Split between three locations and multiple divisions, I spent most of my attention on the 17U bracket that featured a number of outstanding performances from upperclassmen, underclassmen, state players and top recruits the Badgers are currently recruiting.
Unfortunately, there were a few noticeable absences: King James Shooting Stars all state guard and current Wisconsin target Cameron Wright was not in attendance, Net Gain Sports guard and former Iowa commit Chanse Creekmur did not show up for their first game and Wisconsin Swing forward, and top state prospect, Kyle Kelm was held out of action due to injury.
That being said, the tournament was not lacking for talent and many of the big names showed up and showed off throughout the weekend. Today, we look at the weekend's top big men.
Cinmeon Bowers – Playground Elite (16U, playing up with 17U)
Cinmeon Bowers (Nicolet H.S.) is probably the second best player in the state for the 2011 class (the first being Milwaukee Washington's Quevyn Winters), as I haven't seen anybody who has his size or skill set in his class. He reminds me a bit of Marcus Landry in high school, not as explosive but has a better handle on the ball.
I came away impressed with his game, as he demonstrated a natural feel for scoring the basketball. Bowers is a load to handle for anybody, as he combines size, strength and mass with exceptionally quick feet and outstanding ball handling skills for a player his size. Throughout the weekend, he was virtually unstoppable when attacking the basket and had a knack for finishing almost every play around the rim. Bowers consistently got the defensive rebound and single handedly started the fast break, dribbling through multiple defenders on his way to the basket and another two points. His jump shot appeared to be fundamentally strong and although he struggled a bit from the free throw line, he was able to display an impressive mid range jumper that opened driving lanes for both him and his teammates.
On the other hand, it did appear that Bowers seemed to play a bit out of control at times and would occasionally get down on himself if he made a mistake. However, this was almost always corrected as he would come back and score within the next couple possessions. Overall it seems that Bowers is currently flying under the radar, but his recruitment will most likely heat up if he continues to have dominating performances, similar to this past weekend.
Mike Shaw – Mac Irvin Fire (Illinois)
Throughout the weekend, Shaw displayed excellent athleticism and coordination for a player his size. Consequently, Shaw dominated the glass and either blocked or altered nearly every shot attempt in the lane. Unfortunately, similar to Wayne Blackshear, Shaw was mostly left on the outside looking in as far as individual touches and post ups were concerned. However, when he was able to get the ball in the post, he clearly presented a match-up problem for defenders and used this advantage to finish with ease both around the hoop and above the rim.
Chip Rank – Wisconsin Swing (Selk)
Rank displayed a solid all round skill set and a great deal of heart and determination throughout the weekend. Appeared to be in great shape and used his body extremely well to gain position on defenders both in the post and on the glass. Although not as athletic as some of his counterparts, Rank seemed to routinely outwork his opponent and use his competitive nature to consistently come up with big rebounds and key baskets. Offensively, Rank displayed nice form and a soft touch on his jump shot, with range that extended to beyond the arc. Although he clearly was capable of hitting outside jumpers, Rank appeared at his best while attacking the basket in the mid range and taking it strong to the hoop.
Jon Macklin (Milwaukee Spartans)
While his team struggled and he did not receive much recognition or exposure, I felt that is was worth noting that Macklin appeared to be one of the best athletes in the tournament. At 6-foot-7, Macklin used exceptional speed and leaping ability to throw down a number of dunks and block numerous shots throughout the weekend. Macklin appeared to be a bit unpolished on the offensive end but his mere athleticism was worth noting as he is certainly someone to keep on eye on throughout the summer.