NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- On the first day of 17U pool play at the Nike Peach Jam, two terrific Class of 2010 combination forwards matched up. Tobias Harris (Dix Hills, N.Y./Half Hollow Hills West) of the Albany City Rocks and I-5 Elite's Terrence Jones (Portland, Ore./ Jefferson). Both players are around 6-foot-8 and displayed excellent skill and versatility. In the end, Harris was more productive, scoring 28 points and grabbing 10 rebounds for his team that pulled out a 66-62 win. Class of 2012 power forward Ricardo Gathers (Reserve, La./Reserve Christian) also showed some impressive ability in North Augusta, S.C. He is a powerful force in the lane, at 6-6, 245 pounds, for Louisiana Select. He scored 15 points and pulled down 8 rebounds in an 87-49 blowout of the St. Louis Eagles.
Harris displayed a variety of skills, as he attacked the basket in transition and in the half court. He has the ability to drive both ways and likes the floater, for which he has excellent touch, going to his left. Harris handled the ball well, and was able to beat his defender and get into the lane on a regular basis. He is an excellent and willing passer on the move as he weaves in and out of traffic. Harris also made his presence felt on the glass, sprinting in from the perimeter, for timely tips or to keep the ball alive. On the defensive glass, he has the ability to go coast-to-coast and finish through contact. Harris showed the midrange pull-up and knocked down open 3-pointers. He is a matchup nightmare, and he can also post smaller defenders. As he adds strength, his post up game, which is already solid, will become more of a weapon because he will be able to hold his post position for a longer period of time. Defensively, he did a good job using his length to pressure the ball while making sure not to get beat off the dribble. Overall, Harris had an excellent all-around performance.
Gathers is a man among boys in the low post. Every time he touches the ball, contact occurs. The rising sophomore finishes drop-off passes above the rim with power. Gathers likes to work from the right low block mostly and scores with his back to the basket with power drop steps and jump hooks with either hand. He posts up big and wide and simply attacks defenders. It is almost impossible for a smaller post to hold his position when defending Gathers. Gathers also hits the glass and runs the floor extremely well. He can go over or around opponents for rebounds in his area. Gathers does a good job holding his position when defending the in low post, and he did a solid job helping on screens and coming from the weak side to block shots. Gathers is still a work in progress skill wise, but he plays with great effort and energy at all times.
Pride of Portland
Jones displayed strength and power as he attacked the basket. He drives through contact, and he spins both ways and elevates to score. He likes to use the glass when he is on the angle, and has excellent touch and concentration on the rim. He does a good job moving without the ball. He cuts to the basket after he passes and comes off screens with his hands ready to receive the ball. This lefty has a scorer's mentality and plays in attack mode. At times, he leaves his feet on drives and to pass, which makes him charge prone. He is a streaky 3-point shooter who needs time and space. He is a good defensive rebounder with the handle to go coast-to-coast. Jones can score in the post with his size and strength. He overpowers opponents or elevates over them. He needs to add or use his midrange game to help him avoid charges. Still, Jones is a tough matchup for both forward positions.
Class of 2010 prospects and Louisiana Select teammates Langston Galloway (Baton Rouge, La./Christian Life Academy; committed to St. Joseph's) and Matt Derenbecker (New Orleans/M.P. Country Day) both played well on Day 1. Galloway is a 6-3, 185-pound wing who is a terrific slasher with excellent body control. He likes to spin off defenders and elevate for acrobatic layups and pull-ups. Galloway does a great job drawing fouls, and he is strong enough to finish through contact. He does a nice job handling the ball in the open court, and can get a teammate a shot with his ability to drive, draw and kick. Galloway is streaky from behind the arc, but he does a good job of sprinting to the offensive glass from the perimeter. Galloway is a good enough athlete to defend all three perimeter positions well.
Derenbacker, at 6-7, is a skilled lefty combination forward who can flat-out shoot the ball. He has a pretty stroke and knocks down open 3s and midrange shots off the catch with regularity. He reads penetration and sets screens as he spaces to an open area. He would be a great pick-and-pop 4 man. Derenbacker is an average athlete at best with matching speed and quickness. He is, however, a good ball handler and passer. He must add strength and work on scoring moves off the dribble, but Derenbecker always has the defense's attention because of his ability to make shots.
Class of 2011 prospectKyle Wiltjer (West Linn, Ore./Jesuit) is another skilled forward. At 6-9, he is a big-time shooter off the catch with 3-point range. He's an excellent pick-and-pop forward who makes the defense pay for helping off him. He has an excellent basketball IQ, and does a good job passing on the move. Wiltjer has nice touch on interior passes, and the size to see over smaller defenders in traffic. He is an average athlete who needs to add strength and seems to struggle defending more athletic forwards. But he does compete for rebounds and plays with toughness. Wiltjer can get on a role and score in bunches, as he did on Day 1 with 26 points and seven rebounds in a hard-fought loss to the Playaz Club 60-57.
Phil's on fire
Team Texas Elite beat a talented Mac Irvin Fire team 68-66 in a game in which 2010 point guard Phil Pressey ( Dallas/Episcopal) controlled the game from start to finish, scoring 17 points and handing out 10 assists. Pressey pushed the ball with great speed and quickness. He simply made his teammates better by getting them the ball when they where in position to score. He displayed excellent court vision and ballhandling. Pressey also went on a scoring tear with a couple acrobatic finishes in the lane, and knocked down a 3 to keep the defense honest. He made excellent decisions throughout the game, committing only two turnovers and willing his team to victory.
Reggie Rankin covers basketball recruiting for ESPN Scouts Inc.