Charlottesville, VA - Two performances stood out on the third day of NBPA Top-100 Camp as a a pair of campers rose to the occasion and caught the attention of many with their best performances of the spring. We examine who is finishing out camp on a high note.
He didn't end up finishing with the best performance of the day, but the morning session demonstrated why Justin Jackson is ranked No. 24 nationally. The 2016 6-foot-7 small forward out of Findlay Prep (NV)/YAAACE (CAN) showed energy and versatility on the defensive end, which led to Jackson leading the fast break. A playmaker with guard skills, slashing ability and great focus on the court, the rising junior capitalized on several opportunity when getting to the rim in traffic. His foot speed isn't there just yet, and his quickness is something he will have to work on in order to emerge as one of the top wings nationally, but the intensity he plays with is evident. Arizona, Illinois and UNLV have been calling quite frequently. Florida, Baylor, Memphis, UConn, Indiana and Pittsburgh have also offered. As he was at UNLV a few times this past year, he realized that warm weather is for him and could factor into his decision. Jackson may visit Arizona in the near future as the Wildcats have been pursuing hard.
Billed as a power forward by many, Esa Ahmad gave many reasons as to why he should be considered a small forward. The 2015 Shaker Heights (OH)/All-Ohio Red (OH) product handled the ball very well this week as he put it on the floor, and created opportunities for his teammates. As his bulky body makes him look more like an interior player, Ahmad is focused on being a full-time small forward. As his mid-range jumper still needs improvement, that will be the focus area going forward. Still maintaining a long list of Ohio State, Maryland, West Virginia, Indiana, UConn, Michigan, Michigan State and others, he recently visited Maryland and West Virginia, and hopes to visit both Michigan schools next month. Following those and maybe others, he wants to cut his list down to six or seven schools with a decision ultimately coming in August.
After a slow start in a non-natural element, 2015 La Lumiere (IN)/All-Ohio Red (OH) shooting guard Jalen Coleman showed his ability to play the combo guard, and did it quite well. As he brought the ball up at times and handled it fairly well, that wasn't the best part. His shot began to fall and he converted time after time. Coleman worked hard on the court, but once his shot started falling it all came together. Not much is new for the four-star recruit, who is finally back home after his first year at boarding school. Hoping to get some time off in the next few weeks, he hopes to discuss some college programs with his parents and the recruiting process as a whole. Michigan State, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Michigan and others remain at a constant steady for one of the better jump shooters nationally.
All spring Alex Illikainen - the No. 83 player nationally - has been very impressive with Howard Pulley (MN) this spring. Once he finally got his form down the newest Brewster Academy (NH) transfer began stretching the floor by hitting his outside shot. As he will leave Grand Rapids (MN) for his senior year in order to go prep, it will be a good opportunity to further pad his resume and improve prior to college. While his post moves and handle are still a work in progress, as well as getting stronger, Illikainen does a good job of working in the post to bring his defender out to the perimeter and creating a mismatch in his favor. Once he gains the ability to drive past them, his game will be that much better. Minnesota, Providence, Oregon, Creighton, Nebraska and Indiana are fairly involved in his situation. He recently visited the Friars, Jays and Cornhuskers' campuses and enjoyed them all. The plan going forward is to cut his list and take visits after the July Live Period. There are no leaders at this point, but if he doesn't decided prior to heading to prep school, it could help Providence out a bit due to location. No one leads at this point, he says.
The performance of the night, however, went to Carlton Bragg. After having a strong, but not great spring, the 2015 power forward from Villa Angela St. Joseph (OH)/Ohio Basketball Club (OH) put on a show with 36 points and 14 rebounds in the night session game on 14/16 shooting. By far, it was the best performance of the camp and the best performance for Bragg in quite some time. Playing with intensity, running the floor hard, stepping out to the perimeter at times but primarily staying in the post has made him very effective as he scores around the rim a majority of the time. Feeling comfortable inside as a stretch four, the style of play at camp helped put him in position for some easier shots, including a few thunderous dunks. On the recruiting end, Bragg will cut his list to six or seven on September 1st. Asked who he thinks is a lock to make that list, Bragg answered with Ohio State, Louisville, Kansas and Kentucky. Style of play, as well as how each program's coach gets their players to the next level, is what matters most to the very skilled prospect.
Other Top Performers
2015 power forward Chance Comanche also had a really good third day as he was active, knocked down jump shots and made a few smart passes. Comanche's development - physically - and showing consistent intensity will determine how good he can be going forward.
2016 power forward Dewan Huell still has a limited skill set, but did a good job of finishing inside. He pulled in a few rebounds, but needs to become stronger and more physical in order to bang in the post to grab rebounds and score around the basket. His game is progressing nicely, though.
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For the latest in college basketball recruiting, head to TheRecruitScoop.com for the latest details and notes on offers, visits, commitments and more. To contact Alex Kline, you can reach him by email at MaryKlineClassic@gmail.com or on Twitter at TheRecruitScoop.