The second addition of Under Armour’s new UA Next Combine Series rolled into Reynoldsburg High School in Reynoldsburg, OH on Saturday and once again played host to many of the top 8th grade players in the region. In fact, the “invitation only” event attracted elite players from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. As was the case in Washington DC 2 weeks ago, the event featured high level skills and drills stations in the morning followed by very competitive games in the afternoon. After lunch, the players were treated to an inspirational presentation frrm Ohio State Buckeye great Sconnie Penn.
One of the top players in the event was Darion Henry (6’6/PF/Cincinnati, OH) who is big, physical and powerful, but nimble around the cup. In an age where bigs prefer to drift away from the basket and shoot 3 pointers, Henry is comfortable setting up shop in the paint. Because of his big frame and aggressive approach, Henry is able to absorb contact and still finish plays. If he can get a couple of more inches, high major schools may come calling in the future. We’ve seen him play on numerous occasions, but we’ve never seen Isaiah Kennedy (5’11/combo guard/Beavercreek, Oh) play as well as he did on Saturday. Kennedy was a monster! Kennedy scored the ball in just about every way possible. He knocked down deep treys, pulled up off the bounce in the lane, powered his way to the bucket off the drive and did so efficiently. Kennedy has mostly been known for using his powerful frame to bully his way to the cup, but on Saturday it was more about skill and finesse. Kennedy was tied for 3rd in scoring with 33 points in 3 games and an average of 11 ppg. When his defense catches up with his offense, Kennedy is going to be a problem.
|D. Henry, I. Kennedy, J. Townsend, G. Huffman & C. Mayfield|
We’ve seen Jeremy Baker (6’1/combo guard/Kokomo, IN) play on 4 occasions now and we are convinced he’s elite and deserving of national recognition. The Indiana product is a big-bodied guard who is skilled, athletic and can score. We know he can score because the stats tell us he was tied as the second leading scorer with 35 total points and an average of 11.7 ppg. He can make money either slashing to the bucket, or he can stop and pop in the midrange and even hit the trifecta. With his solid frame, Baker has no problem taking the contact and getting the bucket. He also has a great motor, positive attitude and he works hard on the defensive end. Finally, Baker always seems to be having fun on the court, which can be rare these days with so much pressure being placed on these young athletes. We’ve been at the same event and had an opportunity to evaluate Mike Saunders Jr. (5’6/PG/Indianapolis, IN) on several occasions, but it wasn’t until Saturday that we finally saw what the hype was all about. Saunders is the consummate floor general, who has the ability to make plays for others and himself. Saunders is a high IQ kid who understands the game. He plays with great pace and poise and he’s highly skilled. He can hit catch and shoot treys, or can score off the bounce. Saunders has good quickness; solid ball skills and can finish with either hand. Saunder’s ability to score was reflected in the stats, as he was 4th in scoring with 33 points (10.3ppg). S aunders also plays good defense and converts his free throws (led event with 5.7 FTs per game). Saunders can run our team anytime!
|J. Baker, M. Saunders Jr. J. Salaam, Z. Loveday & Z. Jackson|
Devontae Blanton (6’4/W/PF/Macedonia, OH) is blessed with good size and the ability to handle the ball in the open court. When he plays with high energy, Blanton is as good as anybody in the state. Big and physical, slashing to the basket is Blanton’s best asset right now, but he’s quick off his feet, rebounds well and can advance the ball in transition. He works well off the pick and roll and finishes well near the cup. Justin Powell (6’4/combo guard/Prospect, KY) is another good-looking prospect with good length, athleticism and a solid skill set. Powell understands the game and knows how to score the ball. When his motor is running, Powell is very productive. Colin Crothers (6’6/PF/C/Arlington Heights, IL) is another quality, long-term post prospect. Crothers is a space eater with good size and strength. Colins plays hard, rebounds at a high rate and has a soft touch around the basket. He’s not a high riser, but Colins gets his hands on a lot of shots. Finally, Colins has decent footwork and finishes at a sold rate. Another growth spurt will make Crothers a hot commodity down the road. Hunter Jackson (5’10/combo guard/Indianapolis, IN) was one of the best on ball defenders at the event. Jackson does not waste dribbles, as he goes right at the basket. He as a strong, mature frame, which he uses to get by his defender. Jackson handles the ball well enough to create space and he changes direction well. He does not shoot it often, but he can knock down an open jumper if left open. CJ Anthony (5’10/combo guard, Columbus, Oh) is best getting to the rack, but he can score on the perimeter when he gets enough time to get his shot off. Anthony has the ability to score, and was the 5th leading scorer with 26 total points (8.7ppg).
|D. Blanton, J. Powell, C. Crothers, H. Jackson & CJ Anthony|
Ethan Morton (6’3/combo guard/Butler, PN) is a big, athletic guard who gets in done both inside and outside. Morton has a great motor and rebounds well for his position. Morton also has good vision and passes the ball well. In fact, he was 4th in assists with 3 per game. Bryce Flatt (6’4/WF/Benton, KY) has a great motor and nose for the ball. Every time we looked up Flatt was at the right place at the right time for a lay up or put back. You have to account for Jake Younkin (5’11/combo guard/ Loveland, OH) on the floor or he will drop the 3-ball on you. A coach’s son, Younkin is fundamentally sound and understands the game. We saw some good things out of Tony Perkins (6’1/combo guard/Indianapolis, IN). Perkins is long and athletic. Lance Mosley (6’0/PG/Chicago, IL) is a long lefty with good on ball defense. Jared McCorkle (6’6/combo guard/Liberty TWP. OH) is a strong and physical wing and has a strong motor. McCorkle is a good defender and rebounder. Raymond Terry (6’7/PF/C/Gary, IN) has a large frame and is a strong lefty. The state of Michigan has several prospects with Kevin Rice Jr. (6’2/combo guard/ Flint, MI), Vontray Nickerson (6’0/combo guards/Flint, MI), James Wilbon (6’3/PF/Mt. Morris, MI), Dallas Green Jr. (5'8/PG/Northville, MI), and Devin Womack (5’11/PG/Ypsilanti, MI).
|M. Land, J. Kahoun, M. Allocco, E. Morton & B. Flatt|