Nike IS8 High School Spring Championship

Nike IS8 High School Spring Championship
Jun 06, 2007, 12:48 am
This past weekend’s Nike IS8 semi-finals and championship games in Queens, New York provided a showcase for some of the top teams and players in the New York area. Prospects from the class of 2007, 2008 and 2009 were all in action. DraftExpress was on hand to provide scouting reports on the top prospects as they battled for the IS8 Championship.

Mike Coburn – 6’0” PG – Committed to Rutgers

The Mount Vernon senior looked every bit a Big East guard as he had one of the most impressive weekends of any of the players still in action. Coburn combined fantastic speed, court sense, and a deadly jump shot to seemingly score at will at points during his two games. His mid-range shot was pretty much automatic, and he hit from beyond the arc at a very consistent clip. What makes Coburn so dangerous from the outside, though, is his ability to pull up and shoot. He saw plenty of pressure from opponents when he was in the open court with the ball, and would go from full stride to complete stop and shoot in the matter of a single step, often leaving himself with plenty of space to get a shot off. Add in a very quick release and Coburn has all the tools you could want from a shooter at the college level.

Coburn was also very effective driving to the basket. He has a muscular frame that allows him to take contact and still finish when he gets into the lane. He also exhibited very impressive body control as he often split multiple defenders while in the air and still was able to convert his shots. Coburn’s speed and threat to score when he penetrated allowed him to set up his teammates for plenty of open looks.

What impressed most about the future Scarlet Knight was his ability to stay calm when pressured. Coburn saw plenty of double teams over the course of the weekend, especially during Sunday’s championship game, yet he never panicked or made any rushed decisions. His ball handling abilities are strong enough that he was often able to dribble his way out of the double team, but in the cases where he was stuck, he was patient and would find an open teammate.

Defensively Coburn is quick but did tend to get beat off the dribble from time to time, this is something that he can improve on in college. As a whole Coburn certainly is a playmaker and can step in and contribute right away at Rutgers in the fall.

Justin Burrell – 6’8” PF – Committed to St. John’s

Burrell was the most impressive player of the weekend, leading the Juice All-Stars-JR to a second straight IS8 title. With 220 pounds packed onto his 6’8” frame, Burrell has the body and explosiveness to make an instant impact for the Red Storm.

Burrell played almost exclusively in the post on offense all weekend, and while he showed some nice touch on his jump shot during warm ups, he still has a way to go before he starts stepping out during games. When he had the ball on the block, though, Burrell was a man amongst boys. He dominated in one-on-one situations, mixing in drop steps and spin moves, overpowering opponents with his strength. In cases where defenders didn’t body up strong against Burrell, he was able to elevate over them for thunderous dunks. He didn’t exhibit any real passing skills out of the post, mainly due to that fact that when the ball was entered into him he almost always went to the basket with the mismatches he had against him. Burrell did show off his solid open court speed, beating the defense down the court several times for uncontested dunks.

Defensively, Burrell did exactly what you expect a player of his stature and ability to do; block shots and rebound. Anytime an opponent did not go strong to the basket Burrell would at the very least alter the shot, but also came away with plenty of very impressive blocks in his two games. He was a tremendous force on the boards, often pulling rebounds right off the rim or backboard and outletting the ball quickly to his guards.
Burrell already has a nice post-up game, and if he can extend his range, he will become a force for St. Johns.

Erving Walker – 5’8” PG – Christ the King HS

Walker, who was rumored to have decommitted from Florida, is still firm in his pledge to become a Gator in 2008 despite the recent events involving Billy Donovan potentially leaving to coach the Orlando Magic. The first thing that stands out about his game is his speed. Walker was the fastest player that we saw with the ball in his hands. It was nearly impossible to stay in front of him in a transition situation. In addition, Walker has very strong ball-handling skills, which made him such a threat offensively to get into the lane and create. He exhibited a very strong ability to draw defenders and then kick to open teammates, but did not attempt many shots in the lane himself. The perimeter is where Walker showed off his shooting abilities. He has a great touch on his shot and a fairly quick release, making him a real sharpshooter from the outside. Defensively, Walker played solidly, staying aggressive against his men and forcing a few turnovers thanks to his quickness.

As a whole it was a solid showing from Walker, although he is going to have to improve his ability to finish inside, something we didn’t see much of from him during his playoff game.

Kevin Jones – 6’7” PF – Mt. Vernon HS

Tenacious; if there is one word to describe how Kevin Jones plays on the basketball court, that would be the one. The junior power forward had the most impressive performance this weekend of any underclassmen. He dropped 43 points on the Juice All-Stars in a semi-final win, and came back with another very impressive performance in the championship game on Sunday. Jones isn’t the strongest player on the court, but what he lacks in bulk and strength he makes up for with hustle. He easily eclipsed 10 offensive rebounds in the championship game, and came very close to that mark in the semi-finals as well.

Jones is a long, athletic forward. He runs the floor very well, often beating his defender down the floor for easy points. He has nice touch with both hands down low in the post, and was able to drop several baby hook shots over opponents when left in a one-on-one situation on the block. His game down low still could use some work however, as he does get taken out of his game when facing stronger defenders.

The interesting thing about Jones is he has the ability to play in the post, but he also showed flashes of being able to play out on the perimeter as well. His ball-handling needs improvement, as does his shot, but at times he showed very nice touch from the outside. Jones hit two huge 3-pointers in the final minute of the semi-finals that helped Mt. Vernon advance.

Defensively, Jones was impressive. His length and quickness allow him to cover players out on the perimeter, although he was primarily down in the post. He spent much of the second half of Sunday’s championship game covering Justin Burrell, and was able to hound the big man into several turnovers.

Jones still has another year to develop, and if he continues to improve his perimeter game, will make for a very nice inside-outside threat at the college level.

Lance Stephenson – 6’5” SG/SF – Abraham Lincoln HS

Stephenson is one of the top players in the country from the class of 2009. From watching him play in just one game this weekend it is clear to see that Stephenson is a phenomenal athlete with a tremendous amount of potential. At close to 200 pounds, he is too strong for most perimeter players to cover effectively, and his quickness is pretty good. Stephenson got into trouble this weekend however when he found himself being double teamed. Rather than looking for open teammates, Stephenson often tried to do too much on his own and committed several offensive fouls and traveling violations.

Early in Saturday’s game, Stephenson showed off his phenomenal leaping ability, by slamming home a put back in traffic, and moments later thundering home an alley-oop pass from near half court.

Most impressive from Stephenson however was his shooting ability. Obviously there is still work to be done, but he showed fantastic touch and range on his shot. Stephenson hit several nice turnaround jumpers from the post, and drained several long shots from beyond the arc, including a buzzer beater at the end of the third quarter.

Stephenson has a tremendous amount of upside, and showed flashes of the ability that has him ranked near the top of the 2009 class. There is still plenty of work to be done, as right now Stephenson is more raw athlete than basketball player.

Lamont Jones – 5’11” PG/SG – Rice HS

Jones unfortunately was very quiet for the most part in the two games he played this weekend; often deferring to teammates on the offensive end. The times that Jones did decide to get involved, he showed flashes of the ability that has intrigued Louisville, who Jones has given a verbal commitment to despite only being a sophomore.

Jones has great range on his shot and knocked down several long perimeter shots over the course of the weekend. He showed a great ability to catch and shoot the basketball from anywhere on the court, but was not as able to create shots for himself from the outside, partially due to his ball handling skills which need improvement. In transition Jones was very effective, using his good open court speed, and solid jumping ability to elevate to a clear look at the rim. Jones also showed solid ability on the offensive glass, several times flying down the lane when he wasn’t covered and getting easy put backs. Defensively is where Jones stood out. He hounded his opponents all weekend, forcing plenty of turnovers that result in easy points at the other end of the floor.

There is still plenty of time for Jones to develop his game, and though he took a backseat to some of his teammates this weekend, it’s clear he is a skilled player with real potential.

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