PHILADELPHIA -- The Reebok Breakout Challenge’s claim to summer fame is that the event was the launching pad for John Wall. Well, there isn’t going to be a Wall sequel, but this may in fact be the deepest pool of talent Reebok has hosted. The Harrison twins, Aaron and Andrew, are the unofficial party hosts here, and from the opening tip it was game on.
It took exactly half of one quarter for shooting guard Aaron Harrison (Fort Bend, Texas/Travis) to figure out the rim at Philadelphia University. How about 6-for-7 from 3-point range in the first half? Yikes. With SMU’s Larry Brown, Maryland’s Mark Turgeon, Villanova’s Jay Wright and Baylor’s Scott Drew, plus an assistant from Kentucky, looking on, he torched his first opponent for an unofficial 31 points that were officially scintillating.
Finally ... we meet
There are a handful of prospects here who are must-sees for me: shooting guard Robert Hubbs (Newbern, Tenn./Dyer County), power forward Tony Trocha (Colombia/TBD) and shooting guard Detrick Mostella (Decatur, Ala./Decatur). I sniffed those guys out early and checked them off my priority list.
There’s a great deal of hubbub surrounding Hubbs, and it didn’t take long to figure out why. He has outstanding size (think James Anderson) for the position. He wasn't at his best on Wednesday, but his tools are evident. College coaches salivate over kids with frames, shooting ability and the finisher’s game he owns. He drew a crowd that included head coaches from Tennessee, Auburn, Virginia, Missouri, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Memphis and North Carolina.
Blink and Mostella is by you. He’s that fast. The kid slips into the lane almost at will, and this camp sets up particularly well for his game. Unless it’s emphasized, defense tends to be optional in these settings, and that opened up the driving lanes for Mostella. He won’t be everyone’s choice to play point and might be better served as a combo-guard, but his quickness had newbies scanning their rosters to learn more.
We also got to meet the elusive Trocha. This was a deep cover operation, as few knew he’d be at camp. Trocha’s a bit of a YouTube legend, so it was great to verify his existence. This was the same kid who reportedly had head coaches taking private planes to watch him workout in the spring. There has been enough hype to create a relatively high expectation.
Trocha is from Colombia and speaks some English. Who is this guy, really? He’s a big forward with athletic ability that’s going to need time. He’ll get as far as his athleticism and rim-protecting ability will take him, but offensively he has to install some weapons and find the weight room. He looks like a fawn that needs reps. The prefight hype was almost too great for anyone to live up to, but we’ll return to keep building the profile.
Until this summer, injuries had not been a problem for power forward Jermaine Lawrence (Springfield Gardens, N.Y./John Paul XXIII). In the past month, he has sprained both wrists and his right ankle. With both wrists heavily taped, Lawrence looked great on Wednesday. He runs the floor as well as anyone in the class, and his combination of versatility and strength is uncommon.
Home cooking for Jordan
One of the local favorites, point guard Rysheed Jordan (Philadelphia/Vaux Roberts) had a solid opening night. Jordan has been blessed with good size, speed and quickness for a lead guard. Getting into the paint isn’t a problem, and he acknowledged on Wednesday that his shot could be better. Jordan is a hair away from taking the next step into the upper echelon of point guards. An average passer, he’s prone to driving it deep without a plan. What is unique about him is his quickness, and a little hitch in his driving game gives defenders pause as he rips by them. It’s a big week for him here, as the goal is to ascend up the charts.
Too young to be intimidated
Look, the Harrison twins are bad boys, and to make matters worse they’re on the same team. They won their opener by an absurd margin, maybe 50 points. From my seat, they won the game on the court and owned the minds of their opponents -- except for one guy. Charles Matthews (Chicago/St. Rita) was the youngest player on the court and might have been the only kid who wasn’t intimidated. Heck, he might have been scared, but he hid it well. The No. 15 player in the Class of 2015 was aggressive. His team went down, but he went down guns blazing. All in all, it was a good sign for Matthews.
Senior who caught my eye
Camp settings absolutely stink for evaluating big men. I remember coming to this event and having to try to evaluate a raw Festus Ezeli for the first time. Sounds easy, but camp ball is a different breed of evaluation. Rodney Williams (Richmond, Va./St. Christopher’s) is a reclassified power forward who had enough offense to make time for a return evaluation.
Junior who caught my eye
“He jumped right out of the woods, nobody knew about him,” travel team coach Tony Squire said. The player he was talking about was Devin Robinson (Christchurch, Va./Christchurch), a 2014 shooting guard who's 6-foot-6 and strokes it. We need to find more wooded areas, because this kid is a prospect.
Each day this summer, I’ll finish up my blog with a pseudo player of the day. If I had a scholarship to give, mine would go to Aaron Harrison. Revolutionary idea, I know, but he was dominant.