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April 27, 2012
For the second consecutive weekend, college coaches will be out scouting talent at grassroots events across the country. More than likely, the biggest group of them will be at the Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton, Va., for the second session of Nike's highly successful EYBL.
Among those in attendance will be the nation's top player, Jabari Parker and a group of guys looking to take that spot from him, led by Julius Randle. Here's a look at some topics Rivals.com's Eric Bossi will be watching.
1. How secure is Parker's spot?
When the 2013 Rivals150 was updated a few weeks ago, 6-foot-8 Jabari Parker of Chicago (Ill.) Simeon moved up from No. 2 to take over the top spot. While Parker will be in Hampton playing with a loaded Mac Irvin Fire squad, he's got everybody in the country gunning for his spot atop the rankings.
Of those in attendance, the most likely to dislodge Parker from the top spot is the nation's No. 3 player, Julius Randle. A beastly 6-foot-9 power forward from Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Christian, Randle is a dynamic inside/out player who blends power, athleticism and skill. Perhaps the most physical player in the class of 2013, Randle has at times struggled to find a balance between playing on the interior and attacking off the dribble from the outside. If he establishes himself in the post first to get defenders on their heels and then takes to the perimeter for quick drives, he's at his best and has a chance to make a move up.
2. Booker is balling
During the winter, Rivals.com started previewing players who were under the radar but poised for a breakout spring. One of those players was class of 2014 shooting guard Devin Booker. The son of former Missouri star Melvin Booker, the Moss Point (Miss.) High combo guard carries a big reputation in his home state thanks to some outlandish scoring bursts.
That reputation is in the process of going national as expected. Last weekend in Minneapolis, Booker was scorching the nets and shot a sizzling 64 percent from three-point land while hitting the floor with the Alabama Challenge. That kind of shooting can't be expected again, but the 6-foot-4 sophomore does look poised to make a run at the national rankings.
In the class of 2014, not many players had a stronger sophomore season than Jalen Lindsey. The 6-foot-6 small forward at Nashville (Tenn.) Christ Presbyterian Academy was outstanding as a scorer and strong rebounder.
Dominating high school competition in his home state is one thing, but dominating the EYBL is another. We'll be looking to see if the four-star prospect is ready to take the next step with his game and move into five-star territory. Regardless of whether he gets elevated to five-star status, Lindsey has proven himself as a high-major target and already has offers from Vanderbilt, Tennessee, N.C. State, Memphis, Florida and Alabama among others.
4. Can James Young keep it up?
Last weekend, the EYBL opened up in Minneapolis and the player of the weekend was Troy (Mich.) High small forward James Young. Running with Detroit's The Family, Young was ridiculously productive averaging just under 27 points per game while also grabbing eight rebounds each time out during his four games.
Of course, Young's performance shouldn't have come as a surprise to anybody who has been paying attention. Recently elevated into the nation's top 10, the 6-foot-6 five-star junior is one of the best players in the country. Somehow, Young has flown largely under the radar but that won't happen any longer and the competition will be coming after him this time around. Currently, Young has a stated top three of Kentucky, Kansas and Michigan State.
5. Repeat performance for Lee?
While James Young may have been the most statistically dominant player of the EYBL's first session, Marcus Lee was likely the session's biggest breakout player. Recently plugged into the class of 2013 Rivals150 as a four-star prospect at No. 54, the Antioch (Calif.) Deer Valley prospect could still be on the rise.
A 6-foot-9 interior player who plays in the EYBL with California Supreme, Lee is a thin and lengthy shot blocker who can run the floor. With his soft hands, quick feet and touch, Lee is also an excellent prospect on the offensive end and a high level rebounder to go along with his shot blocking prowess. His play last weekend produced a slew of high-major offers and Duke, Kansas, UCLA, Arizona, Texas A&M, Boston College, Washington and many others will be watching to see if he can produce a repeat performance.