CONCORD, N.C. -- On a Saturday in the fall most are either playing football or watching it. At the Elite 75 Prep High School Showcase, held at the Cannon School, there were more than 150 players competing on the hardwood. The talent pool was very good and in this type of event you will always find a diamond in the rough.
Dwayne Morgan (Baltimore/Baltimore City)
2014, SF, 6-7, 180 pounds
He's an exceptional athlete who is long, lean, fast and quick who scores the ball with terrific talent and natural instincts. His leaping ability is strong but what's noticeable is his hang time before he releases the ball or when he flies in for an offensive rebound or tip dunk. More than just an athlete with potential, he shows a skill level that is impressive for his grade. His comfort level out to the arc is evident as he made a shot fake to lift the defender out of position, took two dribbles and finished at the basket. Also, on the perimeter he took a pass and used the sweep-and-go move to elude his defender. When open, he is not afraid to shoot the jumper and swished many from different areas of the floor. Defensively, he will challenge shots with his length, move his feet to stop a drive and hit the defensive glass. On many plays he held himself accountable for his defensive mistake, which is a sign of maturity on the floor. However, what make him so special now are his passion and a competitiveness that puts him in an elite group. He reminds us of a cross between Rudy Gay the late Reggie Lewis. Now, the question for this budding star is will he maintain the work ethic and focus needed to reach his high ceiling?
(Charlotte, N.C./West Charlotte)
2013, C, 6-8, 260 pounds
He is a big, wide post with incredible hands who continues to dominate near the basket in the low or high post. His hands are big and anytime he comes in contact with the ball, he owns it. When he rebounds the ball he does not outjump his opponents, but he does anticipate extremely well and then carve out real estate to grab it. With his back to the basket, he will make a move by being low, slow and under control as he locates the defense and works away from the pressure. For a big man, he shows impressive vision and accuracy to throw the ball out of the post and find an open teammate behind the 3-point line or cutting to the rim. Meeks has improved his body but really needs to start to work on sprinting the floor and being aggressive for low-post position and not settling to always be the trailer. However, he does have a good jumper with a soft touch to 17 feet. Defensively, he uses his body as a barrier to protect the basket and block out when the shot is up. Over the last couple of weeks he has had offers from UNC, Virginia, NC State, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Florida, Kansas, South Carolina and Miami, among others.
Kris Lane (Richmond Va./Trinity)
He is a productive scorer with a will to rebound. Lane has wide shoulders, strong hands and a knack for pursuing the ball off the glass. Most of his productivity comes in the paint as he can score with his back to the basket, finish drop-off passes or face the basket and hit a jumper out to 17 feet. His body is strong and athletic, although he needs to run the floor with a greater urgency. In the half-court set, he is active as a threat to score and rebound. We like the way he sticks to what he does well and displays a consistency to his performances. Lane was reclassified and it is paying off.
Ones to watch
Keith Pinkney (Summerville, S.C./Pinwood Prep)
When playing the point guard position there are many necessary attributes to be successful because of the demands of the position. The ability to handle the ball, change speeds and direction with the ball, while not overdribbling, is essential to being efficient as the primary handler. Pinkney does all that and a lot more. The young, savvy, smooth leader is under control and is impressive pushing the ball with adequate speed, but more impressive is how he surveys the court. For example, he will make the throw-ahead pass to an open teammate or continue to push it to the basket. Plus, he displays the knowledge of when to pull up off the bounce and shoot and the skill to knock it down. That skill is so important because most young point guards try to force it all the way to the rim and usually overpenetrate or make a bad decision, which results in a low percentage shot or a turnover. He also displayed the all-important floater in the lane, the ability to set up his teammates, good decision-making offensively and commitment to defending his man. As he develops a consistent long-range jumper to the arc and beyond that will enhance his game.
Ed Jones (Atlanta/Creekside)
He is a lanky forward who can finish alley-oops, drop-off passes and whenever he has a clear path. At the present time, his scoring, rebounding and shot-blocking come from his long frame and bounce. As his body fills out over the course of time, he will be able to hold his position and be much more effective. You can see his upside in the skills department.
Ahmad Thomas (Danville, Va./Danville)
When Thomas has the ball in his hands, his eyes and head are always up. He can play anywhere on the perimeter and has a knack for finding an open teammate quickly and driving to the basket. Being a tall guard who handles the ball with comfort and confidence, Thomas can play at a fast pace and is usually under control with a feel for reading the defense. As he works on his 3-point shot and utilizes his size and length to defend, he will be able to become an even more versatile player.
Labryan Shiflet (Greenville, S.C./Greer)
He's a big-time scorer who is always ready and thinking about scoring. He plays with great energy on the offensive end of the floor and looked more comfortable driving to the basket than shooting 3s.
• ESPNU 60 Sindarius Thornwell (Lancaster, S.C./Lancaster) showed his high level of athletic ability. With great size and good court vision, Thornwell can make a highlight at any time. His jumper needs work and he is the first to admit it. As his elbow gets under the ball more, it will straighten out his shot.
• SG Austin Harris (Charlotte/West Charlotte) is a wiry, strong, slashing guard who makes very athletic plays look easy. He gets down the floor, scores in transition and is in attack mode off the bounce. When he learns to take and make the open jumper, his game will expand.
• Camp settings, especially for younger prospects, are more about getting their name out than anything else. There were between 25-30 Division I prospects in attendance, most of which were of the mid-major variety.
• The best talent at the lead guard position was Josh Newkirk (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God). The 2013 speedster will need to cut down the turnovers going forward and settle for simple instead of spectacular.
• Isaiah Tripp (Baltimore, Md./Edmondson Westside), a 2013 point guard, is a slippery one-on-one player. He's got a little too much sizzle right now but he's got the DNA of a baller.
• If Justin Sellers (Charlotte, N.C./Ardrey Kell) can define which guard position he's best at, he'll settle into being a strong mid-level prospect in the 2013 group.
• The best shot-blocker in attendance was 2014 C Troy Henderson (Charlotte, N.C./Country Day).
Paul Biancardi, who has been a head coach and assistant on NCAA tournament teams, is the national director of basketball recruiting. He is also one the voters for the McDonald's All-American Game and Gatorade Player of the Year. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter. Dave Telep is the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com. His college basketball scouting service is used by more than 225 colleges and numerous NBA teams. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.