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November 25, 2013

National Prep Showcase comes to a close

MORE: Mostella shines at first day of National Prep Showcase

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Brewster Prep duo Isaac Copeland and Devonte Graham, Syracuse-bound Kaleb Joseph and junior scoring maching Damontrae Jefferson were some of the standouts as the 2013 National Prep Showcase came to a completion on Sunday.

Brewster duo has big day

Now teammates at Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Prep, four-star Georgetown signee Isaac Copeland and three-star Devonte Graham have some synergy. The duo from North Carolina has played together for the past few summers with the Garner Roads Basketball Club and their familiarity with each other's game was on full display Sunday.

The No. 37 player in the class of 2014, Copeland backed up his lofty status. He is a smooth 6-foot-9 forward with inside/outside skill, a nice feel for the game and fluid athleticism. He still needs more weight, but Copeland has gotten stronger and it showed as he was more physical around the rim. He makes short to medium jumpers, can really get out and transition and looks to be a perfect fit for the Hoyas. He had a very efficient 20 points and eight rebounds.

Helping to feed Copeland the ball but doing damage himself was Graham. A 6-foot-2 point guard and three-star prospect who could make a run at the Rivals150, he does all that you would like a floor general to do. He controls tempo, finds his teammates for buckets, is going to be a guy who can play good defense and can go get his offense too. Graham was good for 23 points, four assists and six rebounds and he was doing it off the dribble, with the jumper and in transition. Brewster got into an up-and-down affair with a South Kent (Conn.) Prep team that featured several sub six-foot guards and Graham never rattled.

Probably the top remaining point guard in the class of 2014, Graham's recruitment is tricky. He was originally a member of the high school class of 2013 and signed a letter of intent with Appalachian State. He asked for a release from his LOI and it has been denied. Per Brewster coach Jason Smith, it means that no schools can have direct contact with him until App. State finishes this academic year and once he selects a school, he will be ineligible as a freshman because he was never released.

Virginia, Creighton, Memphis, Providence and Butler are just a few of the teams that would have interest once Graham can be recruited.

Jefferson tones it down, still excites

Not many high school players in America generate opinions that range as widely as junior point guard Damontrae Jefferson who ranks No. 36 nationally does. The bottom line in the eyes of Rivals.com is that the diminutive playmaker from Milwaukee has too much talent and ability to dismiss.

For the past few summers, the 5-foot-7 guard has regularly rung up opponents for huge numbers. He's done it in a flashy manner with lots of deep shots, quick drives and he's sometimes forgotten about his teammates.

Now at Believe Prep in South Carolina, Jefferson is really trying to change his image. On Sunday, he played under control, was communicating with his teammates, putting forth much more effort on defense and still making lots happen. He can get a shot whenever he wants, threw a couple of incredible passes and has nearly unmatched quickness.

Yes he is small and yes he is still a bit wild, but his 28-point, eight-rebound, four-assist and four-steal outing was one of the top performances of the weekend. That he is trying to change the way he plays and carries himself is easily noticeable and he now has offers from UMass, Southern Miss, Cleveland State and Rhode Island.

Joseph impresses

Probably the single most impressive performance of the weekend was turned in by Syracuse bound point guard Kaleb Joseph. The No. 55 player in the class of 2014, Joseph and his Cushing Academy team took a tough loss to the Canarias Academy team from the Canary Islands. However, Joseph was flat out unguardable during a 37-point explosion.

Navigating high ball screens or just using his explosive first step to create separation, the 6-foot-2 Joseph got into the lane at will. He has the strength and toughness to finish through contact, he was hitting pull-up jumpers and he was doing it all against a team with lots and lots of size. What was most notable about his play was that most of the moves and decisions he was making looked like the types of things that translate to the next level. If he can be this good all the time, No. 55 in the country is too low.

More Sunday notables

Our Savior New American has a few of the top unsigned and unranked seniors in the country. Shooting guard Kobie Eubanks and forward Michael Nzei will both be recruited on the upper-mid to lower-end high major level this winter. Eubanks is a pure scorer who can make jumpers, has a strong body and good athleticism while Nzei is a slightly undersized but very hard working and athletic power forward. Eubanks was good for 21 points, eight rebounds and three assists while Nzei quietly racked up 20 points and 11 rebounds.

South Kent (Conn.) Prep doesn't have a lot of size at their disposal, but they have some little guards that can go. Senior Schadrac Casimir is probably only about 5-foot-8 and 145 pounds soaking wet, but he plays with the confidence of a lion prowling a Savanna. The little guy isn't afraid to let it fly from anywhere and gets lots of open looks because of his quickness. He went for 36 and made 13 of his 20 shots.

Also on the small side, freshman guard Tremont Waters is going to be one to watch down the road. Checking in at around 5-foot-8 or 5-foot-9, he's another confident guard who can shoot the ball very well from deep. He is quick, has great body control and has a chance to be a very nice player as he grows and matures.

The No. 77 player in the class of 2015, Syracuse commit Tyler Lydon is quite thin. Because of his lack of strength, the 6-foot-8 combo forward sometimes gets pushed around and has trouble finishing around the rim. However, he doesn't lack for toughness, is a good athlete and definitely has skill. Despite getting knocked around pretty good, he kept coming back for more and ended up with a hard earned 15-point and 15-rebound effort in New Hampton (N.H.) Prep's win over Massanutten.

Massanutten took the loss against New Hampton, but it wasn't the fault of Rutgers-bound forward Dwayne Foreman. The 6-foot-7 athlete and No. 120 player in the class of 2014 was all over the floor and constantly attacking during a 22-point effort. Also impressing for Massanutten was three-star point guard Isaac Fleming. Fleming has good size at near 6-foot-3 and can play as either a setup guy or scorer who mixes drives and jumpers. He had 15 points and eight rebounds and looks like a really good get for Hawaii.

Three-star David Burrell of Believe Prep is a big-time athlete. The 6-foot-5 junior from Milwaukee is also a big-time competitor who saves possessions, plays tough defense and finishes with authority around the rim. He exudes toughness and was quite productive, notching 16 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and three steals.

Marquette signee Marial Shayok has a great motor. The 6-foot-6 forward is aggressive on both ends of the floor and doesn't mind playing physically. He had 21 points and seven rebounds and looked most comfortable operating in near the basket. He's not an overwhelming athlete and may need to adjust to playing wing athletes, but he is crafty.



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