Mudiay has showcased his ability to handle, pass and hit jumpers. (Kelly Kline/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS -- This week's AAU hoopathon kicked off in fine style with the Tip-Off Challenge portion of the Fab 48 event, with a number of the nation's best high school prospects showcasing themselves in front of a veritable who's who of college coaches perched inside Bishop Gorman High School's gym.
Here are some quick takeaways on the initial night of the event. Emmanuel Mudiay looks worth every bit of the hype. The national top-10 prospect from Arlington, Texas, excelled at the point in the game of the night between his Mo Williams Elite team and California's Belmont Shore, which added Vegas big man Stephen Zimmerman for the showcase game. Mudiay just looked more poised and in control on the floor than any of his peers, even with multiple other major prospects in the game. He showcased his ability to handle, make a pass, hit jumpers and get to the rim. Mudiay was joined in the Mo Williams backcourt by Malik Newman, arguably the best 2015 prospect in the nation, and while Newman clearly was skilled, his overall game lacked the polish shown by Mudiay. Given how many shots Newman made in the high-scoring affair, that shows you just how well Mudiay conducted himself. After a rough weekend in Milwaukee last week and a low-impact game earlier in the day for his normal AAU team, Dream Vision, Zimmerman really impressed as part of Belmont Grove. The 2015 top-10 prospect showed a decent lefty hook from on the block, showed he could face up with range out to the three-point line, blocked a number of shots (even though he's not the most physical presence at this point) and even went behind the back on a fast break to dish for a layup. Also for Belmont Grove, 2015 shooting guard Tyler Dorsey had a monster offensive game from the arc. Stanley Johnson, also arguably in the top 10 seniors in the nation, showed well with his Mater Dei High School teammates (formed as Big Red for AAU purposes) against the Chicago Mustangs (essentially St. Rita's High School in Chicago). There was one moment of worry, though, when Johnson was undercut on a driving dunk attempt late in the game and splattered to the court right in front of John Calipari. After a moment and a collective groan from the packed house, Johnson got up and finished the game. The fearsome frontcourt duo of Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander lit up the finale, even though their Mac Irvin Fire team lost by a point to Texas Select. Okafor didn't dominate for the entire contest, but it almost looked too easy at times for him. He's unfairly skilled and agile for a player his size. Alexander is more brute force, but equally hard to contain. It's easy to see why they may be the top two rising seniors in the country. The list of coaches in the gym Wednesday night is extremely lengthy, but a quick look around spotted Calipari, Rick Pitino, Billy Donovan, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Roy Williams, Sean Miller, Fred Hoiberg, Rick Barnes, Scott Drew and homestanding Dave Rice, among many others. At least the evening was worth their time, as the games were close and well contested and the stars showed up ready.
We'll see what a full day on Thursday brings as action starts all over the city in multiple events.