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May 25, 2013
London makes impact at Chicago Classic
The Adidas Chicago Classic tipped off on Friday night in the northwest suburbs, and some of the top Adidas circuit traveling teams stepped onto the court for pool-play matchups. In three game sessions, Rivals.com got a chance to check out Florida Elite and the Nashville Celtics from the 17-and-under division, as well as a talented Colorado Hawks 16-and-under team. After finishing off the three games, here are the prospects and storylines that stood out on Friday night in Chicago.
Coming out party
This week, 6-foot-8 power forward Makinde London made Eric Bossi's list of players who are outside of the 2014 Rivals150 but are fighting for a spot in the next update.
Maybe London saw that article, maybe he didn't, but one thing is certain: London made a big impact for his Nashville Celtics team on Friday night.
The first thing that stands out about London is that he has all of the physical tools to excite high-major college coaches. With a long build at 6-foot-8, explosive leaping ability, quick feet and a good motor, the Spring Hill (Tenn.) Summit forward looks the part of a big-time college frontline player. What's really exciting about his long-term potential is his style of play.
London doesn't rely just on his athleticism; in fact, the three-star forward loves to play out of the high post and try to slash his way to the rim with finesse rather than pure speed. He's capable of hitting the mid- to long-range jumper with confidence, and he showed signs of being a bigger forward who can see the floor.
While parts of London's game are raw, and we still want to see him against the best competition that the Adidas circuit has to offer later in the weekend, the rising senior has seen a rapid rise in his recruitment.
London names VCU, Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Wichita State and Marshall as the schools that are pursuing him the hardest. Look for him to continue to see his stock rise throughout the late spring and all summer once the July evaluation period kicks in.
Another player who put together a big performance for the Nashville Celtics was 6-foot-2 point guard Jaylen Barford. The Jackson (Tenn.) Southside junior is a dynamic athlete in the backcourt with serious court vision as well.
Barford produced some highlight-level passes in the half-court off the ball screen on Friday night, while also showing an ability to athletically finish around the rim through contact. He's a high-motor player who brings energy to the defensive end and excels at playing the passing lanes, where he gets his hands on a lot of deflections.
Like London, Barford is a prospect who could see a serious jump in his recruiting stock with continued strong play on the AAU circuit. Right now, the 2014 point guard claims offers from Murray State, Western Kentucky, Tennessee State, VCU, Wichita State and Utah, while also getting recent interest from Tennessee.
Now that his freshman season in the high school ranks is behind him, everyone is starting to recognize 2016 power forward De'Ron Davis on the travel circuit as one of the players to watch.
Friday night, when his Colorado Hawks team took to the court, most of the eyes in the gym were on the 6-foot-8 frontline force. From start to finish in a Hawks win, the Aurora (Colo.) Overland product controlled the interior, finishing with a double-double to go with several blocked shots.
Davis has excellent passing skills for a big man, showing the ability to dish it out of the high post or to find cutters with his back to the basket when the double team comes. As well as he passes it, Davis is most efficient as a scorer, showing a strong right-handed hook shot in the lane, as well as the ability to powerfully finish off the glass with two hands through contact.
He has a way to go in improving his conditioning and toning his frame, but Davis has unquestioned major talent and could end up as a four- or five-star prospect in the near future.
As of today, Davis lists Arkansas, Indiana, Colorado and Purdue as the schools that have offered him. However, the Colorado native insists that recruiting is the farthest thing from his mind and that he is focused solely on continued team and individual success in high school ball and with the Colorado Hawks on the travel circuit.
Better and better
The Florida Elite team is synonymous with winning when it comes to Adidas events. When they walked in the gym on Friday to try to defend last year's title in the 17-and-under division of the Chicago Classic, the popular opinion was that it would take a strong performance from one of the circuit's most talented players for Florida Elite to take home another trophy.
That player is three-star forward Dante Buford. The common theme with Buford is consistency. The 6-foot-7 combo forward is a freak of an athlete. He has the ability to put the ball on the floor, and he sometimes plays with a motor that makes him a dominant force. However, Buford has a tendency to disappear on the court.
Friday night, Buford made his presence felt in a big way, throwing down high-flying dunks, grabbing rebound after rebound and scoring with touch around the basket as he helped his team hold off a hungry local underdog team.
Buford's athleticism and size at 6-foot-7 make him a matchup nightmare. He's too quick for power forwards, too big for small forwards and too athletic for everyone. So the answer to unlocking Buford's potential is simply his motor. When he has it running like he did on Friday, he'll put himself in the conversation for inclusion in the next 2014 Rivals150.
Right now, Buford is in the process of scheduling a visit to Cincinnati for early June. In addition to visiting the Bearcats next month, Buford says he has had excellent recruiting conversations with the staffs of Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama and Indiana.