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August 14, 2014
Summer Breakout Performers
With summer now in our rearview mirror, we compiled a list of 10 under-the-radar players who crushed the competition this summer. Today, we take a look at the first five.
Derrick Bruce Class: 2015
First, Bruce led his Inland team to the championship over some of the nation's best AAU teams at the Pangos Sweet 16 Tournament in Long Beach. Then, a week later, he dropped one eye-popping performance after another in the Invitational Division of the Fab 48 in Vegas. The 6-2 point guard did it, moreover, when it mattered most, proving to hundreds of coaches in attendance that he can thrive on a big stage. At a time when overhyped players saturate the conversation, Bruce is the rare exception. Coach Elvert "Koolaid" Perry has seen a lot of elite talent in his day and in Bruce, he has a player with legitimate NBA potential. Long, athletic, and a filthy handle, Bruce belongs in the conversation for the West Coast's top point guard.
Kobe Paras Class: 2016
When Paras took the court for Compton Magic Purple and Will Middlebrooks this summer, he was already a celebrity in the Philippines (see 40,000 twitter followers). Under Middlebrooks, though, Paras has taken his game to another level. After sitting out last year, Paras broke onto the AAU circuit as a virtual unknown: no longer. The 6-6 guard/wing has a ridiculous vertical leap and one of the higher basketball IQ's you'll come across. Boston College, UC Irvine, California, Oregon State, and New Mexico are just a few of the high major programs to have jumped on the rising junior early. With Paras teaming up alongside fellow 2016 prospect Lucas Siewert -- a 6-11 Brazilian national with five high-major offers already -- Cathedral High should challenge defending champs Bishop Montgomery for the State Championship.
Malik Fitts Class: 2015
A 6-5 two-guard out of Damien High School in La Verne, Fitts is a high-major prospect if ever there was one. Sharing the backcourt with 4-Star Jeremy Hemsley has caused him to be a bit underappreciated, but that shouldn't be a problem anymore. Fitts was an absolute terror at Ryan Silver's West Coast Elite All-Star Camp in mid-july, and was frequently the best performer on Earl Watson Elite -- a team featuring Chance Comanche, Jayce Johnson, Roman Davis, and Gilgorgige Rakocevic -- during the final two evaluation periods. Fitts has largely been courted by WCC schools to date, but that'll change.
Jack Akey Class: 2015
A two-sport athlete out of Minnesota, expect Akey to carve out a role for himself in whichever sport he chooses. At 6-1, he doesn't have ideal size for a shooting guard (his natural position) but he has plenty of moxy to compensate. Perhaps a tribute to his athleticism, Akey always seems to find a way to get open, whether it's expertly running his defender off screens or using the shot-fake to his advantage. During the AAU's final session of the summer, "Lights Out Jack" offered up his own crescendo, knocking down nine 3-pointers in a game.
Tommy Rutherford Class: 2016
By all rights, Rutherford should have programs beating down his door this fall. You don't find too many rising juniors willing to bang inside with the big boys, especially when they're 6-10, 180-pounds soaking wet. Rutherford though, is an absolute scrapper. The San Diego-area prospect relentlessly tackles the boards and does all the little things to help you win, whether it be running the floor to clean-up the missed fastbreak attempt or taking the gut-shot for the charge call. Princeton, Rice, San Diego, and San Diego State are all showing early interest and should have no trouble convincing admissions. Rutherford boasts a 4.7gpa and wants to study neuroscience.