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July 13, 2012

Philly Reebok: Unknowns no longer

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PHILADELPHIA - When Reebok created the Breakout Challenge as its national camp, it had sound reasoning behind the idea. A few years back, its top hoops pitchman, John Wall, burst onto the scene at what was then called Reebok U. The then-unknown future No. 1 draft pick had made his way into camp thanks to his strong performance in a regional Breakout Challenge.

So, when Reebok revamped the camp - which Wall is a major part of - last summer, it decided to base it on the model that brought the Washington Wizard point guard to prominence. The idea was to give somewhat lesser-known prospects an opportunity to play their way into the limelight. On Thursday, Roddy Peters and Ikenna Iroegbu embodied that spirit.

Peters and Iroegbu prove they belong

On Thursday, nobody played better than point guards Roddy Peters and Ikenna Iroegbu. One is a big and crafty guy from the East Coast, the other a smaller and more explosive floor general from the West Coast. Different styles, but equal results as each proved that they are taking their games to entirely new levels as they prepare for their senior seasons.

It was actually at last summer's inaugural Breakout Challenge that Peters first put himself on the map. The 6-foot-4 point guard displayed his crafty game reliant on changes of speed and out-thinking opponents. Because of his performance, he made his way into the bottom end of the Rivals150 for the class of 2013. Ever since, the Suitland (Md.) High product has been on the rise.

Now a four-star prospect and ranked No. 100 in his class, Peters is going to be climbing again when the rankings get updated after the summer. One could make the argument that outside of the heavily touted and highly proven Andrew Harrison, the rising senior was the best playmaker in attendance. If his team needed him to get buckets off the dribble, he did that. If he needed to create for others, then he did that too. All the while he was under control, showed improved athleticism and an even better feel for using changes of speed to keep defenders on their heels.

So far Peters, who would like to narrow his focus after the summer, reports offers from Xavier - whose head coach Chris Mack followed his every move - Temple, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Rutgers and Illinois. Also tracking him are Maryland, Georgetown, Texas and Memphis.

"I just came into camp like I did last year," said Peters. "I know that if I do what I'm supposed to do that the rest will take care of itself."

As good as Peters was during the first two days of camp, Iroegbu was right up there with him. A strong, athletic and quick 6-foot-1 point guard from California who now attends mighty Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill, Iroegbu also used last year's Breakout Challenge to move into the national rankings.

However, during his junior year, Iroegbu spent much of his time sitting behind McDonald's All-American Tyler Lewis. Then, earlier this spring he showed the ability to get to the rim and was too often out of control and unaware of what was going on around him as he fell out of the rankings.

Rather than complain that he was getting overlooked, Iroegbu went out and did something about his reputation. Starting at the Pangos All-American camp in June, Iroegbu showed better command of his speed, showed a more developed mid-range game and improved court awareness.

It all came together in Philadelphia with a string of standout performances that had college coaches, camp counselors and scouts alike buzzing about his play.

"It feels great to come out here and show people that I've improved," Iroegbu told Rivals.com. "I'm just out here trying to win games."

According to Iroegbu, he could have gotten sour about not playing as much as he would have liked as a junior. Instead, he looked at the fact that he was on a team with six Division I-bound seniors and took the opportunity to learn as much as he could from the skilled Lewis on a daily basis.

The results have been tangible as he now claims offers from USC, Washington State, Oregon State, Colorado, Virginia Tech and Charleston. More recently, he's fielded inquiries from California, UNLV, Stanford and UCLA as he works his way towards finalizing a final list of five to seven programs while finishing out the summer with his grassroots team, Belmont Shore.

Omaha star earning offers

Coming from a non-traditional hoops hotbed such as Omaha, Neb., Akoy Agau understands that no matter how many people vouched for him, he was going to have to prove his worth as a high-major player with his play. Now, the 6-foot-9 power forward sports a total of 35 scholarship offers.

In Philadelphia, Agau found himself proving that he could impact games even when his guards weren't exactly making it a habit of finding him underneath the rim.

Instead of sulking, the long-limbed four-man went to work on the glass on both ends of the floor. Sure enough, his hard work was rewarded by teammates as he found himself the recipient of more passes as camp went on. Even with touches, Agau played within himself. If a shot was there, he converted around the rim. If there wasn't anything there, he used his passing ability to find teammates for easy buckets. The end result was outstanding all-around play from the No. 90 player in the class of 2013.

"It's hard sometimes," admitted Agau about being ignored by teammates early. "I just decided that I would have to go get the ball off the glass myself and make them take notice that I was out there."

When the summer ends, Agau says that he's looking to cut his list down to somewhere between five and 10 schools. He doesn't have any favorites, but mentioned Georgetown, Florida, Connecticut, West Virginia and Nebraska as schools that are likely to survive his initial cut.

Quick hitters

We wrote about him on the first day of camp, but after taking a couple more looks at 6-foot-6 rising junior wing Devin Robinson it was tough not to mention him again. A bit of a Jeremy Lamb clone in terms of style and size, Robinson is a three-point gunslinger with length and athleticism. When rankings for the class of 2014 are updated after the summer, Robinson will absolutely be involved.

> One of the better known players in camp is 6-foot-8 combo forward Tyler Roberson from New Jersey. A four-star prospect who currently ranks No. 53 nationally in the class of 2013, Roberson easily backed up that lofty status. He grabbed rebounds and raced fullcourt for buckets, he drained 17 footers and he never stopped being active during a very busy day.

One of the bigger finds at the Breakout Challenge was Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon's Darin Johnson. The rising senior is a 6-foot-4 combo guard who looks the part once he steps on the floor. Even better, he plays the part of a three-point draining, off-the-dribble creating perimeter player with high level athleticism. He's certain to have high majors poking around in the near future.

There wasn't a player in camp with a better first step than 6-foot-2 combo guard Detrick Mostella. The Alabama native is quite thin, but he's a relentless and instinctive driver of the basketball with a natural feel for scoring. It wouldn't be proper to label him a knockdown shooter just yet, but he is at the very least dangerous from the perimeter and has a lot of confidence in his jumper. The four-star prospect listed a top three of Georgetown, Texas A&M and Kansas and will soon be seeing many more schools jump into his recruitment.

Teammates in high school in the state of Georgia, neither Daniel Giddens nor Jaylen Brown put up huge numbers on Thursday. However, that doesn't mean that the 6-foot-9 post player and 6-foot-5 wing didn't show flashes of tremendous potential. Mark them down as long-limbed transition athletes from the Peach State who will garner lots of high-major offers before it's all said and done.

Finally, no big man in camp has done more to enhance his recruitment than Houston's Johnathan Motley. Playing alongside the Harrison twins, the slender 6-foot-8 forward was extremely productive on Thursday. Some kids have a knack for putting themselves in position to score easy buckets and Motley falls into that category. He runs the floor, goes to work on the offensive glass and has good touch on a jumper all the way out to the three-point line when he catches with set feet and a good look at the basket.



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