This weekend, Spiece Fieldhouse in Ft. Wayne was host to the Bill Hensley Memorial Run-N-Slam Classic. It's one of the biggest early AAU showcases in the Midwest and the list of Michigan State relevant players who showed up would be too cumbersome to type in its entirety. What follows is a collection of the reports (mostly free) coming out of the weekend about who played well, which players grabbed attention, and what's being said about Michigan State. There's a few notes from elsewhere as well.
One of the most enjoyable players to watch the coverage of was Denzel Valentine. It seemed clear that numerous scouts and analysts were struggling with exactly what to make of his versatile game. In his first take, Dave Telep commented that Valentine "aint pretty but manages to get a lot done." Later, he offered up a more flattering appraisal saying that "after Kyle Anderson, Denzel Valentine is the next most unique player in the class. Passes, blue collar. Plays a PG guards a SF." Comments that DV, at 6'5", can play like a point guard while exhibiting a blue collar attitude are enough to get me looking forward to his arrival in East Lansing. Also, if you're afraid Valentine is all court smarts and no quickness and athleticism, check out his recognition for the "Play of the Day" over at Five-Star Basketball on a steal and breakaway dunk.
More notes after the jump...
Let me get this valuable link out there: Eric Bossi has a great free rundown of Day Two with names like Jabari Parker, Matt Costello, Denzel Valentine ("a crafty guy who really knows how to play...he grows on you") and others. His piece will give you a lot of quick hits on players on the MSU radar including Costello's effective inside/outside ability. Bossi mentions that you can put a thinned-out, more explosive Jabari Parker thick into the talk about best player in the 2013 class. I've said this in the comments but my two cents is that MSU fans should be patient with the Parker recruitment. Duke is Duke and Washington has strong connections to Parker's family but everything suggests that this will be a long-haul process. As this point, MSU is actively and aggressively involved and probably in as good of shape as most schools after Jabari. Just as this summer will be all about Gary Harris, Izzo may be able to laser his focus on Parker next year.
Bonus link: Who likes dunks? I do! I do!
One of the stories of the weekend was two more 2013 players claiming Michigan State offers. What constitutes an offer and who has an open door to commit often have their truth in a gray area. Caveats aside, Byron Zeigler, a tall wing from Detroit Community, now states MSU amongst the schools who have offered him a scholarship. Zeigler made a good impression at the event and is still gaining bulk to his frame. Also, as Con-T passed along from Eric Bossi of Rivals, Tony Farmer, another big wing from the Cleveland area, boasts MSU on his list of offers. If Coach Izzo is interested in a lengthy wing player for 2013, they're both names to watch along with Steven Haney Jr. and James Young.
Derrick Walton got a lot of press with most observers recognizing him as a talented pass-first true point guard possessing great court vision. Despite getting attention for his distribution skills, the Scout services caught him on Day Two ($) and saw Walton get hot from outside.
Talk like this is why the Grand Rapids Christian guard is being considered as a potential five-star recruit for the 2014 class. He's in the mix to be the state's highest ranked perimeter player in some time. This is the guy that people like Tom Izzo, John Beilein, and Tom Crean will be hot after, if not Roy Williams, Bill Self, and those type of names too. Here is a slightly older write-up from last month's Spring Showdown that mentions Drake's productive spring.
The word on Kenny Kaminski continues to be shooter, shooter, shooter. If you didn't catch it, he was featured on ESPN's website last month and called "probably the best pick-and-pop player in the 2012 class thanks to his tremendous shot with range to 22 feet" for his play at the King James. At Spiece, he continued to hits shots, knocking down four treys on Friday for All-Ohio Red. His shooting was so good that Evan Daniels of Scout noticed from a whole court away and took the information to twitter. Either KK's shooting is effective enough to turn heads or Daniels has eyes in strange places.
There are times when it's good to be a chubby 30 year-old with a six inch vertical and live anonymously. For young, athletic Gary Harris, the scrutiny over his college destination has continued and he's handled himself with grace in numerous interviews. The Bloomington Herald-Times grabbed him recently and did an audio interview where they asked him about pressure from his Indiana-committed friends to join them in Bloomington. This came after appearing for a full on-air interview on The Fan in Indianapolis. It sounds like his interviews have become a little meta, asking about the issues around his recruitment as much as his college interest itself. Harris tweaked his ankle at Spiece but it appears to be no big deal.
Trevon Bluiett, a 6'5" wing forward from Indianapolis, had a good weekend, getting a "who's that guy" reaction from at least one local coach. According to Peegs, the Indiana Rivals man, Bluiett was at one point "stealing the show here. Has hit three straight from beyond the arc." Bluiett is another long guard but, as a member of the 2014 class, he may not suffer from the same scholarship crunch as the 2013 wings.
Here's a link with more Scout coverage on Gary Harris, Drake Harris, and even E.C. Matthews of Romulus amongst others. Matthews, a 2013 player to watch, got this short write-up:
One of the more unique prospects of the day, Matthews, a 6-foot-3 guard, showed an impressive all around skill set against the Spiece 16’s. He spent majority of the game playing on the ball and pushed the ball when he had the opportunity. He’s at his best when he can make plays in the open court, as he has good vision and is a talented passer.
There should be more coverage as sites write reports over the next couple days and I'll add links to the thread while it's on the frontpage. I know that MichiganPrepStars took a lot of video at Spiece and I specifically asked him about some footage on Kenny Kaminski, who I think I've seen the least of out of all of Michigan State's commits. It's in the works.