The 2012 Raleigh Invitational Tournament, hosted this past weekend by the Swish City Magic, may have been overshadowed nationally by recent high profile events like the Nike Elite 100 in St. Louis or the U18 National Team Trials in Colorado Springs, but nonetheless showcased some local talented players that are in the mix for college scholarships as well. Many of the event’s most promising prospects squared off on Saturday downtown at Emery Gym on the campus of Saint Augustine’s College.
In the day’s most competitive and entertaining game, a 17U bracket tilt between the Swish City Elite and the Swish City Magic, a handful of guys made compelling cases as to why they belong on college rosters. The game’s top performer without question was 2013 G/SF JJ Douglas, a versatile 6’5 wing player who impacted the game in a variety of ways. Douglas skied for rebounds on both ends and pushed it in transition – putting pressure on a defense that was undoubtedly tired (both teams had played previously that day). His spider-like length gave the Magic’s guards fits in space because he always seemed to have the angle. Finished with guys on his hip and created necessary space in traffic by way of masterful body control.
Douglas carved up the defense in the halfcourt by cutting hard and with a purpose from the weakside and converting from within 5 ft. when his teammates found him. The athletic wing finished with his left hand throughout the day, including a blowout win for the Elite 17s that afternoon, which is an often neglected piece of a player’s fundamental skillset, sadly. Most impressive about Douglas’ floor-game was his awareness and ability to take advantage of mismatches or chinks in the opponent’s strategy. Early on vs. the Magic he posted up a much smaller defender on two straight possessions, scoring four easy points. He demanded the ball and forced the Magic to switch gears defensively.
Unfortunately for the Magic, their defensive adjustment – sinking back into a 2-3 zone – presented little problem for the cerebral Douglas. Starting from either short corner in half-court possessions against the zone, Douglas would flash to the open high post area on ball reversals. When he was rewarded with entry passes from his backcourt mates, namely Camden Scott and Julius Washington, he kept the ball high to thwart swipes from perimeter defenders and got great lift on a handful of elbow jumpers that arced over the outstretched arms of the Magic backline. He’ll need to be an acreage-type wing in college off the bounce – meaning he’ll need to get somewhere with the basketball in no more than two dribbles in the half-court (kill spots, baseline, etc.) – because his handle, although solid, lulls a bit and is susceptible to quick on-ball defenders as is.
Douglas put his team on his back in the fourth quarter of their back and forth shootout with the Swish City Magic. In a game ultimately decided by a Hamilton FT with less than 2 seconds to play, giving the Elite the victory, he scored on 7 straight possessions down the stretch. Tallying a game-high 32 points (18 in the 4th quarter), Douglas solidified his place atop the respectable list of college prospects at the event.
The dynamic talent has the size and athleticism to possibly guard three positions at the D1 level, although I doubt he ends up checking many PGs. His frame looks a little stiff, a la Jalen Rose at the same age, but it’s yet to be seen if his lateral quickness is affected by it. His smarts on the offensive end give me no indication he’ll have trouble picking up defensive concepts in a college program.
His academic record is holding him back from playing Division 1 basketball right now. According to Swish City coach Walt Clement, Douglas will most likely end up in the JUCO ranks this year and they are in the process of finding a good fit for him.
By Ryan Mattocks
Phenom Hoop Report