Some of the top players in the country put on a show this past weekend at the Jayhawk Invitational in Lawrence, Kansas. However, in the end, one player stood out from the rest as he led his team to the title.
2012 SG Shabazz Muhammad (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) made a statement that when considering the top player in the class of 2012, Muhammad should be in that top spot. Muhammad was great throughout the tournament and even better when his Dream Vision teammates and coaches looked to him to get them through key stretches of games. Put him against other big time players and Muhammad would take his game to another level to ensure his team came out with the win.
Muhammad had little trouble filling his stat line by completely taking over games at times throughout the weekend. His ability to hit the three looks to be much improved, and his ability to post-up his defender and then hit his unstoppable baby hooks or mid range jumpshot frustrated opponents throughout the tournament. Muhammad’s ability to get to the rim and finish or get to the charity stripe also proved to be impossible to stop throughout the weekend.
2013 SG Chris Thomas (Denver, CO/Westwind Prep Academy) Dynamic is the probably the best way to describe how Thomas played throughout the weekend. Thomas was un-guardable throughout the weekend, and showed why he is one of the best in the 2013 class. His ability to score impressed throughout the weekend, and his streaky shooting from the perimeter was on display during the championship game against Dream Vision when Thomas started pouring in three point baskets during consecutive possessions, which helped his Colorado Hawks team come back from a double digit deficit to almost pull the upset in the games final minutes.
2012 PF Perry Ellis (Wichita, KS/Heights) Captain Consistency was at it again this past weekend. One could fill in his stat line before he takes the court. Ellis will get 18-25 points and 8-15 rebounds in each and every game and there is nothing that opponents can do about it. Even double teaming and fouling Ellis throughout the game, as the Oklahoma Elite tried, ends up costing opponents in the end. In that game, Ellis hit 13 of 15 free throws in leading his Kansas Play and Pray team to the win. Ellis continues to show he isn’t near his ceiling either. He looked quicker with the ball throughout the weekend, and his outside shot continues to improve showing why Ellis looks to be one of the best inside/outside threats in the 2012 class.
2012 SG Nino Jackson (Ardmore, OK/Ardmore) Looking for a player to electrify the crowd? If so, then Jackson is your man. After starting off slow in the first half of Friday nights game against the SYF Players, Jackson came out in the second half and took over. Once his outside shot started falling, Jackson quickly poured in points from all over the floor in leading his Compton Magic team to a come from behind win. The ultra quick guard can get to the rim at will, and it makes little difference what defender is in front of him. Jackson can get off the floor so quick that is defenders hesitate for just a second he will either get to the free throw line or put that defender on a poster. Get him in the open court and Jackson has little trouble finishing off highlight reel dunks.
2012 PF Mitch McGary (Chesterton, IN/Brewster Academy) Need a big man that can shoot, dribble, dunk, rebound, left handed, block shots and is uber athletic? If so – McGary is your guy. The highly skilled more athletic Raef LaFrentz had no shortage of eye popping performances throughout the weekend. His ability to bring his defender to the perimeter and either hit a jumpshot or blow by him to the rim impressed time after time. Also impressive was his ability to bang for tough rebounds and get it and go to the offensive end of the floor. McGary is easily one of the more highly skilled bigs in the 2012 class and looks as if he will explode in the rankings over the coming months.
Players to Watch:
2013 PG Bronson Koenig (La Crosse, WI/Aquinas) Koenig will need to add strength in the coming years, but his talent and skill level are easy to see when Koenig has the ball in his hands. Koenig is a smart and savvy player who sees the court well. He has a terrific ability to run off screens and his jumpers, and showed the ability to create his own shot from the point guard position. Koenig left Lawrence on a high note after receiving an offer from the Kansas Jayhawks.
2013 Ishmail Wainright (Raytown, MO/South) With his new hairdo Wainright looks to have made another jump in his development on the court. His strength made him nearly impossible to stop throughout the tournament, and he continues to be one of the more impressive power atheletes in the 2013 class. Wainright has the ability to rebound and go, which allows him to take the ball the length of the court and create his own shot on the offensive end. He also continues to improve his outside range, which allows him to use more of his athletic ability to get to the rim.
2013 TreShawn Bolden (Jackson, MS/Murrah) Bolden looks like he could be a tight end in the NFL, and once he got comfortable playing with his Compton Magic teammates on Friday night, Bolden looked like he will be a post player to watch in the coming years. The 6’8″ 230 pound junior to be gave 2012 big man Mitch McGary all he wanted in the paint on Friday night. His strength and athleticism helped wear down McGary in the second half, and his key buckets and rebounds in the paint helped the Magic enter Saturday without a loss. Bolden also displayed the ability to get it go by pulling down big defensive rebounds and then taking the ball the length of the court to finish at the rim. His mid range jumpshots are a bit inconsistent now, but there is little doubt that Bolden will continue to impress as he develops during the next few years.