Biggest breakout performers in July
Now that the July evaluation period has come to a close, we have a chance to look back and see what stood out during the month.
Who was the biggest breakout performer you saw in July?
Paul Biancardi: I watched Compton Magic SG Gabe York (Orange, Calif./Orange Lutheran) drop 46 points on a talented and stacked Indiana Elite team in Indianapolis. York fires up 3s in a confident manner and he can stop on a dime and make them in transition. In pick-and-roll action, he makes his defender pay when he goes under the screen and can hit stare-down jumpers behind the arc. Whenever his team gets an offensive rebound, his teammates would search him out and would quickly get him a shot behind the line. If you get too close and crowd him he will drive it, and he has the savvy to create fouls and score from the free throw line. He has a true scorer's mentality.
Joel Francisco: Winston Shepard (Fresno, Texas/Findlay Prep) played both ends of the floor utilizing his length, athleticism and energy to catapult Dream Vision to the championship of the adidas Super 64. He is deadly in the open court where he can slash his way to the rim or drop off a nifty assist. However, he made his presence felt the most on the defensive end where he was extremely dominant in smothering perimeter players with his long arms and lateral quickness. He has always had the physical intangibles to be an elite-level wing-type, but now the mental aspects of the game are beginning to coincide with the latter.
Mike LaPlante: BABC won as many games as anyone this summer, and Georges Niang (Methuen, Mass./The Tilton School) was a major factor. He is the ultimate lunch-pail guy who goes about his business without a lot of fanfare, while consistently outplaying higher-rated opponents. Although the Iowa State commit may not pass the eye test with flying colors, he is a deceptive athlete who understands how to maximize his abilities and is as tough as they come in the low post. I love his high basketball IQ and the fact that he is obsessed with winning. The rest of the country now knows what Iowa State and a handful of other programs knew all along -- this kid is a winner who was grossly undervalued.
Reggie Rankin: Xavier commit Semaj Christon (Cincinnati/Brewster Academy) is a postgrad, but his talent and ability to take over games from the point guard position was a treat to watch this summer. He has size, speed, quickness, athletic ability and skill. Plus, he can make a positive play with the clock winding down. Christon has the talent to have an immediate impact for the Musketeers from Day 1.
Adam Finkelstein: When the summer began, PG Maurice Watson (Philadelphia/Boys Latin School) was considered a low- to mid-major player because of his lack of size and questions about his jump shot. What people aren't questioning following the month is the size of his heart or ability to win games. His fingerprints were all over Team Philly's success this summer as he showed the rare ability to balance an attacking floor game with poise and decision-making. By combining his dribble-drive skills, terrific floor vision, a better-than-advertised jumper and outstanding ball-hawking ability on the defensive end, he left the summer with 25 Division I offers from all levels of college basketball.
John Stovall: Kris Dunn (New London, Conn./Wilbraham & Monson) is a scoring point guard who had a limited national profile coming into this spring and summer. Playing alongside Andre Drummond (Middletown, Conn./St. Thomas More) all summer has really helped raise his profile, but he is very talented in his own right. Dunn is very quick, athletic, hard to keep out of the paint and very good at creating for himself or his teammates. The 6-3, 180-pounder understands how to use his size to score, pass and defend.
Dave Telep: Danuel House's (Sugarland, Texas/Hightower) reputation has been building all spring long. He was written up every time he took the court and was good at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, but that was only the tip of the iceberg en route to a summer that melted any doubts about his talent level. House went from outside the ESPNU 100 pre-spring to debuting at No. 70 and could find himself in the top 25 very soon. His ascension was a steady rise with a crescendo that was topped off in Orlando with superior efforts at the AAU Nationals and Super Showcase. He has the athleticism, skill and size to believe he can fulfill expectations, and as long as he doesn't become complacent, he has a shot at being special and he's peaking at the proper time. Textbook breakout performer.
Paul Biancardi is the national director of basketball recruiting. Adam Finkelstein is a frequent contributor, both in player evaluations and event coverage. Joel Francisco is a recruiting coordinator and has been evaluating high school prospects for over 20 years. Michael LaPlante is a recruiting coordinator who has over 20 years of coaching and recruiting experience. Reggie Rankin, a recruiting coordinator, has coached in the Mid-American, American East, WAC, SEC, Big 12 and Atlantic 10 conferences over a span of 14 seasons. John Stovall, a recruiting coordinator, has worked as director of scouting for Prep Spotlight Scouting Service and magazine for 15 years. Dave Telep is the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com.