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January 17, 2012

What we learned: Hoophall Classic

MORE: Shabazz shines | Oak Hill rolls | Block party

Here is a look back at four things we took from the Spalding Hoophall Classic held in Springfield, Mass.

1. Nerlens Noel isn't a great shot blocker, he is an extraordinary shot blocker

Anyone who scouted the travel team circuit over the past year realized that there isn't a better shot blocker in the prep ranks than Noel. Maybe Noel was a better shot blocker than everyone realized, or maybe Noel has taken his shot-blocking ability to another level during this high school season. Regardless, one can't help but think about the greatest shot blockers in the history of basketball when watching Noel dominate games with his shot-blocking ability. Beyond the obvious length and athleticism he possesses, Noel has the ability to stay on the floor and wait till the last moment to commit to blocking a shot, therefore, surprising shot attempters and avoiding fouls.

2. A.J. Hammons is capable of significantly impacting the game

The word around the Oak Hill Academy program is that about once out of every four games Hammons brings a nearly dominating presence to the court. Certainly that isn't an ideal ratio, but it is much better than the ratio Hammons was working with on the travel circuit. This high school season something has clicked with Hammons when he plays top competition like Julius Randle, and Hammons has been an impact player. Odds are that this ratio will continue to improve at Purdue, and Hammons will become the player that he is capable of becoming.

3. There are enough high level point guard for the 2012 McDonald's All-American Game

Much has been written about the weak point guard class in the 2012 class. Perhaps the point guard class as a whole is subpar, but there are at least four All-American type point guards who will be fun to watch in the McDonald's All-American Game. At 6 feet 8, Kyle Anderson has such supreme court savvy and a multifaceted skill set, one can't help but think of Magic Johnson. It's a shame Kris Dunn didn't play in this year's Hoophall Classic, but a national audience should have the opportunity to witness his electric game this spring as is the case with Indiana signee Kevin Ferrell. Oak Hill Academy's Tyler Lewis wowed fans with his play on national television earlier this year, and he was just as scintillating in his game at the Hoophall. And Dominic Artis continues his rise up the charts. His all-around play versus Simeon was thoroughly impressive.

4. Winston Shepard and Nigel Williams-Goss are high level defenders

Although not a go-to scorer type, Shepard has always been known for his energetic all-around game which includes his defensive abilities. That he could defend Jabari Parker so effectively was not such a foregone conclusion. Shepard proved that not only can he guard multiple positions, but that he can hold an elite scorer in check. Like Shepard, Williams-Goss has the ability to guard multiple positions. But his ability to move his feet laterally and hold Parker in check like Shepard did was a bit of a revelation. It is looking more and more that the knock on Williams-Goss' foot speed is becoming an antiquated myth.



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