By Bryan Kriss - email@example.com
This year's King City Classic was missing several of the elite players in the 2011 class, such as Quincy Miller, Austin Rivers, Marquis Teague,
and Michael Gilchrist. Nevertheless, there were a large number of top prospects from the 2011 and 2012 classes as well as one of the elite
players in the 2013 class. The Kentuck team, led by Jabari Brown, Julian Royal, and Ricardo Ledo captured the championship, defeating
the Syracuse team led by Josiah Turner. Every player in attendance is probably worthy of a write-up, but here are the 10 players that stood out the most.
Trevor Cooney: For a player that has reputation of being a great shooter, we have never really seen a great shooting performance out of Cooney until this camp. In one game, Cooney hit on 5 of 7 from three. He's much more than a spot-up shooter as he is able to hit off the dribble and loves to shoot the three after taking one dribble to his left. Cooney is also a solid athlete and ball-handler who is capable of getting to the rim on occasion.
Nick faust: There's not a lot new to say about Faust. He just continues to improve and score basket after basket. Sporting his trademark unorthodox release, Faust dropped in over 50% of his threes in the games we watched. His size allows him to get it off almost any time he wants and he was hitting off the dribble and with guys in his face. Faust also showed more of a focus on driving the basketball here. He had some success getting to the rim and on one breakaway he threw down a nasty one-handed dunk over the would-be defender.
Cedrick McAfee: We would have liked to see McAfee be a little more judiciuous in his shot selction and get his teammates involved a little more, but there's no denying that he was one fo the top scorers at this camp. He was hitting deep threes and attacking the rim hard every single game. There weren't many guys capable of keeping him out of the lane. If he can improve his decision-making and become a little more patient, McAfee could be very good.
Zach Price: Price looks enormous out there. He already possesses NBA size and his skill game is really coming along. He rebounded extremely well in every game that we saw and even had one highlight-reel tip dunk. It might take him a couple years to develop, but he is well on his way. Frankly, I think we have made a mistake leaving him out of our initial 2011 Top 100. That'll likely change when the rankings are updated at the end of July.
Josiah Turner: In our opinion, Turner is making a very strong push for the top PG spot in 2011. He might not have the leaping ability of Marquis Teague or be as fast end-to-end as Myck Kabongo, but he is more advanced than both of them in many aspects of the game. He's got oustanding size for the position and is extremely quick with the ball. He's got an arsenal of hesitations, crossovers, and spin moves that make it virtually impossible to keep him out of the lane. When he got into the lane this weekend he almost always finished or created a bucket for a teammate. When you add in his ability to shoot the ball, it could be enough to eventually vault him into the top spot in this years PG rankings.
Victor Nickerson: We've apparently undervalued Nickerson quite a bit. He was one of the more effective players in the entire camp. He plays hard at all times and always seems to find a way to score the baketball. He's got a good shot and showed some ability to hit the mid-range pull-up. He doesn't have freakish athleticism, but he does have good size and he just simply gets the job done. Nickerson should have no shortage of high-majors to choose from after the July evaluation period.
Jabari Brown: Turner's AAU teammate Brown continued to torch the nets here at King City. He's got the most effortless stroke out there and except for one off game, he hit just about every open look he had. Brown also did a great job of beating his man off the dribble when they crowded him too much due to his shooting ability. He finished at the rim and showed the vision and passing-ability to create layups for teammates.
Kyle Wiltjer: Another member of the Drew Gooden Soldiers, Wiltjer isn't far behind Jabari brown when it comes to shooters. He was hitting from all levels at this camp and put together the best performance we've seen from him to date. Due to his size, defenders often gave him several feet of space on the perimeter, and when they did, Wiltjer made them pay. Wiltjer also rebounded the ball well all camp and showed a lot of potential in the post. His hook shots weren't really dropping, but he showed grat form and you just know that it's a shot he'll make more often than not. With more performances like this, Wiltjer would definitely be in need of a bump in the revised rankings.
Branden Dawson: Dawson was probably desrving of an MVP award here at the King City Classic. He did his usual damage in the paint, grabbing an unreal number of offensive rebounds, and almost always turned those rebounds into buckets. At one point, Dawson scored 5 straight buckets for his team. With Tom Izzo and Matt Painter trailing his every move, Dawson also showed some extended range on his jumper. He knocked down a couple threes in the games we saw and looked much more comfotable out on the perimeter.
Rodney Purvis: Even though he was the only 2013 player in attendance, Purvis did not look out of place one bit. In fact, he looked dominant at times. He was relentless attacking the rim all camp long and provided much of the scoring for his team. We haven't seen a whole lot of Purvis, but if he continues to develop he could certainly be in the discussion for the number 1 overall spot in the 2013 class.
Even though their Drew Gooden teammates got the write-ups, Nick Johnson and Brandon Ashley were probably just as good. Johnson was hitting jumpers, handling the ball well, and displayed his freakish athleticism with a posterization of 2012's Khem Birch. Much like Wiltjer, this was the most impressive performance we've ever seeen from Ashley. He's got a chance to move even further up the 2012 rankings. Dajuan Coleman didn't have his best outing as he struggled to finish much of the time but there's little question about his talent tevel. P.J. Hairston needs to work on his shot selection a little, but he really had it going Friday morning. He hit about 4-5 threes and also got inside for a few buckets. Levi Randolph was solid all camp long. He isn't very flashy, but he is about as consistent and smooth as they come. Ricardo Ledo and Julian Royal both picked it up for their team's championship run. After being somewhat quiet in the earlier games we watched, they were two of Kentucky's leading scorers in the championship game.