Gregory Brown was the Class of the Field at this Year's John Lucas International Middle School Combine

Written by: Clark Francis (The Hoop Scoop)

He wasn't as good as he was when we saw him a month ago at the 2016 John Lucas Enterprises Lab Experience., but 6'6 8th Grader Gregory Brown from Austin, TX being the best player over the weekend at the John Lucas International Middle School Combine at the Legends Sports Complex in The Woodlands, TX was kind of like a high priced stakes-winner dropping down in class and winning a cheap claiming race in horse racing. In other words, Brown did not play with the same zest and zeal that he did when he was teamed with 6'11 Frosh Charles Bassey from San Antonio (St. Anthony Catholic) TX and was challenged by playing up in class against freshmen, sophomores, and juniors and high school. However, he was the class of the field in this event and, before we start tossing out Jared Vanderbilt-like comparisons, it's important to remember that Brown does have a tendency to play hard when he's challenged, shoots it better from out on the perimeter than Vanderbilt does, and he does have a true position at the wing forward spot as he continues to make the transition to a higher level. Remember, Vanderbilt is like a point/forward due to his excellent court vision and good ball handling and passing skills, ability to guard smaller guys out on the perimeter, and knack for being able to get more than his share of rebounds and put-backs off transition. Brown also has tremendous length, a silky smooth demeanor, excellent speed and quickness, and good moves in the post, which made him really more of a four than a three in this camp. Brown also is good enough to get serious consideration when we start talking about the #1-ranking nationally in the Class of 2020 and what's even more scary is the fact that we think he has plenty of growth left in him and the sky's the limit with regard to his upside and potential.

Unfortunately making the call between 6'3 8th Grader Jaden Springer from Charlotte, NC and 6'6 8th Grader Jabri Abdul-Rahim from Granite City, CA when it comes to selecting the #2 and #3-ranked players in camp was a lot more difficult, as the former has a great combination of strength and athleticism, which he uses to attack the basket, lock his man up defensively, and get more than his share of rebounds, and the latter has tremendous length and athleticism, excellent quickness around the basket, and the skills necessary to be able to score inside, outside, and from mid-range, He will need to get get lot bigger and stronger physically, but he also has a silky smooth demeanor, a soft touch on his jump shot, and a great nose for the ball, plus his pedigree is off the chart (his father is former NBA starShareef Abdur-Rahim and it looks like he's another guy who is just beginning to scratch the surface of evolving into the player he will become. Springer will need to become a better outside shooter, but time is on his side and it is hard to argue with his athleticism, work ethic, ability to get to the basket, and amazing pedigree (his father was an All-American at Iona College back in the early 80's and his older brother also played college basketball for the Gaels). And, if that weren't enough, he's also an excellent defender and, as a result, we give Springer the nod over Abdul-Rahim in our Ranking of the Top 50 Players Based Primarily on Performance at the 2016 John Lucas International Middle School Combine. However,Van Coleman, who has been in our business for nearly 40 years and is now the driving force behind the soon-to-be be launched Basketball Channel, gives the nod to Abdul-Rahim. And, quite honestly, I would be real happy taking whichever player you don't want.

And not too far behind Springer and Abdul-Rahim was 5'8 8th Grader Posh Alexanderfrom Brooklyn, NY, who simply picked up where he left off when we saw him back in January at the John Lucas Enterprises Camp Right Way-East in King of Prussia, PA. We're talking about a strong physical athletic combo guard who was equally effective at either guard spot, thanks to his excellent ball handling and passing skills, willingness to get his teammates involved, understanding of what it takes to run a team, explosiveness to the rim, and ability to more than just keep you honest with his outside shooting. He's also is one of those guys who plays with a chip on is shoulder and is a tremendous competitor and hardnosed defender, plus he is already being touted as the next great point guard to come out of a city that has a long and storied history of producing great guards. All he lacks is size, but it might not matter, as Kemba Walker comparisons may be in order. It also was hard not to be impressed with 6'11 8th Grader Hunter Dickinson from Bethesda, MD and 6'9 8th GraderAllen Adenadu from Nashville, TN, who are totally different in terms of their style and levels of athleticism, but both deserve top-five consideration among those in camp. Or, in Dickinson's case, lack of athleticism. He also is somewhat mechanical right now, but he does get up and down the court surprisingly well for somebody his age and has good hands. great length, big feet, a soft touch around the basket, an excellent nose for the ball, an evolving hook shot, and the potential to continue to grow. In other words, the sky's the limit and, that's saying a lot, because we're usually not on the high end of the spectrum when it comes to big white kids. Adenadu, on the other hand, has great length and athleticism, is a thoroughbred with his ability to run the court, and a force to be reckoned with around the basket with is ability to blocks shots, rebounds, and quickness to the basket. He will need to develop some post moves and an offensive repertoire, but he was one of the few players that really stepped up and totally dominated when we watched him play.

It also was not easy to separate guys like 6'4 8th Grader Micah Peavy from Houston, TX, 6'10 8th Grader Zachary Loveday from Bidwell, OH, 5'10 8th Grader Dareyon Davisfrom Moreno Valley, CA, 6'3 8th Grader Isaiah LeBlanc from Missouri City, TX, 6'0 8th Grader Lynn Greer from Marlton, NJ, and 6'3 8th Grader Gary Grant from Queens, NY, all of whom fall into the 7-12-range based on the way they played in this camp. Peavy is another guy who will have to get bigger and stronger physically and develop more of an outside shooter's mentality. However, he plays with a lot of energy, has good size and skills for his position, and it's tough to argue with his speed, quickness, and athleticism in an up tempo setting, Loveday is not as strong physically as Dickinson is around the basket, but he still more than held his own in their head-to-head match-up in the first game on Court #1 on Saturday night and he impressed everybody with agility, mobility, and ability to run the court as well he does for somebody his size. He also is very fluid around the basket and has good hands, excellent timing, and gets a surprising number of rebounds, especially in light of the fact that his game is more finesse than power. However, just like with Dickinson, it is the likelihood that Loveday will continue to grow that gets everybody really excited. Remember, you can't teach size and 8th Graders in the 6'10 to 6'11 range (even in basketball) are truly a rare bread. Davis did not play as well as he did when we saw him at the Pangos Junior All-American Camp back in late February, but this explosive 2-guard is quick to the basket, has a soft touch and deep range on his jump shot, and is capable of putting up prolific numbers. LeBlanc has good ball handling and passing skills and a good feel for the game, but what he does best is flat out score. And he can do so in a variety of ways, including with his excellent moves and athleticism when he slashes to the basket and excellent range on his jump shot. Greer is another guy with a tremendous pedigree (his grandfather was drafted back in 1973 by the Phoenix Suns and his father played at Temple for John Chaney and he was the second leading scorer in the history of the school). And it appears that he is a chip off the old block with his speed, quickness, and athleticism and skills that allow him to create for both himself and his teammates. He also has silky a smooth demeanor, a high basketball IQ, and a nice looking jump shot, plus he is a good defender. Grant is a high flying athletic 3-man who thrives in an up tempo setting and, whether it be slashing to the basket or knocking down the outside shot, this guy is a lethal offensive weapon.

And, when we dig a little deeper, we find that5'8 7th Grader Zion Harmon from Nashville, TN, 6'7 8th Grader Trey Hall from Glastonbury, CT, 6'1 8th Grader Joe Bamisile from Richmond, TX, 6'5 8th Grader Terrence Williams from Oxon Hill, MD, 5'11 8th GraderL.J. Cryer from Katy, TX, 6'7 8th Grader Evan Mobley from Murrieta, CA, 6'1 8th GraderEric Butler from Lakewood, CA, and 6'8 8th Grader E,J. Jones from Houston, TX are all good enough get mentioned we start talking about the top 20-ranked players in camp. Harmon was the best 7th Grader in camp, but we actually expected more in light of the fact that he's got a reputation for being the #1-ranked player in the nation in the Class of 2021 and he's a lot older than most of the players in this camp. However, we still liked the way he gets to his spots, knocks down the outside shot, and makes a living off transition. Hall is versatile enough to play both inside, thanks to his quickness to the rim, nose for the ball, and ability to get it done on the boards, and outside, thanks to his quickness on the perimeter and ability to knock down the outside shot. On the other hand, he doesn't know what he is, as is evident by the fact that more often than not he's the guy who brings the ball up the court. Bamisile is a long skinny athletic 3-man who is explosive to the rim and has a knack for being able to beat you with his outside shooting. Williams is versatile enough to play both inside and outside, but he's really at his best when he's using his quickness to score, rebound, and get put-backs around the basket. Cryer has good ball handling and passing skills and his speed, quickness, and facilitator-like mentality made him one of the best point guards in camp. Mobley has great length, good skills, and excellent athleticism, but it's his upside and potential, likelihood that he will grow another four or five inches, and tremendous pedigree that really gets us excited. Butler lacks an outside shooter's mentality and, as a result, this high flying athletic wing forward does most of his damage off transition and when slashing to the basket. Jones' passes the look test with his size and athleticism and his father plays for the Houston Rockets. However, he has only been playing the game for a couple of years, is not a tough customer, and is more of a potential guy than a finished product.

The camp also had plenty of quality depth, as 5'10 8th Grader John Wilson from Brooklyn, NY, 6'3 8th Grader Brandon Boston from Suwanee, GA, 6'1 8th Grader Ty Berry from Newton, KS, 6'5 8th Grader Myles Stute from Washington, DC, 5'10 8th Grader Carter Whitt from Raleigh, NC, 6'0 8th Grader Primo Spears from Hartford, CT, 6'6 8th GraderCameron Byers from Baltimore, MD, 5'11 8th Grader Tyler Brelsford from Ellicott City, MD, 6'5 8th Grader Jordan Burch from Florence, SC, ,and 6'2 8th Grader Grant Huffman from Aurora, OH all belong in the 21 to-30 range. Wilson has the ball handling and passing skills necessary to play the point guard spot, but he also has a good combination of speed and strength and he's tough to stop with his ability to get to the basket, mid-range game, and outside shooting. Boston is an athletic wing forward with a silky smooth demeanor and the three things he does best are get to the basket, handle the ball, and rebound. Berry is a silky smooth athletic wing whose forte is knocking down the outside shot. Stute is an athletic 4-man who makes a living with his soft touch, ability to get it done on the boards, and toughness around the basket. Whitt was one of the best point guards in camp and he has great ball handing and passing skills, an unselfish demeanor, and a knack for making those around him better. Spears is an explosive point guard with good ball handling and passing skills and he knows how to use his speed and quickness in an up tempo setting. Byers is a physical specimen and a match-up problem inside with his big frame, deceptive mobility, and ability to score and rebound in the paint. Brelsford will need to get bigger and stronger physically, but it's hard not to like the way he runs thee show, gets his teammates involved, and can more than just keep you honest when it comes time to score. We have reservations about Burch's toughness, position, and outside shooting, but there is no denying his strength, athleticism, and ability to get to the basket. Huffman is a tough hardnosed competitor with good footwork, a great nose for the ball, and the ability to light up a scoreboard.

The HOOP OP's Exclusive Ranking of the Top 30 Players Based Primarily on Performance at the 2016 John Lucas International Middle School Combine at the Legends Sports Complex in The Woodlands, TX

1) 6'6 8th Grader Gregory Brown from Austin, TX

2) 6'6 8th Grader Jabri Abdul-Rahim from Granite City, CA

3) 6'3 8th Grader Jaden Springer from Charlotte, NC

4) 5'8 8th Grader Posh Alexander from Brooklyn, NY

5) 6'11 8th Grader Hunter Dickinson from Bethesda, MD

6) 6'9 8th Grader Allen Adenadu from Nashville, TN

7) 6'4 8th Grader Micah Peavy from Houston, TX

8) 6'10 8th Grader Zachary Loveday from Bidwell, OH

9) 5'10 8th Grader Dareyon Davis from Moreno Valley, CA

10) 6'3 8th Grader Isaiah LeBlanc from Missouri City, TX

11) 6'0 8th Grader Lynn Greer from Marlton, NJ

12) 6'3 8th Grader Gary Grant from Queens, NY

13) 5'8 7th Grader Zion Harmon from Nashville, TN

14) 6'7 8th Grader Trey Hall from Glastonbury, CT

15) 6'1 8th Grader Joe Bamisile from Richmond, TX

16) 6'5 8th Grader Terrence Williams from Oxon Hill, MD

17) 5'11 8th Grader L.J. Cryer from Katy, TX

18) 6'7 8th Grader Evan Mobley from Murrieta, CA

19) 6'1 8th Grader Eric Butler from Lakewood, CA

20) 6'8 8th Grader E,J. Jones from Houston, TX

21) 5'10 8th Grader John Wilson from Brooklyn, NY

22) 6'3 8th Grader Brandon Boston from Suwanee, GA

23) 6'1 8th Grader Ty Berry from Newton, KS

24) 6'5 8th Grader Myles Stute from Washington, DC

25) 5'10 8th Grader Carter Whitt from Raleigh, NC

26) 6'0 8th Grader Primo Spears from Hartford, CT

27) 6'6 8th Grader Cameron Byers from Baltimore, MD

28) 5'11 8th Grader Tyler Brelsford from Ellicott City, MD

29) 6'5 8th Grader Jordan Burch from Florence, SC

30) 6'2 8th Grader Grant Huffman from Aurora, OH