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May 6, 2012

Bates-Diop impresses at Run-N-Slam

MORE RUN-N-SLAM: Preview | Friday action

FT. WAYNE, Ind. Saturday's session of the Bill Hensley Memorial Run-N-Slam at the Spiece Fieldhouse was a marathon running from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Among the big-time performers was one of the prospects Rivals.com national analyst Eric Bossi most looked forward to seeing over the weekend, junior wing Keita Bates-Diop.

The No. 3 player from the state of Illinois in the recently updated rankings of the class of 2014, Bates-Diop showed plenty of what got him ranked No. 39 in the country on Saturday.

A silky smooth forward who can play some in the high post, Bates-Diop's future is on the wing and he wields one of the smoothest, most accurate jump shots in the sophomore class. More than just a shooter, the 6-foot-7 forward has length, ball skills and is a graceful athlete who is light on his feet and plays with a high level of intelligence.

Bates-Diop went for 26 in an afternoon game and did so without needing a bunch of shots.

"My shot felt good out there today," Bates-Diop told Rivals.com. 'I feel like I've had a good spring. I'm just trying to play hard and show what I can do."

Major college basketball programs have already taken notice of what Bates-Diop is doing and the Normal (Ill.) University product has already drawn offers from Purdue, DePaul and Northwestern while he's getting interest from Michigan - where he will take an unofficial visit in June for its elite camp - Illinois, Wisconsin, Louisville, Oklahoma State and others.

Barnstormers 16's a fun group

People who think there isn't good coaching or team play in grassroots/AAU basketball clearly haven't spent much time watching the Iowa Barnstormers 16 and under team.

The roster has plenty of D-I talent, but the entire team plays selflessly, with purpose and with a good level of skill. It also has a lot of size for a 16 and under team and can complement that size with shooters.

Against the Mac Irvin Fire, 6-foot-7 forward Ethan Happ showed plenty of toughness and athleticism but he wasn't alone in impressing.

Big man Seth Bonifas is already every bit of 6-foot-9 and still looks to be growing. 6-foot-1 Wyatt Lohaus has a good-looking floor game and above average ball skills for a young point guard. Also doing good things while Rivals.com watched were 6-foot-8 forward Casey Schlatter and sharp-shooting wing Kyle Haber.

Davis creating his own buzz

The Mac Irvin are loaded with size and talent including the No.1 player in 2013, Jabari Parker, and the No. 3 player in 2014, Jahlil Okafor. While Okafor and Parker were as expected on Saturday, the guy really making noise is 6-foot-1 point guard Kyle Davis.

One of the most athletic playmakers in the country, the Chicago Morgan Park junior plays with attitude, swagger and never stops attacking. Previously viewed as a bit of an undersized shooting guard, Davis is proving that he's a point guard and with his performances this spring.He's built a pretty strong case to be included the next time the class of 2013 Rivals150 is updated.

He plays like a kid with a point to prove but doesn't worry about how others classify his game because he's confident that he can do a little bit of everything.

"Anybody can classify me as anything," Davis told Rivals.com. "Right now I really don't care I'm just going to play my game regardless. I can shoot, I can dribble, I can get to the hole. I can do everything."

A few weeks ago, Davis took an unofficial visit to Nebraska where former Mac Irvin Fire coach Ron Coleman is an assistant. He classified the visit as a success and was impressed by the facilities.

In addition to Nebraska, Davis mentioned Ohio State and Florida as having shown recent interest to go along with offers from Northwestern, Xavier and Wichita State.

Quick hitters

Speaking frankly, James Young just might be underrated at No.9 in the class of 2013. The 6-foot-6 lefty has cemented himself as the story of the spring hoops circuit and he was at it again on Saturday. Deep threes, big dunks, dribble-drives, he did it all and he did it all at a high level. The Troy (Mich.) High junior is playing like a top five guy in his class at this point.

Saturday night allowed us to get a good first look at 6-foot-6 class of 2014 wing Vince Edwards. Go ahead and pencil Edwards in as a likely four-star prospect in his class thanks to his combination of size, athleticism and a pure shooting stroke. He nearly committed to Purdue a few months ago and the Boilermakers are still the team to beat.

Edwards isn't the only potential high-major wing on his team. A 6-foot-4 sophomore shooting guard, Justin Bibbs is a good-looking prospect who projects as at least an upper mid-major to high-major target down the road.

Sticking with 2014 wings from the state of Ohio, three-star Jae'Sean Tate of All-Ohio Red already plays like a man. Athletic and physical, the 6-foot-5 wing is a hard charger who creates havoc on the glass and with his relentless attempts to assault the basket on the offensive end.

The Eric Gordon All-Stars 16 and under team doesn't have a high-profile player on the roster, but like the Iowa Barnstomers it has lots of talented, selfless players that play team ball. Saturday, we really liked the contributions from 6-foot-6 wings Sam Longwood and Sean Sellers. Longwood will play a little on the interior and has some athleticism while Sellers can knock home a jumper and is surprisingly tough around the rim given his slim build.

Sophomore power forward Jaylen Johnson from Ypsilanti (Mich.) High isn't there just yet, but you can sure see him coming. Every bit of 6-foot-8 the slender insider can really run, has great length and is quick off the floor. On top of that his skill isn't bad either. He just needs to get stronger and develop confidence.

Class of 2013 four-star point guard Demetrius Jackson took the SAT on Saturday morning but showed up in time to try and help out his MBA Select squad on Saturday night. He couldn't lead his team to the win over Rotary Select, but the powerful and athletic 6-foot-1 floor general looked terrific. He's a great on-the-ball defender, makes things happen at the rim, has excellent instincts and can now make defenders pay if they leave him at the three-point line. He's slowed down his recruitment process but said he's still considering Notre Dame, Michigan State, Illinois, Butler and Florida State.

The Spiece Indy Heat 15 and under team features some very impressive freshmen from the state of Indiana. The two who most caught our eye on Saturday were 6-foot-7 forward Bronson Kessinger and 6-foot-3 shooting guard K.J. Walton. Kessinger is skilled around the bucket, has a nice jump hook and scored over both shoulders. Walton is an athletic wing who has the type of body that makes you think he was born to play hoops. A slasher and driver, Walton's jumper doesn't look all that bad either.

There isn't a lot of production coming out of him just yet, but it's tough to ignore the potential of 6-foot-8 freshman Trevor Manuel. A smooth and fluid prospect from powerful Lansing (Mich.) Sexton, Manuel lopes up and down the floor with long, easy strides and has good hands. He's pretty quick in the lane and has all the tools to develop into a high-level big man if he wants to work.

The Family's 16's and 15's have no shortage of talent. The best of the bunch is an eighth grader - 6-foot-5 wing Josh Jackson. Jackson will attend Detroit (Mich.) Consortium and it's hard to imagine that hopes won't be high for him. He's already a big-time athlete, handles proficiently in transition, passes very well, rebounds and has a nose for scoring the ball. Class of 2014 point guard Edmond Sumner is a slick ballhandler who can get to the rim and score. In the class of 2015, Saginaw (Mich.) Arthur Hill point guard Eric Davis is going to be one to watch. He can score and has the ball on a string.

Jahlil Okafor looked the part of the No. 3 player in the country and frankly he's putting some heat on No. 2 Noah Vonleh in 2014. Big and skilled with his back to the basket, the five-star sophomore has added an element of face-up game to his repertoire and is a ridiculously efficient post player for somebody who hasn't finished his sophomore year of high school. He added an offer from Florida this week to go with the litany of high-major offers he already has.

All Ohio Red big man Nigel Hayes has really improved in the last year. Strong and athletic at 6-foot-7, his overall skill level and understanding of how to use that strong body have come a long way in the last year. Atlantic-10 programs would be wise to make him a major target.

The Illinois Wolves have a roster deep with shooters. In particular, Nate Taphorn is intriguing on the upper end mid to high major level. The three-star is a long range marksman with size and moves fluidly on the perimeter.

Finally, freshman combo guard Jordan Ash didn't really get a chance to show off his entire arsenal because he was playing for both the Illinois Wolves 16 and 15 and under squads. But, it's easy to see what has drawn early offers from Purdue and DePaul to go along with lots of Big Ten interest. The southpaw is a big-time athlete who will try to dunk on somebody in the blink of an eye. But he doesn't just rely on his athleticism and is also a threat to bomb away from the three-point line. He'll be fun to watch develop.

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