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June 14, 2011
What we learned: USA U-16 trials
Rivals.com analyst Jerry Meyer offers three things he learned from spending last weekend in Colorado Spring, Colo., at the 16-Under USA National Team Trials.
USA 16-U Team Trials: What We Learned
It's not like we didn't already know that Parker and Gordon were elite combo forward prospects, but after watching them in a highly competitive and talented setting like the 16-Under USA National Team trials, it only solidified the elite status of Parker and Gordon as prospects. They were clearly on another level than the other prospects at the trials.
They both are versatile players with length and explosive athleticism. Although both of their games still need significant refinement, their skill package is broad and solid. They have a great feel for the game, make hustle plays and appear to have competitive toughness. As good as they are now, they should only get better with time.
2. Tyus Jones makes teammates better
Much has been made about the lack of quality point guards in the 2012 class. Perhaps this has been overblown or maybe not. Regardless, there is definitely a high-level point guard in the 2014 class. Jones, from Apple Valley (Minn.) High, doesn't blow you away with his size or athleticism, but his feel for the game and ability to enhance the play of his teammates blew me away this weekend.
The effect of Jones' play is very similar to that of the top point man in the 2012 class Kyle Anderson. Jones has an uncanny feel for finding the open man and delivering crisp, accurate passes with timing. Rarely does he put a teammate in a position to look bad and rarely does he turn the ball over himself. Even better, he has the talent and IQ for drawing defenders and delivering the ball to a teammate that he got open.
3. Wing play is strong in 2013 and 2014
Outside the playmaking of Jones and the shooting of Conner Frankamp, it didn't take long to realize that the cream of the crop at the trial was at the wing position.
The two elite prospects - Parker and Gordon - are wings. Class of 2014 wing prospects Justin Jackson, Theo Pinson and Stanley Johnson, and 2013 wing Johnathan Williams III, all made the final roster. Strong arguments can be made that wings Shaqquan Aaron, Rondae Jefferson and Jordan Swopshire should have made the team. And even though they didn't play their best at the trials, Stephen Domingo and Paul White are both well documented as very talented prospects. This doesn't even account for some of the top wing prospects in 2013 such as Julius Randle, Chris Thomas, Kuran Iverson and Aaron Harrison, who are all 2013 wings ranked in the top 10 that didn't make the age cutoff.