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July 22, 2012

Bentil, Thomas shine at UA Summer Jam

MEQUON, Wisc.- After spending three days on the Georgia/South Carolina border, Rivals.com moved on to the Dairy State for Under Armour's Summer Jam on the campus of Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisc. Class of 2014 big man Ben Bentil and Iowa State commitment Matt Thomas were among the standouts.

Nothing gentle about Bentil

Things got interesting at the end as KC Run GMC made a late run to take the lead before We-R-1 scored on an offensive rebound with 2.2 seconds left to win the game. But for the most part, this game was about the play of We-R-1's rising junior big man Ben Bentil.

Ranked as the No. 36 prospect in the class of 2014, the 6-foot-8 native of Ghana was a dominant force on the interior. He consistently beat big men down the floor, played with a high level of activity around the rim and made scoring plays. An impressive physical specimen who plays with competitive fire, Bentil has quickly endeared himself to college coaches.

Among those already in the mix for Bentil are Temple, St. Joseph, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Cincinnati, Villanova, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Penn State and many more.

Utah big man makes it Reign

One of the most entertaining teams in all of summer basketball is the Utah Reign. The team is made up of the majority of Highland (Utah) Lone Peak's high school squad. They play fast, shoot a lot of threes, and they feature high-level players with grit who compete and execute. Primarily, it's been four-star guards Nick Emery and T.J. Haws who have gotten the bulk of the attention.

The BYU-bound duo is awfully entertaining. From 2013, Emery is a dangerous southpaw shooter with unlimited range, while Haws (2014) is the straw that stirs the drink. He creates off the dribble, hits jumpers and leads his team.

On Saturday, the third of the Reign's BYU commitments, 6-foot-9 big man Eric Mika, proved that he is a force to be reckoned with as well. With a non-stop motor, strength and good athleticism, Mika is an impact rebounder who plays grown-man ball around the rim. He takes the action right through the chest of his opponents and doesn't back down from anybody. Currently a three-star prospect who sits outside the 2013 Rivals150, Mika will be in the next batch of rankings and could even make his way into four-star territory.

Thomas a big time shooter

Iowa State has landed one heck of a player in 6-foot-4 shooting guard Matt Thomas.

Currently ranked No. 104 in the country, the four-star prospect put on one of the more ridiculous shooting displays on the grassroots circuit in sometime. Contested, off the dribble, off the catch, wide open, it doesn't really matter; because if Thomas gets any kind of clean look at the rim, he's launching. And odds are he's going to hit from beyond the arc.

Everything about Thomas' jumper is sound. However, he's a very good all-around player as well. He can create for himself or others off the dribble, and while he's not going to be confused with LeBron James as an athlete, Thomas does move his feet pretty well and is an alert and willing defender.

The Bottom line here is that Fred Hoiberg and the Cyclones landed a good one who will be climbing the rankings.

Quick hitters and impressions

The last time rankings were updated, 6-foot-5 wing Deonte Burton slipped a little. That was a mistake on our part, and the Marquette commitment will be moving back up during the next update. A physically imposing basketball player with strength, quickness and heart, Burton is similar in some ways to former Syracuse player Paul Harris. Burton couldn't be matched more perfectly with his future head coach Buzz Williams. He will be heavily encouraged to keep playing his energetic, tough and versatile game in college.

Watching Solomon Poole, it's hard not to imagine what type of football player he could be. Physical, athletic and quick, the Georgia Tech commitment is already a pretty high-level basketball player who relies heavily on his physical gifts. On Saturday, those gifts allowed him to make several big plays as the Atlanta Celtics made a big comeback win against Texas Select.

For the large majority of Texas Select's game against the Atlanta Celtics, Emmanuel Mudiay was dominant. The class of 2014 five-star was hitting jumpers, navigating the pick-and-roll like a 15-year pro and also going to the rim for tough, athletic finishes. Things got away late as the Celtics did a good job of forcing the ball out of his hands. Also very good for most of the game was shooting guard Jeremy Senglin. Perhaps a bit undersized, Senglin has sneaky athleticism and is a big time shooter from deep with a quick and crisp release.

The Illinois Wolves are always balanced and they are loaded with shooters. Their best player is Purdue commitment Kendall Stephens, who at times looked like a John Jenkins clone with his ability to bury deep jumpers and freeze defenders with ball fakes. Also outstanding for the 17's group is 6-foot-1 combo guard David Cohn. On a team full of shooters, Cohn may be the best and he's turning into a priority recruit at the Horizon and Missouri Valley level.

On the Wolves 16-and-under team, four-star small forward Keita Bates-Diop's play was quite loud. Even saddled with foul trouble, Bates-Diop was a producer at the rim, with the jump shot, rebounding and showing that he can block some shots. He's become a priority in the Midwest and earned his latest offer from Marquette on Saturday.

After a strong start at the Reebok Breakout Challenge a week ago, Johnathan Motley is continuing to play high-level ball. The skinny 6-foot-8 big man has skill facing the basket and despite a lack of bulk, he can be a high level rebounder on both ends. He will need a year or two to adjust to the physicality of high major ball, but there's no doubt he's a high major.

It looks like Northern Iowa got itself a heck of a player in Jeremy Morgan. The 6-foot-6 wing has good range on his shot, can get to the rim a bit and is a good finisher. Right now, he's just skinny. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him giving some high-major fits in the NCAA tournament a few years down the road.

Class of 2014 point guard Dominique Collier is a slippery guard who loves to drive the rim. Despite a slight frame, that's been his strength. Saturday, the four-star got hot from three-point land as he tried to will KC Run GMC back into its game with We-R-1. Along with a need for strength, Collier's jumper has been one of the bigger question marks in his game. If he starts shooting the ball like he did on Saturday with regularity, he diversifies his game and becomes even more difficult to contain off the dribble.

Pound for pound, there aren't many tougher guys than Frank Mason. A class of 2012 three-star point guard who signed with Towson out of high school, he's off to prep school next year. The point guard's recruitment will eventually open up once he's out of his letter of intent. When that happens, look for strong mid-major and possibly even some high-major attention. He's tough, athletic and can lead a team.

What more can we write about Kevon Looney this summer? The 6-foot-8 forward was once again a high-level producer in all areas. He's starting to fill out physically, has loads of confidence and is quite possibly the single best offensive rebounder in high school basketball.


Eric Bossi is the National Recruiting Analyst for Rivals.com. He can be reached at eric_bossi@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @ebosshoops.



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