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May 5, 2012

Parker and Young shine at Run-N-Slam

MORE: Run-N-Slam preview

FT. WAYNE, Ind.- Situated between the Hampton and Dallas sessions of Nike's EYBL, the Bill Hensley Memorial Run-N-Slam comes at a great time. Ft. Wayne is situated within driving distance of many of the nation's top Midwestern programs and the talent in the Spiece Fieldhouse is notable.

While the focus of the weekend will be the non-EYBL teams, a pair of mainstays of the circuit demanded attention on Friday night as the No. 1 and No. 9 prospects in the nation, Jabari Parker and James Young did their thing on side-by-side courts during the evening's last round of games.

Parker and Young go to work

When the night began, it wasn't in the cards to focus on either the nation's top player in the class of 2013, Jabari Parker, or the No. 9 player, James Young. As it turned out, the two top ten prospects finished the night performing at a high level in side by side games and their performances couldn't be ignored.

It didn't take long for everybody in the building to feel as if they were watching a high level tennis match as eyes ping-ponged back and forth between the 6-foot-8 Parker's Mac Irvin Fire and Young's Family squad while they took care of business side by side.

Last weekend, Parker was absent from the Hampton EYBL because he was busy picking up his national player of the year award. The Chicago (Ill.) Simeon product quickly showed that he was worthy of the honor as he performed at a high level. He seemed to float down the floor to swish deep jumpers, get on the glass and make things happen all over the floor as he and the Fire made easy work of Ohio Varsity. Not because he needed to but because he could, Parker punctuated his evening by sliding along the right baseline to catch the ball and finish with a two-handed reverse jam as he crossed under the hoop to the left side of the floor.

No sooner than Parker had thrown down, Young was next door banging down a heavily contested, deep three. Then, the 6-foot-6 wing showed that he is on his way to turning himself into a legitimate two guard by draining another, and another and another in a barrage of jumpers that didn't look like it would stop. The Troy (Mich.) High product rang up 24 first-half points before shifting it into cruise control to finish with 29 in a thoroughly dominant performance.

Afterwards, the crowd around Parker thickened up quickly while Young pointed out that he was still yet to get an offer from his favorite, Kentucky.

Martin's Wolverines impress

The night got started as a pair of 2013 Rivals150 prospects and a wing on the rise took the floor to lead Martin's Wolverines to a win over Indiana Elite black.

Handling the point guard duties was No. 133 Jaylon Brown while No. 148 Maverick Morgan handled business in the post. The duo was also joined by 6-foot-5 junior wing Dontonio Wingfield who added some perimeter jump shots.

One of the nation's premier athletes at the point guard position, Brown is quick on quick with the ball and capable of breaking down defenders in the blink of an eye. An explosive leaper, his athleticism allows him to play bigger than his size on drives to the rim. However, the Fishers (Ind.) High product impressed by coming out early and knocking down three-pointers from all over the place.

"I think I've gotten better with that," Brown told Rivals.com. "This year it has improved a lot. I've been working hard on it and now I'm hitting a lot of jumpers, multiple jumpers per game."

So far, the three-star prospect has earned offers from Ohio, Evansville, Toledo, Akron and American. But, Cincinnati, Wichita State, Butler, Dayton, Illinois, Minnesota and others are looking and Brown feels like high major offers are just around the corner if he continues to improve his decision making.

"I think I can play at the high major level," said Brown. "I know I have the athleticism to do it. If I keep working and make the right decisions, I'll be there."

From Springboro (Ohio) High, Morgan almost looks like a 6-foot-9 version of Eminem with his bleached blonde hair. Perhaps an inch bigger since last summer, the biggest difference in Morgan's game is that he has added a lot of strength.

While the 6-foot-10 insider has bulked up to nearly 245 pounds, he's managed to do so without losing any strength or speed. He runs the floor well, blocks some shots and can face up and make jumpers out to 18 feet. Morgan feels confident that he can score with his back to the basket so his face-up game has been a focus.

"I've been trying to get better with my face up game," said Morgan. "In high school I know that I can bury a guy and dunk it when I need to so I'm trying to refine my perimeter game and my moves facing the basket."

Not surprisingly, Morgan already holds a bevy of high level scholarship offers from Rutgers, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, Dayton, Xavier, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Iowa State, Toledo and Wright State while the likes of Ohio State, Tennessee and Illinois are among those keeping tabs.

So far, Morgan has seen the campuses of Ohio State, Tennessee, Dayton, Xavier and USC and his next visit will come on May 17 when he trips to Vanderbilt. After that he plans to also trip to Illinois at some during May and eventually he'll work on cutting down his list a bit.

"I'm not setting a date for it or anything," said Morgan. "But, I am thinking about narrowing it down in maybe the next month or two."

Finally, with a solid frame and a good jump shot, Wingfield from Lockland (Ohio) High is one to keep an eye on down the road in 2013. A three-star wing, he looks to be an excellent target for mid to upper mid-major programs.

Quick hitters

James Young has been the main attraction for The Family this spring but 6-foot-4 combo guard E.C. Matthews has been elevating his stock as well. Tough to contain off the dribble, he slashed to the rim and tried to dunk on opponents whenever possible. Looking to make a move up from his spot at No. 99 in the class of 2013, Matthews reported that he earned offers from Iowa and Arizona during the week.

With a roster that is pushing double-digit Division I prospects, the Illinois Wolves are loaded from top to bottom. Mike Mullins' program is also very well coached and plays team ball so it's sometimes hard for one player to just go off. With that in mind, it's hard not to be impressed with the development of Purdue commitment Kendall Stephens over the last year. While he's still slender, he's gotten much stronger, grown to a legit 6-foot-5 and boosted his athleticism. Ranked No. 50 nationally, Stephens is also a knock-down jump-shooter from deep, a super passer and looks to be improving his overall floor game and ability to handle the ball, get tough rebounds and finish at the rim.

Against the Wolves, 6-foot-5 southpaw wing Calvin Hermanson and the Clutch Players kept getting the game to within one or two possessions but the Portland-based crew could never quite hit the jumper they needed to get over the hump. Still, the three-star prospect from Lake Oswego (Ore.) High showed that he has the game to be at least a strong upper end mid major who probably needs some high major looks. Never shy on the offensive end, he's a dangerous jump-shooter with range and some toughness.

A teammate of E.C. Matthews at Romulus (Mich.) High, six-foot point guard Wesley Clark looked good for The Family. He is quick and will give a burst of athleticism to try and dunk at the rim when you least expect it. So far, the likes of Xavier, USC and Iowa State among others are showing strong interest.

Mid-majors throughout the Midwest would be smart to keep an eye on Marquise Lawrence of Ohio Varsity. A thin, but very athletic and tough four man from Columbus (Ohio) Marion-Franklin, Lawrence wasn't the least bit intimidated playing against a Mac Irvin front line that goes 6-10, 6-9, 6-8 and 6-8. He sliced baseline for dunks, battled for loose balls and used his length, energy and athleticism to make an impact on each end of the floor even though his team came up short.

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