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June 26, 2007

USA Basketball top performers: Top 5

The recent USA Basketball Youth Development Festival provided an opportunity for many of the nation's top prospects to team up with, and compete against one another. Several players displayed improvements in their game at the event and looked poised to rise in the rankings.

Rivals.com's Jerry Meyer scouted the action and breaks down the top five performers from the event.

* All stats average per game. Event rank in parenthesis.

USA Basketball Youth Development Festival top performers: 1-5
No. 1 Greg Monroe, PF
12.6 rebounds (1), 2.8 assists (13), 3.2 turnovers, 3.6 blocks (1), 1.4 steals, 60 percent shooting (5)

Monroe's ability to handle and pass the basketball has been well documented, but questions were surfacing as to whether he was an aggressive enough scorer and rebounder to be a No. 1 prospect. Monroe emphatically answered those questions with a dominating performance in the paint in Colorado Springs.

Even while playing with shoot-first guards Tyreke Evans and Korie Lucious, Monroe still poured in 24 points per game. He fought for prime low-post position and then punished defenders with an array of physical post moves to both shoulders. Monroe also led the event in rebounding and blocked shots. He did turn the ball over some, but the positive spin on the turnovers is that they came on aggressive drives to the basket.

No. 2 Jrue Holiday, PG
18.2 points (8), 6.4 rebounds (11), 8 assists (1), 2 turnovers (second best assist/turnover ratio), 1.2 blocks (5), 2 steals (6), 49 percent shooting (14)

Other than his 4-for-16 shooting from 3-point range, Holiday put up top-notch numbers across the board. In fact, Holiday's performance left many wondering if he is the most complete guard the travel circuit has seen in recent years.

Holiday scored the ball well, but what was most impressive about his game was his playmaking and defense. A future power point guard in the mold of Baron Davis, Holiday led the event in assists and was second in assist/turnover ratio. He primarily played on the wing alongside Jerime Anderson and Malcolm Lee. There's no telling how many assists he would have racked up if he had been the primary ballhandler. Holiday's defense was as good as it gets. He gave fits to whomever he guarded.

No. 3 Tyreke Evans, SG
29.8 points (2), 9.8 rebounds (6), 3 assists (12), 3.2 turnovers, 1 block (8), 1.8 steals (10), 57 percent shooting (8), 32 percent from three (11)

It looked like Evans wanted to make a statement in Colorado Springs, and he certainly was successful in doing so. Playing with a mental edge and physical zip he hasn't shown in the past year, Evans took over a couple games in the preliminary rounds.

Playing low to the ground and with impressive strength with the ball, Evans repeatedly worked his way to the rim. Perhaps even more impressive was his shooting from the midrange off his nifty hesitation and crossover moves. He did struggle with picking up early defensive fouls, but Evans valiantly played through his foul trouble and was still a force on the boards. His more economical style of play - less dribbling and less forced shots - is a very positive development.

No. 4 Delvon Roe, PF
30.3 points (1), 10.3 rebounds (4), 1.25 assists, 3.75 turnovers, 1 block (8), 1.5 steals, 63 percent shooting (2)

Did Roe ever bring his "A" game to Colorado Springs. Despite playing with a pinched nerve in his neck, Roe continually worked his way into position with his bouncy athleticism and relentless motor. Once in position, Roe displayed a developing skill package that consistently produced positive results.

Other than some shaky passing - which led to a poor assist/turnover ratio - Roe finished at a highly efficient rate, second only to Ed Davis. In addition to his usual hustle buckets, Roe also scored on strong left-handed drives to the basket, mid-range jumpers and a variety of post moves. His left-handed jump hook was practically unstoppable, and Roe also had some impressive spin moves and fall away jumpers going the other way. He also knocked down four of 10 3-point attempts.

No. 5 Devin Ebanks, SF
28.2 points (3), 4.8 rebounds (18), 1.6 assists, 2.8 turnovers, 0.2 blocks, 1.8 steals (10), 60 percent shooting (4), 39 percent from 3-point range (6)

Ebanks might be a scoring specialist at this stage in his career, but he is outstanding in that role. As the leading scorer for his championship team, Ebanks manufactured points on creative dribble moves and productive movement without the ball. He showed a scorer's instinct, and was often in the right place at the right time.

Ebanks has room for improvement on the defensive side of the ball and as a rebounder, but he has the length and mental awareness to overcome limitations athletically to hold his own in those areas. With the ball in his hands, Ebanks is a force. His feathery touch off difficult moves is reminiscent of Carmelo Anthony

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