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June 25, 2007

USA Basketball top performers: 6-10

The recent USA Basketball Youth Development Festival provided an opportunity for many of the nation's top prospects to team up with, and compete against one another. Several players displayed improvements in their game at the event and looked poised to rise in the rankings.

Rivals.com's Jerry Meyer scouted the action and breaks down the first half of the top 10 performers from the event.

* All stats average per game. Event rank in parenthesis.

USA Basketball Youth Development Festival top performers: 6-10
No. 6 Scotty Hopson, SF
22.4 points (5), 5.6 rebounds (12), 2 assists, 1.6 turnovers, 61 percent from field (3), 44 percent from three (2)

A strong argument can be made for Scotty Hopson being a top five performer and also top five prospect at the event. One of the more athletic players in the 2008 class, Hopson is in the mold of Demar Derozan. Hopson combines a beautiful three-point shot and an automatic high-rising floater going to his right with his top-shelf athleticism.

Hopson gradually improved with every game at the event and certainly helped his stock more than any player in Colorado Springs. His play during the high school season and spring has been spotty, and thus a drop in the rankings. But after what we saw this past week, Hopson is headed back up the rankings as a legitimate NBA shooting guard prospect.

No. 7 Lance Stephenson, SG
21.6 points (6), 5 rebounds (16), 3.4 assists (8), 3.6 turnovers, 2.2 steals (3), 56 percent from field (9), 41 percent from three (3)

Stephenson's physique and shooting touch really stood out in Colorado Springs. He is extremely well put together at 6-foot-5 for a 2009 prospect, and as a shooter he combines an elevated jump shot with a soft touch. He shot the ball well both off the catch and off the dribble which usually was set up with a quick crossover dribble.

Along with his shooting ability, Stephenson can also grind out rebounds and bully his way to the basket going to his left or his right. He is a capable passer, but does need to cut down on careless passes. Nonetheless, Stephenson proved he is a top five player in his class.

No. 8 Leslie McDonald, SG
12.8 points (16), 2.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists (7), 0.8 turnovers (best assist/turnover ratio), 1.6 steals (13), 57 percent from field (6)

Talk about an efficient player with a mature game well beyond his years. McDonald didn't get a ton of minutes, but along with Stephenson, Al-Farouq Aminu and Willie Warren, he was an integral member of the Gold winning Red squad. He knocked down shots at a high percentage and churned out the top assist/turnover ratio at the event.

A prototypical high-level shooting guard, McDonald also did a nice job defending the best guards, whether point guards or shooting guards, on the other teams at the event. A very complete player, McDonald just needs to become more comfortable shooting the deep ball along with his natural development as a 2009 prospect.

No. 9 Al-Farouq Aminu, SF
12.6 points (17), 11.4 rebounds (2), 2 assists, 2.8 turnovers, 1 block (8), 2.2 steals (3), 52 percent from field (11)

Aminu wasn't great at Colorado Springs, but he certainly wasn't as bad as his numbers would suggest. He didn't finish with the proficiency that he is capable of, but Aminu heavily contributed in all the statistical categories. His versatility as an athletic, 6-foot-8 combo forward is his greatest asset.

In the mold of the modern day skilled forward, Aminu has the ability to succeed in any style of play. Whether it is a slow or fast, structured or loose game, Aminu can impact it. He just needs to improve his physical strength and tighten and refine his skill package.

No. 10 Willie Warren, SG
16.4 points (12), 1.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 turnovers, 1.6 steals (13), 47 percent from field (15), 45 percent from three (1)

Playing with two smaller guards - Jordan Theodore and Erving Walker - Warren spent almost all his time at the event playing off the ball. We have seen what Warren can do with the ball in his hands for Team Texas, and we were impressed with what Warren did as a shooter, leading the event in three-point percentage.

Beyond his impressive shooting, Warren also handled the ball well, avoiding negative plays and playing within the flow of his championship team. Perhaps most impressive about Warren's play all spring has been the growing maturity in his approach to the game. Playing less minutes and receiving fewer touches than he is accustomed, Warren stayed positive and efficiently contributed to his team.

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