim and defending on the perimeter but what makes Anderson successful and productive is his size and skill level.
Jaren Sina (Lake Hopatcong, N.J./ Gill St. Bernard's)
2013, PG, 6-1, 160 pounds
Sina is a tough, competitive floor general who is very skilled. He is thin and needs to add strength and at times he over dribbles, but his list of things he does well is much longer. Sina has a tight handle, can deliver the ball with either hand and knocked down deep and midrange jumpers off the catch or dribble. Sina has a great feel for the game as well and he does a great job of keeping his dribble alive until he knows what he wants to do. Sina makes great decisions when he reads and attacks on-ball screens. He just looks like he loves to play as he attacks defenders without hesitation. Seton Hall, Rutgers, St. John's, LaSalle, Alabama, James Madison, Florida State and Georgetown have all offered. Duke, Butler, Clemson, Siena and Miami are all in the process of checking out Sina, who dropped 22 points and handed out five assists in a hard fought loss to St. Anthony's.
Vaughn Gray (Elmwood Park, N.J./St. Benedict's)
2011, SF, 6-5, 185 pounds
The George Mason signee made plays from all over the floor scoring 18 points, grabbing seven rebounds and handing out five assist, while playing an excellent floor game as St. Benedict's beat St. Raymond's 67-62. Grey displayed a great motor as he rebounded and pushed the ball on the break. He also ran the floor well and finished above the rim when he was not attacking the defense with athletic slashes and midrange jumpers. Gray is a terrific glue guy that reminds us at times of David Lighty of Ohio State. He will be a great addition to coach Jim Larranaga's program right from Day 1.
Player to watch
Melvin Johnson (New York City, N.Y./Rice)
2012, SG, 6-3, 170 pounds
Johnson's ability to shoot the ball was very impressive. He has a smooth and confident stroke off the catch or dribble. He runs the outside lane on the break and if the transition defense falls asleep he rarely misses open spot-up threes when his feet are set. He spaces to the open area and comes off screens ready to pull the trigger. Johnson has good size and uses it when he straight-line drives to the rim where he can score through contact. He plays with urgency on defense as well. When he's in a stance and is capable of defending both wing positions on the high school level. Johnson must continue to hone his skills in the areas of passing and ballhandling to take his game to the next level. Providence, Iona, Drexel, Fordham and Siena are on his list.
Sekou Harris (Plainfield, N.J./Plainfield)
2012, PG, 5-11, 155 pounds
Harris got into a groove and almost willed Plainfield to a big win but fell 73-66 to Rice (N.Y.). The thin but quick point guard had some big-time scoring possessions including a deep pull-up 3 to end the first half that gave Plainfield a 24-21 lead. Harris broke double team pressure from all over the court with his tight handle and acceleration and hit some impressive midrange and 3-point pull-up jumpers, mostly attacking to his right. He delivered the ball to open teammates when he drew a crowd in drive, draw and kick situations. Harris also was alert in the passing lanes, coming up with three steals. Harris dropped 26 points including five 3s and played a terrific floor game. The young point guard must add strength, but if he continues to play well expect college coaches to find their way to Plainfield.
• Kent State, Siena, Drexel and Quannipiac are all taking a hard look at uncommitted senior shooting guard Charles Oliver (Scotch Plains, N.J./Seton Hall Prep). He has a nice pull-up jumper and can knock down open 3s when his feet are set. He also scored off the bounce, which he has recently added to his game.
• Plainfeld (N.J.) has two other Class of 2012 players that have a chance to be very good players in addition to Harris. SF Dijon Jordan is a long, versatile wing who scores inside the arc, rebounds and is starting to come into his own. PF Justin Sears is a shot-blocking, rebounder who is also a good passer. Harris has already spiked the interest of Stanford, Princeton, Harvard and Holy Cross.
• Junior PF Jerome Frink (Jersey City, N.J./St. Anthony) has a great motor. He rebounds, runs the floor, finishes in the lane and works on the defensive end to keep the ball out of the post. Frink says Virginia, Virginia Tech, Marquette, LaSalle, Siena and Rice have all expressed interest.
Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton. He played at Ohio University from 1986 to 1990 and was a first-team All-MAC selection his senior season. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.