Michigan native James Young was terrific during Nike’s EYBL season.
A 6-foot-6 left-hander, Young proved himself an athletic slasher that could really shoot the ball from beyond the arc. But through three games at Nike’s Global Challenge, Young had struggled for the USA’s Midwest team. He was averaging 15.0 points, but shooting just 42% from the floor and 2-17 from three while committing 13 turnovers. The Midwest went 3-0 in pool play, but it wasn’t the result of a sterling performance from Young.
That changed in the title game, however.
Young finished with 29 points — including a flurry that saw him score 16 points in a six-minute stretch in the fourth quarter — on 12-23 shooting (5-10 from three) to lead the Midwest to a 100-86 win over Andrew Wiggins and Team Canada.
For observers (ahem, like me) that were questioning how a gunner that couldn’t shoot was so highly-regarded, Young did a fine job providing an answer. Everyone is allowed a couple off-nights in a row, and a glimpse of the kind of show that he can put on when he gets it going was enough to earn American MVP honors.
Some other top performers:
– Troy Williams (19.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 5-13 3PT’s): Williams had a tough spring, but he showed off why every coach in the country wanted him back in March. He’s an incredible athlete, and standing 6-foot-6 with impressive lengths, he’s always been a highlight waiting to happen. The 38.5% shooting from beyond the arc was nice, though.
– Wes Clark (11.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.7 apg): Young’s AAU teammate, Clark is currently one of the most underrated point guard prospects. He isn’t nationally ranked (which will change very soon), but with his athleticism, quickness, ability to penetrate and finish at the rim, and range on his jump shot, Clark should have a much higher-profile come August.
– Nigel Williams-Goss (17.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.5 apg): Washington got a good one in Williams-Goss. He’s a solid facilitator that is one of the few kids that communicates well on the court. He didn’t shoot all that well, but he was able to penetrate. Had 24 points in his first game and went for 18 points, six assists, five boards and no turnovers in a dominating win over Brazil in the third-place game.
– Andrew Wiggins (19.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg): Wiggins was clearly the best prospect at the event, but he didn’t play his best at this tournament. That’s what happens when defenses face-guard you.
– Trey Lyles (21.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg): Lyles put on one of the most impressive performances, with 27 points and 11 boards in a win over USA East. The focus on Wiggins allowed Lyles to have space to shine.
– Theo Pinson (15.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg): Pinson showed off a well-rounded game. He hit some threes, he threw down a couple of dunks, he made plays defensively, he penetrated and dished. What I liked the most was that Pinson made some big plays in the final minutes.
– Nick King (18.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg): King is a Memphis native and another lefty that consistently was able to score around the paint. A 6-foot-7 slasher, King also showed off the ability to step out and knock down a three.
– Bobby Portis (12.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg): Portis didn’t do much damage with his back to the basket, but he was active on the glass and ran the floor well.
– Marcus Lee (12.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 3.0 bpg): Lee was very impressive. He showed off a soft touch around the basket, impressive athleticism and an ability to dominate around the rim. He blocked seven shots in one game.
– Gao Shang (27.3 ppg, 42.5% 3PT’s): China was never competitive, but Shang was a guy that caught the eye of a lot of NBA scouts. He gave Troy Williams 26 points in a half and went for 35 twice.
– Janus Tamulis (18.5 ppg): Tamulis was a good defender that was a streaky shooter. Scouts liked him, and the rumor was that he was considering coming to the States to play in college.
– Deryk Evandro Ramos (16.3 ppg, 3.5 apg, 50% 3PT’s): Ramos was a tough point guard that didn’t turn the ball over, defended well and proved a competent playmaker. One high major head coach said he thought Ramos could be the best point guard in the event as he watched him give Cat Barber 16 points and nine assists in Brazil’s win over USA East.
– Derek Reese (20.0 ppg, 11.3 rpg): The Puerto Rican Tennessee-commit was one of the most productive players at the event.