St. Pat's stars impress at Jam Fest

PITTSBURGH -- The Hoop Group Pittsburgh Jam Fest provides grassroots travel teams with great competition and exposure. The Hoop Group put on a first-class event with games at the University of Pittsburgh, other local colleges and area high schools. There was an open division, 17U, 16U, 15U and 14U teams. The Hoop Group is also known for its elite camps that feature great individual instruction in addition to other grassroots Jam Fest's events around the country that will be held in Providence, Rhode Island, a Southern Jam Fest at the Boo Williams Sports Plex in Hampton, Virginia, a girl's event at Seton Hall University and another boy's event in West Virginia held at WVU. In the Gold Division Tournaments the 17U crown went to Team Final (Pa.) over The Playaz 71-67. The 16U Championship went to The Playaz who beat DC Assault 80-68. DC Assult took the 15U 58-56 over Eric Gordon.

Standout Players

Kyrie Irving PG/SG (6-1,165) New Jersey Roadrunners

2010, Elizabeth, N.J. / St. Patrick

This combination guard has sneaky athletic ability in transition. He can finish above the rim when he is ahead of the pack. Irving is a point guard first, but he can slide over and play to shooting guard because his has the ability to knock down the open 3. He does not get great lift on his shot but his release and follow through are excellent. He pushes the ball in transition with great pace. Irving has a strong handle and does a pretty good job dribbling through contact. He is a terrific passer, especially in the open court where he has great touch and feel for where to place the ball. Irving can pass with either hand and loves the long one-handed bounce pass. Irving also has a nice midrange game, which will greatly benefit him in college because it will help him avoid charges. He can pull up on the break, when attacking the baseline or hit the floater in the lane on a consistent basis. He also knocked down the pull-up jumper with his left hand -- although he is a true right-handed shooter. Irving has great concentration and body control when he attacks the lane. He can take the hit and still manage to get the ball in the hole. This smooth guard is also decent on ball defender and has good anticipation in the passing lanes. Irving is a very smooth player who has tremendous upside.

Ray McCallum PG (6-1, 170), Team Detroit
2010, Beverly Hills, Mich. / Country Day

McCallum is a true point with a pass-first mentality. He plays under control and makes excellent decisions with the ball. He pushes the ball in transition and does a great job of always looking to advance the ball down the floor. He can also finish in the open court with excellent touch and body control. McCallum has a good basketball IQ and feel for the game. He is a good ball handler and passer, and in the half court, he is one of the few guards who regularly looks to feed the post. He can score with his midrange pull-up when he can't get all the way to the rim, but is a streaky three point shooter. McCallum must work to be a consistent 3-point shooter in order to continue to set up his ability to drive, draw and kick to open teammates. On defense, he is a decent on-ball defender and good anticipator in the passing lanes but could be a better defensive rebounder because he has good size and could start the break without the outlet pass. Overall, he's an excellent lead guard who can run a team and will continue to get better as he adds strength.

Michael Gilchrist SF/PF (6-7,185), Team Final
2011, Elizabeth, N.J. / St. Patrick

This long-armed, very athletic combination forward continues to show he is the top player to date in his class. Gilchrist is a rebounding machine on both ends. He does a great job rebounding with two hands at rim level. He is a terrific outlet passer, but he can also start the break with a bust out dribble. On the offensive glass, Gilchrist is extremely quick to the ball and is a tip-dunk threat if not boxed out. Gilchrist is an above-the-rim finisher in transition and in the half court with an angle or any daylight to the rim. He is a willing and good passer when the defense surrounds him as well. His midrange game has improved, but he must continue to work on extending his shooting range to put him in the unstoppable category. On defense, he is advanced beyond his years. He has great lateral foot speed and quick hands. He closes out on a live dribble under control most of the time and is athletic enough to defend positions 1-4 in a switch situation. Gilchrist is very talented, plays with great energy and is productive each time he takes the floor.

Evan Smotrycz PF/SF (6-9, 210), Massachusetts Rivals
2010, Reading, Mass. / New Hampton, Committed to Michigan

Smotrycz was a pleasant surprise but more of a standout player this weekend. This super skilled combination forward has all the tools on the offense end of the floor. He is a perfect fit for the offensive system he will play in at Michigan. Smotrycz is a terrific 3-point shooter with NBA range. He has a quick trigger and the size to shoot over smaller defenders with ease. Smotrycz runs the lane in transition and does a great job of stretching the defense with his ability to make shots. Making plays off the dribble is also strength of Smotrycz's. He is a very good ball handler and does a great job of creating space with scoring dribble moves that include a step back pull up jumper going to his left. He would be perfect in pick and pop situations as well. His skill set doesn't stop with his scoring he is also a very good passer. He can drive, draw and kick in transition or in the half court where he has the ability to pass with either hand. Smotrycz is a good area rebounder but must add strength to prepare for the physical Big Ten but his upside is tremendous.

Chris Coleman C (6-10, 250), NEBC Buffalo
2011, Buffalo, N.Y./Mt. Zion Academy (Durham, N.C.)

This young post is tough to handle in the lane. Coleman is not only tall but wide, and he seals his man with ease. He is a huge target who can score with his back to the basket. Coleman has a nice touch and does a great job extending over defenders inside. He loves to shoot the jump hook over his left shoulder and he also showed a quick baseline spin on the right low block. Coleman has great hands as he repeatedly caught tough passes in traffic and scored or drawled fouls. Coleman is a powerful finisher above the rim when he can gather and attack the basket. He lift is not great at this point mainly because of his lack of conditioning. He is physical and competes for rebounds on both ends of the floor. He does a great job of rebounding in his area. Coleman needs to work at running the floor harder which should improve as he gets in better shape. At this point he runs with short strides and misses early post scoring opportunities. He is still very much a work in progress but with steady improvement Coleman will dominate the lane and be an impact player at the high major level.

Surprise Players

Josh Turner SG/PG (6-4, 180) Connecticut Select
2010, Hamden, Conn./Sacred Heart

Turner is a combination guard with great size and athletic ability. He attacks the rim in transition with tremendous pace and if not picked up in time he will finish above the rim over or around the late help defenders. In the half court Turner can finish in the lane with his length as he elevates of smaller perimeter defenders. His mid range jumper is smooth but he didn't attempt many three's because he seemed to get to the rim at will. Turner made the transition to point guard during the game very easily. He is a good ball handler and looked very comfortable with the ball. He breaks pressure and can beat his defender and penetrate and kick to open teammates. Turner looked more comfortable with the ball in his hands than he did playing off the ball. He could also help out at the small forward in a pinch because of his size and ability to rebound. Turner also could easily defend all three perimeter positions. His versatility is what makes him special.

Donnie Hale PF (6-8, 200) Spiece Indy Heat Downs
2010, New Albany, Ind. / New Albany

This long and athletic forward has a great motor. Hale runs the floor with ease and plays with urgency at all times. He has an excellent basketball IQ. He does a good job of rim running in transition where he beats defenders down the floor for easy layups. Hale also does a good job of sealing his defender in transition for a quick post up or screens of the defender for a teammate to get all the way to the rim. Hale is a lefty with great length that he uses to score in the low post with his jump hook over his right shoulder. He finishes drop off passes created by guard penetration and seems comfortable shooting the 15 foot jumper with time and space. Hale is active on the glass as he competes for rebounds in and out of his area. He lacks strength but works extremely hard on defense to deny and front the low post with his quickness and he also does a great job of contesting shots on the ball or closing on a shooter to help a teammate. Hale holds your attention with his constant activity and production.

Travis Carroll C (6-9, 240) Spiece Indy Heat Downs
2010, Danville, Ind., Committed to Purdue

Carroll is a skilled post with a big body that will excel in the Purdue motion offensive system. He can screen and seal his defender in the post and score with power drop steps or step out and hit the mid range jumper to about 15 feet off the catch. He also showed the ability to put the ball on the floor two or three dribbles and attack the rim which is a tremendous bonus for a player of his size. Carroll has a good basketball IQ as well. He understands that when he screens for a teammate his man has to help on the screen which enables him to get open on post ups and flashes across the lane or to the high post area. Carroll runs pretty but must make strength and conditioning a top priority. He must add strength and tone to his upper body but this young post has excellent potential to be a low post scorer and a mid range pick and pop option for the Boilermakers early in his career.

Tom Droney SG/SF (6-5, 200) Basketball Stars of America
2010, Pittsburgh/ Sewickley Academy

Droney is a skilled wing that plays with urgency and flare and has a scorer's mentality. He attacks in transition by running the lane or he has the ability to rebound and push the ball. He is a threat to go coast to coast. Droney is a very confident three point shooter with range and quick trigger. He can knock down the three ball of the catch or dribble with a smooth release and follow through. He also has a good mid range pull up and floater in the lane that his uses with good touch and body control to avoid charges. Droney is an excellent ball handler and passer as well. Although he is an average athlete he beats his defender off the dribble on a regular basis and is a willing passer with good snap and touch on his passes. He loves to use the behind the back dribble to change directions. Droney has good size and strength for his age and competes on both ends. He is a smart defender that understands how to use his length but struggles to keep an athletic wing under control when defending the ball. Droney resembles and plays at times like Gonzaga guard Matt Boudin.

Matt Brown SG (6-3, 190) Massachusetts Rivals
2010, Northfield, Mass./Northfield Mt. Herman

This strong and physical shooting guard was another pleasant surprise. Brown was aggressive and productive on a consistent basis. He is an excellent athlete with great size. He looks to have spent some time in the weight room. Brown sprints the wing in transition and can get to the rim or stop and pop with range beyond the arc. He has excellent form with a good release and follow through. Brown also is a threat to grab the defensive rebound and take coast to coast. Brown is strong enough to score through contact once he uses his ability to beat his defender off the dribble and attack the lane. He is a good passer on kick outs or drop offs when he draws a second defender. Brown does a great job at stretching the defense with his shot making ability and makes good decisions with the ball. He plays with passion and is a good on ball defender. He uses to strong upper body and lateral foot speed to maintain control of the ball handler. Brown has great upside and if he continues to play as he did this weekend his stock continue to rise.


• Class of 2010 SG 6-2 Chris Thompson (Burlington, N.J./ Life Center) is a sharp shooter from behind the arc in transition, spotting up in the half court and on ball reversal where he does a great job of stretching the defense he has a quick trigger and demands the defenses attention.

• Six-foot-8 junior Jack Roberts (Wallingford, Pa./ Strath Haven) is a active but thin power forward that blocks shots and hits the 15-17 footer.

• 2010 PF Michael Barnes (Bridgeport, Conn./Hillhouse) at 6-7 is a wiry shot blocker and above the rim finisher in transition.

• Another class of 2010 PF that is excels in transition and finishes well is 6-7 Jamir Hanner (Philadelphia/South) he is a work in progress with great upside.

• Six-foot-9 wide body Marcus Kennedy (Cherry Hill, N.J./ Living Faith Christian) is a load on the low block and glass when motivated. He has good hands and moves well for 250 pounds. Good upside.

• 2010 Wake Forest commit Tony Chenault (Philadelphia/St. John Neumann-Goretti) is clever with the ball and gets to the rim in transition, Knock down open shots and can penetrate and kick.

Reggie Rankin is a high school scout for Scouts Inc. He was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton.