ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.—It’s difficult to say that this July live recruiting period has been more centrally focused on anyone other than Canadian phenom and No. 1 2014 prospect Andrew Wiggins.
Wiggins not only enjoyed personal success, distinguishing himself as perhaps the best high school player in the country, regardless of class, but also carried his CIA Bounce to the finals at Nike Peach Jam in South Carolina this month.
But behind the long shadow cast by Wiggins are two other prospects, Tyler Ennis and Xavier Rathan-Mays, who have prominent high-major recruitments of their own and are as integral to the success of CIA Bounce’s success as the standout, Wiggins.
“Well, you know, Tyler and I always talk about this is the dream we’ve had since we were young,” Rathan-Mayes told NBCSports.com at the Live in AC tournament. “To have Coach Self and all the big-time coaches calling our phones for our services, we’re just embracing it and taking it day by day.“
Wiggins was not in attendance for Live in AC, giving Ennis and Rathan-Mayes a larger share of the spotlight for the week.
Rathan-Mayes, a 6-4 guard from Toronto, Can., is a Top 50 national recruit and a pure scorer, gaining more visibility because of this crossover and game-winning shot from last summer that went viral.
He plays at Huntington Prep (W.V.) alongside Wiggins and has a unique perspective on the team dynamic that exists between himself, Ennis, and the No. 1 overall prospect in the country.
“I’ve know Andrew since I was about two years old and we’ve grown up playing together,” said Rathan-Mayes. “Playing with him, it makes things easier because you have to send double teams at him and it opens up free shots for me and Tyler.”
Listed at 205 pounds, Rathan-Mays uses his body well, often backing down guards from the perimeter and creating space to get an open shot. On one sequence at Live in AC, he hit a fallaway jumper from the baseline off a crossover, then came down on the next possession and hit an identical shot with a defender’s hand in his face.
Rathan-Mayes works as a complement to the savvy, poised Ennis, who is a Top 25 player in the class and the point guard of this talented CIA Bounce team. Ennis, much like Rathan-Mayes, feels the media spotlight that comes with playing alongside Wiggins, but maintains an impressively mature approach.
“Playing with Andrew, you’re going to get a lot of coaches coming out, scouts, fans, so you have to do what you do,” Ennis told NBCSports.com. “You can’t force it. You just have to get the ball when you’re hot and that’s easier playing with Andrew.”
In Atlantic City, Ennis showed his ability to play under control at all times, whether working to break a press, attack the basket, or distribute and find his teammates. He is so calm, those who have seen him for the first time might mischaracterize it as apathy, until he makes a great pass or acrobatic shot around the rim.
After one assist in traffic during Live in AC, one Division I coach told NBCSports.com, “Give him a suitcase, I’ll take him back with me right now and let him start for my team.”
Ennis’ list includes high-major schools from across the country, naming Syracuse, Memphis Louisville, Villanova, Illinois, and UCLA.
There is some overlap in interest and offers, as expected, between Ennis, Rathan-Mayes, and Wiggins.
For Rathan-Mayes, he lists UCLA, Kentucky, Florida, Florida State, UConn, Baylor, Illinois, Kansas, Alabama, and Illinois.
All three will end up at BCS schools. All three have the tools to succeed at that level. But if there’s one thing they don’t lack, it’s confidence. Rathan-Mayes speaks for all three.
“We feel like we’re the best three guards in the country.”
Photo Credit: 247Sports.com