We continue our evaluation of the prospects seen in New Haven with a look at the rest of the 2012 recruits we were able to hone in on.
2011 National Prep Showcase: Elite 2012 Prospects
Georges Niang, 6-7, Post-Grad, SF/PF, Tilton, Committed to Iowa State
One of the more highly developed players from a skill set and awareness standpoint of those in attendance, Georges Niang (#82 ESPN, #69 Scout, #98 Rivals) is an excellent basketball player with a unique game and a strong knack for winning.
Standing 6'7 with a strong but not particularly well-defined build, Niang is a below average athlete in terms of quickness and explosiveness, but he has an excellent understanding of how to use his body, being extremely functional with what tools he does have.
On the offensive end, Niang doesn't have a very pretty game from a stylistic standpoint, but he is extremely fundamentally sound and even more advanced with his awareness and polish, constantly finding ways to make positive contributions with the ball.
Niang is capable of scoring in virtually every facet of the game, having highly advanced post moves and footwork, a strong, controlled dribble and excellent creativity and touch when finishing around the rim. He also sports a serviceable spot-up jump shot with three-point range, and an extremely effective shot fake to boot.
On top of it all, his feel is superb in all areas, as is his motor, which is necessary given that he lacks a conventional position on the offensive end and will have an athleticism and/or size disadvantage against every position at the college level. This shows up at times against this level of competition, namely with his inability to elevate in the lane, making him prone to having his shot blocked, but he has the creativity and instincts in the paint to overcome it frequently.
How Niang will adjust against higher levels of competition will be critical on the offensive end, but his potential defensive shortcomings are likely most concerning, given he lacks the size and/or lateral quickness to effectively defend any position consistently, something that will have to be overcome with motor, reflexes, and fundamentals.
Looking forward, Niang is the type of player every college coach loves to have and will likely find ways to consistently contribute on the offensive end in a variety of areas, but how he will hold his own on defense will likely be the key to his effectiveness and long term prospects. Similarly unconventional players haven't had an easy time finding their way into the NBA (Jared Dudley being the obvious exception), so Niang will certainly have an uphill battle in that regard even if he can continue to perform at a very high level in college.
Semaj Christon, 6-2, Post-Grad, Point Guard, Brewster Academy
Committed To Xavier
One of the top performers at this event, Xavier commit Semaj Christon (Unranked ESPN, #57 Scout, #72 Rivals) made a definite statement with his play at the National Prep Showcase, indicating he might be a little better he's been given credit for thus far.
Standing 6-2, with long arms, a good frame and very nice athleticism, Christon fits the bill for what scouts look for in a point guard from a physical standpoint and then some.
Christon can create his own shot effectively thanks to his solid ball-handling skills and excellent quickness, being especially impressive in transition, where he can finish above the rim. He does a good job of creating high percentage shots for himself as well as his teammates, usually in the form of drive and dish plays. He can get a bit wild at times with his decision making in the half-court, though, as its clear his knowledge of the game and all-around playmaking skills are still in need of refinement. At this stage Christon appears to be more of a slasher than a shooter, as we did not see him attempt many perimeter jumpers at this tournament.
Defensively, Christon has excellent potential thanks to his physical attributes and the toughness he displays, which will fit in nicely with the way Xavier likes to play. He should be able to defend either guard position at the NCAA level, which is a big plus.
All in all, Christon appears to be a very talented guard who will fit in very well at Xavier. It remains to be seen how quickly he will be able to take the reigns as their primary ball-handler and playmaker, as he's still a little rough around the edges, but is definitely a prospect to keep an eye on for the future, especially once he mans the point guard position for them full time.
Aaron Thomas, 6'5, Post-Grad, Shooting Guard, Brewster Academy
Committed To Florida State
Just a cog on an incredibly stacked Brewster roster featuring at least six high major prospects, Aaron Thomas (Unranked ESPN, Unranked Scout, #56 Rivals 2011) blended in somewhat at this tournament but still managed to show off his intriguing talent.
Standing 6-5, with a terrific frame, long arms and good athleticism, Thomas clearly has the physical attributes needed to play at the highest level of college basketball.
Thomas' biggest impact in New Haven was felt on the defensive end, where he showed great toughness hounding his opponent and using his length and lateral quickness to force up tough shots. He seems to be committed to his play on this end of the floor, as well as on the glass, which will surely fit in well at Florida State, arguably the best defensive team in college basketball over the past few years.
Offensively, Thomas showed a strong first step and the ability to make shots and score in transition, mostly sticking to efficient plays in the action we took in. He needs to improve his advanced ball-handling skills to become a more prolific shot-creator, as well as continue to work on his shooting mechanics, as he tends to flail his elbow out considerably when spotting up behind the 3-point line. All the tools are in place for him to become a solid role-player at the ACC level, though.
After initially failing to qualify academically at Florida State with his original high school class, Thomas will again attempt to become eligible in Tallahassee this upcoming fall.
Montrezl Harrell, 6'8, Post-Grad, Power Forward, Hargrave Military Academy
Committed to Virginia Tech
One of the most physically mature players we saw this weekend, Montrezl Harrell (#99 ESPN, #68 Scout, #86 Rivals) had a very strong showing in his two games here, and appears as if he could have an instant impact in Blacksburg next year.
Standing 6'8 with excellent length, an outstanding frame, and a very high level of strength, Montrezl Harrell is a very good athlete who plays a game well suited to his physical traits, being a bruiser around the basket and constantly looking to power up for strong finishes at the rim.
Harrell is still coming along from a skills perspective, but where he excels most at this stage is using his high motor and great frame to consistently carve out space around the basket, getting open for finishes in a variety of ways. He's an especially potent threat on cuts and alley-oops in the halfcourt, elevating well off the floor and showing no problems finishing through contact. Harrell made a number of enthusiastic dunks over the course of the weekend made some timely plays for his team as well, being a key cog in what they did on offense.
In terms of his more refined skills, Harrell is limited both in the post and on the perimeter, but has some tools to work with. He has the makings of a nice power game in the post with a strong drop-step and nice ability to explode off it for dunks, but the rest of his game is pretty lacking after that. He tried some hook shots with little success, and really lacks much in terms of a finesse game at this point, being raw overall.
Harrell doesn't show much more in terms of perimeter skills, not showing much evidence of a mid-range game, while adding a spot-up jumper to his repertoire to become a floor spacing and pick-and-pop threat should definitely be among his long-term priorities.
Harrell's biggest question mark at this stage, however, is how committed he'll be on the other end of the court, as he was largely a mixed bag on the defensive end here. While Harrell does a good job using his tools on the glass, boxing out and pursuing well, he is fairly inattentive with both his man-to-man and team defense, often not putting in the effort to move laterally in isolation or step up in the lane for help-side blocks. For the type of player he is with the tools he has, showing improvements here will likely be critical to his long-term success in college and beyond.
William Howard, 6-8, Senior, Small Forward, New Hope Academy
A player we've covered in a good amount of detail over the past two years in our excursions through Europe, it was interesting to be able to evaluate William Howard (Unranked ESPN, Scout, Rivals) in a completely new setting.
Having grown at least an inch since we last saw him, now standing a legitimate 6-8, Howard has excellent size for the small forward position, even if he sees most of his time at the 4 on the prep school team he plays for. His frame is filling out nicely and he made a couple of very nice plays with his above average athleticism, indicating he should have no problem whatsoever fitting in at the highest levels of college basketball from a physical standpoint.
Howard also showed flashes of a well-rounded skill-level, rarely forcing the issue but making a very nice impact in different facets of the game. He made a number of jumpers from beyond the arc, showing good range and the ability to make shots with both his feet set and off the dribble. He also made his presence felt as a rebounder, crashing the glass intently on either end of the floor. He has the ball skills to start the break on his own, and can beat his man off the dribble in a straight line if the opportunity calls for it. Very mature for a player his age, he does not turn the ball over very often, usually letting the game come to him, sometimes to a fault.
With his size, long arms and solid frame, Howard is capable of defending either forward position at the NCAA level. He lacks a degree of lateral quickness on the wing and some strength/toughness to contain more physically developed post players, but should be able to hold his own against the large majority of players he matches up against.
Howard may not have the explosive athleticism scouts look for in top shelf NBA prospects, but with his versatility there is no reason he shouldn't be able to play an immediate role at virtually any level of college basketball. Washington is reportedly in the lead at this point, and it's not difficult to see him fitting into style of basketball Lorenzo Romar likes to play.
Jalen Reynolds, 6'9, Post-Grad, Power Forward, Brewster Academy
Committed to Xavier
A still developing player on a very deep and talented team, Jalen Reynolds (Unranked ESPN, Scout, Rivals) wasn't highly featured in his team's games this weekend, but still managed to show some intriguing things.
Standing 6'9 with very good length, a chiseled frame and strong athleticism, Reynolds has some nice physical tools for a power forward prospect, but is still very much a work in progress skill-wise.
Offensively, Reynolds is largely inconsistent, showing flashes of skills in a variety of areas, but not appearing to excel in one in particular. His post game is lacking much in terms of polish and despite showing flashes of decent ball-handling for a big, the same can be said for his dribble-drive. His spot-up mid-range jumper appears to be his most potent skill at this point, and he makes use of it as a threat in the pick-and-pop game, but it wasn't featured often with his team's depth.
The most troubling aspect of Reynolds' game at this stage, however, is his inconsistency in displaying his motor on the offensive end, often going through the motions and not fully utilizing his physical tools to make an impact. Reynolds isn't especially aggressive on the glass or on cuts to the basket, and with his still developing skill level, will need to do a better job in these areas going forward.
Reynolds actually doe show a somewhat more consistent energy level on the defensive end, where he has some intriguing tools with his length and lateral quickness, though his fundamentals and awareness in all regards are still a work in progress.
Rapheal Davis, 6'5, Post-Grad, SG/SF, La Lumiere
Committed to Purdue
Overshadowed by his team's high profile frontcourt, Rapheal Davis (#76 ESPN, Unranked Scout, #106 Rivals) serves as a solid cog on the wing in La Lumiere's offense, and appears to have the makings of a versatile role player at the college level.
Standing 6'5 with a decent frame and good but not great athleticism, Davis is an active player who scores in a variety of ways while playing within his team's offense. He does a good job blending into his team's offense and playing to his strengths, finishing mostly on spot-up threes and straight-line drives to the basket. He can finish with both hands around the rim and does a good job getting out in transition to score, showing a high effort level on offense in general.
Davis didn't stand out noticeably good or bad on the defensive end, showing a solid effort level, fundamentals, and physical tools, and mostly just doing his job adequately well.
Looking forward, Davis appears to have the makings of a solid role-playing wing at the college level, and should fit in well in Purdue's guard-heavy offense.