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July 12, 2011

Trifecta of events leave impression

MORE OPENING: Gallery | The Opening/NIKE page

Rivals.com analyst Eric Bossi pulled a trifecta last week, covering a trio of events: the Reebok Breakout Challenge in Philadelphia, Hoop Group Elite Camp in Reading, Pa., and the Great American Shootout in Dallas. Here's a look back at what we learned from Bossi's travels.

1. Mudiay is an impressive young prospect

Several college coaches have confirmed what we couldn't help but think after watching rising sophomore Emmanuel Mudiay. At an event such as the Great American Shootout, featuring Isaiah Austin, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Marcus Smart, [/db]Keith Frazier[/db] and others, Mudiay might have been the best prospect in the building.

Of course, we are talking about a 15 year old who won't graduate until June of 2014 so we don't want to go too crazy yet. But Mudiay's blend of size, competitive nature, skill and potential make him a guy with a very bright future regardless of where he ends up being ranked. As it stands, he's legitimately in the conversation when it comes to discussing the top player in the class of 2014.

2. The Reebok Breakout Challenge model can work

Initially, there was some serious grousing about the Reebok Breakout Challenge. It's not surprising. After all, Reebok has been out of the grassroots basketball game for a few years and the Breakout Challenge wasn't anything like the ABCD camps of old, that were built upon feeding hype and setting up matchups between the premiere players in the country at any position. However, that never was and doesn't look to be the intended purpose of the camp.

As a result, it was a playground for mid-major programs and a spot to find a pretty good dose of sleeper high major prospects and rising young talent. Sure, Reebok would like to discover some marketable athletes from the event. But, the purpose is more about getting some kids who wouldn't normally have a chance to shine a chance to step up and perhaps go from unknown to star.

After all, that's exactly what happened for NBA star John Wall, who worked his way through the Reebok camp system and out of obscurity into stardom. Actually, it's Wall himself and his involvement and attitude regarding the camp that gives it such a chance to succeed.

Without a natural farm system of talent to draw from like those of NIKE and adidas, Reebok has to have something to market to kids. As it turns out, Wall is pretty marketable to these guys because he appears to be genuinely invested in seeing them succeed and get an opportunity.

This year, it was class of 2013 native Rysheed Jordan who seems to be the poster boy for what Reebok hoped to accomplish. Well-known locally, the 6-foot-4 point guard used the camp to vault himself into the national spotlight as somebody who is easily a four-star and maybe even a five-star talent. With more time to devote resources to recruiting and securing talent, the Breakout Challenge could easily produce more guys like Jordan in future years.

3. Chris McCullough is an intriguing player

We've already discussed one class of 2014 prospect that impressed, so we might as well go ahead and discuss another. A 6-foot-8 combo forward, Chris McCullough is a native of New York currently prepping at the Salisbury (Conn.) School and he made a gigantic splash at the Hoop Group Elite camp.

Although we were only able to attend the final day of camp, McCullough's blend of size, fluidity and skill immediately jumped out. After some digging, we found that he had taken the camp by storm and was voted as the best overall prospect in attendance.

He's maybe more of a skilled four-man than wing at this point, but it's not tough to project him as a big, long and athletic wing prospect when thinking long term. We'll be looking forward to seeing him again during the second half of summer and he seems to have all the markers of a potential five-star talent.



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