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April 19, 2009

Real Deal: Fight for No. 1

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- After Josh Smith's subpar showing last weekend, the door has opened for the No. 1 spot in the 2010 rankings. A handful of players, including Brandon Knight, are pushing to get through that door.

Pushing for No. 1

Brandon Knight (Southeast Elite) - He has built is body up to an indestructible level, and Knight is using it to punish defenders. His bull rush drives with his right hand are nearly unguardable and he is shooting with accuracy from deep range off he dribble. The one question right now with Knight is whether or not he is playing for himself or for his team to win. Against the Atlanta Celtics on Saturday he was successful in both areas, scoring 35 points while his Southeast Elite team got the win.

Tristan Thompson (Grassroots Canada) - Thompson's body is improving as well. He is up to 228-pounds and is figuring out how to effectively throw that added weight around. The lefty is also consistently making plays with his right hand. Developing his off hand has been a focus, and the work is paying off.

Harrison Barnes (All Iowa Attack) - How about a tough bucket to take a two point lead over Brandon Bass Elite with four seconds left? Then after Brandon Bass Elite tied the game, Barnes hit the ultimate game winner on a last second backdoor out of bounds play. Barnes ended with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, but to Julian Washburn's credit those numbers did not come easily.

Point guard breakdown

Cory Joseph (Grassroots Canada) - This heady playmaker continues to take his game to higher levels. We knew the skill level and feel for the game was there and now we know that there is a healthy dose of athleticism to his game. Simply put, Joseph is making a claim to being one of the top point guards in the class.

Phil Pressey (Team Texas) - As usual Pressey got his teammates involved by creating scoring opportunities off his penetration. He also finished some tough shots in the midrange.

Joe Jackson (Memphis Magic) - Jackson displayed his immense talent at various times against I-5 Elite with some highlight reel assaults on the basket. Where Jackson can elevate his game is learning to rally his team when things start going south.

Myck Kabongo (Grassroots Canada) - Kabongo was all over the court defensively making plays and has a penchant for getting into the lane. His long range shot is coming along.

Ian Miller (Atlanta Express) - The Florida State commitment both controlled the game and shot it well from the outside. In a fit a Déjà vu, Miller banked in a desperation 25-footer at the buzzer for a win over Dallas Showtyme. Miller ended with 23 in the game.

Wing breakdown

Jelan Kendrick (Hoop Planet) - It took a while for Kendrick and his team to get going in their early morning game, but a flurry of late game points and assists by Kendrick brought Hoop Planet back for a five point triple overtime win. The biggest play for Kendrick was a pull up three off a between the legs dribble at the end of regulation. Smooth with the basketball at 6-fot-6, Kendrick is at his best off the dribble with an array of moves and the ability to spot the open man. Kendrick finished with 31 points.

Cameron Clark (Team Texas) - There is a whole lot to like about Clark's game. At 6-foot-6 Clark does all the things a big time wing needs to do. He scores it off the dribble, makes three-pointers, is an adequate ball handler, rebounds strong and can guard a variety of positions. He will debut in the top 50 when the 2010 Rivals150 is reshuffled.

Aaron Bowen (Jacksonville Lee Bulls) - An athletic wing with exceptional speed, Bowen applies constant pressure on the opposition with his aggressive defensive a fearless attacking of the basket on offense. Presently committed to Marquette, Bowen is in the process of figuring out his standing with the program now that Buzz Williams is in charge of the program and the assistant that recruited him is at a new location.

Jershon Cobb (Atlanta Express) - A smooth wing who can handle and score it in the midrange, Cobb is an impressive prospect who will move his way into high major offers over the summer. Came up with 19 against Dallas Showtyme.

Forward breakdown

Luke Cothron (Southeast Elite) - Cothron was good for Boo Williams last week, but he was great with his usual team. Cohron dominated the boards against the Atlanta Celtics while also dropping 28 points. Always a skilled offensive player, Cothron also played with more of an edge on the defensive end.

Terrence Jones (I-5 Elite) - Having grown to a healthy 6-foot-8, Jones is turning into a highly skilled four man. The lefty is an exceptional passer on the move and when he gets his big body in gear, he can control the boards. Jones also has a knack for scoring in the midrange and his long range shot appears to be improving. If he gets serious about his conditioning, Jones can be an impact player at the next level.

School lists

Phil Pressey said nothing had changed in his recruitment other than the recent entry of Arizona, under Sean Miller, and Ohio State.

Cameron Clark listed Oklahoma, USC, Arizona State and Oklahoma State as schools who have offered. Texas, Arizona and UCLA are also on his list.

Kevin Johnson, 2011 big man with California Supreme, listed a top four of USC, Kentucky, Memphis and Oregon State. All four have offered.

Stacey Poole of the Jacksonville Lee Bulls listed offers from Clemson, Florida State, South Carolina, Marquette, Miami and Indiana. Florida, LSU, Georgia and West Virginia are also recruiting the athletic wing.

Cory Joseph listed Louisville, Minnesota, Texas, Villanova, Georgetown, UConn, Ohio State, UNLV, California, Memphis and Texas A&M. If they haven't all offered him, they soon will.

Local product Trae Golden has the interest of the new Georgia staff. Georgetown is interested, and Marquette, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech have offered.

Jershon Cobb has offers from South Florida and Xavier. Clemson, Alabama, Tennessee Tech, Florida and Florida State are interested.


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