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July 30, 2009

Drummond shines brightest on Wednesday

ORLANDO, Fla. - The AAU Nationals is beginning to wind down in Orlando, but that means that the intensity of the games are picking up. On Wednesday the player that opened up the most eyes was also one of the biggest, Andre Drummond.

Drummond makes his case

Sometimes a player comes along and it is just scary to think about how good he is going to be. In the 2012 class that prospect might be Drummond. The 6-foot-10 and 250 pound center from Connecticut is not only big, but he is talented.

Drummond proved on Wednesday that he can run the floor as well as anyone, he has great hands, always holds the ball high, blocks shoots, has athleticism, and even possesses a decent touch into the mid-range.

In essence, there is just nothing on the floor that Drummond can not do. With that in mind, Drummond doesn't turn 16 until the month of August. Because of that he has decided to reclassify to the 2012 class from the 2011 group.

As someone who is now in the proper grade, the sky is the limit. In a win over Florida Gold Coast, Drummond was absolutely dominant. The highlight of the game came when Drummond sprinted the floor on a fast break, and caught the ball mid-stride, jumped, and simply dunked the ball on a defender who went up to block his shot. The impact between the two sent the defender sprawling to the floor while Drummond simply threw the ball through the rim and got back on defense.

While that was the most memorable play of the game, maybe the most impressive were his offensive rebounds. So often big guys, especially young big guys, bring the ball down allowing the defense to knock it away, but not Drummond. He always holds it high, never bringing the ball down below his shoulders. Drummond did that on a several occasions in the win, and each time it resulted in a bucket.

While he is great on the offensive end, Drummond might be better on defense. With his natural size, and long arms, Drummond is a shot blocker, and someone who just has a feel for how to defend around the goal. On top of that he is also an excellent defensive rebounder.

Helping Drummond and the Connecticut Basketball Club was Majok Majok. Majok is a rugged power forward with some surprising lift off the floor. Right now he doesn't have a big time skill level, but he plays with a high motor and just produces.

Even though his Gold Coast team lost, Charles Hankerson did some nice things. Hankerson is a big burly point forward who is at his best when he is controlling the action. Because of his size and foot speed he isn't a true point guard, but Hankerson really knows how to pass the ball and has a solid feel for how to set things up. Also Hankerson showed that he can make shots, which makes him tough to guard.

Names emerging

While Drummond was the biggest star of the day, two guards from different parts of the country stole the show in their own way. One is 2011 St. Louis native B.J. Young, and the other is 2010 Orlando floor general Kendrick Perry.

Young, who plays with St. Louis Game Face, is an excellent wing. He showed that he could develop into a shooting guard or even a small forward, and with that versatility is a bundle of talent.

At 6-foot-4 he can finish above the rim in transition, and also use his athleticism to score in the half court. Also he has a jump shot that is just pretty. After scoring only five points in the first half of a loss to Wave Basketball, Young exploded in the second half.

Young finished the game with 27 points, and a lot of it was because he was on fire from deep. He is the type of player that every time he shoots it, you think it is going in. He hit at least five threes, and combine that with his dunks and energy, and Young opened up a lot of eyes. Also the kid is a flat out competitor who does everything he possibly can to help his team win.

While Young has been on the map in regional circles, Perry has been completely under the radar. He is young for his grade, so he actually plays with 2011 prospects since he skipped third grade.

With long arms, a great feel for the game, and good quickness, Perry has a lot of ability. In a win over the Legion 16-under, he poured in 18 points with at least three threes, and several nice drives to the bucket. Also with his quickness he was able to keep guards in front of him.

On top of it all, Perry is heady on and off the court. He reports having a 4.0 GPA, and that shows with the sound decisions that he makes. Needless to say playing with Each 1 Teach 1, Perry is beginning to emerge.

Other Notable Performances

In a morning game against Nike Team Florida, Hunter Mickelson had a very solid game. The skilled, but skinny center, center for the Arkansas Wings showed an ability to hit shots facing the basket. Also he blocked a few shots, and rebounded the ball very well. Mickelson also runs the floor well, but he really needs to add strength as he gets ready for college.

Mickelson's teammate Ky Madden was also solid. Madden didn't have great scoring numbers, but the versatile backcourt player made some key plays to keep the Wings in the game, and showed the potential that has everyone so excited about him.

Leading Team Florida in the win over the Wings was Deante Saunders. Some consider Saunders more of a football prospect, but he flat out gets it done in hoops. At 6-foot-1 with lightning quickness and plenty of strength, Saunders can get to the rim at will, and when he gets there he knows how to finish. Also Saunders is more than a capable shooter. There is absolutely no doubt that Saunders could play at a very high level in basketball, if indeed he decides to go that route.

Another very quick point guard in the 2011 class is Patrick Lucas-Perry. Lucas-Perry is the younger brother of current Michigan guard, Laval Lucas-Perry, and is a solid player in his own right. Patrick is an excellent defender with great quickness. His jump shot shows good rotation, and he shows an ability to lead a team. Now Perry must get bigger and stronger and become more consistent with the jumper, but he has the look of a very solid floor general.

Another 2012 who had an excellent game was Elijah Macon. Macon is paying up with the 2011 All-Ohio group, and ended up rescuing them in overtime. He converted no less than four second shot attempts late in the game, and those points and rebounds were huge for the guard dominated squad. Macon continues to get better, and plays with a high motor. His performance on Wednesday was especially huge considering it was for a spot in the semi finals.

A floor general who looked good in the 2011 class was Jabarie Hinds. Hinds rallied his Westchester Hawks squad back to a win mostly because of his ability to get into the lane. Right now Hinds struggles to shoot the ball from distance, but boy can he get to the tin. Hinds is extremely quick, and when he gets into traffic he has an uncanny ability to hang in the air and finish acrobatically. Also Hinds has excellent size for a floor general, and is coming along at a nice rate.

A 2010 that hasn't been seen a whole lot is C.J. Aiken. The Philadelphia native has stayed relatively quiet on the circuit, but on Wednesday he looked very solid with the Keystone Blazers. Aiken is a legitimate 6-foot-10 with extremely long arms and nice athleticism. Also he shows a good feel for hitting shots on the première. The problem however is he doesn't rebound like he is capable. Now he does need to get stronger, and the added strength will help, but he needs t show a killer instinct on the glass. If he gets that, his ceiling is very high, and he is an excellent pickup for St. Joe's.

Another 2010 who has been slightly under the radar is Durand Johnson. The Baltimore native who runs with Cecil Kirk can flat out shoot the ball. He is 6-foot-4 or maybe slightly taller with good bounce off the floor and a quick release. On Wednesday he knocked in four threes, but even his misses looked good, but they just didn't go for him. With his attitude and ability to really stroke it, Johnson is showing to be one of the better pure shooters in the class. He does need to do a much better job of creating for himself off the bounce, but when it comes to rise and fire, few are better.

Also Johnson's teammate, Cleveland Melvin showed some nice potential. Melvin is a bouncy power forward who does a lot of damage on the interior. He can shoot it out to about 10 feet, but the vast majority of his points come right around the rim. He is slightly undersized for the position, but a good looking prospect none the less.

School Lists/Recruiting News

The biggest news on the recruiting front to come on Wednesday was from Austin Rivers. The early commitment to the Florida Gators indicated that he is going to see a few other schools. Despite that, Rivers made it very clear that he intends to remain a Gator.

"Yes, I am going to take some visits just to look around out of respect for my father who wants me to see some other places," said Rivers. "I am definitely still committed to Florida, but I want to see a few other schools."

He continued, "I don't know which other schools I will visit yet, but I think I will visit Duke and a couple of other places, depending on what my dad wants."

Patrick Lucas-Perry has offers from Michigan, Michigan State, South Florida, Oakland, Central Michigan, Detroit, and Ohio. Also according to his mother Wake Forest is close to offering.

Kendrick Perry indicated that he has heard from Youngstown State and Stetson a little bit, but expect that list to grow quite a bit.

B.J. Young said he is getting regional interest from Southern Illinois, Missouri State, Illinois State, and St. Louis. The Red Birds and Billikens are yet to offer Young.

Andre Drummond said that the entire Big East and ACC is after him. Some coaches who have made it known that he is a priority include Jim Calhoun, Jim Boeheim, Derek Kellogg, and Bob Huggins.

Jabarie Hinds has offers from James Madison, Louisville, Oklahoma State, UNLV, Virginia, and Seton Hall.

Durand Johnson has an offer from Xavier, and is hearing from Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Georgetown, St. Bonaventure, Auburn, Charlotte, LaSalle, George Washington, Texas A&M, and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.


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