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May 19, 2014
EYBL Hampton: Azubuike steps up
HAMPTON, Va. -- For the second straight day at the Nike EYBL, several top ranked players in the 2015 and 2016 Rivals150 rankings stood out amongst their peers. Day 2 saw big time performances from Udoka Azubuike, Mickey Mitchell, Antonio Blakeney and more.
Nike Team Florida bigs shine
On Saturday, it was the Oakland Soldiers' frontcourt that came to play. In an 8 a.m. game on Sunday, it was the immensely talented frontcourt of Nike Team Florida that decided to steal the show against All-Ohio Red.
Before running into some foul trouble, Nike Team Florida's Udoka Azubuike truly scored just about whenever he wanted to. If he gained position anywhere near the paint, there was little doubt the 15th ranked prospect in the 2016 class would score. It's his combination of size, strength and athleticism that makes him nearly impossible for most post players to match up with. At some point, schools all over the country will be working hard to secure his commitment. For now, his recruitment remains relatively quiet.
It wasn't just Azubuike making plays around the rim for NTF. Florida commit Kevarrius Hayes chipped in with 10 points and 11 rebounds alongside him. At nearly 6-foot-9, he's a high-level athlete who runs the floor and catches every pass thrown his way. Once he catches the ball, he's looking to dunk at every opportunity. The next step in Hayes' development would be to refine his back-to-the-basket game and perform at the high level he did on Sunday on a more consistent basis.
Mitchell makes plays
The Texas Titans roster is so talented that four-star small forward Mickey Mitchell comes off the bench for them. At times, an argument could be made that Mitchell is their most important player when he has things rolling.
In a Sunday afternoon matchup against a talented and athletic Mac Irvin Fire team, Mitchell came off the bench with roughly 11:00 left in the first half. By the time he came out eight minutes later, he had tallied five assists and made numerous plays the rest of the game to help lead the Titans to an impressive win.
Mitchell, ranked 52nd in the 2015 Rivals150, mostly gets listed as a small forward by recruiting services, but this weekend he spent a lot of time playing "point forward."
When in the game, the Titans put the ball in his hands and relied on him to find open teammates. He did just that, routinely finding King McClure,D.J. Hogg and Soso Jamabo open beyond the arc and Tyler Davis in the paint. For Mitchell to make the next jump as a player, his jump shot needs to become more of a weapon.
Blakeney gets buckets
Each 1 Teach 1's Antonio Blakeney is known best for his ability to score the basketball. That's why schools such as Florida, Florida State, Kansas, Louisville, North Carolina and others have extended scholarship offers to the top 30 prospect.
Early in a matchup with Mean Streets, Blakeney's stroke just wasn't falling. Like any scorer, he found a way to get in the scoring column with an open dunk along with some free throws and then all of a sudden the shot came around in a big way. It's no shocker that a close game became not so close once he got rolling.
Blakeney can consistently rise up above defenders and connect on contested jumpers with the best of them. Now pushing 6-foot-4 with improved athleticism, he doesn't just rely on that jump shot anymore. He's more than capable of making plays at the rim now and has no problem finishing over defenders with a vicious dunk.
Final Sunday notes
Like Blakeney, Allonzo Trier is simply wired to score. He finished with a game-high 30 points in a close win over Texas Elite on Sunday morning, despite facing double teams at times. Through 12 games in EYBL play, the four-star prospect is averaging 28.5 points per game and making a strong case to make a healthy jump up from his current ranking of No. 38.
Trier may have scored 30 against Texas Elite, but Tyler Williams made him work hard for every last one of them while he was matched up on him. Ranked No. 148 in the 2015 Rivals150, Williams took the toughest matchup on the defensive end and still managed to score 17 points and grab eight rebounds. The three-star prospect says Washington, Washington State, Creighton, LSU, SMU, Texas A&M, Iowa State and Texas Tech have been in contact lately.
One word comes to mind when watching Edward Morrow play -- athleticism. Whenever the 6-foot-6 forward catches the ball near the rim, he's going up to dunk it and he's trying to rip the rim off. His energy and toughness is infectious.
Daniel Giddens had one of his better offensive outings in EYBL with 13 points in a big win over Mean Streets. He opened the game with a nice up-and-under post move and went 5-for-8 from the charity stripe. Showing that he has more offense is going to be important for Giddens after what had been a pretty quiet spring up until Sunday's mini outburst.