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April 28, 2013

EYBL Sunday: Houston hooping it up

MORE: Nike EYBL Friday | Nike EYBL Saturday

The final day of the April NCAA live recruiting evaluation period was full of action in Hampton (Va.) at the Boo Williams Invitational, where teams from the Nike EYBL wrapped up their second session of league play. College coaches were desperate to get once last glance at their top targets, and maybe find a guy or two to keep tabs on until July's evaluation period rolls around. With some premiere matchups between some of the EYBL's finest on the eight courts at the Boo Williams Sportsplex, it was prospects from the Lone Star State who stole the show, including arguably the EYBL's most talented team, Houston Hoops.

Hooping in Houston

The Houston Hoops 17u team boasts an impressive perimeter trio of wings in four-star Kelly Oubre, five-star Justin Jackson and five-star Justise Winslow.

Those three prospects are a big reason why Houston Hoops are the unanimous vote among followers as the EYBL's top team through two sessions, as the team has raced out to a 9-1 start.

With these three players showing versatility, length, athleticism and attentiveness to defense on Sunday morning against The Family, it's easy to see why all three are ranked so high.

Winslow, the No. 10 prospect in 2014, relies on his athleticism, strength and a non-stop motor to produce buckets around the rim. But he's also a highly efficient defender and rebounder who can impact the game in a variety of ways. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and Arizona head man Sean Miller checked out Winslow on Sunday morning, as both schools have let it be known that the Houston (Texas) St. Johns junior is among their top priorities in the 2014 class.

Jackson is already off the board, as the No. 14 prospect in his class has committed to North Carolina and head coach Roy Williams to help start what could be one of the nation's top classes next spring. A long wing scorer with a silky smooth offensive game, Jackson is handling the ball a lot for Houston Hoops, and was efficient around the rim in scoring with his patented floater shots. While Williams was not in attendance for the Hoops game on Sunday, a North Carolina assistant did sit front and center for the matchup.

The final piece of the trio, Oubre, is the No. 27 prospect in 2014, a player who has a big reputation among college coaches but can get overlooked by fans because of the quality of his teammates.

Oubre is another long and athletic wing, with good size at 6-foot-6, and has the ability to stretch the defense with excellent range on his jumper. Having bulked up considerably over the last year, Oubre has shown more of a willingness to get involved physically, including throwing down an impressive pair of two-handed tip dunks in traffic.

After the game, the Richmond (Texas) Bush wing told Rivals.com that Connecticut is a school that is really standing out to him right now, while schools such as UCLA, Texas, Baylor and Florida are all making strong pushes. Additonally, Oubre listed Georgetown, LSU, Arizona and North Carolina, mentioning that his AAU teammate, Jackson, is pushing hard for Oubre to join him in Chapel Hill for their college years.

The four-star went on to say that he plans on making a decision sometime in the summer, possibly even during the July evaluation period. In the time between now and July, Oubre will be evaluating the schools interested in him, looking for a head coach who is stable, has a winning track record and can provide an excellent playing atmosphere for the Houston product.

Bigger in Texas

Sticking with Texas, two other prospects who stood out Sunday were Texas Titans point guard Alex Robinson, a four-star 2014 product, and Tyler Davis, a 2015 center who could emerge as one of the top big men in the state of Texas.

The No. 81 prospect in his class nationally, Robinson is a quick point guard with excellent court awareness as a passer in the half-court. He's tough to contain in dribble-drive situations and really looks to make the extra pass once he draws the defense in to the lane to help on him.

Robinson told Rivals.com that Vanderbilt is the latest school to offer him, while Texas A&M and Clemson are the two schools who have been recruiting him the hardest lately. The Arlington (Texas) Timberview guard is still wide open in the recruiting process, however, and has no plans to make a decision in the near future. Of the three schools mentioned by Robinson, all of them were in attendance on Sunday for the Texas Titans matchup with CIA Bounce.

While the Nike circuit has several elite 2015 big men playing up an age group at the 17u level, Davis is working hard to try and get his name on the list. A wide load at 6-foot-10 and 280 pounds, Davis moves very well for a player his size, showing a knack for chasing down long rebounds and running the floor well to get easy shots. He has nice hands down low, can score with power moves and doesn't have bad touch around the basket either.

As the summer progresses, look for Davis to become a much bigger name nationally in a loaded 2015 class in the state of Texas, especially as his Texas Titans team continues to improve with the return of 2015 five-star perimeter players King McClure and Mickey Mitchell, both of whom have missed the first two EYBL sessions with injuries.

Davis mentioned SMU as his top offer right now, adding that Arizona, Iowa and Texas are also recruiting him hard. According to the Plano (Texas) Frisco Liberty sophomore, Kansas coaches have been in recent contact with his high school coaches, and Davis went as far as to call the Jayhawks his "dream school," adding that he would be very excited to earn an offer from head coach Bill Self in the near future.

Small frame, big game

They might be two of the smaller prospects in the Nike EYBL, at 5-foot-8 each, but pound for pound there are few players more effective than four-star point guards Tyler Ulis and Parker Jackson-Cartwright.

Both enjoyed big games on Sunday, leading their teams to key wins in front of packed crowds in the back gym at the Boo Williams Sportsplex.

To warm up for a matchup with the Oakland Soldiers, Ulis tallied 25 points and 10 rebounds in his Meanstreets team's first game of the day, a narrow loss to Spiece Indy Heat. With that game under his belt, the Chicago (Ill.) Marian Catholic floor general had his confidence built up, as he helped lead Meanstreets to a win over the Soldiers, including knocking down a long, contested 3-point shot with 2.4 seconds left to break a tie.

A superb decision-maker with gears of speed and a high IQ, Ulis adapts so well to playing against bigger and more physical players that his speed and lack of size can in a way be an advantage out on the court. Defensively he is particularly pesky, as his quick hands and feet can lead to steals and easy transition assists.

Purdue, Northwestern, DePaul, Florida State and Vanderbilt all watched Ulis, the No. 69 player in the class of 2014, on Sunday, and all of those schools have already extended scholarship offers.

Jackson-Cartwright only has to worry about one school watching him, as the No. 37 prospect in the country, out of Los Angeles Loyola, gave a February pledge to the Arizona Wildcats. Playing for the California Supreme, and matched up in a tough contest against five-star Texas Pro point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, "PJC" built on his reputation for offensive creativity, showing a shifty style of play in transition as he found avenues to attack the basket for layups, drawn fouls or assists.

In leading his team to a two-point overtime victory, Jackson-Cartwright tallied 21 points, a team high, and also recorded six assists with just one turnover.



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