Two of the top seven high school basketball seniors in the country, who both are considering Kansas University, excelled at the LeBron James Skills Academy, which concluded Monday in Las Vegas.
Cliff Alexander, a 6-foot-8, 240-pounder from Chicago Curie, who is rated No. 4 nationally by Rivals.com, emerged as the dominant big man at camp, while No. 7 Rashad Vaughn, a 6-5 shooting guard from Cooper High in New Hope, Minn., played so well “he’s asserting himself as the top shooting guard in the class of 2014,” Rivals.com’s Eric Bossi says.
A leg injury kept No. 6-rated Myles Turner, another KU prospect, from going head-to-head against Alexander on Sunday night.
“Simply put, Alexander was awesome,” analyst Dave Telep writes at ESPN.com. “Most of his rebounds were two-handed and he dunked everything in sight. His offensive game is coming together quicker than expected and the baby hook is his go-to move. As big and as strong as he is, he has room to improve as a finisher (outside of the dunking, of course). The only defense for Alexander is to attempt to knock him a foot off his sweet spot and take your chances. The entire day belonged to Alexander.”
There’s a good chance Alexander will make his official visit to KU for the Oct. 4 Late Night in the Phog. That news was reported by No. 8-ranked Stanley Johnson, 6-6 senior small forward from Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif., who will likely be visiting KU for that event. Alexander is also considering Michigan State, Kentucky, Louisville, Illinois, DePaul, Indiana, Memphis, Baylor and Arizona.
Meanwhile, regarding Minnesota native Vaughn, Telep writes that “Kentucky and Kansas are basically guaranteed official visits.” Vaughn is also considering North Carolina, Baylor, Minnesota, UCLA, Iowa State and others.
“While Alexander has looked like a future NBA player on the interior, Vaughn has looked like one on the wing,” Bossi writes from the LeBron camp. “The Minneapolis product was stroking jumpers from deep, finishing at the rim and as always hitting the glass extremely well for his position. No other shooting guard in the class can score as well as Vaughn can from all three levels, and it is quite apparent that his talk about working to take smarter, more efficient shots isn’t just talk, because the proof is in his much more efficient play at LeBron.”
Vaughn has not yet decided what prep school he’ll attend for his senior season.
No. 3 junior has KU on list: Ivan Rabb, a 6-9 junior power forward from Bishop O’Dowd in Oakland, Calif., who is ranked No. 3 in the Class of 2015, will trim his list to 10 to 15 schools at the end of the summer AAU season. ESPN’s Telep says KU, North Carolina, UConn, Cal-Berkeley, Arizona, Oregon and Ohio State “will be in the mix.”
Pierce plays poker: Former KU forward Paul Pierce, a member of the Boston Celtics until a trade to the Brooklyn Nets becomes official later this week, played at the World Series of Poker last weekend in Las Vegas. According to boston.com, Pierce entered the $10,000 buy-in pot-limit Omaha championship, which attracts the best professional poker players in the world. Pierce at one point was in the top 20 chip count, but was ousted Saturday night.
Taylor nets 25: Former KU guard Tyshawn Taylor scored 25 points off 7-of-13 shooting with three assists against five turnovers in the Brooklyn Nets’ 93-86 loss to the Miami Heat on Monday at the Orlando Summer League. He made one of four threes and 10 of 11 free throws.