ESPN's basketball recruiting analysts checked in from the Nike EYBL Championship, which concluded Friday night at the Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C., with some of their thoughts on the deep stock of talent on display in front of hundreds of college coaches.
The Boston Amateur Basketball Club had defensive swagger going all weekend, concluding with an 84-67 win over the Memphis YOMCA in the EYBL Finals, televised nationally on ESPNU.
When you have a gift and develop it, then utilize it to maximum capability, you can really excel in just about anything. Noel has emerged as the nation's best shotblocker; not just because he is tall and long but because he has perfected the art of the block. First, he understands to make sure he jumps second and keeps his arms straight up to avoid the foul. For every shot he blocks, he alters or changes twice as many by simply contesting the attempt. He is truly a consistent difference maker.
Coupled with Georges Niang, the BABC had one of the most formidable low-post duos of the tournament. It was enough that ESPN's Mike LaPlante and Paul Biancardi theorized that Noel has affirmatively etched himself into conversation at the nation's No. 1 overall player in the Class of 2013:
It is clearly going to be a three-horse race for top spot in the 2013 class. PF Julius Randle (Dallas/Prestonwood Christian Academy), SF Jabari Parker (Chicago/Simeon) and C Nerlens Noel (Everett, Mass./The Tilton School) have separated themselves from the pack and are arguably the three best players in the country, regardless of class. All three are hardworking individuals who are cold-blooded assassins when they step between the lines, but cordial and charismatic gentlemen off the court. Randle is the most physically gifted of the group and possesses a rare combination of size, skill and athleticism that has college coaches shaking their heads in amazement. Parker is the most skilled 6-foot-9 player in the country and has the most upside as he continues to improve his overall athleticism. Noel has the Bill Russell factor working for him. He is not only a talented player who can dominate a game both offensively and defensively, but he wins. BABC is 78-1 with him in the lineup, and Noel had to leave the one game they lost with an injury.
Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley) and Kyle Anderson (Paterson, N.J./St. Anthony's) are more traditional ballhawks, but the top steal percentage of the known 28 EYBL teams belonged to BABC forward Jake Layman (Wrentham, Mass./King Phillip). He's the kind of guy whose defensive style can easily slip through the cracks because it's untraditional -- nobody gives a ton of credit to the forward picking a kid's pocket because they don't expect him to be able to do it consistently. Layman does and he has a legitimate offensive package. The sample size for his steals isn't quite large enough to confidently declare him a dangerous defender, but his offensive tools are strong enough that an eye should be kept firmly on his progress.