Pittsburgh High School Classic Recap

Pittsburgh High School Classic Recap
Jan 29, 2008, 05:43 pm
DraftExpress was on hand to take in the Pittsburgh High School Classic, played at Duquense University's Palumbo Center. We take a closer look at the performances of Tyreke Evans, Terrence Jennings, and the rest of the top players the event had to offer.

Tyreke Evans, 6’5, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Senior, American Christian
11 points, 5 fouls in 10 minutes

Evans (#4 Scout, #6 Rivals) battled foul trouble the entire game, only playing 10 minutes total in American Christian's overtime loss to Notre Dame Prep. He never seemed to get in much of a groove in his time out on the court, only playing a minute or two at a time before picking up another foul and being yanked from the game. The physical package that Evans offers is hard to miss. A legit 6'5 with long arms and a sturdy frame, he already boasts the body of an ideal NBA point guard prospect. He showed off his blinding first step a few times in his limited playing time Sunday, proving to be equally quick going both left and right.

In the half court, the Philly native played his patented ball-dominant style of play. Holding the ball at the top of the key while his teammates stood and watched, it was difficult for the other American Christian players to get comfortable with their star guard controlling the rock. This also allowed the Notre Dame defenders to focus in on him, rotating in the key to draw two charges. Once Evans went out, there was noticeably more continuity amongst his teammates, with fellow guards Lamont Jones and Jeremiah Kelly exploding for monster games in their own right.

The effortless jump-shot, fancy ball handling, and super quick spin-moves that Evans boasts were all on display in his limited time on the floor. He made the game look like it was in slow motion at times, picking and choosing when he wanted to snap back to full speed.

Unfortunately for Evans, that didn't apply to the defensive end. He picked up a few cheap fouls in situations where he didn’t need to reach for the ball. The physical attributes are there for him to be an adequate defender down the line, but he doesn't seem too concerned with exerting much effort on that end of the floor for the time being.

Overall, it just seemed to be an off night for Tyreke. Obviously this below par showing does not change the fact that he has just as much (if not more) upside then any guard prospect in this class. Currently Memphis, Louisville, UCONN, Villanova, Seton Hall and Texas are in the running for his services. Many feel that Calipari's ability to get players to the next level (along with the influence of mutual friend William Wesley) will be enough to take Evans to Memphis next season. No matter where he lands, though, he will make an immediate impact and will likely have the opportunity to take his game to the NBA after a year in the college ranks.

Terrence Jennings, 6’10, Power Forward/Center, Senior, Notre Dame Prep
Committed To Louisville
29 points

There was no player more dominant then Terrence Jennings (#15 Rivals), who completely took over the game with his size and freakish athleticism. At 6’10 and 230 pounds, he already owns ideal stature for an NBA power forward and has the physical gifts to match. Unlike the last time we saw him, he completely maximized his athletic talents on both ends of the floor and looked like the top 20 player nationally that he is billed to be.

The Sacramento native is still very raw in terms of offensive skills, but really showed some potential. He threw out a number of blindingly quick spin moves in the paint, resulting in two points or a foul on every attempt. An absolute monster on the offensive glass, Terrence used his quick leaping ability to attack the ball much faster than any of the American Christian big men, and was able to get a number of put-backs before defenders even had a chance to react. He even showed flashes of a game facing the basket, as he stepped out a drilled a pair of smooth looking 17 foot jump-shots off the dribble.

Just as impressive was Jennings’ ability to run the floor and catch everything thrown his way. He seemingly glided up and down the court, often beating even American Christians’ guards while streaking down the floor. When the ball was thrown to him, he was able to corral everything and finish well above the rim with both his right and left hands. For a player who lacks refinement on the offensive end, his ability to run the floor and catch the ball should enable him to get his fair share of easy buckets at the collegiate level, assuming he gives decent effort out on the floor.

Jennings is still a work in progress defensively, possessing very little awareness and often looking lost on that side of the court. Showing flashes of potential as a shot blocker and rebounder, he is able to contribute in those areas through his raw athleticism, rather than actual defensive fundamentals. His lack of high level experience is quite clear here, as he has really only been playing elite level competition for two years now.

As hard as this may be to believe, the Amare Stoudemire comparisons may have some warrant. Jennings has similar tools (ability to run floor, quick leaping ability, super spin-moves), mannerisms, and athletic ability. Also like Stoudemire (especially in his prep days), there have been questions about Jennings’ character and desire. In terms of NBA potential, Terrence has arguably as much as any big man that the class of 2008 has to offer. Teaming with Samardo Samuels next year at Louisville, he will have the ability to feed off of the constant double teams that Samuels will see, giving him easy opportunities to score at the rim. There is still a ton of room for Jennings in terms of development on both ends of the floor, but he has the chance to be a very nice draft prospect down the road if he is willing to put forth the effort to make the most of his limitless potential.

Terrelle Pryor, 6’6, Small Forward, Senior, Jeannette HS (PA)
17 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks

The nation's top football prospect also doubles as a top 30 player on the hardwood (#28 Rivals, #42 Scout), playing the part of a nice basketball prospect when he's not on the gridiron.

Pryor struggled getting many touches throughout the game, given the "box and one" that Aliquippa ran on him. No matter where he was on the floor, he was face-guarded by an opposing defender, often times having a second defender shadowing him. When he did have the ball though, it was easy to see why he is so highly touted on the hardwood.

Pryor plays the game with a very high basketball IQ, rarely turning the ball over or taking bad shots. While most of his damage came in the paint due to Jeanette's lack of size, he still managed to show off some of the perimeter skills that make him difficult to guard. Terrelle handled the ball very well in the open court, keeping his head up the entire time, and making a few gorgeous passes. There were times in this game that he played all five positions for his high school team, although he is clearly best suited for small forward at the next level.

Pryor's physical gifts give him the opportunity to post most small forwards his age. At a chiseled 225 pounds, he has a very strong body that is well proportioned between his upper and lower torsos. His explosiveness carries over to both ends of the floor, where he has an aggressive first step when attacking the basket and super lateral quickness when on the defensive end.

The major weaknesses in terms of Pryor's potential as an NBA player lie in his lack of ideal height for a small forward. At 6'6, he is a little on the small side and is not blessed with a freakish wingspan that would downplay that. Also, Pryor struggles a bit with consistency in his outside jump-shot. His form is solid, but the Pennsylvania prep star has had very mixed results when shooting the ball from the perimeter.

It is highly doubtful that we will talk about Pryor as a draft prospect once he hits college, due to the fact that many recruiting analysts are tabbing him as the next Vince Young. He has openly expressed his desire to play both sports in college and has narrowed his choices down to Michigan, Ohio State, Florida, LSU, and Oregon

Lamont Jones, 5’11, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Junior, American Christian (PA), Committed to Louisville
26 points

Lamont Jones (unranked, Scout or Rivals) took full advantage of Evans’ foul troubles, looking perfectly comfortable in taking over the role of ball-dominant point guard. He made many big baskets throughout the game for American Christian and played with a fire not typical of most point guards at such a young age.

The Louisville recruit did all of his damage on the offensive end, scoring in a number of different ways. He initially made his presence felt with his fiery shooting, drilling jumpers from well beyond the arc as, well as from mid-range. Not to be confused with a one dimensional shooter, the gritty junior then began taking the ball to the rim, not caring what Notre Dame freak Terrence Jennings had to say about it. The returns were solid for Jones, who threw his bowling ball frame around in order to absorb contact near the rim.

Given his lack of size and Louisville’s loaded recruiting classes for the next few seasons, it may be a while before Jones has the chance to contribute significantly in college. His lack of size hurt his NBA chances severely, but he will certainly have the opportunity to change the opinions of NBA scouts over his collegiate career given the stable of NBA prospects that Rick Pitino continues to land year in and year out.

Jeremiah Kelly, 6’1, Point Guard, Senior, American Christian (PA), Committed to DePaul
26 points

Like his teammate Lamont Jones, Jeremiah Kelly (unranked Scout, #92 Rivals) took full advantage of Tyreke Evans’ long stints on the bench to pour in 26 points. He hit 6 three pointers on the game, showing Pittsburgh fans how he has scored the bulk of his points since his days as a prep star in Chicago. The Depaul recruit is a bit of an “old school” point guard in that he does not do anything flashy and is not an incredible penetrator, but is outstanding in terms of taking care of the ball and initiating the offense. This mature approach to the game is why he had schools such as North Carolina, Georgia Tech, and Florida State inquiring about his services before committing to DePaul.

At only 165 pounds, Jeremiah is awfully weak and it shows on both ends of the floor. Offensively, the Chicago native struggles absorbing contact and finishing inside, while also serving as a bit of a liability on the defensive end. The fact that he possesses very average quickness and explosiveness does not help him in these two areas, which are easily his biggest weaknesses as a prospect. Immediate playing time is going to be available for Kelly as a freshman at DePaul though, where he will join two former high school teammates in Thinjin Moses and Mac Koshwal.

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