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April 28, 2013

Jayhawk Invitational Saturday: Diamond, no rough

MORE: Jayhawk Invitational Friday

GARDNER, Kan. -- Like all Saturdays in grassroots basketball, the second day of action at the Jayhawk Invitational ended up being a 15-hour grind with lots of options when it came to talent. The highest-ranked player in the gym, 2015 five-star Diamond Stone, showed his dominance while others were stepping up.

Stone backs up status

Currently ranked No. 4 in the class of 2015, Diamond Stone is the highest-ranked player at the Jayhawk Invitational. Playing for a the Milwaukee-based Young Legends in the 16-and-under division, the 6-foot-10 center from Whitefish Bay (Wisc.) Dominican was a force on Saturday.

At times, his play is reminiscent of a young Kevin Love. Like Love, Stone is a big and strong kid with great hands and an old-school understanding of how to operate in the low post. He is efficient in the paint, scores with either hand at the rim, uses the glass and while he doesn't quite have the shooting touch from the perimeter that Love did at 16 years old, Stone is no slouch when it comes to facing the rim. He rebounds at a high rate and has done some good work in the gym to become more lean while managing to add strength.

This summer he'll try out for USA Basketball's 16-and-under team and it would be a major surprise if he didn't make the team.

He's being tracked closely by college basketball's biggest programs and Buzz Williams of hometown Marquette was sure to show his face on Saturday.

Babb on the rise

Some of his coaches like to call him Babb Island because of his ability to defend in space, and there is no doubt that junior shooting guard Nick Babb has potential on the defensive end. But, the three-star from Arlington (Texas) Martin is no slouch on the offensive end either. On Saturday, he came up big when Texas Select needed him.

A confident shooter, Babb has easy range past the 3-point line and is a solidly built kid. The younger brother of Iowa State shooting guard Chris Babb, he is a confident and competitive kid who also does many of the little things that his team needs from him. Each summer a sleeper starts emerging from the Dallas area and if Babb continues to play like he did on Saturday, then he could see things pick up significantly.

According to Babb he already has offers from Creighton, Wichita State and Rice while Oklahoma, Lehigh, North Texas, Iowa State, UT Arlington, Richmond, Tulsa and Kansas State are monitoring his progress.

Three angling for four stars

Three prospects from the class of 2015, all playing for different teams, made waves in 16-and-under play on Saturday. Ray Smith of the Las Vegas Prospects, Jimmy Whitt of KC Run GMC and Roman Davis of LAX Hoops each intrigued and looked like players who deserve serious consideration for four-star status.

Already in possession of offers from San Diego State and UNLV, Smith is a 6-foot-6 small forward who has been emerging on the scene quickly. A product of Las Vegas (Nev.) High, Smith is an athletic and fluid wing who has a fairly complete game. He flies to the rim in transition, can make open jumpers and has a great first step that allows him to be a high-level baseline slasher.

A 6-foot-2 combo guard from Columbia (Mo.) Hickman, Whitt looks to be all arms and legs. A confident and skilled ball-handler, Whitt can get pretty much anywhere he wants to go with the dribble and on top of that, he is an outstanding pull-up jump shooter. At times he makes things more difficult than they need to be, but he's also a sneaky athlete and looks like a kid who could really take off once he reaches physical maturity. Whitt recently received his first offer courtesy of Wichita State and has fielded attention from Kansas, Creighton, Arkansas, Missouri State and Tulsa. Surprisingly, Whitt says that he's not really heard much from hometown Missouri.

Finally, there's Davis. Of the three, he's the one we know the least about and we really need to see him more, but the signs that he's a prospect of note are all there.

The 6-foot-6 wing is all arms and legs like Whitt and Smith, he's already quite fluid, and the sophomore at Los Angeles (Calif.) Windward looks to be a competent jump shooter and somebody with a pretty good feel for things on the offensive end.

News and notes

Don't be surprised if and when shooting guard Admon Gilder emerges as a major prospect this spring. A sophomore at Dallas (Texas) Madison who plays for the Dallas Mustangs, Gilder is a confident 6-foot-3 shooter with a solid frame and a very good feel for the game. He makes 3s with ease, has a good skill level and doesn't mind playing physically. He mentioned Houston, Marquette, Tulsa and Arizona as programs that have shown initial interest and his list should get much bigger this spring.

The Mustangs also have three other players who showed glimpses at the Jayhawk and going back a weekend ago to the Adidas Exclusive Run. Small forward Johnathan Turner is a teammate of Gilder's at Madison and a 6-foot-6 small forward with length and athleticism. Combo forward Kevin Hervery of Arlington (Texas) Bowie can face and shoot and runs the floor very well. Combo guard Corey Henderson can make shots from deep and the three-star has a good feel for the game. Like Turner and Hervery, though, Henderson has got to get stronger and learn to deal with physicality a little better.

It is going to be interesting to see what level of schools give three-star wing Trent Brinkley the highest level of interest. After a few quiet games, the 6-foot-5 junior from Dallas (Texas) Kimball broke out during an afternoon game for Dallas Showtyme. A strong and physical wing with athleticism, he made a commitment to crashing the glass and his game flourished from there. Right now he looks to be a no-brainer for high-end mid-majors while high majors could end up sniffing around.

Rivals150 wing Joe Burton has had a very nice run in Kansas City with the Houston Defenders. A 6-foot-6 small forward who is currently ranked No. 112 in the class of 2014, Burton has always shown that he is a very good athlete. What has been a pleasant surprise at the Jayhawk is his ability to make catch and shoot jumpers.

His ball handling is a little shaky, but he can finish through some contact and has acquitted himself nicely.

The Louisville Magic are fighting off the injury bug in a big way but they've advanced to the semifinals of the 17U division at the Jayhawk. During a Saturday win over host KC Run GMC, Louisville-bound point guard Quentin Snider was terrific before going down late with a groin injury. He controlled the tempo, made shots and got wherever he wanted to go with the ball and looked like a top-30 player nationally.

Snyder got a huge lift from teammate Jordan Green on Saturday. A lean 6-foot-5 small forward with athleticism, Green was attacking the rim and hitting shots from between six and 12 feet. His energy was big on the glass and he played both ends of the floor tough. Currently ranked No. 143 in the class of 2014, Green reports offers from Western Kentucky, Northern Kentucky, Florida International (old staff), Samford, Manhattan and New Mexico State.

If coaches at the Jayhawk are doing their homework, then they should have been taking a hard look at 6-foot-2 shooting guard Amaad Wainright of the Kansas City Keys. A three-star prospect from Kansas City (Mo.) Hogan Prep, Wainright is an athletic and tough wing who plays the game with a nasty disposition. That edge and willing to get physical can slightly derail him at times, but it's easy to see that a competitive fire burns within Wainright. He can make a jumper, creates off the bounce and is a strong finisher in the lane.

During Texas Select's second-half comeback we got a real good glimpse at the Myles Turner, who has been setting the recruiting world on fire. The rising big man got tough around the rim and swatted shots while proving that he has plenty of game on the offensive end. He's still growing into his near 6-foot-11 frame but the more we watch, the more we see why he's become one of the hottest big men on the recruiting trail this spring.

Skilled big men who can move around are always in demand and because of that sophomore Alex Illikainen should be a target. The 6-foot-8 four man from Grand Rapids (Minn.) High looked good playing for the Minnesota Cyclones. He can run the floor, makes mid-range jumpers and is quite clever around the hoop. He'll need to add more strength, but that should come with time.

Finally, we don't do a lot of writing about players who have yet to reach high school, but we at least have to mention small forward Michael Porter of the Power Group. As an eighth-grader playing up in the 15-and-under division, Porter was easily the best player on the floor Saturday. At 6-foot-5 he's highly skilled with the ball, has great length and is a flat out deadly jump shooter. His father is the director of basketball operations for Missouri's women's team, so hoops is in his blood and he'll be one to track closely as he begins his high school career next season.



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