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December 20, 2013

City of Palms: Simmons shines on Day 2


THE RIVALS150: Class of 2014 - Class of 2015

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Day two at the City of Palms saw a 2015 prospect put himself in the mix to be considered the top prospect in the country along with strong performances from other top 2015 prospects.

Making a push for No. 1

Montverde Academy (Fla.) forward Ben Simmons is already ranked as the No. 6 prospect in the Rivals150 for the 2015 class. But after his performance in a dominating win over Milton (Ga.) on Thursday afternoon, that might not be high enough. He may make a push for the top overall spot in the 2015 class.

Simmons, a native of Australia, finished Montverde's opening game with a team-high 31 points and 13 rebounds. Most of his damage was done in the first half as he had 20 points and 11 rebounds at the break. It's not just his scoring and rebounding ability that stand out. At about 6-foot-9, he's comfortable handling, sees the floor and passes well and has range on his jumper out to three-point range. His combination of size, skill and athleticism make him a potential star at the college level and will give him a chance to earn a lot of money playing professional basketball.

Simmons shut down his recruitment early and is already committed to play for Johnny Jones at LSU. He chose the Tigers over several top programs around the country.

Wheeler duo dominates

Two national powerhouses, Yates (Texas) and Wheeler (Ga.), squared off in an intense afternoon matchup on the second day of the City of Palms. Wheeler pulled away late for an impressive win due in large part to the play of five-star juniors Jaylen Brown and Daniel Giddens.

"This is one of our better wins," Giddens admitted. "We've been working really hard this past week in practice getting ready for this tournament because we know it's the best tournament in the country. We worked hard and we came out here and got the win."

Giddens, ranked 18th in the 2015 Rivals150, made his presence felt in the paint. His scoring came mostly off several impressive dunks and baskets right around the rim. Defensively, he snatched up 11 rebounds and blocked or altered many shots.

While Giddens' impact is felt more on the defensive end, Brown's best work is done at the offensive end. He racked up 26 points and added 15 rebounds. In transition, Brown is nearly impossible to stop. Athletic, strong and explosive, Brown put together his own highlight reel in Thursday's victory. If he continues to become a more consistent perimeter shooter, the sky is the limit.

Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech and others were on hand to see Brown and Giddens.

More underclassmen shine

On the opening night of City of Palms, it was a pair of underclassmen from St. John Bosco (Calif.) standing out. On Thursday, Paul VI (Va.) had several underclassmen come to play in its 81-53 blowout win over Miami Norland. Although neither started the game, sophomore forward Tyler Scanlon and sophomore guard Curtis Jones came off the bench and led the team in scoring.

Scanlon, a 6-foot-6 combo forward, posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Scanlon was impressive handling the ball in transition and always seemed to make the right decision with the ball. When he had chances to make shots, he usually converted. Athletically, he's not overwhelming but he makes up for it with his skill and feel for the game.

Jones, a 6-foot-3 combo guard, had his perimeter stroke working early and often. He connected on two of his three attempts 3-point range and knocked down a couple more mid-range shots. He has the look of a high-major player as he continues to develop his ability to be a primary ball handler. Jones mentioned offers from Virginia, Virginia Tech, N.C. State, Wake Forest, West Virginia and Tulane and interest from Maryland and Georgetown.

Notes

In the final game of the night with the gym mostly cleared out, Lincoln (N.Y.) guard Isaiah Whitehead put on a scoring clinic. His 36 points are a tournament high, and he scored them in every way. He made tough, contested jumpers from deep as well as finishing in traffic near the rim. It was a very impressive performance for Whitehead in Lincoln's win over Greenforest (Ga.).

Greenforest may have lost, but junior guard Justin Ravenel came to play for head coach David Jones. The 6-foot-1 combo guard did his best to keep his team around with his 28 points, but it wasn't enough.

Wheeler (Ga.) forward Elijah Staley is committed to play quarterback for Dan Mullen at Mississippi State, but Rick Ray is probably hoping he'll choose to play basketball in college as well. Like his teammates Brown and Giddens, Staley had several impressive dunks and is tough in transition. The trio form one of the better frontcourts in the country.

Duke signee Grayson Allen played very well for the second day in a row in a win over a tough Neumann-Goretti team. Allen went for 20 points and got the better of Miami signee Ja'Quan Newton in a matchup of future ACC guards.

Southern Miss found itself a talented player out of the Sunshine State in Apopka Weviva (Fla.) forward Willie Carmichael. At 6-foot-8, Carmichael has ideal length and athleticism to go along with his ability to score inside. He'll be a quality player in Conference USA.


Dan McDonald is a contributing national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.



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