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July 29, 2012
Vonleh shines bright in Vegas
LAS VEGAS- Another day, another baller. Actually several of them as the action continued in Las Vegas. Over at the Super 64, Noah Vonleh led the Rivals, the Michigan Mustangs put an end to Florida Elite's summer behind the guard play of Derrick Walton and Monte Morris, while Jordan Mickey and Urban DFW survived a testy affair with the Compton Magic and Jordan Bell.
Vonleh, Rivals roll
The Mass Rivals don't just have a great team name, but they have a very good team that is on a roll in Vegas. Of course, headliner Noah Vonleh is a big part of it, and he's getting plenty of help.
The 6-foot-8 five-star from the class of 2014 was active in the lane early as he got Rivals out to a great start on Saturday. He was dunking everything in site, dominating the glass and playing like a grown man. After establishing himself inside, he took to the perimeter where his improved ball handling let him take guys off the drive.
Playing maybe the best game we've ever seen him play, Vonleh's interior partner Goodluck Okonoboh was extremely active. Known as a shot blocker and rebounder, he did just that. But, it was the offensive aggression and activity on both sides of the floor that really allowed the rising senior to play at a level he hasn't always played at in the past.
While the big guys were doing their thing in the lane, four-star point guard Kaleb Joseph was orchestrating it all from the point. The 6-foot-1 floor general has added a little more burst since we last saw him in the spring and is also finding a nice blend of getting his own offense and creating for others.
By the time they took the floor against the Michigan Mustangs on Saturday, Florida Elite just wasn't the same team they were at the start or even middle of the month. However, that doesn't take anything away from what was an utterly dominant performance by the Mustangs as they ended the summer basketball careers of five-stars Kasey Hill and Chris Walker, who had led the Elite (formerly Florida Rams) to five tournament titles during the spring and summer.
Setting the tone for the Mustangs was four-star point guard Derrick Walton. The Michigan bound guard was an absolute stud on both ends of the floor. He went right at defenders' chests on drives, dimed up his teammates with pinpoint passes, defended at a high level and generally played with a level of confidence that allowed him to do whatever he wanted to do.
However, Walton wasn't the only standout player in the Mustangs' backcourt. Iowa State commitment Monte Morris was hitting jumpers and taking the ball to the rim. Leaper and bruiser Lemond Edmonds was constantly getting to the rim and getting more done on the glass than any 6-foot-4 guard should be able to do. Then, while Walton, Morris and Edmonds were making plays off the dribble, Central Michigan commitment Josh Kozinski was there to drain deep jumpers.
Mickey, Urban DFW survive rough and tumble game
Prior to Saturday's game between Urban DFW and the Compton Magic, we wouldn't have needed any fingers to count the number of times we've seen both benches and a floor player ejected, forcing a game to be played four on four over the final five minutes. Things got a bit testy during the second half, but Jordan Mickey and Brandon Parrish stepped up to lead Urban to a playoff win.
Technically, Mickey was among those tossed after leaving the bench during a minor skirmish, so he wasn't on the floor during the last 4:42. But, the 6-foot-8 forward was plenty productive before exiting the game. Continuing what has been a very solid showing out in Las Vegas, Mickey was a factor on both ends of the floor. He swatted shots, pounded the glass and used his athleticism to get buckets in traffic. Mickey also showed the ability to knock down a mid-range jumper as well.
While Mickey was out, wing Brandon Parrish came up big as a jump shooter for Urban DFW. The 6-foot-4 wing has really raised his stock over the past month and showed why as he hit big shot after big shot. A physical wing with some athleticism, Parrish is starting to look like a guy who could come in and specialize as a shot maker for a high major or be a featured guy for an upper end mid major. According to Parrish, he's got offers from Rice, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Santa Clara, while Marquette head coach Buzz Williams was there to watch. Texas Tech, Tulsa and Arkansas are among the others in the mix as well.
For the Magic, Jordan Bell played with tremendous energy and did everything he could to help the cause. The 6-foot-7 power forward is one of the class of 2013's most extreme athletes and a quick leaper who rockets off the floor to block shots and slam down putback dunks in the blink of an eye. He plays with a definite edge to him and is a high volume rebounder who has been working hard to round out his overall game.
Things heating up for Hermanson
We've written about southpaw wing Calvin Hermanson of the Clutch Players and Lake Oswego (Ore.) High a few times over the last year or so. Now, we need to start thinking about him as a legitimate high major wing prospect and a potential member of the Rivals150 in the class of 2013.
Thanks to a strong month of July, Hermanson has taken his game and recruitment to the next level. A tough wing with grit and a high skill level, Hermanson is comfortable working within a system to cut and move for open jumpers. The 6-foot-5 senior-to-be can utilize ball screens and simply create off the dribble in open space as well.
As a result, Hermanson has gotten more and more attention with even more to come. St. Mary's, Utah, UCSB, Oregon State and Drake have now offered, while Stanford, Washington State, Nevada and Gonzaga are among those showing more interest.
"July has been very good for me," said Hermanson. "I've been playing well, having a lot of fun and schools are really taking notice."
Quick hitters and impressions
*Australian Dante Exum will actually be a member of the class of 2014 and he showed again that he will be one to monitor. Word got out on him by Saturday at the Super 64 and he drew coaches from SMU, Boise State, North Carolina, LSU, Colorado, Arizona State, Washington State, California, Kansas, San Diego State and many others. The 6-foot-5 combo guard is a fine athlete, has a great feel for navigating the high pick and roll and can make things happen off the dribble. The Australian Institute of Sport team runs a very structured offense and it would be interesting to see how Exum could do if given some freedom to create.
* Many of the schools that were on hand watching Exum are also taking a long look at class of 2013 small forward Tre'Shaun Lexing of Team Bradley. The 6-foot-6 wing from Tacoma is definitely a Pac 12 level athlete and he's nearing that level as a scorer/slasher in transition. He merits heavy consideration for the Rivals150 and if he gets some consistency on his jumper, Lexing could be a late bloomer who sneaks up on people to have a very good college career.
* With an assistant from his future school looking on, Cal commit Ahmaad Rorie had a good day as well. Maybe more of a natural shooting guard than a point guard at just about six-feet tall, Rorrie is a clever scorer who can hit from deep, makes defenders pay with floaters and shows sneaky finishing ability in a crowd. He's still got a baby face and gives the vibe of a player who could really explode as he matures physically.
* Similar to the way Kuran Iverson changed his body, Purdue commitment Basil Smotherman has really leaned up over the last year. Not surprisingly, his game has benefitted from being in tremendous shape and the 6-foot-5 wing had a very productive day on Saturday. The southpaw was hitting some jumpers from deep and showed off a level of bounce and quickness that is new to his game and makes him a much more versatile wing scorer.