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February 15, 2013

Beach Blast hosts bring A game

MORE: Recruit of the Week: Aaron Gordon

The 2013 IMG Academy Beach Blast Basketball Showcase in Bradenton, Fla., kicked off with a bang in the first of three days of action on Friday, as 38 teams from around the nation headed to the prep school looking for action against other top talent. Rivals.com was there to check out the prospects at IMG Academy, and here's a look at who stood out on the first day.

Home-court advantage

Being the home team in events like this always means that you'll have to deal with additional pressure. As the only two players on a 10-man roster for IMG Academy who are not reclassified postgrad prospects, 2014 wing Boubacar Moungoro and 2013 center Thomas Hamilton probably felt even more pressure to succeed against older competition. Both of them brought their A games on Friday, as IMG cruised to a 29-point win in the final game of the day, defeating Charlotte (N.C.) MACK Prep.

Moungoro got things started the right way for IMG. The hyper-athletic 6-foot-6 small forward was all over the court; finishing plays with dunks, blocking shots, passing the ball in transition and controlling the rebounds for his squad. Because of his combination of size and athletic abilities, the coaches at IMG have the advantage of placing Moungoro on different types of players on defense. The junior was up for the challenge as he harassed MACK Prep players into turnovers, usually leading to a dunk or assist for the small forward. According to the IMG Academy staff, Moungoro is hearing the most from Miami and Memphis, but he is wide open in the recruiting process and fielding calls from various high majors on a daily basis.

The 6-foot-9 bruiser Hamilton has made great strides in his conditioning since leaving his native Chicago to spend his final season of high school ball at the elite training facility in Western Florida. Hamilton has lost a significant amount of weight this season, making it easier for him to play the extended minutes that college coaches will call on him to play. What Hamilton has always been successful in has been his offensive skill set on the low- and mid-post area, particularly his abilities as a distributor to cutters near the rim. Hamilton has strength and soft touch, and he can score around the rim through contact at an efficient rate. What we like about Hamilton is his mindset to keep it simple on the offensive end, just making one simple move to score with a hook shot when he has a size advantage. The three-star center will have to continue to make strides in his floor-running ability, but Hamilton has made progress since he left the Windy City.

The three-star center recently has received offers from Auburn, DePaul, Oklahoma State and South Florida. He also had several other Midwestern mid- and high-major programs offer him, and some are still suiting him.

Under the radar

On a Brandon (Fla.) Faith Baptist Christian Academy team loaded with talent, including two Rivals150 members from the 2013 class in Demetrius Henry and Deshaun Mormon, it can be easy to forget about fellow 2013 prospect Niem Stevenson. However, after his strong play on Friday, more and more college coaches are going to be following the 6-foot-5 wing. Despite his team struggling to take care of the ball in a lopsided loss, Stevenson was efficient as a scorer, attacking the rim athletically and finishing several plays through hard contact.

The best part about Stevenson's overall floor game is his athleticism. At 6-foot-5, the postgrad senior can jump over defenders in the paint, allowing him to score in different ways such as tip-ins, layups, backdoor cuts and even alley-oops. Also a solid shooter, Stevenson's stroke from 3-point range went in more often than not in Friday's contest.

Stevenson has six offers at the Division I level, and Texas State (which has offered), Bradley and Eastern Illinois were among the schools watching him on Friday. High majors including Clemson, Ole Miss and USF were also in the stands.

Mid-major mayhem

At any basketball showcase, it's not just about the upper-tier talent. The bulk of prospects who sign college basketball scholarships do not do so at the high-major level. In Florida on Friday, there were several prospects who might not have the interest of coaches from power conferences but are going to be good Division I players down the road.

Shaquille Calhoun: He might not be the best prospect in the event, but the 2013 postgrad guard from Stone Mountain (Ga.) Action Sports Academy was the most dominant player on the court against a loaded Faith Baptist Christian Academy team, finishing with more than 20 points in a blowout win. A 6-foot-4 versatile wing guard, Calhoun is a good scorer in transition, finding his points by making plays on defense with steals. An early signee to Tennessee Tech, Calhoun should make an impact at the college level as an athletic wing who can make aggressive plays on both ends.

Keith Broome: A small but crafty point guard from Houston (Texas) Beacon Prep, the 6-foot Broome was the best passer Rivals had a chance to evaluate on Friday. The class of 2013 postgrad prospect has received offers from Tennessee State and Louisiana Lafayette, and he is starting to attract bigger interest. An offer from Ole Miss could be on its way, according to Beacon Prep's head coach. While Broome is a capable shooter from deep, he is best attacking at a fast pace when he can penetrate and kick it to an open teammate; his size might scare some schools away, but Broome has a good offensive feel for the game.

Alante Fenner One of the more creative guards that we saw on Friday, the 6-foot-5 combo guard from Tampa (Fla.) TAAG Academy was an exceptional playmaker with the ball in his hands in transition settings. Fenner is a speedy guard who is comfortable playing on or off of the ball, but he is best when controlling the rock because of his passing and slashing abilities. While he doesn't shoot much of a jumper, Fenner is a good ball handler who sees the floor and can get by defenders at will with his size. According to his coach, the 2013 prospect is receiving a lot of interest at the Division I level but has yet to receive an offer.

Ran Tut: Of the players on this list, Tut had college coaches buzzing the most with his strong play. The 2013 post from Sarasota (Fla.) Impact Academy was limited in his minutes because of foul trouble, but he had a huge presence to his game when he was on the court. Tut is a good athlete with length, while standing 6-foot-8. He loves to play on the wing on offense and attack slower big guys off the dribble, and he shows the ability to change directions on the bounce. However, Tut's real strength is on the block, where he posts physically despite a lack of strength. On defense, the senior looks like he can be an impact player at the college level, which is why schools such as Bradley, Florida International, Duquesne and Southern Illinois watched him play.

Aleer Leek: Another promising power forward from Impact Academy, the 6-foot-8 Leek is only a junior as a 2014 prospect. Leek is much more skilled than Tut, showing nice footwork and post moves on the offensive end, while still being a well-above-average athlete for his size. Leek will need to work on playing with physicality, but he has a unique skill in his shooting ability, which makes him a threat to stretch defensive big men away from the basket with his touch to 17 feet or so. The same schools who watched Tut also took note of the junior, who does not claim any offers at this time.

Keondre Dew: The 6-foot-6 combo forward from Delray Beach (Fla.) Elev8 Academy was one of the most imposing players physically during Friday's action. A 2014 prospect with time to continue honing his skills, Dew is a good athlete who can get a lot done on the court thanks to exceptional strength. Dew's versatility makes him a good college prospect, because he has the strength to play power forward but handles it well enough to attack off the dribble and play small forward on offense.

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