Commentary

New England tournaments recaps

Originally Published: July 12, 2011
By Adam Finkelstein | ESPN Recruiting

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Sunday was a big day for basketball in New England as two of the region's premier summer events took place in a 24-hour span. The day began with the New England Elite 75 Showcase, which hosted the top individual prospects in the region, and concluded with opening-round play for the Hall of Fame National Invitational, historically known as the First Eight, consisting primarily of super pool games.

Standout players

Zach Auguste (Marlborough, N.H./New Hampton School)
2012, PF, 6-foot-9, 205 pounds
Auguste just keeps adding new dimensions to his game. When he first came onto the scene, his upside was based on his length and athleticism. His face-up skill set came quickly afterward with a complementary post presence finally debuting this past season. Now, he's added some much-needed bulk to his upper body, making him a more consistent finisher and rebounder, while still maintaining the same easy mobility that made him intriguing in the first place.

Kris Dunn (New London, Conn./New London)
2012, PG, 6-3, 180 pounds
One area of his game that doesn't get enough credit is the strength of his left hand. He plays with great dexterity in the backcourt, has the ball on a tight leash with his handle and can pass or finish through contact to either side, as well. While undoubtedly still a drive-first player, he's smoothed out the release on his jumper and is shooting the 3 with much more consistency. He was impressive offensively, but his best work came on the other end as he was a ball hawk on top of the press and a free safety flying into passing lanes.

Deonte Burton (Milwaukee/Brewster Academy)
2013, SF, 6-5, 220 pounds
The Brewster Academy forward returned to New England in an unfamiliar visitor role. At the helm of the TP Elite squad, Burton showed off a cut, toned frame that makes him a step quicker on the perimeter and only that much more dangerous playing through contact on his way to the rim. He was at his best in the open floor, but also showed the power to carry his defender on his back in a congested lane.

Noah Vonleh (Haverhill, Mass./New Hampton School)
2014, SF, 6-7, 190 pounds
Vonleh continues to grow into his body. He's very close to 6-8 and playing with enhanced explosion inside the lane, dunking in traffic to start the day. Most impressive about his afternoon performance was his ability to adapt to the way he was being defended. He's his team's primary creator in the middle of the floor, and while a collapsing defense gave him early problems, he quickly adapted and began to facilitate for his shooters through drive-and-kick action.

Evan Cummins (Westboro, Mass./Northfield Mount Hermon)
2012, PF, 6-8, 205 pounds
College: Harvard
Cummins had a steady diet of high-major interest before making an early pledge to Harvard last month and he's the type of guy who is likely to flourish in that environment. His game isn't one that typically stands out in the open court of the summer, but he's heady and a great passing 4-man who can facilitate for his teammates from the low or high post. He also excels in dribble, hand-off action and flat-out knows how to play.

Breakout players

Samuel Dingba (Salisbury, Conn./Salisbury School)
2013, PF, 6-6, 205 pounds
There may not be another "bigger" 6-6 player in the country. The quality of his long frame is exceeded only by his shot-blocking instincts, and while those tools aren't necessarily new developments, his escalating offensive skill set certainly is. Dingba consistently knocked down midrange jumpers with a high release, scored with limited bounces facing the basket and threw in a couple of well-executed shot fakes and finger rolls to intrigue coaches with his long-term potential.

Abdul-Malik Abu (Marblehead, Mass./Kimball Union Academy)
2014, PF, 6-6
He's a raw and instinctive talent right now but he has physical tools that can't be taught -- natural power, size and mobility along with easy athleticism and the corresponding motor to capitalize. He runs the floor with long and fluid strides, gets off his feet quickly and has a nose for the ball coming off the glass. His best offense is a dunk right now but he has some tools to work with.

Player to watch

Ben Freeland (Santa Rosa, Calif./Suffield Academy)
2012, C, 6-10
Headed to the East Coast for a postgrad season next year, Freeland made an impressive debut on Sunday. He's big and skilled, showing range that extends out to the 3-point line and an equally soft touch over his left shoulder with his jump hook. He runs the floor well, catches and was pretty active contesting shots defensively and getting on the glass.

Notes

• Bob Huggins and Jim Calhoun were front and center for Andre Drummond (Middletown, Conn./St. Thomas More). Huggins returned for Drummond's nightcap while assistant Kevin Ollie held the fort down for the Huskies.

• Providence coach Ed Cooley and associate coach Andre LaFleur were locked in on Dunn and Ricardo Ledo (Providence, R.I./Notre Dame Prep).

• UConn and Providence were also getting a look at Auguste and Vonleh, where they were joined by Penn State coach Pat Chambers as well as assistants from Kansas, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Boston College and Auburn.

Kahlil Dukes (Hartford, Conn./Capital Prep) and Cane Broome (East Hartford, Conn./East Hartford) are undersized 2-guards with a knack for putting the ball in the basket. They both are capable of rattling off points in bunches and providing instant offense with their jumpers or drives.

T.J. Parker-Rivera (Bridgeport, Conn./St. Joe's) was at his best early in the day and one of the top frontcourt performers at the Elite 75. Known as a lock-down defender and high-volume rebounder, he was determined to show his enhanced offense and even knocked down a pair of pick-and-pop 3-pointers.

• The top two shot-makers on Day 1 of the National Invitational were Metro Hawks forward Shane Richards (New York/York Prep) and City Rocks swingman Stan Wier (Buffalo, N.Y./La Lumiere), both of whom showed quick and compact releases.

Adam Finkelstein has been a coach or scout at the high school, college and pro levels. He was an assistant coach in Division I by the age of 24 and also worked as a scout for Marty Blake, the NBA's director of scouting.