LAS VEGAS -- The Impact Basketball Academy Classic was held this past weekend at the Impact Basketball facility. The three-day event was hosted by Impact Basketball Academy and organized by Rich Marcucci; compliments go to Marcucci for doing a terrific job of organizing the Classic and getting an impressive selection of prep school teams from across the nation to attend. This event was the academy's first major prep school tournament; Impact hopes it will become an annual tradition. Each team invited to the Classic played at least two games, with some of the teams playing up to four games on the weekend.
The event was a success in that spectators could evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the country's elite and sleeper talents. ESPNU 100 prospects Tristan Thompson (Brampton, Ont./Findlay Prep) and Cory Joseph (Toronto/Findlay Prep) and international sensation Enes Kanter (Turkey/Stoneridge Prep) continued to shine. We also found a few fast rising prospects and some underclassmen who could become household names in the coming months.
Corey Joseph, PG (6-foot-3,180 pounds)
2010, Toronto/Findlay Prep
Joseph continues to show why he is an elite-level point guard in the Class of 2010. His performance at the Impact Basketball Classic led his team to a competitive showing. When Joseph's team needed him to run the offense and get it under control, he did. Joseph was able to break away from the offense and create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. Joseph plays as though he is being shot out of a cannon; his first-rate ballhandling skills and explosiveness easily set him apart from other point guards in the 2010 class. Joseph showed that he can put points on the board in a hurry with his spectacular drives, long-range 3-pointers and ability to play off the ball screen. Joseph is a special talent in the open court; his speed with the basketball, ability to pass in a variety of ways and quick decision-making ability are impressive. He never stops working, defensively or offensively. Whoever is able to land this top point guard in the late signing period is getting an instant impact player who will elevate the play of his teammates and his program.
Tristan Thompson, PF (6-9, 230)
2010, Brampton, Ontario/Findlay Prep, signed with Texas
Thompson is an athletic power forward who works his tail off on both ends of the floor. His physical strength and athletic ability allowed him to dominate in the paint and make him an intriguing prospect. Thompson was able to grab rebounds outside of his reach and off the rim. When gathering offensive rebounds, Thompson kept the ball high and could finish possessions with either hand for a basket. He was aggressive defensively, challenging all shots taken in the lane and never letting his man receive the ball easily in the post. Thompson was effective redirecting guards on high ball screens. In addition to establishing deep post position, Thompson does an outstanding job running the floor for easy baskets and making himself available on guard penetration. He loves to use his strength to overpower the opposition in the post. He made a few nice passes to his teammates out of the post when they were cutting.
Enes Kanter, C (6-11, 240)
2010, Turkey/Stoneridge Academy
Kanter is a fundamentally sound basketball player with a high basketball IQ. He scores from all over the floor and is an efficient player in the post. When in the post, Kanter is patient and reads what the defense is giving him. He does a great job of establishing deep post position and loves to create contact with his opponent. Kanter uses a drop-step or step-through move in the post, as well as two dribble-drop baseline moves from both sides of the floor. He is always on two feet when going to finish and keeps the ball chinned while completing his moves in the post. Kanter finishes his layups above the rim; occasionally, he will dunk. He is comfortable knocking down the 3-point shot as the trailer or picking-and-popping in the half-court offense. He will rebound the basketball at its highest point and goes outside of his body to grab a number of rebounds. His physical traits, plus his feel for the game, will allow him to be an excellent player at the high-major level.
Players to keep an eye on
Jamal Franklin, SG (6-5, 190)
2010, Phelan, Calif./Westwind Prep Academy, signed with San Diego State
Franklin is a high-energy, athletic wing. He excels in the open court, and can use his running and jumping ability. Franklin is always around the basketball making good things happen. Defensively, Jamal can defend three positions because of his length and lateral quickness. Jamal will go to the top of the square to grab rebounds. This weekend, Jamal was relentless on attacking the basket off the dribble and finishing his drives with highlight-reel dunks over bigger players. He was able to knock down the stand-still 3-point shot. Jamal will fit in well at San Diego State.
Jose Rodriguez, SG (6-4, 185)
2011, New York/Impact Basketball Academy
After a strong showing against Findlay Prep, in which he scored 37 points, earlier this week, Rodriguez continued to impress at this event. He did not disappoint fans in an especially strong performance versus Stoneridge Preparatory. Rodriguez's length, knowledge of the game and strong fundamentals made him a difficult matchup for his opponents. Rodriguez is an effective cutter for his age. On drives, he is great at using his body to finish in the lane and creating fouls. His ability to use shot fakes and foot fakes creates scoring advantages, and he has a nice shooting motion with a range out to 22 feet. The future for this young wing is promising. He seems very coachable.
Eric McKnight PF/C (6-9, 215)
2010, Raleigh, N.C./Princeton Day Academy
McKnight, a 2010 prospect, was outstanding throughout the three-day event. A 6-foot-9 post, McKnight is a long, athletic jumping jack. He has great mobility and agility that allows him to beat his man up and down the floor. McKnight never stops competing and is always well-placed around the basketball. He challenges all shots in the lane and is adept at blocking shots from the weakside because of his length and timing. McKnight displayed a soft touch around the basket and was able to finish above the rim with layups or thunderous dunks. He moved into open areas on guard penetration and made himself available for drop-off passes. McKnight was able to catch a number of poor passes and finish in traffic. He attacks the offensive glass and refuses to be blocked out; he grabs rebounds at the highest point and pursues the ball outside of his area.
• Two rookies stood out among the crowd, playing with the skill and efficiency of many elite level players. 2012 prospect Winston Shepard (Houston/Findlay Prep) and Chris Thomas (/Princeton Day Academy) were composed under pressure and impactful players. A versatile forward that can handle the ball like a guard, Shepard can make plays off the bounce or run the wing in transition and finish above the rim. Thomas is a combo guard who has a great feel for the game, solid fundamentals and composure with the basketball when under pressure.
• Uncommitted 2010 prospect Kadeem Minor (Las Vegas/Impact Basketball Academy) had a terrific weekend of basketball. He is a smart, competitive combo guard with a high skill level and outstanding feel for the game. Minor changes speeds and uses a variety of dribble moves to beat his defender off the bounce.
• Brandon Tuggle (Ontario, Calif./Westwind Prep) is a long, lanky, athletic wing. The uncommitted 2010 prospect excels in the open because of his ability to run the floor, as well as finish above the rim. Tuggle is a good on-the-ball defender and understands positioning when off the basketball.
• Aamir Kelliehan (Mableton, Ga./Queen City Prep) is another unsigned 2010 prospect who should be getting looks. He is an aggressive scorer from the guard position. He has an explosive first step to beat his defender from triple threat or off the dribble. Kelliehan uses his body well to finish in the lane against bigger defenders and is capable of knocking down the 15-foot, pull-up jumper.
Marty Richter is a scout who contributes to Scouts Inc. regularly.