Two future Iowa basketball players saw plenty of action and earned both praise and critiques from Sunday's All-American Championship prep all-star game in New Orleans on Sunday.
Point guard Mike Gesell and center Adam Woodbury started for the North roster in an 86-85 loss to the South. Gesell and Woodbury were on a 10-member team with nine future Big Ten players (the other was a Notre Dame signee).
Gesell made just 1-of-7 shots, but had five assists. Three times he found future Michigan player Glenn Robinson Jr. (yes, the Big Dog's puppy) for big plays. Gesell earned high praise from ESPN analyst Miles Simon, who compared Gesell to North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall.
"Gesell with excellent vision ... He's going to be a great fit for that uptempo style that Fran McCaffery plays with the Iowa Hawkeyes," Simon said over the air.
On one play Gesell took two dribbles near mid-court and threw a bounce pass that sizzled past three defenders to reach Robinson in the post.
"He's so under control," Simon said. "He controls the tempo and the floor of the game. (He) sees the whole floor just probing the defense."
ESPN's director of college recruiting, Paul Biancardi, also weighed in on Gesell's strengths.
"He's a versatile point guard in terms of he can play the point or shift over and play the two-guard," Biancardi said. "From the point guard position you seem him distribute and facilitate. As Miles said, he plays the game with his head up, one possession at a time.
"But when you need a bucket, you can't leave him open because he can drain 3-point shots."
Woodbury recorded a double-double for the North with 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. He also had three steals and two assists in a team-high 19 minutes.
Woodbury, who stands 7-foot-1, found Gesell for a 3-point basket. He also had a nice post move where he shielded off the defender and pushed a nice shot off the glass.
Biancardi raved about Woodbury's defensive skills.
"One thing nobody talks about is Woodbury can defend in terms of being active with his feet," Biancardi said. "He talks on defense. On that last possession (which resulted in a South turnover), you see the hard edge at the top of the key. Folks that's 6-10 moving his feet and jumping out on screens."
But Biancardi also said, "from the waist down, (Woodbury) doesn't have the explosion and power." Woodbury also drew a foul in the post early in the second half when he had his hands low, which was pointed out by both Simon and Biancardi.
Bottom line, Woodbury and Gesell have talent and raw skills. I'm very interested in seeing how they transition to the college game under McCaffery.
As for other observations, the Big Ten won't lack for freshman talent next year. Some of Iowa's opponents have terrific incoming players, including those who played Sunday.
Wisconsin signee Sam Dekker will be a star for the Badgers. He's 6-foot-8, a good defender, can play inside or out, and can shoot the 3-pointer. To me he projects to a more athletic version of Jon Leuer, although Dekker isn't as tall. He's everything Bo Ryan would want in a front-line player, and he can be effective for four years.
Robinson can do it all as a 6-foot-6 forward. If Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. stay at Michigan, coupled with Jordan Morgan in the post, Robinson should make the Wolverines the early Big Ten favorites.
Indiana signee Jeremy Hollowell, a 6-7 forward from Indianapolis, is smooth in transition and very athletic. If he plays with more discipline, he'll be a nice scoring option with post Cody Zeller (if he stays at Indiana). Indiana forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea also played well for the North.
Michigan State signee Kenny Kaminski (6-7) was an interesting player for the North. He has shooting range but has a wide body in the post. He appears to be a physical player (vital at Michigan State) and is coming off shoulder surgery from last football season.Point guard Ronnie Johnson might not have Lewis Jackson's experience, but he has the skills Purdue needs next year.