Basketball, broken down to its simplest compound, is about scoring more buckets than the team you’re playing against. The Semi-Automatic refers to players who leave bodies in their wake with their innate ability to get buckets. And this Saturday, April 17th, at the mecca of Madison Square Garden, the next class of semi-automatic candidates will have the stage all to themselves at the 2010 Jordan Brand Classic.
At last year’s event, before his super-duper freshman year at Kentucky, John Wall, #1 NBA draft pick in-waiting, gave us a sneak peek at the luminous brilliance to come, both in practice and in the actual game.
Over the years, a who’s who of modern NBA super studs like Chris Paul, Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo, LeBron, Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose, among a host of others, have used the game as their launching pad out of the high school ranks and into the world’s greater constellation hoop stars.
Last year’s roster, headlined by Wall, also featured some of this year’s most dominant young faces in college basketball, including Avery Bradley, DeMarcus Cousins, Derrick Favors and Xavier Henry. The 2010 class looks to be just as strong, with each Jordan Brand All-American holding more promise than a slick talking politician.
Here’s a cliff notes version of half the roster, what they do, and what to look for on Saturday night –
1. Harrison Barnes, 6′8″ Forward , Ames High School, Ames, IA
Harrison can be seen next year at The University of North Carolina. Arguably the top player in the class of 2010, Barnes is Pippen-like. He can bang the three while also maintaining a tight mid-range game. He can also post up, drive to the rack, finish through contact with ease and grab offensive and defensive boards with equal tenacity. Due to his size, he’s a match-up nightmare all over the court. Don’t look for much flashiness out of Barnes, his calling card is simple productivity.
2. Will Barton, 6′6″ Guard, Brewster Academy, Wolfeboro, NH via his hometown of Baltimore, MD
Barton will lace ‘em up for the University of Memphis Wildcats next year. A pure scorer, Will has exceptional range and can drive and bang it on anybody. Don’t let the offensive highlights fool you. Will’s defensive brilliance sets him apart.
3.Reggie Bullock, 6′6″ Guard, Kinston High School, Kinston, NC
Reggie Bullock, an elite scorer, is another weapon that coach Roy Williams has stockpiled for the UNC Tar Heels. He possesses supreme height and strength for a guard, can bang the three, scissor defenders off the dribble and score in the open floor. Money can also pass the rock and defend multiple positions.
4. Tobias Harris, 6′8″ Forward, Half Hollow Hills West High School, Dix Hills, NY
Harris, who’ll play for Bruce Pearl next year at the University of Tennessee, can play the small and big forward positions, offensively and defensively, with superb athleticism and quickness. A versatile player and tough rebounder, he’s had a good tutor in older cousin and NBA player Channing Frye.
5. Kyrie Irving, 6′2″ Guard, St. Patrick High School, Elizabeth, NJ
If you hate seeing Duke during Final Four weekend, you’re gonna be really upset at this guy. The cover boy of Bounce Magazine’s phenom issue, #21 (peep my man Sean Couch’s insightful profile of Kyrie and his pops, former college All-American and NYC playground legend Drederick Irving) has the size, speed, sizzle factor and intelligence of a future great in the making. He can hospitalize you from downtown and has rare explosiveness to the rim.
6. Perry Jones, 6′11″ Forward, Duncanville High School, Duncanville, TX
Jones will display his awesome skills on both sides of the ball for Baylor next year. A fearsome rebounder who can also go coast to coast, he can defend four positions, from shooting guard to center. Perry can drop the mid-range jumper, then go down low with either hand. Dudes like to play with him because of his unselfishness.
7. Terrence Jones, 6′8″ Forward, Jefferson High School, Portland, OR
Jones, who has yet to make his college choice, is a gifted athlete who does many things well. With his 84”, Pterodactyl-like wingspan, he shuts down opponents like Public Enemy. He also has perimeter skills and is proficient with the three-ball. He’s fast, can take cats off the dribble and finish strong in the paint. A relentless rebounder, he plays under control and sees the floor better than most players his size.
8. Corey Joseph, 6′3″Guard, Findlay Prep, Henderson, NV via his hometown of Toronto, Ontario
Joseph, as he recently showed at the ESPN Rise National High School Invitational at Coppin State in Baltimore, is an opposing coach’s nightmare. His quickness, ability to handle, drive with either hand, dish, quarterback a team, pull-up in the short, mid-range and long distance game conspire with his explosiveness to prove that Canada, indeed, possesses weapons of mass destruction. He plays all-out on D too, by the way. Corey has yet to announce his future college team.
9. Jelan Kendrick, 6′7″ Forward, Wheeler High School, Wheeler, GA
Kendrick will play with Will Barton at Memphis next year. Jelan can play the point-forward position with his rare combination of size, quickness and perimeter skills. A versatile player with court vision, who can also run a team, his first step is crazy, with a mid range game that’s equally bananas.
10. Brandon Knight, 6′3″ Guard, Pine Crest School, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Let’s just say that this point guard-extraordinaire, who has yet to announce his college decision, can do it all. Let’s leave it at that. He can shoot, score any way you want him to, direct a team, willingly hand out dimes and can get into the lane against anybody. When you couple in his rare skill set with his pure unselfishness, you’re talking about a special talent here.
Stay tuned for Part II, where we’ll break down the rest of the roster.