MARIETTA, Ga. -- Five-star junior Jaylen Brown, high scoring four-star senior Justin Coleman and under the radar big man Tim Rowe were some of the standouts at the fourth annual Nike Explosion, which has hosted plenty of talented players in recent years.
Wheeler's star juniors come to play
Host school Wheeler's star juniors Jaylen Brown (No. 12) and Daniel Giddens (No. 18) were the highest ranked players at the event on Saturday. They certainly played like it in a big win over Lithonia (Ga.) Miller Grove. Brown, a five-star junior small forward, finished the game with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Also a five-star, Giddens didn't put up the stats that Brown did, but he made his presence felt in the paint gobbling up rebounds and blocking or altering shots all game long.
An athletic 6-foot-7 and 220 pound wing, Brown scored in a variety of ways. He had a pair of impressive dunks, several put-backs off offensive rebounds and made a few nice moves to the bucket. It's easy to see why college coaches get so excited over him with his size and his elite athleticism combined with an impressive skill set.
With Giddens, it's not about what kind of player he is right now, college coaches recruiting him are looking at him as somebody that could develop into a very good post player if he can become more consistent with his offense. He's starting to show flashes offensively, but it's his presence in the paint on both ends that has the biggest impact on games right now.
Every college coach in the country would prefer to have point guards with size, but there seems to be a growing trend of smaller floor generals getting a chance at the high major level. On Saturday afternoon, three of the best performances came from four-star Alabama signee Justin Coleman and sophomores Alterique Gilbert and Aaron Augustin, none of whom stand taller than 5-foot-10.
The most impressive performance of the day came from Coleman who currently ranks No. 82 in the senior class. With his Wenonah (Ala.) team down double digits early against Georgia powerhouse Norcross, Coleman took matters into his own hands and led his team all the way back to a victory behind his 42 points. Perhaps closer to 5-foot-8 than his listed 5-foot-10, Coleman possesses one of the prettiest 3-point strokes around and has in the gym range when he's hot.
In the most highly anticipated game of the night pitting Georgia powerhouses Wheeler and Miller Grove against each other, Gilbert showed why he's drawing high major attention despite being 5-foot-10. He's a terrific athlete with elite quickness that lets him get anywhere on the court just about whenever he wants. Like Coleman, his perimeter stroke is one of his better traits and he used it to help keep Miller Grove in the game before a late run from Wheeler put the game out of hand.
Last but not least, Peachtree Ridge's (Ga.) Augustin put himself in the mix as one of the better pure point guards in the sophomore class in the southeast. He's not the same level of scorer as Coleman and Gilbert, but he's got a chance to be a high end floor general. His nine assists on Saturday were easily the most of anybody at the event and he doesn't turn the ball over either. He'll likely suit up for CP3 again during travel season and will excite college coaches with his ability to run a team.
Big man available
It seems like college coaches start scrambling for post players during the late signing period every single year because there just aren't a ton of post players around. For schools still looking for a post player in the 2014 class, Lilburn (Ga.) Berkmar big man Tim Rowe might start getting more looks if he plays the way he did on Saturday in a victory over Collins Hill.
At 6-foot-10 and about 230 pounds, Rowe has a rare skill set for a player his size. He can stretch defenses with his ability to make jumpers and he's also capable of putting the ball on the floor if defenses run out at him. If he can prove to people he has the toughness to battle in the paint at the highest level, he just might attract some high major offers in the upcoming months.
More Explosion notes
Elijah Staley will be signing a football scholarship to play Quarterback for Dan Mullen at Mississippi State, but he's a quality basketball player too. He had a number of highlight reel dunks on Saturday night and finished with 19 points and around 10 rebounds. He could certainly help Rick Ray's basketball team at the next level if he chooses to.
Jacksonville signee Amir Warnock and sophomore forward Romello White form an imposing front line for Peachtree Ridge when they play like they did on Saturday afternoon. Warnock scored at will all game, whether it was off a posting up, a jumper or a pass from the previously mentioned Augustin. White's offense isn't as advanced as Warnock, but he's a presence on the boards and can finish through contact.
Norcross senior guard William Gibbons may have been the biggest surprise of the whole event. The 6-foot-2 unsigned prospect made five three pointers and helped Norcross handle the pressure of Wenonah. Norcross also received a strong performance from Harvard signee Andre Chatfield. The 6-foot-5 wing was active on defense and made several nice players in transition.
Berkmar freshman shooting guard Al Durham is going to be one to watch over the next few years. At 6-foot-2, he is a capable shooter and added strength will make him better off the dribble. Look for him to be among the top players in Georgia's 2017 class.