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April 24, 2012
The Adidas VIP Exclusive Run and Pangos Spring Spectacular in Las Vegas offered a great chance to evaluate high school talent alongside college coaches. After digesting what we were able to watch, we take a look back at what we learned.
Hill not only most dominant, but most improved
There has never been any question Kasey Hill's athletic ability. However, there have been questions in the past about how hard he played and whether or not he could consistently lead a team. As evidenced by moving him into the national top 10 last week, Rivals.com does not have any of those concerns with the 6-foot-1 point guard from Montverde (Fla.) Academy.
In Las Vegas at the VIP Exclusive Run, Hill more than backed up his rise in the rankings and was clearly the most dominant player we saw in Las Vegas. As dominant as he was, Hill is equally improved in many aspects of his game. Rather than relying on his athleticism to make plays, the future Florida Gator has learned to use his athleticism to add to his game. He's improved at reading pick-and-rolls, makes better decisions in the open court and has become better with his shot selection. Hill is now into the range where it gets very tough to rise even further in the rankings, but continued play at this level will certainly make him a candidate for another bump
Vonleh still a top rebounder, working on game
There simply aren't many, if any, better rebounders in the class of 2013 or 2014 than sophomore Noah Vonleh. The 6-foot-8 sophomore from New Hampton (N.H.) Prep has proven that time and again, and did so again in Vegas playing with the Mass Rivals.
Now, the No. 2-ranked player in the 2014 Rivals150 is looking to take his game to the next level and he's showing signs of doing that. In Vegas, Vonleh evoked images of a young Marvin Williams with his body type, inside/out game and combo forward skills. While not a guy who does a lot of dribble-driving, he can beat defenders with quick, two- and three-dribble drives. Also, Vonleh can score with his back to the basket and is becoming better and better as a spot-up jump shooter.
Etherington looks like a high major
One of the more pleasant surprises of the Vegas trip was the play of 2013 wing Alex Etherington. The younger brother of Indiana freshman Austin Etherington, Alex is a 6-foot-5 small forward with strength and good athleticism. Playing for Indiana Elite South, Etherington was relentless attacking the rim in transition or halfcourt settings. A strong and tough wing who doesn't back down from anybody, he also looks to be able to make an open jumper. If Etherington can replicate his Vegas performance for the rest of the summer, high major offers are likely to follow.
Hamilton's are a dynamic duo
We dedicated plenty of coverage to the play of Isaac Hamilton over the weekend. The physical and skilled five-star shooting guard from the class of 2013 deserved it given his play with his new team Dream Vision. Nobody in town scored the ball better and there aren't many wings with a better aptitude for scoring from all three levels.
However, we probably need to talk a little more about Hamilton's sophomore brother Daniel Hamilton. Playing for Belmont Shore in the Pangos Spectacular, the 2014 wing proved to be a big-time talent in his own right. Already a four-star prospect, Hamilton has grown into the 6-foot-6 range and is a quick, slashing driver who also has good skill on the offensive end. Right now, he looks like he's ready to make a run at the same five-star status his older brother enjoys.
Malik Pope will be a priority down the road
Sometimes you go to an event and you see a player that you wish you had gotten to see more of. Malik Pope definitely falls into that category. Playing for the Team Superstar 16's, the sophomore forward from Sacramento (Calif.) Burbank is 6-foot-7 worth of long arms and legs and he looks like he has skills to go with that size and length. For now we'll call him a ball-handling combo forward with considerable upside but his future may be purely on the wing and he's a class of 2014 player that looks to be at least a four-star prospect that we'll be looking to watch much more closely and gather more information on.