PITTSBURGH -- The University of Pittsburgh was the host of the 2010 Hoop Group Pittsburgh Jam Fest. The event showcased tons of talent and the competition was stiff on every court. There were many terrific performances in a loaded field; the high-wire act of shooting guard Bishop Daniels (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God Christian Academy) and the versatility of future Michigan State Spartan Brandan Kearney (Detroit/Southeastern) topped the list.
Zac VanDeWater (South Whitley, Ind./Whitko) was a pleasant surprise. He played aggressively the entire game, scored at the rim on strong drives and knocked down open perimeter jumpers. Vaughn Gray (Ramsey, N.J./Don Bosco Prep) was another breakout performer. The small forward is a complete player on both ends of the floor and was productive and is a silent assassin for the Playaz (N.J.).
Bishop Daniels, SG (6-foot-2, 175)
2011, Raleigh, N.C./Word of God Christian Academy
Daniels excelled in the open court, with a number of acrobatic above-the-rim finishes, and slammed home drop-off passes. He's an explosive, athletic combination guard who is very talented. His midrange game is also an excellent weapon. Daniels has a very good first step and can hang in the air with terrific body control that aids him in drawing fouls. He has great elevation on his jumper, as well. Daniels can get his shot at will whether it is good or bad, and shoots over much taller defenders with ease. He can get to the rim or bounce into a pull-up jumper after a couple of rhythm dribbles. He is streaky from 3; if he improves that facet of his game, Daniels will be unstoppable. He can handle the ball and does a pretty good job dishing to an open teammate when he draws a crowd in the lane.
Brandan Kearney, SG (6-5, 180)
2011, Detroit/Southeastern, Team Detroit, committed to Michigan State
What a difference a few months make. The last time I saw Kearney I could see his talent, but he lacked the aggressiveness to be a major factor. That was not the case Friday night against the Virginia Assault. Kearney displayed high-level versatility. He handled the ball against intense pressure, rebounded and went coast-to-coast and knocked down a variety of shots that included midrange pull-ups and 3s off the catch or dribble. Kearney has great size and better length. This kid can scratch his knees without bending over. His body type reminds me of former Memphis star and NBA guard Chris Douglas-Roberts, another player from the state of Michigan. Kearney was in attack mode on almost every possession. He shot over taller guys and backed down smaller defenders to score with his impressive length. Kearney has the size and skill to play all three perimeter positions. He is also a major factor defensively in the passing lanes with his good anticipation. He must add strength, but when he plays with urgency, he can fill the stat sheet.
Jeremy Hollowell, SF (6-7, 190)
2012, Indianapolis/Lawrence Central
Hollowell is a skilled wing forward. He helped lead his team to the U16 championship. He is a solid ball handler who can create from the wing. He is also a solid shooter with range to 20 feet. Hollowell is a good scorer and rebounder with great size. He needs to improve his motor, but his talent and skill level are unmistakable. Defensively, he uses his length to be disruptive. He has a solid body and nice strength, so he is also effective guarding post players. Hollowell plays combo forward now and could project to be a combo at the next level, but he is a natural small forward. As Hollowell continues to grow, improve and get stronger, look for him to move up the national rankings.
Zac VanDeWater SG/SF (6-5, 190)
2011, South Whitley, Ind./Whitko
VanDeWater went at defenders right from the first possession and maintained his aggressiveness throughout the game. His midrange game was very impressive. He attacked the rim with strong drives that he set up with a very convincing shot fake. He scored through contact and drew fouls on a regular basis. VanDeWater has good size and strength and played with great energy. He handles and passes the ball pretty well and is a versatile perimeter player and a better athlete than you think. He can play and defend both wing positions and maybe even the point in a pinch. VanDeWater played with toughness and competed. He also knocked down a few open 3s with time and space. VanDeWater is a player to keep a close eye on this spring and summer to see if he can continue to perform at a high level.
Vaughn Gray SF/SG (6-5, 190)
2011, Ramsey N.J./Don Bosco Prep
Gray is a very efficient player who can do everything pretty well. He is the glue guy for a very talented Playaz (N.J.) team. Gray attacks the rim, where he can finish through contact. This strong wing also knocks down midrange pull-ups and does a great job of drawing fouls. He can make scoring plays off the dribble or drive and kick to an open teammate. Grey is a terrific athlete who can hit an open 3 with time and space, although he can be streaky. Another asset of Gray's is his ability to defend. He pressures the ball and does a great job of moving his feet and keeping his hands active. Gray is the type of player you like more each time you watch him play.
Class of 2012 point guard Tyler Lewis (Statesville, N.C./Forsyth Country Day) has a great feel for the game. What makes him special is his ability to pass. He can thread the needle from short and long distances. Lewis has tremendous court vision and simply sets his teammates up for great shots.
Team Philly 2012 played in the U17 division. They are talented at every position and led by two high-major forwards in Savon Goodman (Philadelphia/Academy of the New Church) and Amile Jefferson (Wynnewood, Pa./Friends Central). This young team will make some serious noise on the travel circuit over the next couple of years.
The All Ohio U15 team features a pair of freshmen with great futures. Forwards Nigel Hayes (Toledo, Ohio/Whitmer) and Marc Loving (Toledo, Ohio/St. John) are two of the best players in their class. Both are skilled and have inside/outside games. Both project right now to be combo forwards at the next level.
Speaking of big, Team Takeover Canada U16 has a couple of massive post players. Sim Bhullar is a 7-4 sophomore (2012), and his brother, Tanveer Bhullar, is a 7-1 freshman (2013). They are Canadian but attend high school in the United States at Kiski Prep (Erie, Pa.). The brothers are not only big, but they have potential. Sim can pretty much dunk on his tiptoes!
Freshman forward Austin Colbert (Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick H.S.) is an exceptional talent. He loses focus sometimes and needs to learn to finish plays consistently. Still, his talent is unmistakable. He runs the floor very well and is a very good shot-blocker. He scores inside and can step out to 19 feet and hit jumpers. He is a top-15 talent in the 2013 class.
Jam Fest winners
U17 Gold Division: Team Loaded (Virginia) over Ohio Basketball Club (Ohio) 66-63
U16 Gold: Eric Gordon Central Stars (Indiana) over South Florida Panthers (Florida) 55-50
U15 Gold: Spiece Gym Rats (Indiana) over Eric Gordon Central Stars (Indiana) 74-61
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.
John Stovall contributed to this report.