NCAA Final Evaluation Period – Top Players from Vegas

LAS VEGAS – OK, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls – it’s a wrap . . . finally.

The NCAA’s third July five-day recruiting live evaluation period came to a conclusion at 5 o’clock Sunday evening.

After pretty much going from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 6 to 10 p.m. on Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday in the Bishop Gorman (Fab 48), Rancho (adidas Super 64) and Durango (Big Foot Las Vegas Classic), I’ve assembled a 20-player “all-tournaments”-type of deal for your perusal.

Caveat: These aren’t my choices for the “20-best college prospects in the events” but, instead, a list of the guys that played the best – regardless of how I view their potential beyond high school – when I watched them over the course of five days.

*Marcus Allen (6-2/Las Vegas Centennial) – Compton Magic Red
Frank Says: Marcus and his twin, Malcolm, saw their stock get upgraded to “Blue Chip” after their spring and summer performances. University admissions officers will do cartwheels when they get a look at their transcripts.

*Jabari Byrd (6-5/Richmond, CA, Salesian) – Oakland Soldiers
Frank Says: Having missing much of the spring because of tendonitis in his knee, Byrd turned in an exceptional last month, especially during stops at Las Vegas (for LeBron James Skills Academy and the Big Foot/Las Vegas Classic) that were sandwiched around a trip down South for the Nike Peach Jam.

*Ahmad Fields (6-4/Woodstock, VA, Massanutten Military) – DC Assault
Frank Says: The left hander was among the most effective of the driver/slasher-types sighted at any of the three events (DC Assault participated in the Fab 48).

*Keith Frazier (6-5/Dallas Kimbell) – DJH5
Frank Says: Recruiters and prep hoops followers have come to know him as a member of the Houston Hoops program but he knocked in his jump shots – a lot of them – for a Dallas-based club during the Fab 48.

*Isaac Hamilton (6-4/Bellflower, CA, St. John Bosco) – Dream Vision
Frank Says: He’s the master of the “mid-range” offensive attack – and he’s not bad from deep range or going to the glass and rim, either.

*Isaiah Hicks (6-8/Oxford, NC, Webb) – Garner Elite
Frank Says: I know I’m dating myself considerably but he reminds me considerably of former NBA and University of California forward Shareef Abdul-Rahim (the ’95-96 Pac-10 Freshman and Player of the Year in his only college season).

*A.J. Lapray (6-5/Richmond, VA, Evangel Christian) – Grassroots Elite
Frank Says: The West Coast Sleeper (he was an all-state pick last spring at Oregon’s Salem High) is relocating to a prep school in Virginia. His performance during the Fab 48 guarantees that a lot of coaches on the West Coast aren’t going to lose track of him.

*Jordan McLaughlin (6-0/Etiwanda, CA, Etiwanda) – Prodigy Elite
Frank Says: Circle this date, Southland prep fans – Feb. 2, when McLaughlin and his Etiwanda teammates hook up with fellow junior PG sensation Parker Jackson-Cartwright and his L.A. Loyola buddies during the Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei in Santa Ana.

*Monte Morris (6-3/Flint, MI, Beecher) and Derrick Walton (6-0/Detroit, MI, Chandler Park Academy) – Michigan Mustangs
Frank Says: Walton, who is committed to the University of Michigan, has the higher national profile and was selected the adidas Super 64’s Most Valuable Player in top division. But, in my humble opinion, Morris was even better than his backcourt mate at Rancho High.

*Rashad Muhammad (6-6/Las Vegas Bishop Gorman) – L.V. Prospects
Frank Says: The brother of the 2012 National Player of the Year is among the region’s most improved players. His jump shot has gotten really tight.

*Cullen Neal (6-3/Albuquerque El Dorado) – Danny Granger D1 Ambassadors
Frank Says: On the topic of jump shots, the future Saint Mary’s Gael hit 10 of them from behind the arc during his team’s last-second (courtesy a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Hunter Myers) loss Saturday night at Bishop Gorman.

*Austin Nichols (6-8/Eads, TN, Briarcrest) – M33M
Frank Says: He might have the best combination of rebounding, shot-blocking and low-post offensive moves in the Class of 2013.

*Ikenna Irogebu (6-0/Mouth of Wilson, VA, Oak Hill Academy) – Belmont Shore
Frank Says: He played better during a couple of viewings at Rancho High than he had every time I watched him previously in the spring and early summer.

*Jahil Okafor (6-10/Chicago Whitney Young) – Mac Irvin Fire
Frank Says: The top center prospect in the prep ranks, regardless of class affiliation, has a nifty combination of heft, quickness of football and low-post savvy.

*Solomon Poole (6-0/Jacksonville, FL, Parker) – Atlanta Celtics
Frank Says: He was nothing short of terrific – knocking in deep- and mid-range jumpers while penetrated to create for teammates and to score him self – prior to suffering an injury early in the second half. By the time he returned, the Massachusetts Rivals had seized control in adidas Super 64 quarterfinal.

*Matt Thomas (6-3/Onalaska, WI, Onalaska) – Wisconsin Playmakers
Frank Says: He may not be the best jump shooter in all of high school basketball – but if he isn’t, whoever must be as good a jumper shooter as there isn’t anywhere, regardless the level (prep, college and professional) of hoops.

*Noah Vonleh (6-8/Hampton, NH, New Hampton) – Massachusetts Rivals
Frank Says: Assuming he doesn’t reclassify to 2013, he’ll remain a threat to be ranked as high as No. 3 (behind Andrew Wiggins and Jahil Okafor, naturally) in the national Class of 2014.

*Justise Winslow (6-6/Houston St. John’s) – Houston Hoops
Frank Says: He was the best player (at least when I watched) for the team that won the Big Foot L.V. Classic team crown with its double overtime victory over Mack Irvine.

*Graham Woodward (5-11/Edina, MN, Edina) – Minnesota Pump N Run
Frank Says: If the late John R. Wooden was still living and coaching, this is the guy he would pick to be his point guard. His playmaking was equal parts fundamentally sound, effective and dazzling – and his jump shot was darn good as well as he helped his team to the adidas Super 64 semifinals (where it lost by a point to the eventual champion Michigan Mustangs).


[h3]Frank Burlison[/h3]

Frank Burlison is one of the most respected basketball writers and basketball talent evaluators in the world. He’s an original (1978) member of the McDonald’s All-American Selection/Advisory Committee and was inducted into the United States Basketball Writers’ Association Hall of Fame during the 2005 Final Four in St. Louis. You can catch his writing, player evaluations and comments on the sport – on all levels – at and via his Twitter account – FrankieBur. He can be contacted at

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