Saturday, May 13, 2006

Jayhawk Invitational (Pool Play)

The Jayhawk Invitational is wrapping up pool play this afternoon, and most of the major prospects have completed their opening games, so I thought I'd put up an update to this point. With two courts set up in Allen Field House, additional games in other facilities on campus and almost all of the best high school players in the midwest here, it's been a hoophead's dream so far.

PG/SG Tyrel Reed ( #14 PG - '07):

Tyrel Reed is one of two major targets for the GT staff to fill the final scholarship for the '07 class. On the Hive and elsewhere, I've been a bit skittish about Reed because I've only seen him play against his very weak Kansas 3A highschool competition - so I was very interested to see how he would do facing the top AAU opponents in this tournament.

The main draw for Friday night was Reed's KC Pump N' Run team facing the Minnesota Magic Elite team with Kansas commit Cole Aldrich ( #1 C - '07). There were several other high major players on both teams, including Reed's opposite number at PG for the Magic Elite, the extremely quick Minnesota commit Al Nolen. I'll have some more to say about a couple of other players in this game a bit later, but for now Reed was my focus.

(Reed bringing the ball up against Nolen's pressure)

Reed was extremely good, to sum it up succintly. He was in complete control with the ball in his hands, with a strong heads up dribbling style that allowed him to pick out open teammates. He finished in traffic well, and showed off his nice shooting stroke by hitting 4/8 from 3. While he's a good shooter, he never looks to force his own shot and was quite willing to get into traffic and set other guys up. Pump N' Run opened up a quick 11-0 run on their Magic Elite opponents and never really let it get close, as Reed and his fellow backcourt mates controlled the tempo and basically reduced Aldrich to a non-factor in a very impressive easy win.

(Reed matches up Nolen on an inbounds play)

Reed continued his stellar play in the second game I watched earlier today as Pump N' Run had a laugher against an outmatched opponent. Reed again controlled the tempo and play from the start, hitting open jumpers and feeding his fellow running mates for easy baskets. So far to this point in the tourney, Reed has been the most impressive player I've seen. I'm not sure I like the Kirk Hinrich comparisons (Hinrich was a better athlete, Reed is probably a better shooter) - I would compare him more to Tony Akins with a bit better shot, a tough nosed PG with strong leadership abilities. You can quickly see in this type of setting why Hewitt offered Reed a scholarship.

(Reed peeved at bad foul by a teammate)

C Cole Aldrich ( #1 C - '07)

Aldrich is coming off a stress fracture in his leg during the high school season, and has a bit of a dinged up ankle/foot as well - and when you are as big as he is, conditioning is the first thing to go. It was very obvious in both games I've seen of his, that he just is struggling with his fitness level and can't play more than 15-20 minutes before becoming severely winded. This also reduced his effectiveness in the post area, because he was tired and unable to work as hard in the paint as you would expect. KC Pump N' Run basically removed him from the game completely in his first game, and while he faired better in another game I saw it was one of his teammates in the frontcourt that really stood out (more on that later).

(Aldrich about to tip off - he's the man mountain on the left)

When talking about Aldrich, you have to start with his size. He's huge. Aldrich is around 6'10" / 240lbs. and could carry more on his frame. He's wide, with big trunk like legs and broad shoulders. In some ways though, his body and athleticism are farther ahead than his basketball skills at this point. While he's a good or even very good passer, his offensive game is basically 4 feet and in, and when he's not attacking the rim hard (like this weekend) he can really dissapear on that end for long stretches.

Aldrich got ripped pretty good on after his very poor game in the opener against KC Pump N' Run, but most of it is undeserved. He's coming off an injury, and KC's backcourt really did a nice job pressuring he Magic Elite and never letting them get easy entries to Aldrich either. He's going to be a very good player for the Jayhawks and his blend of size and athleticism is something you just can't teach. It is clear though that he's not at the same level as this year's #1 center (Greg Oden) and I wouldn't be surprised to see him slip down the rankings some until he gets back into shape and polishes his overall game some.

SG Conner Teahan

In the deep KC Pump N' Run backcourt, Teahan is the "scorer". The Gatorade POY for '05 in the state of Missouri and also the starting QB for the KC powerhouse Rockhurst High, Teahan continues to impress on the basketball court.

(Teahan boxes out)

From his floppy soccer boy haircut to his deadly 3 point shot, Teahan just screams out "future mid-major guy who's going to score 30 in a NCAA tournament upset". We were joking that he wears the #12 because that's the seed he's going to be when he guns down some team come tourney time. In actuality though, as well as he keeps playing he could end up picking up several high major offers. Teahan doesn't have supreme basketball athleticism, but he's a tough nosed scorer and he can really shoot it.

SG Travis Releford ( #2 SG - '08)

Friday night was the first game back from a dislocated ankle (read that without wincing) for Travis Releford, the best player in Kansas and one of the top 5 players in the '08 class nationwide. Releford just oozes talent and athleticism (throwing down a couple of nasty break away dunks), but was obviously rusty. With a couple of turnovers and some sloppy ballhandling, Releford at times looked like he was just taking it easy - of course, coming off the bench into games which were out of hand also had to have something to do with that. Releford is going to be special, heck - he already is.

(Releford goes up for a huge double pump jam)

PF Jon Leur

After Tyrel Reed, the best player I've seen this weekend has been 6'9" PF Jon Leur from Minnesota. He's so far off the recruiting radar that doesn't even have a profile for him, but it's hard to imagine that's going to continue with the way he's been playing.

(Leur running the break smoothly)

Leur has as pure a shooting stroke as you'll find at this level, and while his release might be a tad slow he's so tall that he can get his shot off almost whenever he wants. With a long thin frame that resembles Nick Fazekas, he's going to need to put on weight and strength to keep from getting pushed around on the blocks. All in all though, Leur is the kind of sleeper player that can land at a mid-major and make a huge splash. With a pure scoring touch, the ability to put the ball on the floor in traffic and run the open court - he has skills you can't fake for just one hot weekend.

More tommorow from the knockout rounds - all the key players will be there, and some commentary on the U15 studs here, specifically Xavier Henry.


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