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January 20, 2013
Flyin' to the Hoop: Going one-on-one
The second day of the Flyin' to the Hoop Classic in Kettering, Ohio, was headlined by one of the best individual matchups you'll see, as well as some standout performances from in-state prospects, and some international transfers from one of the Big Apple's most storied high school programs.
One on One
When the story is told of the matchup between 2015 Franklin (Ohio) wing Luke Kennard and 2014 four-star small forward Justin Jackson, out of Houston (Tex.) HCYA, the teller might forget to mention that there were eight other players on the court.
That's because for the longest time it felt like there weren't. The top performers on Saturday, Kennard and Jackson are big guards with versatile skill sets, and are two of the most-talented prospects in the nation. Both were up for the challenge in Dayton, as each had 32 points in a 79-65 win by Franklin.
The 6-foot-5 Kennard is a natural shooting guard who is capable of playing any of the three perimeter spots effectively. Kennard is an excellent jump-shooter, evidenced by his 10-for-19 shooting, including 5 of 7 from the 3-point line. Also an all-around player and talented distributor, Kennard added 11 rebounds and five assists. Not necessarily a great athlete, Kennard is skilled at getting to the rim off the dribble, and is best as a scorer in finishing with floaters or quick-release jumpers.
Just how good was Kennard's performance on Saturday? Good enough that immediately after the game, Rivals.com national basketball analyst Eric Bossi made Kennard a four-star prospect, putting him on an elite list toward the top 50 or so players in the 2015 class. Just a sophomore, Kennard already claims offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Dayton. Michigan State and Kentucky are among a group of schools showing interest as well.
Jackson is a long 6-foot-7, maybe even taller, forward with a developed perimeter game that includes long jumpers, teardrops around the rim, mid-range pull-ups and increasing amounts of physical play at the basket.
After spending last season on a high-major laden team, Jackson has had to adjust to carrying the scoring load, but that hasn't been a problem so far. Playing against smaller opponents, Jackson spent a lot of his time on the offensive end attacking the basket and drawing fouls. The four-star junior shot 13 of 25 from the field, and converted 6 of 9 from the foul line. The Houston-area forward currently lists six schools that remain in his recruitment -- Arizona, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, Ohio State and Texas A&M.
On their way
Although it took a two-point loss in its first of three games, New York City's Our Savior New American team was still impressive with its depth of underclassman talent. In particular, 2015 four-star post Cheick Diallo and 2016 forward Kassoum Yakwe were able to turn out strong performances in Dayton against West Chester (Ohio) Lakota East.
Only a sophomore, Diallo is already attracting interest from the top programs such as Kentucky, Georgetown, Syracuse, Kansas and North Carolina. The 6-foot-10 center is an elite level shot-blocker who has tremendous instincts and the length to alter everything around the basket.
While he isn't overly skilled on the offensive end at this point, Diallo is still able to find ways to contribute points. He finished with 23 points on 10 of 12 shooting. In addition to his points, Diallo was credited for 12 rebounds and three blocked shots -- although it felt like more. As much as he lacks in skills at this point, Diallo makes up with it in athleticism. He is quick off the jump and runs the floor hard.
With two performances to come, Diallo will have a chance to become one of the most talked-about players in the event.
Just a freshman, Yakwe is exceptionally skilled for his age. The 6-foot-7 forward is able to score from the high post with his jump-shot, can take players off the dribble and has very good touch when finishing. Yakwe scored nine points on just six shots in the loss, but more than anything showed the potential to be one of most polished inside-outside scorers in his class. According to OSNA coaches, Yakwe is already beginning to receive significant interest at the high-major level from a variety of Northeast programs.
Jack Gibbs: There are few players tougher, smarter or more competitive than the 2013 Davidson signee, a 5-foot-10 point guard. In one of his first major appearances since tearing his ACL more than a year ago, Gibbs showed off that competitive swagger. Gibbs is a good 3-point shooter and a gifted passer, and has really improved his decision-making since his injury. A very strong prospect for his size, Gibbs isn't the quickest but uses his body to create driving lanes and find teammates. With the spirit that he possesses, Gibbs should help Davidson right away, as he brings a college-ready body and game to the Southern Conference.
MiKyle McIntosh: The best player on the recently formed 22 Feet Academy out of Jackson (Ken.), McIntosh is an inside-outside wing forward who can really blow by people off the bounce. At 6-foot-6 with wide shoulders, McIntosh is also a high-level athlete, capable of exploding off the floor with power. With offers from multiple Atlantic 10 Conference teams, McIntosh will be one of the more-followed late signees in the region. Originally a 2012 prospect, McIntosh is a reclassified player who is originally from Canada.
Jarron Cumberland: A strong-bodied, 6-foot-3 wing from Wilmington (Ohio), Cumberland is just a freshman but has a very mature scoring game. The class of 2016 prospect can shoot the deep ball, knows how to use his strength to attack the rim and is a tough player as well. He's not the greatest athlete, but Cumberland knows how to play, and should be a solid recruit in the coming years. In fact, Cumberland is already hearing from regional mid- and high-majors, and those schools have been particularly impressed with his shooting ability.
Johnathon Wilkins: The 6-foot-11 junior doesn't get a lot of publicity on a stacked La Lumiere (Ind.) team, but the center is steadily improving his game. A nimble athlete with shot-blocking ability, Wilkins is one to keep an eye on in the 2014 class. Still developing in his overall game, Wilkins is raw but has great upside as an athletic big man who can be great on the defensive end in college. Bradley, Dayton, Virginia, Wake Forest and Xavier are the schools that are the most involved right now.