Elite 75: Bunting, Ainge, Nelson shine

New England Recruiting Report founder and editor Adam Finkelstein hosted the 8th annual New England Elite 75 showcase on Monday at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The showcase, featuring New England’s top high school stars, schooled players on individual offensive drills and skill development and gave them an insight on what college coaches look for in a player.

The biggest stock-riser of the event may have been former Plymouth North forward Jesse Bunting, who will attend Tabor Academy and reclassify to the 2015 class this fall. Bunting, a heady big man who outplayed almost every other forward at the camp, has been playing AAU this summer with Expressions Elite. He received his first Division 1 offer this weekend from Holy Cross following the Crusaders’ elite camp.

"Yeah, that was pretty exciting hearing that all my work’s been paying off," Bunting said.

Several of his Expressions teammates, including top 100 recruits Abdul-Malik Abu (Kimball Union Academy) and Jared Terrell (Brewster Academy) also made late appearances. Abu, a physically-imposing 6-foot-8 forward, put down several skying dunks and dominated on the glass. Both are expected to cut down their lengthy college lists following the July live period.

Bunting said going up against the highly-touted Abu in practice has significantly helped his own development.

"Yeah, it definitely gets you prepared," Bunting said with a laugh. "In my workouts I’ve been trying to emphasize my shot and my dribbling, too. I need to work on my left-handed dribble."

Ainge carving his path

With his father, Boston Celtics’ President Danny Ainge, looking on, Crew Ainge stood out as one of the best point guards in the gym. Coming off a recovery from a wrist injury that resulted in the Kimball Union (N.H.) 2015 point guard becoming "out of shape" by his own admission, Ainge has begun to increase his physical training level.

Ainge works out regularly with trainers at the Celtics’ facility, with an emphasis on building his strength and improving his offensive skills. As a result, a slew of local Division 1 schools have expressed interest in Ainge this summer while playing for the New England Playaz AAU program. Originally thinking that as an incoming junior he would be playing for the Playaz’ 16U squad, expect Ainge to play a significant amount of minutes this July for the Playaz 17’s squad.

"There’s a little better competition. I was playing more than enough on the 17’s so I decided to stay there," he said.

His brother Cooper, who went to Brigham Young University as a recruited walk-on, is currently on his two-year Mormon mission in Chile. Crew says it is "most likely a big possibility" that he will also go on his Mormon mission before he begins his college hoops career.

Going forward with his recruitment, which is sure to expand during the July live period, Ainge says that his dad, for the most part, lets him handle his own recruiting.

"He actually kind of lets me handle most of it," Crew said. "He just tells me not to brag or boast about it—just to let it happen. Not to seek after coaches, just to let them come, if I keep working and getting better they’ll come, and not to even worry about it."

MIAA stars gearing up

Central Catholic Class of 2014 stars Tyler Nelson and Nick Cambio were both very impressive at Elite 75. Nelson was lights-out from beyond the three-point arc, while Cambio showed to be one of the best rebounders and interior defenders at the entire event.

Nelson -- who has picked up Division 1 offers this summer from Dartmouth, Jacksonville, Fairfield, George Washington, and Vermont -- will travel with Cambio and the rest of their BABC squad down to the Nike Peach Jam on July 11, where they'll try to win an 18th national championship for the revered club.

***Tyonne Malone, a 6-foot-3 forward who will be attending defending state champion Springfield Putnam this season, was also very impressive. A creative lefty who can score in a variety of ways and overpower perimeter defenders, Malone will be in instant-impact type of player as the Beavers will be playing for their second consecutive state championship.

***Makai Ashton-Langford, a rising sophomore at St. Peter-Marian who has been playing AAU this summer with Mass Rivals, showed well after picking up his first Division 1 offer this past weekend from the University of Rhode Island. Still only 14 years old, he has an understanding of the game that is far beyond his years. Expect him to play a significant amount of minutes for St. Peter-Marian this coming year.

***Ben Judson will be looked at to be "the guy" for St. John’s Prep this coming year, and the rising junior guard has shown that he should be up to the task. A lights-out left-handed shooter, Judson has significantly improved his scoring off the dribble and has added a lot of upper body strength, as the Prep looks forward to their first year under new head coach John Dullea.