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June 13, 2013
MORE: NBPA story lines
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The 2013 edition of the NBPA Top 100 Camp got off to a strong start on Thursday. Everywhere you turned there was plenty of talent on the floor of the John Paul Jones arena, located on the campus of the University of Virginia.
Ready to cut
During the first session of games, the nation's No. 69 player in the class of 2014, Tyler Ulis, came out to play with a purpose. The 5-foot-9 floor general from Chicago Heights (Ill.) Marian Catholic has been generating momentum all spring after a terrific junior campaign.
While Ulis might lack some size, he makes up for it in other areas. He is extremely heady, changes speeds well and knows how to play with physicality, despite his lack of height. During matchups with fellow four-star T.J. Haws, Ulis made the bigger guard uncomfortable with his quickness and constant activity on the defensive end.
The subject of a pretty intense recruiting battle, Ulis told Rivals.com that he is down to a final seven of Iowa, Michigan State, USC, Florida State, Purdue, DePaul and Northwestern. So far, Ulis has seen all but USC and Florida State in person and he says that the plan is to make another round of cuts before the end of the summer. Ulis made it clear that the relationship with his future head coach will be of extreme importance in making a decision.
Enjoying the attention
One of the most popular players of the spring has been 6-foot-11 center Myles Turner of Euless (Texas) Trinity. Ranked No. 78 in the class of 2014, Turner is making his way toward five-star status while becoming one of the most sought-after players in the rising senior class.
Turner didn't get enough touches to show what he can do offensively, but that didn't mean he wasn't making an impact. The Texan was very aggressive as a shot-blocker, got on the glass and had little trouble running the floor and keeping up with the fast pace of play.
On the recruiting front, Turner says that things have been crazy. He's hearing from new schools almost every day, and at this point, he's just listening to everybody who contacts him.
The hope is that by the end of the summer he will be able to cut things down to 10 schools. When asked if there were any programs that would for sure make the cut, Turner dodged the question, saying everybody was on an even playing field at this point. His list of potential suitors includes Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas, Duke, Texas, Baylor, UCLA, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and many more.
News and notes
In the opening game, we were treated to a matchup of future ACC foes as North Carolina bound Joel Berry and Wake Forest bound Shelton Mitchell went head-to-head. Early on, the higher-ranked Berry (No. 21) had the edge on Mitchell (No. 48). He got where he wanted to go on drives, he hit pull-up jumpers and he played with tenacity on both ends of the floor.
In the second half, Mitchell made some nice adjustments. He used his shoulders to help steer Berry where he wanted him to go and became a little more aggressive offensively. After looking a little out of shape during the earlier part of the spring, Mitchell also looks to be in very good shape physically. Neither player would be considered a speed-burner, but both are adept at using their strength and changing speeds to get where they want to go.
If anything, LeRon Black showed up ready to play. The 6-foot-7 power forward from Memphis (Tenn.) White Station hit some 3-pointers early and got active inside the lane. As a shooter, Black needs some space to get his shot off and he'll have to add some strength for the next level, but it's hard not to love his activity level and willingness to scrap.
Make no mistake, 2015 wing Derrick Jones will be on the rise when rankings are updated. Ranked No. 37, the 6-foot-6 wing on Thursday looked like a guy who could push for five-star status. Jones uses an explosive first step to get to the rim and he's got a very workable jumper with range to the 3-point line.
Playing on the same team, both Brekkott Chapman and North Carolina commit Justin Jackson were outstanding. Jackson is much tougher than his slight frame would suggest and he's very slippery with the ball.
Add in a killer mid-range game and he's a load to handle. A four-star prospect who is making his way up the rankings, Chapman simply took what was available. The 6-foot-8 power forward is an excellent rebounder and as good a transition passing big man as you will see. He also had his jumper working and was highly productive with the touches he got.
Joe Burton continues to have a solid run on the grassroots circuit. Formerly considered more of an athlete/slasher type, the 6-foot-6 wing has worked hard to turn himself into a good spot-up jump shooter. Playing on the same team, the nation's No. 2 player in the class of 2015, Stephen Zimmerman, was solid with limited touches. He beat guys to spots up and down the court, and got himself some garbage buckets when he wasn't the focus of things.
Based on what he's shown all spring long, Isaiah Whitehead's status as a five-star prospect is safe at this point. His strong play continued on Thursday morning as he played grown man basketball. He doesn't have the same level of strength that a Dion Waiters or Lance Stephenson does, but he plays a similar game based on physicality, streaky shooting and being a guard who can dominate the ball. Actually, Whitehead handles it well enough that it is easy to project him playing some point guard down the road, which is something he says is important to him.
One 2015 big man who is certainly on the rise is Cheick Diallo. The 6-foot-9 post player was tremendous on Thursday morning and played above his No. 24 ranking. He hustles up and down the floor, rejects shots, cleans the glass and plays with an enthusiasm that rubs off on those around him. Put him in the book as a five-star prospect when 2015 rankings get updated.
There can't be many better rebounders in the class of 2014 than Angel Delgado. The bruising 6-foot-8 power forward has magnetic hands and if he hadn't locked up a spot in the updated Rivals150 coming into camp, he's certainly taken care of that now.