July 30, 2007

Las Vegas underclassmen eye catchers

The Rivals.com basketball recruiting staff wraps up the busy July event schedule after spending the week in Las Vegas watching hundreds of the nation's top prospects compete.

Tracking the top underclassmen in the country was one of Rivals.com's missions in Las Vegas. Here is a rundown on some of the top underclassmen that caught the eye of National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer.

Las Vegas: Underclassmen eye catchers
Joe Jackson, PG, Memphis (Tenn.) White Station, Class of 2010
Not only was Joe Jackson one of the top prospects we watched in Las Vegas, he was also the most entertaining prospect I saw. With a serious demeanor, high basketball IQ and a wealth of physical talent, Jackson showed the ability to make most any play on the court at 5 feet 10.

A jitterbug-type with terrific leaping ability and natural strength, Jackson hit 3-pointers and zigzagged his way into the interior of the defense. His eight rebounds and six steals in the game we watched attest to his ability to play much larger than his size.

He also had a signature move where he posted up in the mid-range area, took one dribble and dunked over his man off two feet.

A terrific looking prospect who appears to still be growing, Jackson will receive heavy recruiting attention from the top programs in the country.

Brandon Knight, PG, Coral Springs (Fla.) Pine Crest, Class of 2010
As good as Joe Jackson is, Brandon Knight is the top 2010 point guard prospect. He doesn't have the electric athleticism of Jackson, but Knight is a very good athlete and has the length at 6-3 that gives him an edge over Jackson - especially as a defender.

Knight has an impressively mature game. He passes the ball quickly and accurately up the court, and also has the quickness to create scoring opportunities by breaking down the defense. As a scorer, he has a smooth stroke from the outside and utilizes an array of moves in the mid-range when he isn't getting to the basket.

Full of upside, and very good right now, Knight is one of the elite prospects in the 2010 class.

John Wall, PG, Raleigh (N.C.) Word Of God Christian Academy, Class of 2009
John Wall reminds us of the Phoenix Suns' Leandro Barbosa with more of a point-guard mentality. At 6 feet 3, Wall has unguardable speed with the basketball and an uncanny ability to finish at the basket.

In the three games that we watched Wall play in Las Vegas, we didn't see an opponent who was able to keep him out of the lane. In fact, Wall repeatedly made his way to the basket. He finished with regularity, or was able to find teammates at the last moment. Rarely do you find a player who continues to pick up speed once he enters the scoring zone and is still able to make positive plays the vast majority of the time.

Wall burst onto the national scene this July, and the list of schools recruiting him is growing.

Abdul Gaddy, PG, Tacoma (Wash.) Bellarmine Prep, Class of 2009
To continue the point guard theme in this list, Abdul Gaddy is up there with John Wall as one of the most impressive point guard prospects in the 2009 class. Not as dynamically fast with the ball as Wall, Gaddy does have a more complete game at this point.

A heady player with a great feel for the game, Gaddy does pretty much everything well. He has a feel for setting guys up for scoring opportunities as well as creating his shot off the dribble. Around the basket, he has an explosive burst to go along with superb body control. He also has a smooth 3-point shot off the catch, which makes him difficult to guard.

At 6 feet 3, Gaddy has the skills to play either guard position. He is beginning to receive serious national recruiting interest, but it looks like it will be difficult to draw him out his home state of Washington.

Jon Hood, SG, Madisonville (Ky.) North Hopkins, Class of 2009
Every coach is looking for wing players who can both shoot and handle the ball. Shooting guard Jon Hood perfectly fits this bill. At 6 feet 6, Hood has the length and athleticism to be an excellent prospect.

In a matchup against Indiana Elite's 16-under squad, Hood displayed his versatility. He played the point for much of the game, and often knocked down shots off the dribble. The wiry athlete also slashed his way to the basket, constantly keeping pressure on the defense.

In the process of picking up high-major offers, Hood will continue to gain strength. If he continues to improve and get stronger, he'll inch closer to reaching his potential.




 

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