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July 19, 2013

Local star Stone shines at Summer Jam

MORE SUMMER JAM: Day 1 Notebook

MEQUON, Wisc. -- Under Armour's Summer Jam presented by NY2LA Sports rolled through a second day at Homestead High in the Milwaukee suburbs. The schedule allowed for watching plenty of action in both the 17- and 16-and-under divisions. Among the group of rising juniors on display was five-star hometown product Diamond Stone, who did his city proud.

Stone impresses in hometown

He didn't get to play on his home floor, but the nation's class of 2015 No. 5 player Diamond Stone sure looked at home just a few exits up I-43 from Whitefish Bay (Wisc.) Dominican. Playing for the Young Legends in the 16-and-under division, the 6-foot-10 center was clearly the best player on the floor during a pair of solid performances as his team went 1-1 on the day.

A bit of a throwback player, Stone plays a game that is based not upon athleticism and aggression but skill and patience. That isn't to say that Stone doesn't have athleticism, because he has worked hard to change his body; as a result, he's got some lift around the rim and runs very well.

But what drew coaches such as Roy Williams, Buzz Williams, Bo Ryan, John Groce and assistants from Duke, Kansas, Michigan State, Kentucky and more is Stone's ability to score the rock with skill.

Because he's got some strength, Stone can usually get position on the block, and he did that on Thursday. When he got deep position he went to a trusty jump hook or spun to the bucket. He has superior hands and presents a strong target to guards looking to throw post entry passes. Along with his scoring down low, Stone hit some medium-range jumpers and even stepped out to the three-point line.

Stone isn't yet in a hurry to cut down his list and will continue to be a high-priority target for programs at the highest level.

Grantham set with decision to attend prep

The No. 73 player in the class of 2014, 6-foot-8 forward Donte Grantham is in a great position. A 2013 graduate who was the player of the year in West Virginia, Grantham is a full qualifier who could enroll at a Division-I school in the fall. Instead, Grantham is going to take a prep school year at Chatham (Va.) Hargrave in hopes of boosting a recruitment that has started to take off even more.

On Thursday against the high-octane Team Thad, Grantham looked very comfortable and like an easy high-major. He scored at the rim, hit some jumpers and was active on the glass in a 19-point, eight-rebound effort.

Grantham says that the decision to prep has been a good one.

"It's going good because I'm getting new offers, playing against better players and getting good experience," Grantham said. "I just got offers from Texas, Rutgers and VCU. Before the summer I had West Virginia and Clemson, that's it."

Because of his size and skill, Grantham can play at both the small forward and power forward slots. He prefers to play one, but just wants to get on the floor.

"The best matchup is best for me," said Grantham. "Anyway I can get on the floor I'll play, but I see myself as a small forward.

"My biggest strength is getting to the rim and finishing. My weakness is that I still need more strength."

Wilson looking to stay healthy

The last player into the 2014 Rivals150 at No. 150, D.J. Wilson has been sidelined by injuries for most of the past six months. Finally healthy, the 6-foot-8 combo forward from Sacramento (Calif.) Capital Christian is starting to show some things.

Wilson's Team Superstar didn't have the best day, but against the Las Vegas Prospects during an earlier game he showed plenty of promise.

What jumps out immediately about Wilson is his ability to stroke deep jump shots and the ease with which things seem to come to him on the offensive end. Because of his size and skill, he plays as a both a plus-sized wing or a face-up four who can stretch defenses and knock down shots.

Because of his injury and turnover in some of the staffs that have been recruiting him, exactly which college offers still stand are a bit up in the air. So Wilson is looking at his recruitment as if it is just starting. Cal State Northridge, Portland and Cal Poly offered recently, and schools such as Colorado (head coach Tad Boyle watched) California, Stanford, Harvard, Boston College, USC, Boise State, Santa Clara and Pepperdine are looking closely.

Thursday notes and observations

Four-star small forward Joe Burton continued his strong run for the Houston Defenders at Summer Jam. After going for 35 in Wednesday night's opening round, the 6-foot-6 wing dropped in another 31 on Thursday. Most noticeable is how well Burton has been shooting the ball, and after a quiet stretch he hit four three-pointers in a row while scoring a flurry of points in rapid fire fashion. Burton is brimming with confidence at this point, and it shows with how sure of himself he has been off the dribble. Burton currently sits just outside the national top 100, but that will be changing when the Rivals150 gets updated after the summer.

Each summer, Milwaukee-based TP Elite is always fun to watch because of how hard they play. One of their most intriguing players is 6-foot-6 wing Levi Bradley from Milwaukee (Wisc.) Pius. A slender kid who has started to grow into his frame, Bradley is a slasher with upside. He had an impressive rebound and length-of-the-floor drive among his moments on the day and looks like the type of kid to whom mid-level programs should be paying close attention.

During the spring, Ben Bentil seemed out of sorts with his game while sliding down the rankings. On Thursday, the 6-foot-8 power forward showed what he can be when he uses his strength and quickness around the rim to his advantage. Bentil dedicated himself to making things happen in the lane and as a result was highly productive. Georgetown, Providence and Miami are involved, and he was watched by head coaches from both St. Joseph's and Temple on Thursday.

If his play Thursday is any indication, rising junior wing Terrance Davis of the Team Thad 16's is one to keep a close eye on. A strong 6-foot-4 shooting guard, Davis is strong to the rack and can bury jumpers when he gets good elevation. We'll start him off as a three-star, and based on his Thursday play he looks like an upper-mid to high-major prospect.

For the second day in a row, the nation's No. 4 player Cliff Alexander was an absolute pit bull and the most intimidating dude in the building. Matched up against Kentucky-bound Karl Towns of Sports U, Alexander was simpy playing with a level of athleticism and physicality that Towns couldn't quite match. During a 19-point, 14-rebound effort, Alexander was a terror and intimidator in the lane. Towns is more of a finesse player and has a high level of skill, but right now Alexander is playing on a level that Towns and almost every other big man in the country is unable to match.

When it comes to leading a team and elevating the play of his teammates, Iowa State commit Clayton Custer is one of the best in the country. The point guard is tough, makes the right play and his teammates on Team YOBO feed off of him. Cyclone fans will love him and he's made a pretty compelling case to be moved up when rankings are updated after the summer.

Playing well for Sports U was Rivals150 shooting guard Wade Baldwin. Baldwin is a lengthy 6-foot-3 scorer who spent a lot of time handling the ball on Thursday and did a nice job of mixing jumpers and drives. Baldwin plays with a level of toughness that shows he doesn't mind getting a little physical, and he's not on the floor to make friends. Seton Hall, Virginia Tech, Minnesota and Vanderbilt have offered. Kevin Stallings was on hand for Vandy as the Commodores look to be making him a priority.

The Utah Prospects won a pair of games in the 16U division and 6-foot-5 wing Brock Miller had a lot to do with it. Unafraid to let the ball fly -- his only requirement seems to be something that feels like leather hits his hands -- Miller's confidence in his ability made him very dangerous. He hit on deep jumpers, used ball screens to get shots and basically carried the load offensively during a very productive day.

Finally, a guy who is in position to help out his recruitment is Omaha (Neb.) Central combo forward Tre'Shawn Thurman. Six-foot-7 and athletic, Thurman was showing some real signs of ability for Team Nebraska on Thursday. He got up and down the court, had active hands and was blocking shots. His shot didn't look bad, and he's a guy we'd like to see again.

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