|Corey Walker, TJ Reels, Toneari Lane, Akeem Odusipe & Rongie Gordon|
This past weekend Winfred Jordan’s Atlanta Xpress organization played host to the 4th installment of the UA Next Combine Series at Maynard H. Jackson High School in Atlanta, GA. Jordan’s Best of the Best Middle School Camp has a long history of attracting elite players from throughout the Southwest including: George, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee. Approximately 120 middle schoolers in grades 6th-8th participated in the 2-day event which featured skill and drill sessions in the morning on Saturday and Sunday and a series of 3 games in the afternoon both days. On day 1, The campers were also treated to words of advice and encouragement by former NBA standout and college legend Charlie Scott and Education Specialist Nichole Watson. In addition, on Sunday, the event featured a slam dunk contest and all-star games in 2 divisions (6th/7th and 8th grades).
Because we were there on behalf of the UA next Combine Series, we concentrated our efforts on the eighth grade division. Arguably the best player we saw at the event was Cory Walker (6’6/PF/2020/Hasting, FL). Big, athletic and skilled best describes Walker’s game. In addition, he’s super smooth with a strong frame, is adept at scoring at all three levels and defending the rim. Moreover, Walker is a pick and pop option and he can catch and shoot with range beyond the arc. That's not all, as Walker has a big time motor and is a clear high major prospect. For the record, Walker was selected as the camp’s MVP. Finally, it’s not official, but we would be very surprised if Walker is not selected to play the Under Armour Elite 24 Under rising freshman game in July! We also really liked TJ Reels (6’2/SG/2020/Snellville, GA) who is an explosive athlete with an elite motor and skill set. Reels has good length, is crafty, and is a defensive hawk. He’s also has the ability to hit the 3-ball or euro step his way to the rim. Reels is great looking prospect going forward. Toneari Lane (6’4/SG/WF/2020/Lawrenceville, GA) was another big time athlete and D-I prospect. Lane has major bounce and is the definition of perpetual motion both defensively and offensively. Lane was all over the floor contesting shots, rebounding and initialing fast breaks. Lane is strong and is well equipped to take the contact and finish around the rim. The kid simply does it all!
Possibly the best floor general in the event was Naseem Khaalid (6’1/PG/2020/Jacksonville, FL), who already has good size for his position as a 6’1” 8th grade PG. Khaalid is super smooth and bouncy and excels at getting to the rim. His fingers are all at the rim on layups and his court vision and passing skills are next level. He’s not just an offensive threat, as Khalid’s motor and on-ball defense are strengths as well. As an example of his explosiveness, Khaalid was the shortest player in the slam-dunk contest, but he finished his dunks and was arguably the unofficial second place finisher in the contest. Khaalid finishes in traffic and is already playing at a high school starter level. We easily see Khalid playing high major D-I basketball in a few years. Any conversation about big explosive athletes with unlimited potential must include Akeem Odusipe (6’8/C/2020/Knoxville, TN). Adusipe’s skill set is still under development, but his size and athleticism are unmistaken, as his D-I potential. Odusipe plays above the rim and is more than comfortable getting physical in the paint and rebounding out of his area. Odusipe has a strong frame and is fluid in the open court. Over the weekend, Odusipe was a human highlight film as he thrilled spectators on day 2 with multiple ally oops. In fact, he sent the crowd into a frenzy when he jumped over a 6’6” kid in the slam dunk contest. Needless to say, Qdusipe took home the Slam-dunk Champion trophy! Speaking of big, Rongie Gordon (6’6/C/2020/Montgomery, AL) fits that description. Gordon is big and physical and is a big time shot blocker and rebounder. He handles the rock well for his size, runs the floor with guards and finishes at a high rate around the basket. From what we saw this weekend, Gordon should play college ball with continued growth and development.
|Sharif Cooper, Kyler Rodman, Bradley Douglas, Emory Lanier & Camerone Cherry|
Camron Cherry (6’1/SG/2020/Macon, GA) is another big, athlete guard with good length and a lot more room to grow. Cherry can shoot from beyond the arc as evidenced by the multiple treys he knocked down on day-1. Cherry also looked good on day-2 of the event and proved he is fluid and moves well with out the rock. Cherry plays with good pace and he converted several catch and shot treys over the weekend. Cherry also has solid ball skills and could be real good going forward. Based on his play on Sunday, Cherry is in the top 10 range for the event. Sharif Cooper (5’9/PG/2020/Powder Springs, GA) is widely known as one of the best floor generals in the area, and his performance this past weekend only confirmed his considerable reputation. Cooper is highly skilled and excels from the perimeter and getting into the paint. Cooper is great at creating space for his own shot or breaking down his defender for a drive and dish. Also, Cooper is poised under pressure and cannot be sped up. Ultimately, Coopers rate of growth will determine his ceiling, but the kid is fun to watch! Marcus Niblack (5’9/PG/2020/Leesburg, FL) was among the top 5 guards at the event. Although he can't be considered a big guard at this point, Niblack is a problem. Crafty, with the ball on a string, Niblack is a playmaker who can also get to his spots for his own shot. He also has good quickness, a good feel for the game and an understanding how to create or score off the pick and roll. Very impressive was Niblick!
Kasen Jennings' (6’2/SG/2020/Atlanta, GA) play separated himself from the pack. Good length, springy, smooth, with good body control to the rim are just some of Jennings’ gifts. He’s quick off his feet when rebounding, handles the ball well and has good length for a young guard. Jennings can also hit the long ball and has the ability to turn the corner on his defender. We like Jennings’ upside. The more we watched Kyle Rodman (6’6/C/2020/Saint Cloud, GA) the better he got. We were initially impressed with his size, but as the event went along, Rodman’s skill and IQ became more evident. He can bang inside, but Rodman can also step outside and knock down the 3-ball as well. He’s does not have big time lift, but he gets his fair share of rebounds and seems to find a way to get a hand on his opponent's shots. Rodman has a soft touch around the rim and he’s good at out letting the rock after a rebound. Rodman also demonstrated solid ball skills for a kid his size.
|Kasen Jennings, Jaimmoni, Isaac Smith, Rodney Mason & Marcus Niblack|
Emory Lanier (6’0/PG/2020/Knoxville, TN) was one of the better PGs at the event. Lanier has a tight handle and the ability to create separation and his shot. He plays good defense, excels in transition and has a good nose for the ball. Isaac Smith (6’3/SG/2020/Memphis, TN) has good length for his position and showed the ability to drain deep threes in the all-star game. Bradley Douglas (5’11/WF/2020/Eustis, FL) is another fine athlete with a nice motor and a willingness to play defense. Although Douglas was best on defense, he flashed the ability to deliver passes on time and on target while also knocking down mid-range pull up jumpers. We loved the kid’s intensity and he's definitely one to watch going forward. Some of the other standouts included: Nathinal Mikell (6’6/WF/2021), Jacorrei Turner (6’2/PF/2020/Atlanta, GA), Joe Woolfolk (5’2/PG/2020/Macon, GA), Ashton Malone (5’8/PG/2021/Lawrencville, GA), Jaimonnie Watkins (6’4/PF/2020/College Park, GA), Moses Moody (6’3/SG/2020), Brodrick Jones (6’5/PF/2020/Lithonia, GA) Dominic Allmonds (5’11/PG/2020/Jackson, FL), Payton Xavior Manggrum, Caleb Bowers, Draylan Burton, Nyrese Carter, Tu’Larrious Carr, Justin Edmondson and Rodney Mason.
All-in all we enjoyed a great weekend of competitive basketball. There was plenty of talent, in the gym, kids played hard, and the event was very well run from start to finish. Congratulations to Winfred Jones and his staff for their hospitality and for running a professional event!