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Monday, April 12, 2010

McLemore sets the tone on Day 1 at Nike Youth Basketball League

McLemore sets the tone on Day 1 at Nike Youth Basketball League

By Reggie Rankin
ESPNU Recruiting
Updated: April 10, 2010, 11:16 AM ET

Hampton, Va. -- The inaugural Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, held at the state-of-the-art Boo Williams Sportsplex, features elite level travelling teams with Division I talent from around the country to compete for one championship. Other stops on the EYBL trail will include Houston, Los Angeles and North Augusta, S.C., over a span of three months in order to crown a champion.

Top performers on Day 1 included class of 2011 super athletic shooting guard Ben McLemore (Wellston/Wellston, Mo.) of the St. Louis Eagles and class of 2013 Jonathan Williams (Southwind/Memphis, Tenn.) a promising small forward who took over the game at times for Memphis YOMCA. Great performances seemed endless at times with such a high number of terrific prospects on every court.

Standout player
SG/SF Ben McLemore (6-foot-5, 185 pounds)
2011, Wellston, MO. / Wellston, AAU: St. Louis Eagles
This long-armed athletic wing can simply make scoring plays with the ball in his hands. He attacks defenders off the dribble and loves to play along the baseline, where he uses his quick and explosive athletic ability to finish above the rim before the help-side defenders know what hit them. McLemore can also finish in the lane with great body control on both sides of the rim and with either hand. He can knock down the open 3 with time and space, and get to the ball to an open teammate when he draws a second defender. McLemore is a good ball handler and decision maker as well. He is a new addition to the St. Louis Eagles and is still finding his way but he had a scoring flurry that included a deep 3 on the wing, a baseline drive that resulted in a dunk, another slam from a set out-of-bounds play and a mid-range pull up in the second half after only playing very limited minutes the first half. McLemore needs to add strength but expect this young man to make some major noise the remainder of the spring and summer. McLemore, along with Florida commit shooting guard Bradley Beal (Chaminade/St. Louis, Mo.), gives the Eagles and deadly tandem at the wing positions.

Surprise Player
SF Jonathan Williams (6-8, 205)
2013, Memphis, Tenn. / Southwind, AAU: Memphis YOMCA
Williams is an active young wing player with great upside. He is long and wiry and is a very good athlete with matching bounce around the rim, where he dunks drop-off passes created by guard penetration. He runs the floor and can get to the rim and finish with great touch and body control. Williams is very smooth and understands how to set up his one-on-one attacks with ball and foot fakes in order to move the defender out of position. Williams is a lefty who can score in variety of ways off the dribble. He is a good rebounder and an alert defender. Williams holds your attention when he is on the floor because he is always looking to make a play. He must work on perfecting his perimeter jumper to take his game to the next level but he is oozing with talent and it will be a treat to watch him develop over the next few years.

• Class of 2011 shooting guard Nick Johnson (6-3, 175, Phoenix/Findlay Prep) was great as well on Day 1. He plays above the rim in transition and can score the ball on strong drives, where he welcomes contact, and can knock down the open 3. Johnson works on the defensive end and is an intense competitor.

• Florida commit Bradley Beal (6-4,190, St. Louis, Mo./Chaminade) is without question one of the best shooters in the class of 2011. He has a smooth and effortless stroke whether he is spotting up, coming off a screen or making a mid-range pull up. This kid can flat-out shoot the ball with NBA range.

• Marquis Teague (6-1,185, Indianapolis, IN. / Pike) was terrific as well. He is a strong and explosive lead guard who attacks the rim relentlessly. He constantly changes speeds and directions in small areas in between defenders. He can finish on a consistent basis and at times seems to toy with defenders. A legitimate elite guard in the class of 2011.

Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton. He played at Ohio University from 1986-90 and was an All-MAC first-teamer his senior season.

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