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July 16, 2012

July evaluation hits midway point

MORE: L.A. tourneys | Philly Reebok | LeBron Vegas

In the world of high school basketball, no single month is more important than July. During July, college coaches can go out and watch prospects during three live evaluation periods that run from the July 11-15, 18-22 and 25-29. Before those evaluation periods even get started, though, the month is tipped off by Nike's LeBron James Skills Academy.

Now that half the month is gone, let's take a look at some of the movers and shakers of the first half, along with what we'll be looking forward to seeing in the second half of the month.

The baker's dozen

After attending the LBJ Skills Academy in Vegas , Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis, Reebok Breakout Challenge in Philadelphia and the Pangos Sweet 16 in Long Beach, here are 13 players - some known, some not - that stood out or raised their profiles during the first half of the month.

Wesley Clark, 6-0, PG, Romulus (Mich.) High
A three-star prospect headed into the month, Clark was outstanding during the LeBron James Skills Academy in Vegas and will break into the next Rivals150 for the class of 2013. He broke down defenders at will, made plays for others and scored when needed. He started the month with offers from USC, Dayton, Creighton and Xavier and will soon have many more.

Ikenna Iroegbu, 6-2, PG, Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill
Like Clark, Iroegbu is a point guard that will break into the next batch of rankings for the class of 2013. A native Californian, he's an athletic, physical and fast point guard who has significantly upgraded his overall game. USC, Washington State, Colorado, Oregon State and Virginia Tech have all offered while California, Stanford, UNLV and UCLA are turning up the interest.

Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison, 6-5, PG/SG, Houston (Texas) Travis
Andrew, the point guard, and Aaron, the shooting guard, currently rank Nos. 3 and 4, respectively, in the class of 2013. The duo thoroughly dominated the competition at the Reebok Breakout Challenge. Physical, athletic and highly skilled, they both do exactly what is expected out of their position and more. The duo will choose from among Kentucky, Baylor, Maryland, SMU and Villanova during either September or October.

Kasey Hill, 6-1, PG, Montverde (Fla.) Academy
Committed to play his college ball at Florida, Hill was somewhat quiet at LeBron. He was anything but that during the Adidas Invitational when he led his Florida Elite squad to the 17-and-under title. A big-time athlete who is nearly impossible to guard in the pick and roll, Hill exploded for 45 points during a semifinal win.

Detrick Mostella, 6-3, SG, Landover Hills (Md.) New Hope Academy
A native of Alabama, Mostella is moving to the D.C. area for his senior season. While he's quite thin, the four-star shooting guard proved at the Breakout Challenge that he's a legitimate high major prospect who likely needs to be moved up from his current position of No. 69 in the class of 2013. His top three consists of Kansas, Georgetown and Texas A&M.

Roddy Peters, 6-3, PG, District Heights (Md.) Suitland
A physical point guard, Peters played at a level much higher than his current ranking of No. 100 in the class of 2013. Nearby Maryland is the most recent program to offer the budding floor general.

Malik Pope, 6-8, SF, Sacramento (Calif.) Capital Christian
In the class of 2014, there isn't a better prospect on the West Coast. Tall with athleticism, skill and deep shooting range, Pope may currently be underrated at No. 14 nationally in his class.

Ivan Rabb, 6-9, PF, Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd
Only a rising sophomore, the young power forward from Oakland burst onto the scene at LeBron. He's quick, he has length and he has a surprisingly high level of skill for such a young player.

Julius Randle, 6-9, PF, Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Christian
The nation's No. 2 player in the class of 2013, Randle is going after the top spot with a vengeance. He is physically dominant, has skills to match and plays to a throng of the nation's top coaches each time he hits the floor.

Diamond Stone, 6-9, C, Milwaukee (Wisc.) Dominican
Like Rabb, the 6-foot-9 center from Milwaukee blew up during the LeBron James Skills Academy. Very similar in style to a young Kevin Love, Stone has great hands, soft touch and range in pick and pop situations.

Noah Vonleh, 6-8 PF, New Hampton (N.H.) Prep
A combo forward who has inside and outside skill, Vonleh stood out at LeBron and the Adidas Invitational. He's a high volume rebounder on both ends who can now shoot the three-pointer, attack off the dribble or operate with his back to the basket. He more than backed up his No. 3 ranking in the class of 2014.

Andrew Wiggins, 6-7, SF, Huntington (W.V.) Prep
Born in Canada, Wiggins isn't just the top player in the class of 2014, he's the top prospect in all of high school basketball regardless of class. There are some in the class of 2013 who are a little more polished than him, but Wiggins' skill level is improving rapidly and he's got ridiculous athleticism. Kentucky and Florida State (where both his parents went) along with Duke and North Carolina have gotten the most early mentions from Wiggins."

Looking ahead: the second half

With two more evaluation periods left to go in the month of July, there's still plenty of action left to come. These are a few of the areas Rivals.com will be focusing on during stops across the country.

Nike's Peach Jam is annually the single top event of July. There are other events that are bigger, there are events with more teams, but no event is as talented or competitive as the Peach Jam from top to bottom. Taking place in North Augusta, S.C., the Peach Jam serves as the crowning event of Nike's highly successful Elite Youth Basketball League. Can powerhouse, Chicago-based Mac Irvin Fire win the title, or could CIA Bounce - featuring all Canadians - take home the hardware?

After getting banged up some playing for the USA's 17-and-under national team, the question is whether 2013's current No. 1 player, Jabari Parker, will play with the Mac Irvin Fire at the Peach Jam. Julius Randle and the Harrison twins are coming hard after his spot, and the 6-foot-8 swingman from Chicago (Ill.) Simeon likely has something to say about Andrew Wiggins being crowned the best prospect regardless of class.

Can anybody on the Adidas side of grassroots circuit knock off the Florida Rams/Florida Elite? After winning major spring events as the Florida Rams, the Rams were forced to "disband" thanks a ruling from the NCAA regarding a program director's alleged involvement with agent Andy Miller. The group reformed as Florida Elite in July to take home the crown at the Adidas Invitational and the team led by five-star prospects Kasey Hill and Chris Walker will be the favorites in Las Vegas at the Super 64.

Finally, who is going to be that one player that comes from seemingly out of nowhere? It happens nearly every July but the first half of the month didn't produce that player who comes from total obscurity to the national limelight. Will it happen in Las Vegas? Could it happen in Orlando? Or, could it happen somewhere in between? Only the next two weeks will tell.



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