October 15, 2012

Recapping the John Lucas Midwest Invitational Camp

The John Lucas Midwest Invitational Camp, in Louisville, is always known as one of the top events of the fall to evaluate the nation's top young talent. Lucas' camp pushes players from the 9th-11th grades through intensive drill work, and then gives the prospects a chance to play games in a true team setting; rather than the typical unorganized showcase style.

With one known Kentucky target in attendance, and several potential future prospects for coach John Calipari, John Lucas Camp gave Cats Illustrated plenty to reflect on.

Wearing the Crown
The lone target in the event with confirmed interest from the Wildcats, 6-foot-5 combo guard JaQuan Lyle, came into the event billed as the top prospect on the docket. The 2014 product from Evansville (Ind.) Bosse HS attended Big Blue Madness on Friday night, then made the trip to Louisville for the camp. As many thought he would, Lyle looked excellent in the drills on both days.

With his size, athleticism and physicality for the point or shooting guard positions, Lyle is a true five-star prospect in his class because of how skilled he is. Lyle shoots it effortlessly out past three-point range, handles the ball well, and is a gifted and willing passer.

Showing spurts where he put his mind to dominating the competition, Lyle was one of the toughest players in the camp to cover.

Cats Illustrated will have more coming soon on Lyle's unofficial visit to Lexington.

Rest of the Best
After Lyle, the two highest ranked prospects from the oldest age group (2014) at the camp were Louisville point guard Quentin Snider, a University of Louisville commit, and athletic Nashville wing Jalen Lindsey.

It would be tough to say that Snider wasn't the top point guard in attendance as the gritty 6-foot-1 floor general was out to prove that Louisville is his city. Snider is quick with the ball in his hands, aggressive attacking the basket and really looked to score the ball around the rim. Also a very good shooter, who has improved in that area, Snider was dominant for most of the camp; and won his one on one matchup with Lyle in the final game of the camp.

Lindsey is a high wire act who is being recruited as a four-star prospect by most of the SEC and ACC. At 6-foot-7 he has great size to match his athleticism on the wing, and showed that he is capable of consistently knocking down perimeter jump shots.

Passing the Test
With a reputation for being an unquestioned top ten talent in the class of 2016, 6-foot-7 Canadian wing Justin Jackson showed that he is ranked for a reason. While we have yet to see every top prospect in the freshman class, it is tough to imagine that there is a prospect with Jackson's size who is smoother with the basketball.

Jackson is an elite passer off the drive who can make his teammates better. He does a nice job of staying under control and using his size to shield off defenders while handling the ball, and although he can get a little too fancy with those passes; he's a big time talent.

In addition to just being a passer, Jackson is a good athlete for his age and size, can shoot it fairly well; and is willing to move his feet defensively. Because of differences in Canadian schooling, Jackson could eventually end up a 2015 prospect (or stay as a 2016 prospect) when he eventually comes to play American high school basketball; which we're told is very likely.

Putting it in the Bucket
Two freshman that can really score the basketball are Indianapolis wing Eron Gordon and Mississippi swingman Mario Kegler.

Gordon has already been well profiled as the 6-foot-2 younger brother of Indiana high school and college legend, as well as New Orleans Hornets guard Eric Gordon. Like his brother, Eron is a pure bucket-getter who is one of the rare prospects that is faster with the ball in his hands. He's crafty at finding ways to score in the mid-range game in tight spaces, is a pure shooter from deep and drives the ball strong to the hoop in straight lines. When the prospects rankings come out for 2016, expect to see Gordon's name somewhere in the top 50.

Kegler is considered one of the top 25 or so prospects in the freshman class. At 6-foot-7 he has great size to attack off the dribble from the wing, and is a natural scorer from inside of 17 feet. In addition to shooting it, Kegler is a developing ballhandler that can get to the rim and is able to play either the three or the face-up four spots. A good athlete with length and fluidity, Kegler can alter or block shots around the basket as well as throw down a nice dunk.

Bluegrass Baby
Heading into the event we had not heard of 2016 Crawfordsville (KY) Taylor County combo guard Quentin Goodin, in fact many scouts hadn't. After his performance, no one will make the mistake of overlooking the Kentucky product again.

Goodin is one of those guys who you never want to take your eye off of when he has the ball. He's an electric 6-foot-3 athlete who can get wherever he wants off the dribble, and loves to finish with dunks. While he's not a great shooter, he can knock them down when open, but Goodin thrives at taking the ball to the basket and scoring through contact acrobatically.

With the exposure that he got at John Lucas Camp, Goodin very likely could begin to receive some significant high major interest; including some eventual love from the Wildcats.

Remember the Name
There were also a couple of top prospects at the camp who Kentucky is not recruiting, and probably ultimately will not recruit, but are names to remember from the recruiting trail.

D.J. Williams - Getting to play varsity as a freshman last season at Chicago (Ill.) Simeon HS, Williams is a true talent in 2015 at 6-foot-5. He's very similar to Jackson and Kegler as he is a long, fluid and smooth athlete who can attack off the bounce. Williams plays with good energy, and was one of the most efficient finishers around the rim over the two days. If he can add weight and play with more physicality he'll become one of the best prospects in the Midwest.

Andrew Fleming - A big time shooter with size at 6-foot-5, Fleming is one of the most talented offensive players in the class of 2015. A Nashville resident, Fleming has recently taken place in the USA Basketball Mini-camp for 16u, and also claims an offer from Florida. Showing his ability to successfully run the point, Fleming is a versatile guard who sees the floor well, is crafty with the basketball in his hands and plays with a real swagger as well.

Carlton Bragg - The 6-foot-9 power forward from Cleveland was one of the most intriguing 2015 prospects at the camp because of how far he has come in the last year with his development. Bragg dominated ball-handling drills, even at his size, and also showed that he is making strides in his coordination and shooting ability (which has always been an asset). Texas, Missouri, Xavier and Louisville are all recruiting Bragg already.

Rodney Miller - The 6-foot-11 freshman center from New York City, who attends school in New Jersey at St. Benedicts, was the most impressive young center that we evaluated at the camp. For having such great size, Miller showed nice skills in the post; including the ability to hit a baby hook around the basket. Working hard every day with the same trainer who developed Andrew Bynum, Miller is considered one of the elite center prospects in the 2016 class and someone who should develop nicely into a star.

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