National Prep Showcase-- Day One

National Prep Showcase-- Day One
Nov 18, 2006, 02:44 am
DraftExpress covers the first day of the National Prep Tip-Off in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Coverage includes recaps of Michael Beasley, Justin Burrell, Eric Wallace, Mamadou Diarra, Boubacar Sylla, Troy Gillenwater, Angelo Johnson and others.

Michael Beasley
6-10, Power Forward, Senior, Notre Dame Prep (Committed to Kansas State)

Jonathan Givony

Michael Beasley showed off the two sides of where he stands in his development as of right now—the good and the ugly. The ugly lasted for the first 30 minutes of the game, where he did not hit a single field goal and only pulled down a handful of rebounds. He did not get the type of minutes you’d expect the #1 player in the country (according to would-- and when he was on the floor, he was very much uninvolved in Notre Dame Prep’s offense. Beasley spent most of his time on the perimeter in the first half, not really looking to hit the glass and looking extremely out of focus as he missed free throws and constantly looked over his shoulder at the bench in hopes of not being replaced.

Up until the 10 minute point in the 2nd half, Beasley did not snap out of his funk, partially due to the fact that he was not in the game for the most part. His extended stay on the bench lit a bit of a fire underneath him it seemed, and we saw a completely different player enter the game and change its complexion completely with 9 minutes to go. Beasley started off by attacking the offensive glass with reckless abandon and using his terrific quickness to finish creatively around the paint. His fantastic leaping ability and the sheer quickness in which he’s able to elevate off the floor were on full display, and this coupled with his excellent body and strength allowed him to sway the tide of the game in his team’s favor.

Beasley ended up finishing the game with a somewhat underwhelming 11 points (2-6 FG, 7-10 FT) and 7 rebounds in just 22 minutes. He did a nice job getting in the passing lanes with 3 steals, and did a better job finding open teammates and playing unselfishly than his 2 assists would indicate. He did not force the issue and generally showed a good attitude within the team concept, talking to his teammates on defense and pumping them up with the game stopped.

The thing he didn’t show was his perimeter game. All of his offense came either right at the hoop or from the free throw line, and the lone jumper he took looked good but did not fall. There’s no doubting his talent from what we saw today, but he’ll have to show more tomorrow to justify his lofty ranking in some of the recruiting services.

Stoneridge Trio of Seven Footers
Mamadou Diarra, Ibrahima Thomas, and Boubacar Sylla

Rodger Bohn

Stoneridge Prep offered a trio of French speaking big men at the National Prep Tip Off in 7’0 Mamadou Diarra, 7’0 Ibrahima Thomas, and 7’1 Boubacar Sylla. All three of the big men were plagued throughout the evening with foul trouble, limited their time on the floor. However, it was quite astounding to see a high school team with three legitimate high major seven footers who not only had intriguing upside, but actually had somewhat developed skill sets.

The most highly touted of the three, Mamadou Diarra, actually played the poorest of the group. He was really hindered by picking up three quick fouls early in the first half, and was forced to sit and watch running mates Sylla and Thomas pick up the majority of the minutes. Diarra responded in the second half after Thomas fouled out, blocking a pair of shots and converting a huge dunk off of an offensive rebound late in the second half. Mamadou possesses the best raw physical attributes of the three big men, as he already has an amazing physique, owns a great wingspan, and has surprising motor quickness for a raw big man prospect.

Ibrahima Thomas, who just signed with Oklahoma State, is the most skilled of the three seven footers, but also the least developed physically. He has is a legitimate threat from the perimeter at 7’0 tall, being fully capable of knocking down a quick release three point shot at any moment. He displayed a silky smooth turn around jumper out of the post, and was able to use his length and athleticism to block 3 shots, and alter countless more. Ibrahima did not show any resemblence of a low post game however, and made it clear to everyone in attendance that he is surely not a center. Oklahoma State will surely have to find a burly, big man to but next to Thomas in order to make up for the Senegal native’s lack of inside toughness.

Boubacar Sylla would be considered the sleeper of this group, but he is also the biggest at 7’1 and 260 lbs. He did a great job running the floor, and hit displayed a remarkably soft touch considering his size, evidenced on his 12 foot fade away jumper out of the post. His mammoth size and freakish wingspan immediately make him interesting as a prospect, even if he is still incredibly raw at the moment. The French big man has reportedly dropped nearly 75 pounds in the last year and a half, which is a testament to his work ethic and could give everyone a preview as to what is to come in terms of his development. He is reportedly considering USC, LSU, St. John’s, and Auburn at the moment, but he will likely have to sit a few years before we are able to see him contribute at that level.

Justin Burrell
6-8, Power Forward, Post Graduate, Bridgton Academy (Committed to St. John’s)

Jonathan Givony

The best player on the floor in Bridgton’s surprise upset win over Patterson School, Justin Burrell went above and beyond showing that he is a much better player than his recruiting rankings would initially indicate. Burrell was an essential cog in his team’s offense and defense all night long, being super aggressive using his body and athleticism to wreak havoc wherever he had the chance.

Burrell was energized and extremely active on the defensive end in particular, moving his feet superbly to stay in front of smaller players, using his length and quickness to bother bigger players into contested shots, drawing charges and rebounding the ball with purpose. Offensively he showed some nice signs of a post game, establishing position in the paint, running the floor like a mad man, taking contact and displaying nice touch around to finish smoothly, even off the glass at times. He finished the night with 22 points. When faced with a double team he was extremely patient seeing over the top of the defense and delivering some beautiful passes on his way to 3 assists.

From what we saw tonight, it looks like St. John’s may have gotten a huge steal in Burrell. We’d like to see him one more time before we decide for sure, though.

Angelo Johnson
5’10, PG, Junior, Stoneridge Prep

Rodger Bohn

Throughout day one, Johnson was esily the most Impressive guard we saw here in Massachusetts. It is absolutely absurd that a player of his caliber has slipped under the radar this far, and he proved this evening that he is truly one of the biggest sleeper point guards in the class of 2008 with his gutty play throughout an ankle injury.

As the game started, we initially viewed Johnson as a bit out of control, as he took many heavily contested shots. However, the diminutive guard was able to make contested shot after contested shot, making us realize that these were not forces; These contested floaters in the lane were the strength of his game.

The Stoneridge junior showed the ability to score on absolutely any defender Notre Dame put on him whenever he wanted. It did not matter if it was from the three point line, from the mid range jumper, or from his soft floater in the lane, Angelo would find a way to score. He displayed amazing quickness off of the dribble and creativity once he got in the lane, evidenced by the fact that he constantly got shots up in the paint over athletic marvel Michael Beaseley. The Minnesota native also did an excellent job finding teammates for open jump shots, which unfortunately they were not able to convert.

On the down side, Johnson did finish the game with 8 turnovers. This was partially due to the fact that he was credited with turnovers when his big men did not catch the ball, which must be kept in mind when analyzing this amazing, courageous performance. Angelo’s mobility was limited severely in the second half by what appeared to be a mild ankle sprain, but he still nearly single handedly carried his team back to victory.

On the day, the scoring guard finished with 25 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 8 turnovers. He shot 10-15 from the field and 2-4 from the three point line. While he put up these numbers in defeat, Johnson did establish to college coaches, recruiting analysts, and basketball fans alike that he was clearly the top point guard here in Worcester on day one, and will make some high major college program very lucky once 2008 rolls around.

Eric Wallace
6-6, Small Forward, Senior, Hargrave Military Academy (Committed to Ohio State)

Jonathan Givony

Despite not being the most highly rated player on the floor-- according to the recruiting services at least—Eric Wallace was in our eyes certainly the most impressive player we saw in the game between Hargrave Military Academy and Winchendon.

In terms of pure athleticism, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that he’s one of the top players here. Wallace has all the explosiveness you’d like to see from a small forward, and best of all, he makes great use of it in every opportunity he has. On top of that, he has a great body that looks fairly ready for Big 10 competition almost right off the bat. He put it all together nicely today in a very a well rounded, super active effort—playing outstanding defense, coming up with a couple of very impressive rebounds out of his area, and finishing nicely around the basket when the opportunity presented itself. When asked to switch on the perimeter onto a smaller player off a pick and roll, he showed his excellent footwork and mentality by staying in front of his man fairly easily and forcing them into some difficult shots.

Offensively, Wallace did most of his damage in transition, coming off cuts and on the offensive glass, although he certainly wasn’t a focal point in his team’s offense. He’s an unselfish player who doesn’t quite fit into the “me against the world” style of play we found here for the most part, and seemed to have no problem at all making excellent passes to open teammates. He’s generally an extremely smart player who shows a terrific demeanor on the floor.

In terms of weaknesses, Wallace still has a ways to go before he can be considered a fulltime wing at a big time program like Ohio State. His ball-handling is extremely poor, being too upright, dribbling the ball very high, and starting right down at it as he takes it down the floor. His jump-shot looks good, with solid form and especially nice arc, but it was anything but consistent today from mid-range or the free throw line.

All in all Wallace is anything but a finished product, but his physical tools combined with his intelligence and attitude leads you to believe that he’ll develop nicely under Thad Matta at Ohio State.

Troy Gillenwater
6’7, PF, Junior, Stoneridge Prep

Rodger Bohn

Gillenwater simply dominated the Notre Dame frontcourt for the first 35 minutes of the game, scoring whenever he wanted and being an absolute bully on the glass. He, along with the Stoneridge trio of seven footers, was able to make Michael Beasley a total non-factor for the first 30 minutes of play. Troy showed very good hands, catching everything inside and finishing against taller, more athletic defenders. While he doesn’t blow you away with an amazing skill set, he has just enough of a perimeter game to be able to knock down mid range jumpers when left open, or hit you with a crafty move on the low blocks. The Boston native was simply dominant in his homecoming, finishing with 27 points and 11 rebounds on 11-20 from the field and 1-2 from the free throw line.

What makes the Stoneridge bruiser tough to project in the future is his lack of height, and perimeter game at the moment. He doesn’t appear to have that high of an upside as a power forward, making one wonder if he will ever be able to develop the necessary athleticism and/or perimeter skills to step out on the wing. Even if Troy does not develop in these areas, we are surely looking at a player who will be very productive on the collegiate level, and will make one high major division one coach incredibly happy if he were to commit to them.

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