HOUSTON -- There were plenty of great performances from players on Day 2 of the Houston tournament of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, but none was more impressive than Johnny O'Bryant (Cleveland, Miss./East Side), who has added muscle and is using it to dominate the paint. Under-the-radar shooting guard Nick Faust was terrific as well and displayed great versatility on the perimeter. The games were played with great energy, and these elite travel teams continue to jockey for position in the league race.
Johnny O'Bryant (Cleveland, Mo./East Side)
2011, C, 6-foot-10, 245 pounds
Team: Jackson Tigers
O'Bryant, the top center in the Super 60, played very physically and used his added upper-body strength to score through contact on a regular basis. He ran the floor well and displayed excellent touch and body control when he received the ball while on the move. O'Bryant faced and attacked off the dribble from the wing and baseline and rebounded at a high rate in and out of his area. On the offensive glass, O'Bryant finished with power above the rim. Defensively, he has the skill set to start the break with a bust-out dribble. He knocked down 17-footers off the catch with a smooth and confident stroke and was a matchup problem throughout the game. O'Bryant is strong, athletic and mobile enough to defend not only a center but a power forward as well. He has clearly improved both physically and skillwise and is without a doubt one of the elite post players in the Class of 2011.
Trevor Lacey (Huntsville, Ala./Huntsville)
2011, SG, 6-3, 205
Team: Each 1 Teach 1
Lacey had a flurry of possessions on which he was awesome and displayed a combination of power and skill. He hit midrange jumpers off the catch or drove to the lane with power and scored with strength. His touch and body control were flawless as he hit floaters off the glass and knocked down 3s with great confidence. Lacey handled the ball under pressure and found the open man with ease when he drew a second defender. He played with as much urgency as I have seen from him, and when he is in attack mode, this powerful shooting guard is tough to handle. He rebounded, led the break and made excellent decisions. Lacey showed what he can do when he is focused, and if he performs in this manner on a consistent basis, watch out!
Nick Faust (Baltimore/City)
2011, SG, 6-6, 175
Team Baltimore Elite
Faust is a long and athletic wing who possesses excellent skills. He has the ability to play all three perimeter positions and defend them as well. Faust can make scoring plays off the dribble with his length and touch. He knocks down midrange jumpers and finger-rolls over smaller defenders in the lane. He is streaky from behind the arc but is good enough to put the defense on alert.
Faust can handle the ball, set the offense and make pretty good basketball decisions. He is versatile enough that he can find a matchup to take advantage of in every game. He also has a good basketball IQ and is a good rebounder. Faust competes and plays with good energy. He must add strength and continue to work on his jumper, but his versatility and ability to score in a variety of ways give him an opportunity to be special with continued hard work.
• Bryce Johnson (Orangeburg, S.C./Edisto) of the Carolina Ravens is a power forward with tremendous upside. He finishes above the rim and rebounds with his great length. Once his skill catches up to his athletic ability, he will be a special player in the Class of 2012. Definitely one to watch.
• Class of 2011 small forward Byron Wesley (Fontana, Calif./Etiwanda) provides California Select with toughness on the wing. He is physically ready for college now. At 6-5, Wesley power-drives and scores through contact with ease. He also can drop off to the open man. Wesley will make some college coach very happy with his blue-collar approach to the game.
• Wesley's California Select teammate Ryan Anderson Lakewood, Calif./Poly) is a face-up power forward with range to the arc who also can score with his back to the basket. His size and skill grab your attention, and he is productive and a matchup problem.
Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton. He played at Ohio University from 1986 to '90 and was an All-MAC first-teamer in his senior season.