|Hampton, Peavy, Fatheree, Flores & Bush|
The southwest edition of the UA Next Combine Series rolled into Houston, Texas on Saturday and as has been the case in the 4 previous sessions there was an abundance of talent. This event was held at South Houston High School in South Houston and attracted 42 players from 6 states including: Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, Iowa, Delaware and Arkansas. The best player we saw all day was R.J. Hampton (6’3’/PG/2020/Little Elm, TX) who was clearly in a class by himself. Hampton all ready has D-I size at the PG position, but what really sets him apart is his skill set, fluidity and athleticism. Oh that’s not all, Hampton is a multi-level scorer who can create space for his own shot or make a play for a teammate. Hampton is supremely confident and his game reflects that. In fact, he was overheard several times proclaiming that scoring was “too easy,” and it was with his high IQ and ability to get to the rim at will. If I’m a college coach, Hampton is on my recruiting board right now and an offer is not far away! We were also super impressed with Micah Peavy (6’4”/combo guard/2020/Cibolo, TX). Peavy is an explosive athlete who excels at slashing to the basket. Although driving to the cup and a nifty spin move were his go to weapons, Peavy has the ability to create his own jump shot out to 19 feet. What’s most impressive is Peavy’s energy level, both offensively and defensively. Peavy’s motor is elite and his on-ball defense is a problem for his opponents. We look for Peavy to be playing D-I basketball in a few years.
Although the UA Next Combines are designed for 8th graders, an occasional 7th grader will find their way into the events. Ruben Fatheree (6’8”/C/2021/Richmond, TX) is only a 7th grader (only 13), but you would not have known that based on his level of play on Saturday. Fatheree, a big space eater, started slowly, but by the time the event concluded he had earned a lot of new fans. Besides his big frame, Fatheree does several nice things and displayed a lot of upside potential. The best part of his game right now is his willingness to set up on the low block, demand the ball and do the dirty work required by a big. Fatheree also does not mind physical play; he has a soft touch and the ability and to finish with contact. He’s also an excellent passer for a kid his size and does a great job with outleting the ball for easy transition buckets. Also, we were most impressed with Fatheree’s ability to make bonce passes in the lane to cutting players. Once he develops his footwork and adds some post moves, Fateree is going to be a problem! Look for Fatheree to get early D-I looks from local programs. Braelon Bush (5’6”/PG/2020/TX) was one of the smallest players at the event, but he was also one of the best players at the event. Despite his diminutive size, Bush is unafraid to attack the cup where he finishes more often than not. Bush is super quick, fast, and has an elite skill set that includes a tight and creative handle and the ability to change speeds and direction on a dime. Despite his size, Bush is explosive and able to finish in traffic. He can also knock down treys and he works well in screen and roll situations. If Bush gets a few more inches, watch out!
In terms of talented 7th graders at the event (there were 3 of them), Jakoby Flores (5’4”/PG/2021/Pasadena, TX) fits that description. Flores is small and does not necessarily pass the look test, but his game passes the “baller” test. Flores is a highly skilled floor general who is equally good at either scoring or play-making. He’s at his best delivering pinpoint passes that lead to open shots. He’s smart, poised; takes good care of the rock, and is tough as nails. We can’t tell where he projects right now, but college basketball at some level should be in his future. The other 7th grader at the event was Duncan Powell (6’5”/WF/2021/Murphy, TX), who we initial thought was an 8th grader, but once we figured he was only in the class of 2021, his stock went way up. Powell showed us some flashes of talent. Specifically, Powell is big, but handles the rock well for his size. Powell is good in transition, is active defensively and can protect the rim. Bottom line, Powell’s size and strong frame are impressive for his age. Corey Smooth (6’0”/PG/2020/Slidell, LA) caught our eye with his elite motor and play-making ability. The dynamic lead guard is extremely active on both ends of the floor and he has a great feel for the game and nose for the ball. Smooth always seemed to be in the right position to make a play. In addition, he plays with good pace and confidence, is good at driving and dishing and he understands how to maintain his dribble as he probes the defense for seams. Miles Goodman (6’1”/Combo guard/Sugarland, TX) has a chance to be real good. An elite skill set coupled with deceptive athleticism makes Goodman a serious threat to score the ball. Not only can he get to and finish near the rim, Goodman can hit you with the 3-ball if left open. He’s also poised, can finish with either hand and is super smooth. Goodman is a definite college prospect going forward.
Brent Royal Jr. (6’3”/combo guard/2020/Saint Rose, LA) was another good-looking prospect. With good size for his position as only an 8th grader, Royal has a chance. Royal’s strength, athleticism and solid frame allows Royal to muscle his way to the cup. A drive and dish threat, Royal’s ability to hit the one dribble pull-up is a nice contrast. Jacoby Brown (6’0/PG/2020/Pearland, TX) caught our attention early dribble moves and play-making ability. Brown is crafty, shoots well off the bounce, has a nice floater game and understands how to work the pick and roll. In terms of long-term potential, Xavier Foster (6’8”/C/2020/Oskaloosa/ IA) has as much as any player at the event. Foster is long, lean with long wingspan and already has high-major length. Because he still needs to put a lot of weight on his frame, Foster is not a post up guy and struggles holding his spot. However, he runs the floor well and can put the rock on the floor and advance the ball in transition. We would not be surprised to see Foster playing in the Big Ten one day. Austin Lewis (6’8”/WF/2020/Frisco, TX) is one to watch going forward. Already possessing great size for an 8th grader, Lewis is a big time prospect. Like most 8th graders he will need to add strength and fill out his thin frame, but Lewis should be tracked by college coaches. Derek Luna (6’0”/PG/2020/Mission, TX) did a few nice things as well with his ability to create his own shot off the bounce and to hit contested threes. In fact, Lewis knocked down multiple treys in a game we watched. Some of the other standouts we saw included: Byron Joshua (5’7”/PG/2020/ New Orleans, LA), Rasheed Holmes (5’8”/PG/2020/Westwego, LA), Khalen Robinson (5’1“/PG/2020/Little Rock, AR), Elijah Tate (5’11”/PG/2020/Baton Rough, LA), Treylon Payne (6’0”/combo guard/2020/Little Rock, LA), Cameron Clardy (5’11”/PG/2020/Katy, TX) and Anthony Scott (5’9”/PG/2020/Waco, TX).