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November 20, 2011

Future of Xavier on display at showcase

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The National Prep Showcase continued on the campus of Albertus Magnus College and there was no shortage of story lines.

Point guard Semaj Christon led a talented quartet of Xavier signees, Amir Garrett clarified his situation with St. John's, while Ryan Taylor, Jakarr Sampson and Sam Cassell showcased their game.

X marks the spot for Musketeer recruiting class

It was hard for Xavier head coach Chris Mack to keep from cracking a smile as he sat next to his wife and an assistant watching his four signees play in back-to-back-to-back games.

Starting things off was Rivals150 guard Myles Davis. The senior shooter at Fitchburg (Mass.) Notre Dame Prep was making deep jumpers as usual in a 23-point outing. But, more importantly, for the second day in a row Davis showed a bit more escapability via the dribble and ability to create either pull-up jumpers or to the rim opportunities.

Following Davis, Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Prep teammates Semaj Christon and Jalen Reynolds took the floor. Originally a class of 2011 signee from Michigan, Reynolds is a 6-foot-8 four-man with extreme bounce, a great frame and a willingness to go get rebounds. Already a high three-star who was ranked in the 2011 Rivals150, Reynolds is angling for a fourth star.

Currently ranked No. 72 in the class of 2012, the four-star Christon is the crown jewel of Mack's class and finished with 17 points and five assists. An impressive athlete with tremendous burst and length, Christon is an on-the-ball creator similar to five-star Providence signee Kris Dunn. Give him space and he'll break your ankle, give him a pick and he turns the corner with a head of steam that makes him nearly impossible to keep out of the lane. He's still a little loose with the ball and has some things to learn, but he's a guy who is positioning himself to make a big move inside the Rivals150.

Last but not least, James Farr took the floor with Pittsfield (Maine) MCI and looked solid as well. At 6-foot-8, he's a three star four man who has added weight, developed his low-post scoring game and learned to play with some more edge. He was good for 23 points and seven rebounds in a win and also looked comfortable knocking home some 17 foot jump shots.

Garrett still planning winter enrollment

For the second day in a row, 2011 St. John's signee Amir Garrett was impressive slashing to the rim. A high-level athlete who will rebound the ball as well, Garrett was active on both ends for North Bridgton (Maine) Prep.

According to Garrett, what he showed in New Haven is what he plans to show in college.

"I'm going to bring energy and I can rebound from my position," said the four-star wing. "I can hold my own with the best and I play hard."

After being denied initial eligibility at St. John's due to questions over a core course, Garrett feels very good about his chances to enroll after finishing up this semester at Bridgton.

"It's looking real good for me," Garrett told Rivals.com. "We've just got to re-submit the paperwork. I've just got to finish up this semester and turn in my transcript.

Taylor taking advantage of prep year

After signing with Louisville as a ranked member of the class of 2011, academics forced Ryan Taylor to go the prep school route. He was making the most of it in New Haven.

Playing for Chatham (Va.) Hargrave, the 6-foot-5 small forward has really gone to work on his frame adding muscle. He looked quicker and more explosive than ever.

In addition to the added strength, Taylor has improved significantly as a spot-up jump-shooter and he was knocking down some threes. With the way Hargrave plays, he also gets used a bit as a high post four who can blow by guys with drives from the foul line and rebound at a high rate.

Taylor went for 26 points and 11 rebounds in back-to-back outings on Friday and Saturday while making 19 of 31 from the field and dishing out eight assists for good measure. According to Taylor Arkansas, Dayton and Cincinnati are among those who have jumped into his recruitment and he'll take his time with things.

Cassell Jr.'s stock on the rise

Schools across the country are on the hunt for guards that can score and run a team. At the National Prep Showcase, there aren't many available guys any better than Sam Cassell, Jr.

A native of Baltimore who is prepping at Fitchburg (Mass.) Notre Dame Prep, the 6-foot-3 point guard is a scorer who can get buckets from deep or attack off the dribble. He was scorching hot on Saturday going for 30 points and five rebounds before fouling out with a little over five minutes to go.

According to Cassell, he snuck in an official visit to Maryland for their midnight madness and he reported offers from the Terps, Washington, Nebraska and his NBA father's school, Florida State.

Sampson a high level prep talent

Just like Amir Garrett, four-star combo forward Jakarr Sampson signed to play with St. John's as a member of the class of 2011. Just like Garrett, the 6-foot-8 native of Ohio was denied eligibility by the NCAA.

However, unlike Garrett, Sampson has decided to open his recruitment and will take a full year of prep school putting him into the class of 2012's available players.

A long and lean kid with well above average athleticism and quickness, Sampson is kind of like a new age Stacy Augmon in many ways. He's not a huge skill guy yet, but he's very active from baseline to baseline, runs well, defends multiple positions and will finish on the break.

After going for 20 points and seven rebounds in a Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy win, Sampson rattled off a list that included Kansas, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Providence, Baylor and Miami. According to Sampson, he will continue to consider St. John's and head coach Steve Lavin was on hand to watch him Saturday.


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