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October 15, 2012

Contrast of styles at Lucas Invitational

LOUISVILLE -- Action at the John Lucas Midwest Invitational camp wrapped up early Sunday afternoon. After a morning of skills stations, the campers had two last chances to play in games. Junior point guards JaQuan Lyle and Quentin Snider showed their contrasting styles while freshman Justin Jackson from Canada looks to be the real deal. The camp also gave us a good look at many other young prospects.

Lyle and Snider offer a contrast in styles

The two best point guards in attendance at the John Lucas Midwest Invitational play entirely different styles. On one hand you have a big strong, 6-foot-4 guy in JaQuan Lyle who ranks No. 19 in the class of 2014. On the other hand you have a slick, quick six-footer in Quentin Snider who currently ranks No. 36 in the class of 2014.

Both were on display all weekend long and we even got to see them match up head to head a bit. For this battle at least, it was the quickness of the Louisville-bound Snider that proved to be a little too much for Lyle but he certainly wasn't bad during camp.

Let's start with Snider and then work our way back to Lyle. First, the 6-foot-1 listing of Snider is perhaps a little generous but you wouldn't want to classify him as a little guard by any means. In addition to his quick first step, ability to come out of spins at full speed and comfort with playing the role of scorer or distributor, Snider has gotten stronger. That strength shows in his shooting, his finishing and his overall endurance. By all indications, he looks like a great addition for Louisville and he certainly lived up to his ranking while playing on his home turf.

Currently a five-star, Lyle is a totally different player. Like Snyder he does have to have the ball in his hands and be used as a playmaker, but he's much more measured in his approach. Lyle isn't a high flyer or a Derrick Rose-like speed guy, but he is very smart, clever and has a nice arsenal of tricks. He will put his body on defenders to get them going one way before spinning the other. He passes extremely well and he's improved as a shooter but remains most effective as an off the dribble scorer at the rim or with pull-ups and floaters.

Because of his size, Lyle can slide over and play the two and most likely he'll defend the wing in college. But offensively, he's not a guy who is best served running off a bunch of off the ball screens to shake him loose as a spot-up jump shooter. So, because of that you have to look at him as a point guard and try to create mismatches with him.

Friday night, Lyle stopped by Kentucky's Big Blue Madness and he said it was a good event.

"Big Blue Madness went really well," Lyle told Rivals.com. "I was there chilling with a lot of good players, the show was good and I got to see the coaches and talk to coach Calipari."

This weekend, Lyle will hit Indiana for their Hoosier Hysteria event and the next weekend he's planning a trip to Illinois. Lyle had hoped to stop by Louisville (who he says Snider is in his ear about) and watch them practice while he was in town but, because he was there to play in an event, rules didn't allow him to visit. Others that he mentioned include Georgetown, Cincinnati and Miami.

According to Lyle he's not in any kind of rush and he doesn't feel any pressure at all in his recruitment. For now, he's focusing on his junior year and continuing to work on his game.

"I think that I'm making much better decisions with the ball," said Lyle. "I'm a big point guard and I pass well and can score. I'm working on getting quicker, faster and stronger and being better at staying with the little guys like Quentin Snider that are harder for me to defend right now."

Jackson makes a major impression

One of the camp's best players was also one of the youngest as freshman Justin Jackson made a huge impression during his two days in camp.

After being intrigued with the 6-foot-6 Canadian small forward from Eastern Commerce in Toronto on Saturday, we focused on him on Sunday and he didn't disappoint at all.

The first thing that stands out about Jackson is his advanced athleticism, physicality and feel for the game. You see enough kids to know that some develop earlier than others and he's certainly done that on the physical side, but he's not beating his peers because of advanced athleticism. He's doing it because of skill. Primarily, his ability to pass off the dribble is way above average and his feel for when to attack and when to pull back looks to be advanced beyond his years.

Although he's quite young, Jackson has the type of ability that will start getting monitored at the highest level.

More from Lucas camp

For the second day in a row, 6-foot-8 sophomore big man Carlton Bragg from Ohio was impressive. The thin four man really gets up and down the court, has pretty good hands and in terms of size and body type reminds some of a young Ed Davis. So far he's heard from West Virginia, Illinois, DePaul, Temple and Louisville.

We've been able to get a look at sophomore shooting guard Andrew Fleming each of the last two weekends. The 6-foot-4 sophomore makes some strong plays driving to the rim and looks comfortable finishing going left. His shot is sometimes a little rushed and it will be interesting to see where he is down the road as he adds some strength and eliminates mistakes that seem to occur from at times adding difficulty to easy plays.

Currently ranked No. 127 in the class of 2014, wing Keondre Dew is probably listed a little generously at 6-foot-7. However, the slender wing from La Jolla Prep looks like he can score the ball pretty well off the dribble, finishes in transition and has to be taken seriously as a threat from deep.

Out in Chicago, there are high hopes for Simeon sophomore forward D.J. Williams. Louisville was the second weekend in a row that Rivals.com was able to watch the 6-foot-6'ish 2015 prospect after seeing him the week before at USA Basketball. He has good hands, loves to shoot 12-15 foot jumpers on the baseline, is pretty slippery with the ball and has good athleticism. He's not yet overly physical and could go either way in terms of his development. A little growth and he becomes more of a skilled, faceup four man. If h stays the same size, look for him to become more of a slashing wing. Either way, he's a legitimate high major prospect.

If we learned anything about Joe Burton, we learned that the 6-foot-6 small forward from Humble (Texas) Atascocita is quite adept at dunking in the open floor. No joke, it seemed like every time we looked up he was running free with nobody between he and the rim and closest person 10 feet behind him. The No. 101 player in the class of 2014, he backed up his reputation as a high level athlete, looked to be in great shape and was competing. We only wish somebody would have stepped up and competed back at him so we could see how he responded when challenged.

He doesn't have anywhere near the size of his retired NBA veteran father Thurl Bailey, but Utah freshman Brendan Bailey has the look of a prospect. A thin but pretty fluid 6-foot-3 shooting guard, Bailey lacks strength (not surprising for a freshman) but rates pretty high on the effort and early skill scale.

A couple of other freshman that stood out with effort and early skill levels were Payton Pritchard and Quentin Goodin. A 5-foot-11 product of Oregon, Pritchard is a hard working and smart floor general who has some grit to his game. He will knock down shots, makes the right pass and has the tools to really develop once he finishes growing and starts to fill out. Gooden is more of a combo-guard and the 6-foot-2 Kentuckian likes to go to the rim off the dribble and is a pest with good feet and fast hands on defense.

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