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January 16, 2011

Flying to the Hoop recap

KETTERING, Ohio- The folks at the Flying to the Hoop have a good thing going with the annual event at Kettering (Ohio) Fairmont outside Dayton. The event opened on Saturday and most of the heavy-hitter prospects were operating at a high level, including 2011 five-star big man Anthony Davis, who was scintillating in front of his future college coach, Kentucky's John Calipari. Junior shooting guard Gary Harris also put on a show.

Davis spectacular in loss

Anthony Davis, PF, Perspectives- Interestingly, the Perspectives offense and defense seem to have him playing away from the basket, but it doesn't put a dent in his abundant production. The 6-foot-9 stringbean is different from guys of similar build in the past such as Brandan Wright, John Henson and Anthony Randolph because he has a much further advanced skill level and ease handling the ball than any of those guys had as seniors in high school.

His lack of bulk is always going to be a concern, but some skinny guys have proved they can make it if they have quickness and skill. Davis scored on several aggressive lefty dribble drives, threw down dunks, blocked shots and played to win. Perspectives fell, but Davis finished with 32 points (12-16 FG, 6-11 FT, 2-4 3-PT), 18 rebounds, six blocks and three assists.

Hamilton Southeastern junior rising to new heights

Gary Harris, SG- Consider this, the 6-foot-4 junior shooting guard from Fishers (Ind.) Hamilton Southeastern is legitimately a year young for his class and should be in the class of 2013 by age. However, his game is a couple of years old for his class and he's arguably the best prospect in the state of Indiana not named Marquis Teague.

A big-time athlete, Harris is a tough wing who was an all-state performer as a wide receiver during the fall. He handles the ball very well, creates driving lanes to the rim with regularity and has to be respected as a jump shooter. He gives tremendous effort on both ends of the floor and is blossoming since bursting onto the scene last year. He nearly brought the house down with the last two of his game-high 27 points via a ferocious dunk on a defender. Also chipped in eight rebounds and listed Michigan State, Indiana, Illinois, Notre Dame, Xavier, Michigan and Louisville. According to Harris, he's in no hurry to make a decision.

More Saturday notables

Nick Lewis, SG, Our Savior- While much more highly touted junior teammate Jevon Thomas struggled with turnovers and an erratic shot, the 6-foot-1 shooting guard was a very pleasant surprise. He's a shot-maker from deep, has a crisp jumper and creates for himself on dribble drives. He's a competitor and can slide over to play some point. He rolls with Team Takeover Canada in the summer and finished with 15 points, four rebounds and four assists in just under 21 minutes of action.

Jaaron Simmons, PG, Alter- The sophomore is a nice-looking young point guard. A wiry 6-footer with a basketball frame and terrific instincts, he makes things go. Pretty quick, under control and tries to make things happen. Sometimes, though, he tries a little too hard and gets out of control. His shot looks pretty good and he will be a fine defender.

Aaron Thomas, SG, Withrow- The Florida State signee came out hot and scored 13 points in the first four minutes while swishing deep jumpers. But, Huntington adjusted to him well and the shots stopped falling. Thomas was able to finish with 24 shots, but he was only 5-of-19 from the field and had to work hard. His handle is improved and he's stronger.

Sim Bhullar, C, Huntington- The massive big man generates wildly varying opinions of him as a down-the-road prospect. Saturday, the junior was effective in putting up 13 points, 15 rebounds and blocking eight shots. He's neither speedy nor a skywalker, but he does have outstanding hands, relatively soft touch and some skill for which he hasn't received much credit. Really good day for the big man.

Zak Irvin, SG/SF, Hamilton Southeastern- The near 6-foot-5 sophomore is battling back from a knee injury but looked pretty good at about 85-90 percent. He's added strength since the summer, is very good at getting himself open away from the ball and has good basketball instincts. His jump shot is pretty good and he's a solid all-around athlete. Listed Michigan, Indiana, Purdue, Xavier, Illinois, Miami, Butler and Baylor as having shown the most interest so far.

Christopher Obekpa, PF, Our Savior- An athletic and aggressive near 6-foot-8 junior power forward, Obekpa just arrived from Nigeria a few months ago. On Saturday, he was impressive and reminiscent of a young Trevor Mbakwe. He plays with endless amounts of energy, attacks rebounds above the rim with strong hands and elbows flared and tries to dunk every chance he gets. Actually stepped out and hit a pretty good looking 3-pointer as well.


Final notes and observations

Would like to see 6-foot-4 wing Richard Weaver of Meadowdale (Ohio). He's a power wing who rebounds, attacks the rim from the perimeter and competes. He's a little raw, but probably deserves some division attention. … Sophomore big man Devin Williams didn't have the greatest day for Withrow, but the 6-foot-7 insider is a strong kid with good athleticism, feet and hands. He picked up early fouls and then had problems with Bhullar's size, but he kept competing. … Lexington, Ky. native Jaylen Beckham seems to be settling in a bit at Huntington Prep. A quick 6-footer, he's got outstanding ability on the defensive end and is starting to find his offense in transition and on drives to the hoop. … When good things are happening for Huntington Prep, you can usually find Cleveland State-bound point guard Charles Lee. The little guy from Milwaukee is a leader, makes tough shots and has been a lot of fun to watch at the past few events. …

Senior wing Chris Lowe of Cincinnati Taft is an interesting prospect. The skinny 6-foot-4 wing is a very dangerous jump shooter and made a ton of big threes down the stretch against Hamilton Southeastern. Looks like the type that could blossom after a few years at a junior college. … Jacobby Bledsoe isn't the biggest guy, but the Hamilton Southeastern junior is effective. He likes to use a little runner in the lane, rebounds surprisingly well and makes sure his talented wings are well-fed. … Not surprisingly, the turnout of college coaches was relatively light with almost everybody playing. However, Calipari showed up with a pair or assistants to catch Davis. Miami (Ohio), Butler, Bethune Cookman, Marquette, Cincinnati and a few others were on hand.


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