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June 15, 2013

Labissiere, Towns battle at NBPA Top 100

MORE: Friday's first NBPA Top 100 session

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- For each of the first three sessions of the NBPA Top 100 Camp, Karl Towns was missing. The Kentucky commitment arrived in time for Friday night's games. Almost everybody in the gym wanted to get a look at Towns, who was unseen to date on the grassroots circuit. He did some nice things, but others including Skal Labissiere, Dwayne Morgan and Kelly Oubre were outstanding as well.

Tipping the Skal

For lack of a better description, the arrival of Towns turned into a bit of an event. Because he hasn't been seen much of late by national media or scouts, and because his arrival after missing the first three sessions wasn't expected, it was news that Towns was going to play on Friday night.

After a long day in the car, the five-star big man had some nice moments. The best way to describe him is that he is a face-up center. Towns has great hands, he is a plus rebounder, and he can shoot with range. In addition to a few jumpers, he made a great catch and finish crossing the lane and he played aggressively on offense.

Playing on the other side, though, 2015 big man Labissiere may have gotten the better of Towns. Much skinnier than his class of 2014 counterpart, Labissiere is also skilled. His range doesn't extend as far, but he can make a free throw line jumper, he scores with either hand around the rim and he runs well.

Most of all, Labissiere's ability to move laterally and his size and length to contest Towns' jumpers caused problems.

Bottom line, the evening was a great chance to watch two highly skilled big men do what they do.

Morgan continues to impress

A few weeks ago, Dwayne Morgan injured his shooting hand while dunking. Even though his hand had swelled up like a football, the UNLV commitment showed up at the Pangos All-American Camp and did work. Morgan's hand isn't yet 100 percent, but it is healing and Friday night he had it going.

Matched up with North Carolina-bound Justin Jackson, Morgan engaged in an entertaining duel with his fellow five-star wing.

A springy athlete who is all arms and legs, Morgan can play the game fast and he is a deluxe full-court athlete. He gets to the rim and has exceptional body control to go with quickness and bounce. When he handles the ball, he isn't a shake-and-bake type, but he attacks with purpose and covers a lot of ground. Morgan has also become adept at dribbling over the top of a screen and pulling up to hit a 17-footer.

On the other side, Jackson was excellent as well. He bombed home some deep 3s, did his thing from midrange and worked the glass. Although people love to discuss Jackson's midrange game, what he really does as well or better than anybody in the class is score with his left hand.

Morgan and Jackson sit next to each other in the rankings at No. 13 (Morgan) and No. 14 (Jackson), and on Friday night it was tough to see any separation between them as players.

Friday night notes

Earlier in the day, news came out that Oubre would be spending his senior season at Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep. Friday night, the 6-foot-6 wing had himself another big outing. He was bombing in 3-pointers, and the southpaw streaked to the basket for an authoritative above-the-rim finish. A high-end four-star wing, he's another in an impressive group of big 2014 wings who could push for five-star status.

In the spring, we took an aggressive position with Alabama big man Isaac Haas on the rankings front. Then, in the EYBL, he didn't play much for the Alabama Challenge. At NBPA, Haas has shown real flashes of promise. Not only is he a little bigger than 7 feet tall, he has a great motor and good hands, and he understands his role. Whenever he's had a chance, he's been grabbing one of the ex-NBA big men walking around camp and asking for pointers while working on his game.

Early in the spring, combo guard Robert Johnson got off to a hot start with Boo Williams. Then, during the latter stages of the EYBL, he cooled off with his jumper and forced some things. It has all come together for him at NBPA, where he's been a playmaking scorer. Instead of relying on his jumper as in the past, Johnson has made an effort to attack with the bounce and it has paid dividends.

Maryland commit Romelo Trimble is listed as a point guard and he does a good job handling the ball and playing with toughness. But, in the long run, he may actually be more of a shooting guard. At the least, he can play either the one or the two and his ability to strip the nets from deep is a valuable asset.

Year after year, rising juniors tend to struggle at the Top 100 Camp. True to form, 2015 five-star Charles Matthews has been a bit up and down. At times he has shown the ability to make plays with the ball in his hands and with his passing at 6-foot-4, and at others he's been invisible. Matthews admitted as much, which is a credit to him. Up or down, he's still a strong prospect and he reported offers from Arizona, Illinois, DePaul, Providence, SMU, Marquette, Miami, Wisconsin and Kansas. Matthews said Kansas is the newest offer and that the Jayhawks new assistant coach, Jerrance Howard, has been working him hard. He said he will likely visit Lawrence for the season-opening late-night event in October.

To close out Friday coverage, we'll hit a few more guys in rapid-fire fashion. Myles Turner has cemented a move into the five-star range. He's firmly established himself as one of the elite big men in the class. 2015 wing Derrick Jones has had a terrific camp. He's another who is working toward five-star status. West Coast big man Chance Comanche lacks strength and is a little awkward at times, but the rising junior has good touch, generally runs pretty well and plays hard. He just needs to get stronger.



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