ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Battle for the Rankings is an invite-only camp that showcases the talent-rich state of Florida. The camp is broken down into three divisions: high school boys, high school girls and middle school boys. Directors Kenny Gillion, Cory Rollins and the entire Breakdown staff did a tremendous job assembling a deep talent pool. The camp started Friday evening with a drills session to improve individual skills. Saturday and Sunday consisted of games, a single-elimination tournament and all-star games in each division.
The camp has a reputation for being a venue at which sleepers break out, and this year was no different. Seniors Darius Redding, a 6-foot-3 SG/SF (Tallahassee/Godby); Richie Edwards, a 6-7 SG (Lakeland); and junior Avery Moore, a 5-9 guard from Rickards High School out of Tallahassee emerged as three of the camp's surprise players. A few household names were also on hand and they didn't disappoint. Class of 2009 SG Kenny Boynton (Pompano Beach/American Heritage), Class of 2010 SF James Bell (Orlando/Montverde Academy) and Class of 2011 PG/SG Austin Rivers (Winter Park) all brought their A-games.
Kenny Boynton Jr., SG (6-3, 190)
Senior, Pompano Beach/American Heritage
Boynton was in attack mode from the get-go. He sprinted the floor in transition, often finishing above the rim or hitting a deep pull-up. He consistently made contested shots, a couple of which came when the game was on the line. He does a great job reading penetration by getting to the open area, usually somewhere beyond the arc where he has a quick trigger off the catch. Boynton also passed the ball ahead when he received the outlet pass in order to keep pressure on the defense. He did a good job passing to the open man when he drew a second defender on drives and slashes to the lane. Boynton has great confidence in his game and seems to make a scoring plays at will. One area where Boynton could improve is rebounding. He is a very strong shooting guard who could be a scoring threat on the offensive glass and on the defensive end rebound and take it coast-to-coast. He is a good defender with quick hands and good lateral foot speed but tends to gamble by reaching for steals a little too often. Boynton's a tremendous talent who could make an impact player next year as a college freshman.
James Bell, SF (6-5, 210)
Junior, Orlando/Montverde Academy, Committed to Villanova
This physical, athletic wing plays above the rim on both ends of the floor. On offense, he finishes over or around defenders with authority. On defense, he can block shots from the weak side or run down a player who thinks he has an uncontested layup that ends up out of bounds or going the other way. Bell attacks the rim in the half court along the baseline or wing where he has a knack for drawing fouls. He likes the midrange pull-up -- especially going right. He is a streaky shooter from 3-point range, but much improved from when I saw him in July. He has great elevation but still needs to work to maintain a consistent stroke. Bell is active on the glass on both ends and a tip-dunk threat if not boxed out. He is a high-energy defender capable of guarding a 2 or 3 and strong enough to battle an undersized 4-man. He should be a major contributor for the Wildcats from day one.
Austin Rivers, SG/PG (6-3, 180)
Sophomore, Winter Park, Committed to Florida
Rivers is a very skilled combination guard who has a great feel for the game. He has toughness and competes at all times. On the offensive end of the floor, he is terrific at using ball and foot fakes to move the defender before he makes his move. He has a nice handle and uses a variety of dribble moves to get into the lane where he can finish with great concentration and body control. He drives both ways, and when he can't finish at the rim, Rivers will stop and pop into a smooth pull-up jumper. Although he is streaky from behind the arc, he makes enough to keep the defense honest, but he must work to be more consistent before arriving in Gainesville. He can also slide over to provide relief at the point. Rivers has the ability to draw and kick or set the offense. He must continue to work to improve defensively and look to rebound more when playing the 2 spot, but this young man is a joy to watch.
Keith Clanton, PF/SF (6-8, 220)
Senior, Orlando/Christian Prep
Clanton is a combination forward who is a matchup problem because of his excellent skill level. He can post a smaller forward and drive by a bigger one. Clanton has a big body and is a good, not great, athlete, but his skill is what sets him apart. He has range to the arc with time and space, and a strong handle that allows him to get to the rim where he can finish with power. Clanton is also a good passer out of the post to the weak side of the floor or hitting a cutter to the rim. Clanton rebounds on both ends of the floor and does a great job using his size and strength to gain possession on defense and to complete putbacks on offense. He is a player who can do a little bit of everything well. Clanton is smooth, aggressive and was very productive in every game.
Ray Taylor, PG (5-7, 147)
Senior, Plantation/American Heritage
Taylor plays fast. Don't let his size fool you; he gets it done on both ends of the floor. He is tough and competes on every possession. He pushes the ball with great speed and quickness. He can be in the lane for a layup or delivering a dropoff pass before three of the five defenders can cross half court. He goes by his man at will with a laundry list of dribble moves to draw and kick or finish with a high-arcing layup over outstretched hands. Taylor is unpressable; he weaves through and around defenders with ease. He loves to make the home-run play with lob passes, and at times he over-penetrates and gets credit for a turnover. But for the most part, he makes the right decision. He keeps the defense honest with his jumper from 3, and he loves to attack left off the dribble to get off his step-back jumper for which he does a great job of creating space. He defends the ball with extreme pressure. He has the ball handler more concerned about him than scoring or starting the offense. This kid's a treat to watch.
Darius Redding, SF/SG (6-3, 205)
Redding is a super-athletic wing who entertained the crowd on a regular basis with his dunks in traffic. Whether in transition or the half court, any clear path to the rim became an instant camp highlight. He sprints the wing and is a threat to drive baseline or slash to the basket from either side of the floor. Redding can hang in the air, bounce off contact and finish an acrobatic shot in the lane with great elevation and concentration. He also has a good midrange pull-up, but must work to improve his jumper from behind the arc in order to keep the defense honest and set up his ability to get to the rim. Redding also makes his presence felt on the offensive glass. If he is not blocked out, expect a tip dunk or a very athletic putback basket. Redding also could be an excellent defender because of his good lateral movement and strength. As he continues to develop, Redding should be able to defend all three perimeter positions.
Richie Edwards, SG (6-7, 200)
Edwards is a very skilled wing who scores in a variety of ways. He runs the wing in transition and is a threat not only to finish with a dunk but also a pull-up jumper in the lane or spot-up 3. In a half-court setting, he drives the lane both ways but prefers going to his right for a midrange pull-up jumper. Edwards' length and elevation on his shot allows him to shoot over defenders. He can also knock down the ball-reversal 3 without hesitation. Edwards is an excellent ball handler and passer for his size, but he must add strength to take his game to the next level. He is always looking for a scoring opportunity but very seldom seems to force shots. On defense, he uses his length well to avoid getting beat off the dribble, and does a nice job helping out on the offensive glass for a timely putback. Edwards is a smooth and efficient offensive player.
Jelani Hewitt, SG/PG (6-2, 170)
Junior, Fort Lauderdale/Northeast
Hewitt is an excellent scorer. He is long and a good athlete. He can also help at the point, although he is still working on the transition. Hewitt is a terrific shooter who can knock down 3s off the catch or dribble. He also has a nice midrange pull-up. He does a nice job of moving the defender with a great shot-fake before he starts his attack. Hewitt also showed a nice floater in the lane with a great touch and arc over very athletic defenders. He can deliver the ball on the money to an open teammate when he makes a scoring move and draws a second or third defender. Hewitt must add strength in order to handle physical, on-ball defenders and look to rebound on a more consistent basis. Overall, Hewitt is on his way to becoming a big-time recruiting target with continued focus and work ethic.
Dexter Fields, SG (6-2, 185)
Senior, Orlando/Olympia, Committed to UAB
Fields is a strong, physical shooting guard who can score in bunches. He has 3-point range off the catch or dribble whether in transition or in the half court. He runs the wing and spots up where he is ready to pull the trigger as soon as the ball hits his hands. He gets open when his man helps to stop penetration and off screens. He also likes to drive to the rim going right and the one- or two-dribble pull-up attacking left. He is strong enough to finish through contact with either hand. Fields started slow in the first game of the day, but he became more aggressive in the next game, showing his skills on a series of strong possessions during which he hit back-to-back 3s and a few pull-up jumpers in traffic. Fields showed toughness and competitiveness and played in a stance on defense where he applied good ball pressure. Fields will be a nice offensive weapon for UAB coach Mike Davis.
Avery Moore, SG/PG (5-9,150)
Moore is a big-time jump shooter with range beyond the arc. He is a shooting guard in a point guard's body, but he also does a nice job of drawing a second defender and kicking to an open teammate. He was one of the few point guards who looked to feed the post. Every time he shoots the ball it has a great chance of going in. He is quick with the ball and attacks the defender to create space before bouncing into his jumper. If an on-ball defender has his hands down on Moore, put 3 in the books. Moore has toughness and competes, but at times he seems to play to the level of his competition instead of attempting to dominate and attack on every possession. Defensively, his quick hands and great lateral foot speed allow him to be a terrific on-ball defender. At times, Moore picked up his man full court and made him work for every inch when advancing the ball. He has a special skill in his shooting and could be one of the best scoring point guards in the state with focus and steady improvement. Moore is one to keep an eye on and see how he develops.
• 2010 prospect PF Patric Young (Jacksonville/Paxon) is a powerful finisher who rebounds on both ends and finishes above the rim with authority. He's still a work in progress on offense -- although he has a very good right-handed jump hook over his left shoulder.
• 2009 Russian prospect Ruslan Pateev (Orlando/Montverde) is a true center at 7-0, 240. He has a soft touch around the basket with either hand. He has a drop step and jump hook down to a science. Peteev is a big target, but seemed to get lost in the up-and-down action of the camp at times. He will be a major factor in the half court at the college level.
• 2010 prospect 6-7 Justin Jackson (Orlando/Montverde) is a high-energy athletic forward who is still a work in progress offensively, but he has improved since I saw him in July. He continues to finish above the rim and crashes the glass on both ends. But he has improved his ballhandling and scored or drew fouls with slashes and drives to the rim. He must work to improve his hands, but his upside is tremendous.
• Auburn commit 6-9 Robert Chubb, also from Montverde, is a long 4-man who can score with his back to the basket. Although he is an average athlete, he has great touch and feel as he executes his drop step and jump hook. Chubb has a comfortable shooting range to about 15 feet and showed signs of having the ability to face-up as well.
• 2010 prospect SG/SF Aaron Bowen (Jacksonville/Wolfson) showed great ability, at 6-5, to slash to the rim and knock down the open 3 or pull-up jumper. Bowen is an above-the-rim finisher in transition, and one to watch develop this coming season.
• Tyshawn Patterson (Orlando/Christian Prep) is a high-energy 6-1 senior who competes and gets things done every time out. Patterson is a streaky 3-point shooter who can get his own shot after a crossover, with a quick dribble pull-up or draw and kick when he draws a second defender. He is aggressive, and you always know he is in the game because of his consistent effort.
• Chris Rozier, also from Jacksonville/Wolfson, is another senior who is a very productive player. At 6-7, this active forward is a good rebounder and makes his presence felt on the offensive glass with athletic tip-ins. He likes to score on his midrange pull-up especially attacking to his left, and he can finish drop-off passes created by guard penetration.
Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton. He played at Ohio University from 1986-90 and was an All-MAC first-teamer his senior season.