- Adam Finkelstein
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KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. -- The Hoop Group came to the greater Philadelphia area this weekend for the Summer Classic, which hosted many of the top teams in the Northeast. However, two local programs battled it out in the U17 final as Team Philly held off Philly's Finest. New Heights was the story in the U16 division, continuing its successful summer with another championship.
Amile Jefferson (Philadelphia/Friends Central)
2012, PF, 6-8, 180 pounds
He has clear deficiencies in his game, with the inconsistency of his jump shot and the lack of muscle mass on his frame, but that has yet to make him any easier to contain. He's one of the smoothest drivers and an aggressive playmaker, but not someone who dominates the ball or disturbs the rhythm of his team's offense. Combine that with his rapidly-developing instincts on the defensive end and it's easy to see why his impact was beyond anyone else's.
Brandon Taylor (Tabernacle, Pa./Trenton Catholic)
2012, PF, 6-8, 235 pounds
He possesses a great combination of size and skill with a thick frame and silky smooth jumper. He's most comfortable playing pick-and-pop right now, and is ideally suited for specific systems as a result. He has consistently become more productive in the paint and utilize his physical tools. He was more of a mismatch threat this weekend, scoring over smaller players inside the lane, getting on the glass with some diligence, and even finishing above the rim in congestion a couple of times.
Jordan Washington (Queens, N.Y./Pathways)
2013, PF, 6-8, 225 pounds
Washington's massively-powerful upper body and extremely agile feet create a devastating combination for opposing frontcourt players to contend with. He's always been known for his ability to take the ball off the glass and start the break, but he's gradually adding new dimensions to his game. He's becoming more comfortable playing with his back to the basket and owns one of the softest set of hands you'll find. His midrange touch has also improved, making him more of a threat at the elbow.
Jaren Sina (Lake Hopatcong, N.J./Gill St. Bernard's)
2013, PG, 6-2, 175 pounds
He's as skilled and smart as they get but his intangibles are what separate him. He plays with unwavering confidence and just enough cockiness to maximize his talents. It's that type of mindset that allows him to thrive in the big moments, and that's exactly what he did on Day 1, knocking down a game-winner to keep his squad alive. Sina was also the premier pick-and-roll guard in attendance, as his understanding of how to operate off screens (both on and off the ball) is second to none.
Tyler Roberson (Union, N.J./Union)
2013, SF, 6-7, 190 pounds
His biggest impact came on the defensive end of the floor where his instincts were off the charts. He was active on and off the ball, blocked a variety of shots inside the paint, and got his hands on an even greater number of balls in the middle of the court. He's a really good athlete with a pretty polished offensive game, putting the ball on the floor to go by defenders and making enough shots to keep them honest. As his skill set continues to stretch to the perimeter and he adds weight to his somewhat-frail frame, his stock will only continue to soar.
Steve Vasturia (Philadelphia/Saint Joseph's)
2013, SG, 6-3, 180 pounds
A big-time shot-maker with a pure release, Vasturia can catch fire at any moment and only needs a half second of separation with his quick and compact release. He moves well without the ball, navigating screens and looking to backcut at every opportunity. He also has the ability to make tough shots off his back foot when the situation warrants it. He'll need to add some muscle mass, but owns a solid frame and is already powerful in his lower body.
Mohamed Alie-Cox (Middleburg Academy)
2012, PF, 6-5
He's an undersized forward with a power game comparable to former Butler forward Matt Hoard. His foundation is based on his high motor and toughness. He plays bigger than he is around the rim, throwing his body around, showing a great nose for the ball, and finding ways to score inside the paint with his specialty being second-chance points. The bottom line is that the results aren't always pretty, but he's inevitably productive.
(Mount Washington, Md./National Christian Academy)
2013, PF, 6-7
A long and athletic combo-forward who can double as a big wing or face-up 4-man, Douglas is particularly intriguing because of his signs of skill on the perimeter. He has the frame to have a big-time body by the time it's all said and done, can make and finish plays above the rim, and is fluid with the ball in the middle of the court. Give his body and skills another year or two to develop and he could be a major prospect in the Class of 2013.
Keep an eye on
Davon Reed (Princeton, N.J./Princeton Day School)
2013, SF, 6-5, 175 pounds
He's a powerful athlete with a knack for putting the ball in the basket. Reed's physically advanced for a rising junior with high levels of toughness to maximize his tools. While his best work typically comes within 16 feet of the basket right now, he's incredibly productive during the course of 32 minutes and shows flashes of being able to stretch his game to the perimeter in the future.
• Roberson drew a big following on Monday as Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin, Rutgers coach Mike Rice and Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard were all on hand. Pittsburgh may have made the biggest impression though with coach Jamie Dixon and both assistants sitting front and center.
• Notre Dame could be an early favorite for Vasturia. Fighting Irish assistant coach Matt Carroll is a Jersey Shore Warriors alum and he was one of two coaches on hand.
• James Madison looks like they might have gotten a steal in Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI), a big point guard with long arms, a good feel for the game and individual offense to make 3s in bunches or create off the bounce.
• Donovon Jack (Reading, Pa./Central Catholic) and Devin Thomas (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) are two popular big men in the Class of 2012. Both were followed by a variety of mid-majors and evaluated by a string of schools from the highest level. Jack had Penn State, Notre Dame and Northwestern take in at least one game while Thomas was seen by Iowa, Penn State, Maryland, and Iowa State.
• NC State coach Mark Gottfried was one of several high-major coaches to follow Jefferson on Monday, while Villanova coach Jay Wright was one of the few to do the same on Tuesday.
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.
Amile Jefferson, Tyler Roberson drew a big following at the Hoop Group Summer Classic, writes Adam Finkelstein.