Commentary

Desert Duel recap

Melvin Johnson comes up big in the clutch, Jabari Parker playing like Carmelo

Originally Published: July 29, 2011
By Reggie Rankin | ESPN Recruiting

GILBERT, Ariz. -- The Desert Duel Memorial Basketball Tournament was an invitation-only event that attracted elite travel teams from all four corners of the country in order to raise funds for the Tom Crawford Leadership Children's Foundation, a non-profit organization that benefits many children's charities. Here is a look at who impressed during the event.

Standout players

Josh Scott
Reggie RankinJosh Scott is the No. 46 overall player in the 2012 class.

Josh Scott (Monument, Col./Lewis-Palmer)
2012, PF, 6-foot-10, 220 pounds
College: Colorado
The future Buffalo is long and very productive. Scott can score from both low blocks with drop steps, up-and-unders where he initiates and welcomes contact and finishes with either hand. He also can face and get to the rim from the high post and along the baseline with short straight-line drives. Scott does a great job using the shot fake to gain an advantage and loves to spin and finish with his left hand. Scott made short jumpers along the baseline from 12 to 15 feet with needed time and space. He is a good area rebounder on both ends as well. Defensively, Scott worked to get around and deny the low post and attempted to box out almost every time a shot went up. He was also very alert away from the ball. Scott needs to add strength and continue to expand his perimeter skills, but the big man plays with a plan and carries it out.

Melvin Johnson (Bronx/St. Benedict's)
2012, SG, 6-4, 185 pounds
Johnson is a true shooting guard who runs the outside lane on the break, spaces on the side of dribble penetration and comes off screens ready to display his deep 3-point range. He shoots over smaller defenders with ease and can get on a role and knock down three or four in a very short period of time. Johnson also showed the ability to get into the lane when the defense closed on him, where he made some clutch finishes and floaters. He will need to add strength, continue to work on creating off the dribble and his individual defense but the sharp shooter makes the defense pay and he mentioned Miami (FL), Temple, Providence, George Mason and Rutgers as schools in the mix.

Jabari Parker (Chicago/Simeon)
2013, SF, 6-8, 220 pounds
I heard from a college coach that Parker reminded him of Carmelo Anthony and after watching him this week, I agree. The super skilled small forward seems to have an answer for whatever the defense throws at him. Parker goes by less mobile players on the perimeter and shoots over or posts up smaller defenders. His midrange game has gone to the next level with his ability to hit the 15- to 18-footer off the catch or dribble. He rebounds at rim level at times and has the ability to not only finish above the rim on the break, but lead as well. He is also a willing and accurate passer when he draws multiple defenders. He works to defend the ball, is alert and ready to help away from it. Parker even came from a distance for an above-the-rim block. Parker looks to be in great shape, possibly grown another inch and is very explosive. He is not talking school lists but every elite program in the country seems to be present when he takes the court.

Damien Wilson (Austell, Ga./Oak Hill)
2012, SF, 6-6, 190 pounds
College: Memphis
Wilson is a left-handed terror on the break. He slashes at high speeds and can make a highlight finish over or around heavy traffic in the lane. He simply attacks defenders and can find an open teammate when the defense fully collapses on him. The future Tiger is long, athletic and makes plays repeatedly with the ball in his hands. He also can lead the break off a defensive rebound and go coast to coast, if not identified and brought under control immediately. He has all the tools be a multiple-position perimeter defender as well. He must continue to add strength and make his jumper a consistent weapon, but he always seems to make good things happen off the bounce.

Wannah Bail (Houston/Trent Internationale)
2012, PF, 6-7, 210 pounds
Bail has a world class basketball body and is a monster athlete with a great motor. He runs the floor like a gazelle and finishes above the rim with speed and power. He scored on short, quick dribble drives along the baseline, as well as drop-off passes created by dribble penetration. He can make no stress midrange jumpers with time and space, but is at is best around the rim where he can use his quickness and super athletic ability. He must continue to work on his shooting and overall feel for the game. Bail's best playing days lie ahead if he builds his game from the inside out. He mentioned Texas Tech, Florida State, Baylor, Auburn and Villanova.

Amile Jefferson (Philadelphia/Friends Central)
2012, PF, 6-8, 210 pounds
Jefferson has an all-business approach to the game and competes on both ends of the floor on a consistent basis. He loves to score from the left side of the floor, especially in the low post where he uses quick spin moves and baseline slashes to score on both sides of the rim with either hand with great touch and body control. Jefferson is a very strong rebounder and shot-blocker in and out of his area as well. He must continue to expand his game, but Jefferson plays to his strengths and excels at a high level. He mentioned Louisville, Pittsburgh, NC State, Ohio State, Maryland and Stanford.

Kyle Anderson (Fairview, N.J./St. Anthony)
2012, SF, 6-8, 210 pounds
Anderson has a special feel for the game and excellent skill, which causes major matchup problems for opposing forwards. He rebounds and leads the break where he uses his length, ballhandling and court vision to make on-target passes on the move look easy. The smooth wing can start the offense and make a play for himself or others. He has an elite basketball IQ and is very efficient.

[+] EnlargeDavis
Reggie RankinKyle Davis has been hearing from Colorado State, Northwestern, Illinois, Xavier, Florida State and University of Illinois at Chicago so far.

Kyle Davis (Chicago/Hyde Park)
2013, PG, 6-2, 165 pounds
This lefty lead guard is as tough as nails and athletic enough to play above the rim on the break or whenever he has a clear path to the rim. Davis makes plays for himself and others in a variety of ways. He can hit the open 3 although his is streaky at times, has a smooth midrange pull-up jumper, where he stops on a dime and he can get to the rim and finish with touch and body control. Davis is a good penetrate-and-kick or drop-off passer because of his quickness and court vision. His left-handed attack is a blur but he must work to get his right hand to that level but the young guard has tremendous upside.

Ahmad Fields (Washington D.C./Takoma Academy)
2013, SG, 6-4, 175 pounds
Fields is a long, lean lefty versatile wing. He runs the floor on the break and gets to the rim, where he finishes with length not strength. Fields moves well without the ball and can hit open midrange shots with time and space. He is a good area rebounder, especially offensively, where he can come up with a timely tip-in. Fields has the makings to be a multiple-position defender as well. Washington, NC State, Delaware, Nebraska, USC and Rutgers all have a close eye on him.

Darrick Wood (Washington D.C./Nia Prep)
2012, SG, 6-4, 175 pounds
Wood is a very athletic wing who plays above the rim on the break and is big-time shooter in the half-court set. He can hit the open 3 or midrange pull-up with great elevation on his jumper. He gets to the rim and scores through or around defenders with length and body control. He competes and is also a capable defender due to his length, athletic ability and toughness. Wood can get it going quickly and is fun to watch.

Notes

• The Playaz Basketball Club (N.J.) took home the 2011 Desert Duel title by beating the Mac Irvin Fire in overtime, 70-62, despite being down 22 points at the half.

• SF Steve Taylor (Chicago/Simeon) has been impressive with his ability to score from the midrange areas out to the arc. He still needs to fine tune his ballhandling, but he has great upside. Taylor mentioned Marquette, Missouri, Iowa, Xavier and Ohio.

• Utah, Pepperdine, Santa Barbara, Denver, Montana and Portland have all been keeping close tabs on 6-4 SG Tanner Samson (Littleton, Col./Regis), who not only can shoot it to the arc and pass but has a good basketball IQ as well.

• Class of 2013 SF Jordan Scott, the younger brother of Colorado commit Josh Scott is an excellent defender and slasher who is hearing from Colorado, Texas Tech, Nebraska and Boston College so far.

• SG Kahlil Johnson (Los Angeles/Palisades) is a long, lean lefty shooter with a quick trigger. He shoots over smaller defenders with ease and also knocks down 3s. He makes the defense pay for not identifying him right away in transition and in the half-court set he simply stretches the defense.

• Stacy Davis (Tolleson, Ariz./Tolleson) is an undersized PF who is ultra productive thanks to his feel and touch around the basket. He has an all-business approach to the game and welcomes contact when he competes for rebounds on both ends of the floor.

• Really liked the athletic and ability and perimeter shooting touch of PF Nick Banyard (Flower Mound, Texas/Marcus). He is a quick leaping above-the-rim finisher who is great in pick-and-pop situations, rebounds with length and has great upside. One to keep a close eye on.

Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton. He played at Ohio University from 1986 to 1990 and was a first-team All-MAC selection his senior season. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.

Reggie Rankin

College Basketball Recruiting