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April 21, 2013
DUNCANVILLE, Texas -- For the second day in a row at the Adidas Exclusive Run, a few lesser known players stepped up with big performances while better known players did their things. Among those making the most of the opportunity to play in front of the assembled crowd was Indiana Elite's Kelan Martin.
Martin leads group that steps up
Maybe people have been sleeping on him; maybe he just needed the right opportunity on the right stage. Regardless of which answer is correct, 6-foot-6 junior combo forward Martin of Indiana Elite's 17-and-under squad proved on Saturday that he's not to be taken lightly.
A strong kid who is much quicker laterally than people want to admit, Martin shifted his game into overdrive and took over against the Mass Rivals. We had a chance to see him play for Louisville (Kent.) Ballard in the Kentucky state title game, in which he stroked several jumpers from 15 to 18 feet, and he hit a few of those in Texas. He also used a nice crossover and his strength to cause problems.
Martin wants to be a small forward, and frankly people have kind of doubted it. Watching him again on Saturday, he looks to be much closer to making that happen than he's been given credit for. While he showcases perimeter skills, he doesn't neglect his post game and is a fun kid to watch. Western Kentucky, UMKC, Ohio, IUPUI and Indiana State are his early offers, while Xavier has tested the waters. If the three-star prospect keeps this up, he will attract more attention and contend for the Rivals150. He wasn't the only guy taking advantage, either.
Like most knockdown shooters, junior shooting guard J.P. Macura of Minnesota D1 is quick to point out that he has more to his game than catching and shooting. There's no question that he does. The 6-foot-4 three-star from Lakeville (Minn.) North has some game off the bounce, plays with toughness and isn't afraid to stick his nose in the action. But at the end of the day it's his shooting stroke that could turn mid-major offers into high-major rides.
He'll take an unofficial trip to Minnesota this week to meet with new coach Richard Pitino, and the Gophers probably need to track him closely. Early offers include Dayton, Saint Louis, North Dakota, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Utah State. That groan heard while he was playing? It came from those guys as teams such as Creighton (head coach Greg McDermott attended) watched close and word of his shooting prowess spread. Others on him early include Butler and Iowa.
Coaches were treated to a matchup of two of 2015's elite big men when Dream Vision's Stephen Zimmerman and Game Elite's Daniel Giddens faced off during a Saturday morning game. The five-stars have legit size -- Zimmerman at 6-foot-11 and Giddens at 6-foot-10 -- but play totally different types of games.
A native of Las Vegas, Zimmerman is a slender big with skill and quickness. He's double trouble at the rim because of his ability to use either hand, and he's the best passing big man in his class. He blocks shots, runs the floor and is tough on the glass. Giddens, on the other hand, is an Atlanta product with a more developed body and a penchant for shutting down the lane as a defender. They felt each other out early and then went to work showing what they do best.
Ranked No. 24 in the class of 2014, Craig Victor of New Orleans Elite puts some meaning into the No. 97 he wears on his uniform. The 6-foot-8 combo forward says he wears it as a reminder not to rest on his reputation and to keep working. Sometimes seen as a bit of a cruiser in the past, Victor put in serious work on the glass Saturday. He attacked the rim and got to the free throw line in his first game and started hitting jumpers in his second. Arizona's Sean Miller eyed him early, and Victor mentioned Oklahoma State, Kansas, LSU and Miami. Per Victor, Kentucky's John Calipari was in to see him about three weeks ago.
Virginia-bound junior shooting guard B.J. Stith confirmed to Rivals.com that he will play his senior season at Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill. It's a mystery to us why the other national scouting services aren't higher on the No. 36 player in the 2014 Rivals150. He has great size at 6-foot-5, is a good athlete and plays with a motor, and when he's on from 3-point range like he was early on Saturday, he's awfully tough to stop. He's a legacy recruit whom Cavs fans should be excited to have.
Call it a good day for California commit Ahmaad Rorie. A 6-footer, the No. 110 player in the 2014 Rivals150 always has been a crafty and skilled scorer. Coming off a strong season at Tacoma (Wash.) Lincoln, Rorie showed a much improved overall game. He can still fill it from deep and off the dribble, but he's added a solid 10 pounds of muscle and has improved as a playmaker for others.
More Saturday notables
We wrote about him some in Friday's coverage, but we need to mention Braxton Blackwell. Blackwell is a 6-foot-6 forward from Nashville, Tenn., playing for the Atlanta Celtics in the 17U division, and his skill and feel for the game off of the dribble are seriously advanced for a kid who has three years of high school ahead of him. For several stretches, Blackwell played the point. While he's not a speed burner, his decisions and the ability to match up with wings and power forwards make him a major problem as a facilitator off the dribble.
A pure scorer from the wing, Namon Wright looks to have game similar to that of former Missouri star Marcus Denmon. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Pacific Hills High in California ranks No. 53 in the class of 2014 and is deserving of it. He's rangy, he turns on the athleticism when he needs to, and he is a streak shooter from deep who can put up points in a hurry. He doesn't waste a lot of motion, and like Denmon he is a tough defender. Miller and Arizona are making a push and were in the house in preparation for an upcoming in-home visit. USC and UCLA's new coaches have made him feel that he'll be a priority, and he said personal attention from the head coach of any school recruiting him will be very important. Gonzaga will be in home soon, and he mentioned Arizona State and Colorado as particularly active in his recruitment.