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April 29, 2012

EYBL Hampton: Saturday's stars

MORE: Friday recap | EYBL Hampton preview

HAMPTON, Va. Day 2 of the Hampton session of the Nike EYBL brought another day of standout performances. But the performance that stood out the most was the team performance of an impressive California Supreme group who ran its record to 7-0.

Supreme plays team ball

There are teams with more individual talent than California Supreme. There are also teams that go about their business with more style. However, there aren't many teams that go about their business in a more effective manner and with more of a focus on group success. The result is a sparkling 7-0 record during EYBL play through Saturday night.

That's not to say that Miles Simon's group doesn't have talent, though, because they aren't lacking that department either. Four-star sophomore point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright ranks No. 25 in the class of 2014. Three-star junior big man Torren Jones ranks No. 120 in 2013 while three-star junior shooting guard Jordan Matthews has been on a scoring and shooting tear that has him pushing hard for the Rivals150.

On top of that, Supreme features maybe the single-hottest recruit in the country in 2013's No. 54 player Marcus Lee. While the 6-foot-9 big man from Antioch (Calif.) Deer Valley isn't putting up swollen numbers, the coaching crowds watching him have been gigantic as nearly every big-time program has offered. Thin and quick, he patrols the paint swatting shots, is an outstanding passer and shows plenty of promise as a scorer thanks to soft touch.

Basically the entire Pac-12 has offered Lee as have the likes of Duke, Texas A&M, Kansas, Boston College, San Diego State and others. In Hampton, Lee has also seen increasing attention from Kentucky and North Carolina.

"With everything going on there's no egos with them," Simon told Rivals.com. "All they care about is winning."

Young enjoying his run of success

The nation's No. 9 player in the class of 2013 James Young thought that he would have success in the EYBL. The 6-foot-6 small forward was coming off of a gigantic junior year and had been feeling good about his spring workouts. Still, he never figured that things would go as well as they have.

"It's surprised me a lot," said Young of his success. "There's a lot of good players out here and to see that my talent is good enough to play well against these guys has been a good thing."

The product of Troy (Mich.) High hasn't just played well in the EYBL, he's been flat-out dominant at times playing with The Family

He's a strong and physical wing who can slash to the rim. He finishes very well in transition and he's become a pretty money jump-shooter who defenders can't afford to give an open look to. Young says that he likes to play physical and because of that he's happy to be seen as more of a small forward than a shooting guard.

"I really see myself as a three," said Young. "I could play the two but I prefer being a three man. I like to size up the bigger guys and take them off the dribble and be physical.

According to Young, he's generated offers from Providence, Ohio State, Michigan State and Missouri while Kansas and Kentucky rate high on his list without having yet offered. Young says that the 2012 National Champions -- who have watched him plenty in Hampton -- are his current leaders.

"Kentucky is my favorite," said Young. "I like the offense and how they play and how Coach Cal coaches it all."

Matthews coming on strong

While his teammate James Young has been getting plenty of love, junior point guard E.C. Matthews has been playing very well himself.

A 6-foot-4 point guard with size and good speed with the ball out of Romulus (Mich.) High, Matthews has been outstanding as both a playmaker and scorer while initiating The Family offense in Hampton.

Some schools are recruiting him as a two, some as a combo guard and some as a point guard but he definitely has a preference as to which position he plays in college.

"I've played the point my whole life," said Matthews. "People are recruiting me a little bit as both a point and shooting guard but I'd like to be recruited as a point."

So far, Dayton, USC and Rhode Island have pulled the trigger on offers while Indiana, Xavier, Michigan and Iowa among others have been keeping close tabs.

In no rush to make a decision, Matthews wants to see what type of new attention comes his way after April's two open weekends and then he'll look to maybe set up some unofficial visits and start narrowing things down.

"I'm just trying to prove myself," said Matthews. "I'm trying to find my niche and show that I belong as a top prospect."

Quick hitters

During 16-and-under play, sophomore shooting guard Rashad Figures of the Playaz was very impressive. A hard-charging 6-foot-4 slasher who compliments his athletic drives with timely jump-shooting, he scores points in bunches. He's yet to receive any scholarship offers, but he has been hearing from Georgetown, Seton Hall, Rutgers and Iona among others.

Only a freshman, 6-foot-2 combo guard Jalen Coleman from Indianapolis (Ind.) Cathedral looks to have major tools at his disposal. The 2015 prospect has skill, good size, great length and natural instincts that lead him to attack the rim. Indiana has already offered while the likes of Illinois, Michigan State, Purdue, Notre Dame and others are showing early interest.

Late last summer, an early peak at 6-foot-7 forward Ivan Rabb told us that he had a chance to be very good. Now, the freshman from Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd is making good on that promise and has been one of the better class-of-2015 prospects we've seen this spring. Quick and agile on the interior, he's got good hands, a nose for the ball and plays hard on each end of the floor.

When it comes to rapidly improving players, there aren't many coming on stronger than Arkansas commitment Bobby Portis. The 6-foot-10 and growing big man from Little Rock (Ark.) is due for another major bump in the rankings up from his current spot of No. 56. The lengthy center runs the floor, is all over the glass, has great hands and is a fine offensive player. He makes mid-range jumpers, scores jump-hooks near the goal and is relentless in chasing offensive rebounds. As it stands, Portis is going to merit serious consideration for five-star status.

Power wing Jamel Artis had himself an excellent day for Baltimore Elite. A big and physical 6-foot-6 kid who has to play some on the interior because of B.E.'s lack of overall size, Artis is a multi-dimensional player who bodies defenders, handles the ball and hits the glass. When he's got the jumper dropping from deep like it did on Saturday, he looks like a high major wing.

Torren Jones says that he has offers from San Diego State and Wyoming while Missouri, Washington State and San Francisco are among those taking looks. The 6-foot-8 power forward from Chandler (Ariz.) Basha plays with great energy on the glass, is getting stronger and doesn't seem to mind doing the dirty work on the interior for California Supreme.

Tyus Jones isn't the biggest point guard in the class of 2014. He's not the fastest or most explosive one either. But, there isn't a better floor general -- at least not that we've seen -- in the sophomore class. A fine distributor of the ball who can shoot and score, Jones' command of the pick-and-roll and the proficiency with which he sets up shooters are ridiculous for a player as young as he is.

Class of 2014 teammates Jaquan Lyle and Trey Lyles deservedly get a lot of attention for the Spiece Indy Heat. Lyle is a big and strong 6-foot-5 combo guard with super floor vision and the ability to make plays off the bounce. Headed to Indiana, Lyles is a highly skilled offensive player and has great size for a young power forward. But, keep an eye on another 2014 prospect in Trevon Bluiett. The 6-foot-5 sophomore isn't the most athletic guy, he doesn't strike you as the best ball-handler or the most dangerous shooter. But, the guy has a commanding feel for the game and is a throwback player with a skill and craft-based game like Mark Aguirre and Adrian Dantley had back in their day. The guy produces at a high level and gets the job done.

Davon Reed of Team Final has hit a growth spurt and the four-star junior is now pushing 6-foot-6. He's got offers from West Virginia, Seton Hall, Rutgers, St. Joseph's and Temple to name a few. Also showing interest are Florida, Baylor, Villanova and Syracuse. His Team Final teammate Dominique Reid is one to watch as well. A solid 6-foot-7 power forward out of Timber Creek high in New Jersey, Reid has a good motor and will play physically. So far he's got offers from St. Joe's, Delaware, Robert Morris and Florida Atlantic to go along with attention from Rutgers, Nebraska, Wake Forest, Miami and Auburn. He's planning to take an unofficial visit to Temple next month.

There hasn't been much doubt about Andrew Wiggins' position as the top player in the class of 2014. If there was, the 6-foot-7 small forward from Huntington (W.V.) Prep totally shredded it on Saturday. Easily the best player we saw all day, Wiggins was sensational in everything he did. Get out and finish on the break? Not a problem. Juice defenders off the dribble? Not a problem either. Now, the five-star sophomore's jump shot is coming in line and he's reached a level where he pretty much does whatever he wants, whenever he wants to do it.



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