- Adam Finkelstein
It was an unusually busy fall weekend in the northeast region with a series of top events, including the New York State Top 24 in Albany, N.Y., and the New York and Philly All-City Classic in Philadelphia.
NYS Top 24
The “Combine in the Capital” was held at Watervliet High School. The event hosted 25 players for two sessions on Saturday as well as a morning session on Sunday and included instruction from former Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro along with a FIBA 3-on-3 segment that proved to be a valuable evaluation setting. Here’s a look at the top performers from Saturday’s action:
Most Heavily Recruited
Matt Ryan (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y./Iona Prep)
6-foot-6, 185 pounds, 2015, G/F
Offers: Boston College, Notre Dame, Stanford, West Virginia, Clemson, Pittsburgh, Providence and more
Those who saw him this spring could see his rise coming, but I’m not sure anyone predicted just how quickly he would become a high-major priority. He now carries offers from a slew of high majors and on Saturday he showed everyone in the gym why. He rained long-ball after long-ball with a quick and effortless stroke, utilizing his good size to shoot over the top of a variety of helpless defenders.
Purest Point Guard
Howard Washington Jr. (Buffalo, N.Y./Canisius)
6-3, 175, 2016, PG
Offers: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston University
He has played only one year of high school basketball and yet he has a game and maturity level that is well beyond his years. The professionalism with which he goes through drill work is truly unique at his age, overshadowed only by the efficiency in his floor game as he utilizes a well-developed skill set and extremely high basketball IQ without wasting any motion. Simply put he’s the type of guy all coaches are looking for to run their team.
Jordan Tucker (White Plains, N.Y./White Plains)
6-5, 180, 2017, SF
Tucker was one of only four freshmen in the field and yet he was dominant during the FIBA three-on-three games. He’s got the type of size and build that projects him out as a big perimeter player and major mismatch problem. While he’ll learn balance in the coming years, he has an advanced ability to create space and knock down mid-range jumpers and 3s alike. Moving forward, he has a chance to be a top national prospect in the 2017 class.
Kevin Huerter (Clifton Park, N.Y./Shenendehowa)
6-4, 165, 2016, G/F
He’s the type of physically undeveloped youngster whom you don’t necessarily notice at first. But he gradually distinguishes himself with a high basketball IQ, well-developed skill set, and lethal 3-point range. Further investigation reveals a player who is rapidly growing and who comes from very good stock with a dad who used to play at Siena and stands 6-7, and so there is an obvious upside here.
New York & Philly ACC
The 2014 edition of this developing fall tradition took place at Benjamin Franklin High School in Philadelphia and featured three consecutive all-star games featuring the best ninth, 10th, and 11th graders from each city matched up against each other. The emphasis on the underclassmen proved to be beneficial as there was a significantly higher level of competition than you see in most all-star style environments. Here’s a look at who impressed there on Sunday:
Best Freshman Prospect
Nicholas Richards (Rosedale, N.Y./St. Mary’s)
6-10, 185, 2017, C
A Jamaican native in his first season stateside, Richards has star written all over him. He’s got great size, equally long arms and legs, good hands and mobile feet. He pursues balls and doesn’t hesitate to go into contact and runs the floor like an absolute deer. There’s still plenty to develop with his skill set, offensive impact and defensive timing, but this is as naturally talented of a young big man as I’ve seen in a long time.
Amarveer Singh Bullah (Manhattan, N.Y./St. Peter’s Prep)
6-7, 200, 2016, SF
A virtual unknown on the national level coming into the event, there is no denying Bullah is on a high-major track. He’s got good size for the perimeter, a long and powerful build, a knockdown stroke from behind the 3-point line, and good athleticism around the rim. The bottom line here is that he won’t be under the radar for long and will likely soon be a factor in our national 2016 rankings.
Best Sophomore Performance
Lamar Stevens (Philadelphia/Haverford School)
6-6, 205, 2016, F
He’s a combo forward who has always been more physically mature than his peer group but is now emerging as a true man among boys. He has continued to develop his body and become extremely powerful as a result, and now utilizes his physical tools more effectively, attacking the rim like a truck running down hill and just overpowering opposing players of all sizes around the rim.
Most Improved Sophomore
Taurean Thompson (Jersey City, N.J./St. Anthony)
6-9, 200, 2016, PF
He’s long, athletic, mobile and cut up with developing muscle mass, and yet despite those physical tools he has a tendency to hang out on the perimeter. While that’s not always the most efficient game plan, he’s the type of big man who is now gradually developing his face-up game by virtue of spending so much time working on it. There’s no doubt he’s got to become more of a factor around the rim, but now there is true potential to be an inside-out hybrid style big man down the road.
Best Junior Performance
Jessie Govan (Queens Village, N.Y./St. Mary’s)
6-10, 225, 2015, C
Offers: Arizona, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Miami, Virginia and more
All-Star games aren’t typically the setting for big men to thrive, but Govan came out intent to make his presence felt and ended up turning in an efficient performance as a result. He did a number of things on the offensive end that translate to the next level, like burying his man for deep post catches and making jump hooks over both shoulders. He’s gradually getting more athletic, becoming more of a factor around the rim, and changing ends better as well.