PITTSBURGH -- It was a game that didn't start until just before 10 p.m., and it wasn't even part of pool play at the Hoop Group Pitt Jam Fest. Plus, the teams only had about three minutes to warm up.
As a result, it wasn't too surprising that Isaiah Whitehead started off Friday night's game against the Arkansas Hawks pretty slow.
|Whitehead can fill it up. (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)|
“I struggled early,” Whitehead said. “I had to pick up the pace, get used to the rims. We just got here.”
He managed to turn it around after the opening stretch, leading the Juice All-Stars to an impressive win over the Hawks. Whitehead's ability to make difficult shots and draw contact in the lane enabled Juice to dig out of the early hole and hold off the Hawks in the final minutes.
Whitehead, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Lincoln (N.Y.), is among the top 10 players at his position. He's also one of the best pure scorers in the class, but is continuing to improve his all-around skills.
“I just want to get better,” Whitehead said. “I want to get ready for college, since it's my senior year. I'm working on my jump shot, my handle, everything.”
Louisville and Syracuse are the two coming after him the hardest.
“They're both run and run, they play defense, and they have great coaches,” Whitehead said.
He's ranked No. 32 in the 247 Sports Composite rankings for the class of 2014.
Trayvon Reed looking to become elite
|Reed's size makes him a major factor. (247 Sports)|
When asked where he ranked among the best centers in the country, Trayvon Reed didn't waver in his answer. It wasn't a long answer, either.
Reed, a 7-foot-1 big man from Shiloh (Ga.), certainly has the tools to be a future pro.
“I can rebound, I can block shots, I can run the floor,” he said. “I can do some of the stuff that other centers can't do.”
Ranked No. 3 among centers in 247 Sports Composite rankings, Reed is an elite shot-blocker who uses his size and length to be a nightmare on the defensive end. He finishes with ease at the rim, and can catch and finish in transition.
The biggest question with Reed is his motor -- if he brings effort on a consistent basis, his natural ability will put him over the top.
“I want to get better,” he said. “I'm looking ahead to the college level, and possibly the NBA level. I'm working on controlling the paint. That's the most important thing.”
Reed said that Auburn is the school working the hardest.
Friday's Standout Performers
Derrick Jones, 2015, We R 1: One of the top players in the class of 2015, Jones showed his enormous potential in an otherwise sloppy game on Friday. He is long and extremely athletic, running the floor and finishing at the rim with aggression. Jones is certainly one to watch in the junior class.
Chris Chiozza, 2014, Team Thad: The Phil Pressey comparisons are inevitable with Chiozza. He's a pest defensively, creating havoc and forcing turnovers. He pushes the ball well in transition, and showed much-improved consistency from behind the arc.
Romelo Trimble, 2014, DC Assault: The future Maryland Terrapin showed very solid ability as a combo guard on Friday. His shot wasn't falling like it usually does, but he got to the rim effectively off the dribble and ran some offense. He also looks stronger and more confident.
TeMarcus Blanton, 2014, Atlanta Xpress: Xpress had plenty of impressive performances on Friday night, but Blanton's scoring was a major highlight. He got points in a variety of ways, knocking down shots from the perimeter but also getting to the lane and finishing through contact.
Thomas Alexander, 2014, Arkansas Hawks: Alexander tailed off a bit in the second half against Juice All-Stars, but his first-half effort was impressive. He was extremely active at both ends of the floor, and was consistently aggressive scoring the ball. His energy was a welcome surprise at the end of the night.