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January 13, 2014

Mudiay and Pinson shine in North Carolina

THE RIVALS150: Class of 2014 - Class of 2015

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Under Armour had a few changes in 2014 for its annual high school basketball showcase. After being held in Milwaukee under the name of the Brandon Jennings Invitational for the past few years, it has been re-branded as the Under Armour Showcase and moved to O'Berry High School in Charlotte. A new name and location didn't hurt the talent level as several big timers such as Emmanuel Mudiay, Karl Towns and Theo Pinson did their thing.

Mudiay and Pinson duel

About the only downside to the day of basketball at the Under Armour Showcase was that few of the games were close. In the nightcap, Dallas (Texas) Prime Prep, led by the nation's No. 2 ranked senior Emmanuel Mudiay, and High Point (N.C.) Wesleyan, led by the No. 19 Theo Pinson, played an overtime thriller that wasn't decided until Prime's Davontae Bailey scored off an offensive rebound with less than five seconds to go.

While Bailey provided the winning bucket, the SMU-bound Mudiay and North Carolina-bound Pinson provided the fireworks. Since his team got the win, we'll start with Mudiay, who had 24 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Mudiay's biggest bucket came late in overtime when he hit a deep three from the right wing with just under 25 seconds remaining to tie the score. As is usually the case with Mudiay, he played a very controlled and efficient game. Because of his size, strength and athleticism, he almost seems to pace himself like an NBA point guard would, picking his spots to dominate for bursts when his team needs. His body control on drives is spectacular and when he is converting from deep like he did on Saturday (3-7 on three-pointers) defenders are left in a real rough spot. On top of that he's usually a high end defender who doesn't shy away from a tough defensive assignment.

On Saturday, not even Mudiay could slow down Pinson for very long. The 6-foot-6 wing had a spectacular outing, going for 38 points and 12 rebounds. You name it, Pinson did it on Saturday. He was dialed in from deep on his jumper, he was active on the offensive glass while slamming home teammates' misses and he attacked the rim and drew one trip after another to the free throw line. On top of all of that, he was pretty efficient. Pinson went 10-18 from the field (3-5 on three-pointers) and converted 15 of 17 free throw attempts. Pinson did have six turnovers, but considering how much he was relied upon to handle the ball and that he was effectively playing one on five for several stretches, he gets a pass for having some turnovers.

Towns a unique big for Kentucky

Saturday's showcase in Charlotte provided Rivals.com with an excellent opportunity to get another good look at the No. 11 player in the country, Kentucky bound Karl Towns. The near seven-footer at Metuchen (N.J.) St. Joseph is really an interesting prospect and quite unlike any other big man that John Calipari has signed during his tenure in Lexington.

Outside of Jahlil Okafor, Towns is probably the most skilled back to the basket player in the class of 2014. When he sets up in the low post he has a vast assortment of fakes, spins, up and unders to go along with great hands, outstanding footwork and the ability to score with either hand. That's big-time stuff and because of those tools he's almost impossible to stop in the lane. Even a high end defender and noted shot blocker such as UNLV bound Goodluck Okonoboh had a tough time neutralizing Towns in the post.

Towns also can shoot the ball and is dangerous as a pick and pop player. However, there are stretches where he neutralizes himself by spending a little too much time hunting jumpers. The ability to shoot is a very valuable part of his game, but it shouldn't be showcased at the expense of the severe damage that Towns is capable of doing in the low post and sometimes that seems to be the case.

The other thing that Towns will do is rebound the ball. He's not a big-time athlete so he's not going to go flying through the air to snag loose caroms out of his area, but he is an incredibly effective positional rebounder. He has long arms, good shoulders and those outstanding hands allow him to hold onto the ball even when he can barely get a touch.

On the day, Towns finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds as St. Joe's effectively handled Wilbraham (Mass.) Wilbraham & Monson in a 64-50 win.

Garrett is a quality spring option

A slow start and some roster attrition were simply too much for Oldsmar (Fla.) Christian to overcome in a 72-68 loss to traditional prep school powerhouse Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy. However, the performance of unsigned senior Jeff Garrett was a bright spot.

A 6-foot-7 native of Alabama, the three-star wing showed that he is one of the top available swingmen in the country while racking up 18 points and 10 rebounds.

While Garrett is certainly a good athlete and finds ways to use that element to his advantage, it his nose for the ball and efficient inside/outside play that really stood out. Whenever there was a hustle play to be made he seemed to be the one to make it and because of that he gets himself easy opportunities to finish at the rim. He can handle the ball a bit, is a good mid-range jump shooter and doesn't seem to be one to gamble very much.

On the recruiting front, things have really picked up for Garrett. He listed offers from UAB, Oregon State, Temple, USF, Murray State, Tulane, Florida International and Rhode Island while he's also heard from USC and Arkansas.

More UA Showcase notables

Colorado bound four-star point guard Dominique Collier did everything he could to secure a win for Denver (Colo.) East. However, the 6-foot-2 senior and his teammates ran out of gas against an athletic Charlotte (N.C.) Northside Christian squad. Collier had a game high 35 points and was very tough to contain off the dribble. Collier lacks strength, but is very quick with outstanding body control. Usually more of an off the dribble scorer, his usual floaters and pull-ups were mostly rimming out. But, he was hot from deep making 8-14 from downtown.

For Northside Christian, Charlotte signee Keyshawn Woods was outstanding in a 24 point, six rebound effort. He scored on jumpers, crashed the glass and played a very effective floor game. Woods has outstanding strength and plays well on each end. He looks like he can be counted on early at Charlotte because he's physically ready for the college game. Woods got some nice help from junior small forward Rayjon Tucker, who chipped in with 20 points. Tucker is a big-time athlete who loves to finish above the rim.

Jeff Garrett wasn't the only bright spot for Oldsmar Christian. USF bound shooting guard Troy Holston was outstanding in a 28 point performance. More well known for his deep jump shooting, Holston was actually off from deep and showed ability to get to the rim that he hasn't always showcased. Despite making just 2-of-12 from deep, he was 8-for-9 on two point goals and finished with a hard earned 28 points, three rebounds and two assists while validating his status in the Rivals150.

In their win over Oldsmar, Hargrave had a balanced attack that was spearheaded by Clemson signee Donte Grantham, Wichita State signee Rashard Kelly and unsigned senior Jabari McGhee. Ranked No. 66 nationally, the 6-foot-8 Grantham is a big wing who can also play some at the four. He is a versatile player but was perhaps a little too content to fire away from three-point range where he made just two-of-10 attempts. He did score all three of his two point attempts and did a very nice job handling and distributing the ball while finishing with 14 points.

A power broker at 6-foot-6, Kelly's game is all about aggression and athleticism. He is tough to stop on the low block, has a great motor and even on days where it didn't seem that he played that effectively, he is productive. Based on the simple eye test, Kelly really seemed quiet but he still managed to finish with 18 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. There were six turnovers, but it was a good effort for the three-star who looks to be an outstanding fit for Wichita State. Finally, McGhee was the early standout for Hargrave. A 6-foot-7 combo forward who is starting to fill out, he is tough between six and 15 feet and had a hard-working 15 points and 12 rebounds. McGhee should be a good spring option on the mid to upper mid major level.

The most impressive team effort of the day came from Washington (D.C.) St. John's, which wiped the floor with Philadelphia (Pa.) Math, Civics & Science. Several players had strong games for St. John's including Miami bound James Palmer, Towson signee Mike Morsell, Farleigh Dickinson bound combo guard Darian Anderson and sophomore point guard Anthony Cowan.

Currently ranked in the Rivals150, Palmer is going to push for a move from high three-star to four-star status. The shooting guard has continued to grow and now looks to be a legit 6-foot-4 with long arms. He scores via the jumper and looks to be a great fit for the Hurricanes. A 6-foot-5 athlete who has to play the post for St. John's, Morsell is a high energy forward that crashes the glass and plays both ends. He led the way with 18 points and eight rebounds. Farleigh Dickinson is getting a very nice guard in Anderson. He can shoot some from deep, is quick with the ball and like the rest of his teammates plays both ends. Finally, Cowan currently backs up Georgetown signee Tre Campbell but the sophomore is really one to watch. What he lacks in size at about 5-foot-10 and 150 pounds, the dynamo makes up for with heart and skill. He can score, has exceptional quickness and is a deft passer. Cowan already has offers from Maryland, Xavier and DePaul.

Penn State bound Mike Watkins is ranked No. 127 in the class of 2015 and he looks the part. At 6-foot-9 or so, the center has a great looking frame to build on and is pretty mobile. He doesn't look adverse to contact either but didn't get many touches and was visibly frustrated by the way things when for Math, Civics & Science. He'll be one to watch closely in the spring and summer. Six-foot-4 teammate Samir Doughty also is a member of the 2015 Rivals150 checking in at No. 131. Doughty led his team with 19 points and is a good-sized two guard capable of handling the ball and scoring around the rim though he isn't an elite athlete.

Eric Bossi is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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