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April 7, 2013
Brunson asserts himself in Milwaukee
MEQUON, Wis. -- After games ran until nearly midnight on Friday, the first tip went up at 8 a.m. for Saturday action at the NY2LA Swish 'N Dish at Homestead High School. For the second day in a row, the nation's top player in 2014, Jahlil Okafor of the Mac Irvin Fire, was outstanding. However, it was sophomore teammate Jalen Brunson who stole the show during an intense overtime game against the St. Louis Eagles in the 17U quarterfinals.
Brunson blowing up
After getting a heavy dose of 2015 point guard Brunson running the show for the Mac Irvin Fire on Saturday, there are two thoughts. One, we are glad we put the Lincolnshire (Ill.) Stevenson product into the initial top 50 for the class of 2015. Two, he probably should have started higher than No. 45 nationally.
The rankings will take care of themselves over the years, and the 6-footer will be getting plenty of looks from here on out.
Matched up against the St. Louis Eagles in the quarterfinals, Brunson took the game over as he scored 24 of his game-high 34 during the second half and overtime of a hard-fought win.
The son of former NBA player Rick Brunson, the sophomore has the feel and skill level of a guy who has been playing hoops for a long time. He sees the floor in transition, pushes tempo, is comfortable in isolation and can score at a high level. Brunson is an outstanding jump shooter, and when he got matched up with a 5-foot-7 point guard he showed a nice post game.
"It helps a lot," Brunson said of his ability to shoot. "If I'm a threat on the perimeter, then I can pump fake and go by or also hit Jahlil in the post. It really opens things up to be able to shoot."
Matthews putting it together
It was a good day for Charles Matthews. A product of Chicago (Ill.) St. Rita's, the No. 9-ranked prospect in the class of 2015 is playing up on the 17-and-under level with the Chicago-based Meanstreets. Saturday, he helped lead his squad into the Final Four with strong play.
The Meanstreets have a balanced team and, as the only guy playing up, Matthews fills the role of the sixth man who comes off the bench to add instant offense. At 6-foot-4, Matthews has great size for a backcourt player and he's quick and aggressive. Matthews is particularly strong driving either baseline.
He makes shots and can be used at either the point or the two, but he sees playing the point in his future even though he defers to class of 2014 four-star Tyler Ulis on Meanstreets.
"I feel like I'm a point guard," Matthews told Rivals.com. "I can handle and make plays for others, but I don't have a problem playing the two or as a combo. We have Tyler on this team, so I need to play more off the ball."
More Saturday notes
All Ohio Red features a pair of future Ohio State Buckeyes in power wing Jae'Sean Tate and big man David Bell, who rank No. 73 and No. 103 in the 2014 Rivals150. At about 6-foot-5, Tate is built like a man and knows his comfort spots on the floor. He likes to get to either elbow and make quick drives to the rim, and he is a junkyard dog on the glass. The lefty needs work on his right hand and to extend his jump shooting a bit, but the four-star is an outstanding passer. Bell, on the other hand, is more on the raw side. He has terrific size at 6-foot-9, and he couples that with long arms and above-average athleticism. He lacks strength and confidence, and it's a matter of logging more minutes and getting comfortable on the floor.
The D-Rose All-Stars got off to a rough start at the Swish 'N Dish. During a Saturday afternoon consolation bracket game, five-star big man Cliff Alexander was doing Cliff Alexander type things. The 6-foot-8 power forward used his explosiveness off the floor, great length and power to hammer home dunks around the rim, and he ran the floor. Alexander is primarily a power player, but he has hit a few 10-foot jumpers at the event. Moving ahead, those short- to midrange jumpers will be extremely important for his development. Illinois and Michigan State look to be emerging as the primary combatants in his recruitment.
If you want to see precise, well-coached and high-effort basketball, watch any of the Illinois Wolves teams when they hit the floor. Mike Mullins' program competes at all levels and regularly plays for championships on Sundays. Each time one of his teams hits the floor, you can count on somebody new stepping up and there are plenty of guys who catch your eyes. Saturday on the 17U team, point guards Ore Arogundade and JayQuan McCloud impressed in different ways. A three-star prospect from St. Viator in the Chicago area, Arogundade combines good size, tremendous speed and an ability to control the pace. He's got offers from Northern Illinois, Toledo and Wright State, while Creighton, Santa Clara, Oregon State, DePaul and Wichita State are keeping tabs.
While Arogundade has been with the Wolves for a while, McCloud is playing high-level grassroots ball for the first time. A springy, 6-foot-2 athlete who can play the one or the two, McCloud is wired to score and has great instincts on the offensive end. He's a little rough around the edges and needs polishing, but he'll earn scholarship offers this summer.
He needs to add strength, but three-star big man Casey Schlatter had a nice day for the Iowa Barnstormers. He's got good size at 6-foot-8 and has length to him. Despite not being the strongest kid, he's got fight in him and he doesn't give an inch without pushing back. He runs the floor, gets good position and has good hands, and the three-star had a productive day scoring and rebounding.
Between dominating games, Jahlil Okafor said he and top-five point guard Tyus Jones are planning to take some of their official visits together. Okafor listed Duke, Ohio State, Michigan State, North Carolina, Kansas, Illinois, DePaul, Arizona and Baylor, and he said he probably was forgetting some schools. He's hoping to cut things down to at least seven in the near future.
Mac Irvin Fire teammate Josh Cunningham is in the top 100 for the class of 2014, and he had a mixed bag of a day. Early, he was all over the place. He hit 3-point shots, dominated the glass, got to the rim and played with great energy. Later, the 6-foot-6 wing wasn't having much luck making an impact. Overall, he's a guy who is on the rise and with consistency his recruiting profile will beef up over the summer.
We wrote about him during the winter, and on Saturday 2016 stud Jayson Tatum did nothing to change our thoughts that he's going to be a five-star prospect when 2016 gets rated. At 6-foot-6, Tatum's feel for the game, skill level and killer instinct are tough to stop at the 16U level. Watch him play, and you will see doses of Michael Carter-Williams, Kyle Anderson and Shaun Livingston in his game. Tatum attends St. Louis (Mo.) Chaminade, but his father recently got the job at its rival Christian Brothers College, so it will be interesting to see if Tatum stays put or goes to play for his dad.
Finally, put 6-foot-2 sophomore point guard Nick Noskowiak of the Wisconsin Playground Warriors on the watch list in the class of 2015. The product of Sun Prairie (Wis.) High was impressive during a Saturday morning playoff-round game. He has good size, can shoot the ball and most important is in total control of what is happening on the floor. A tough competitor, Koskowiak has offers from Iowa State, Creighton, Northern Iowa, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Wisconsin-Milwaukee.